Let’s say a word about good beer!
We all have different associations with the word “beer”: the anti-drinkers – said with horror: Alcohol! Craft beer lovers immediately think of heavily hopped IPA or imperial stout, and only true beer lovers with a long experience will say that they associate beer with a good clean lager, or more specifically Pilsner.
All three definitions are correct! Let’s leave the anti-soberness advocates aside, sitting behind a high fence they won’t understand us. Let’s talk about Lager and Ale. The first is the most popular beer, the second is the most flamboyant. Maybe that’s why young people prefer it?
Originally, all beer was ale, pale and not strong. It was light because the coffee roasting machine (which later roasted the grain as well) had not yet been invented. The yeast in those early days was different, but all of them produced low levels of alcohol, which made the beer “weak,” but very suitable for our hot climate.
The discovery that turned the whole scientific world, or rather its beer part, upside down was completely in Denmark – in 1883 Emil Christian Hansen first developed a cultured race of lager yeast. At first it was planned to keep the “production secret” hidden, but Jacobsen, the founder of the Carlsberg beer empire, said that such a discovery could not be kept secret. The yeast was sent free of charge to all brewers who wanted it. The new yeast retained its qualities and did not change from brew to brew.
Beer lovers were enabled to drink the beer they liked both tomorrow and the day after – its taste did not change from brewing to brewing. People began to appreciate good lager, distinguished by its pure taste. This was also influenced by the famous “Purity Law” which literally put shackles on German brewers – for several hundred years they were forced to improve their skills using the same ingredients and reached unprecedented heights in it.
And then there were the industrial revolutions that radically changed our lives. The invention of the steam engine gave rise to a real industry, not a homemade one – in addition to large factories, large breweries also appeared, producing beer with a stable taste. After the creation of computers, our lives began to flow with crazy speed. We began to fly into space, to communicate with each other instantly, but we stopped reading books and writing letters to each other. We no longer have time to think in silence… Everywhere we do not need texts, but images of vivid colors. They must immediately grab our attention, leaving no time for reflection.
Brewers also became involved in this “race to nowhere”. In the 1980s new and very unusual hop varieties were developed. It became possible to brew beer with bright aromas and flavors of tropical fruits. It doesn’t matter if you forget the taste tomorrow, the main thing is today, now! Beer styles began to be redesigned all the time – the main thing is to please the beer fashion. It got to the point that some “new” beers can’t be bottled, only in aluminum cans, because they look so unpresentable…
Any really good beer, regardless of the variety, despite its apparent simplicity, is not easy to make, and lager is the pinnacle of excellence in brewing! Lager reminds me of a man in a bathhouse: he does not wear tight underwear; all scars and fat folds are visible. He does nothing to hide his flaws. So, it is with Lager – it has no high density and alcohol that will hide flavor gaps, and a bright blanket of exotic hops, will not mask all undesirable flavors. It is what it is, without any embellishments, that’s its strength!
You’d think this post would be an old brewer’s grouch. Not at all, in my work I brew and taste different kinds of ales and lagers. And all this fuss with varieties is like the confrontation between trendy one-night-stand hits and classical music. Everyone, their place…
And what about the good old lagers? They just stand on the sidelines, repeating to themselves the famous phrase: “This too shall pass…”