True Fact: I’m petrified of public speaking. I have all the classic symptoms: feeling nauseous, sweaty palms, mumbling, stammering and the inability to make eye contact…
… But, I’m trying to do something about it. I started doing Toastmaster’s through work and got the chance to talk about beer! Check out my fourth project: How to Say It
Cheers to Summer – A Lesson on Beer
Mr. Toastmaster, fellow toastmasters and honored guests.
When contemplating topics to speak about for today’s speech, which is focused around words, particularly descriptive ones. My first thought was “Oh, I’ll talk about beer!” Followed by “Wait a minute, Toastmasters is work-related. Maybe that is not a good idea.” Then after going through my list of options, I finally settled on talking about beer. Today I’ll be talking about the homebrewing process and different types of beer. Hopefully, you’ll learn more about the beer making process and maybe get some summer beer selection ideas for your upcoming BBQs.
It is no secret with my friends that I love beer. I blog about it on my personal blog, BiteSizeBrews.com. I love the social aspect of it, going on adventures to find breweries and enjoying a beer with friends while catching up or cheering on a sports team. I also love the science behind beer, how it has shaped history, influenced culture and the process behind making a good beer. It is like a science project for adults!
I’ve been homebrewing on my own since I graduated from college. The process is pretty simple, although time consuming and water intensive. It is definitely a labor of love. There are three main steps when it comes to homebrewing: brewing, fermentation, and bottling.
Brewing is the process of creating the actual liquid. Depending on what type of beer you are making, you take grains and cook them to a particular temperature. This takes some time. I measure time in beer. While waiting for the right temperature, enjoy a beer. Then you remove the grains and add malt to the water, bring this to a boil. Enjoy another beer. Right now the enzymes in the malt are breaking the starches into sugars and the brew is called “wort”. Basically your creating food for the yeast to eat to create alcohol later on. Once the malt is boiling you start your hop cycle. Enjoy another beer. This is where a lot of your flavor in your beer comes from. Think of it as the spice you add to cooking. Hops are what you add to beer for flavor. This is also when your house starts smelling like a brewery. Since we all live in Portland, I’m going to assume you know what I’m talking about. Some people love it (me) some people hate it (my mom and my roommate). Once the hop cycle is completed. You chill the wort by adding ice or running it through a whirpool. Then you place the wort into large glass vessals called carboys to start the second step, fermentation.
This is where wort becomes beer. Think of it as a fitness center for beer. This is where weaklings go in, work out and come out marathon runners. Yeast is added and works on converting all those sugars into alcohol. Primary fermentation takes about a week, then you move your beer into a second carboy for secondary fermentation. This also filters your beer before bottling.
Depending on what sort of system you have at home, you have two choices, bottle your beer or keg it. Kegging involves pouring your beer into a keg, connecting it to a C02 and pressurizing it. This process takes about two days before you can enjoy your beer. Bottling involves priming bottles with a small amount of sugar for some last minute yeast activity and then bottling each beer invidiually. This process takes about two weeks before the beer is ready to enjoy.
Now that you know the process for making a good beer, let’s talk about styles. Think of tasting beers like wine tasting, sophisticated and classy. When you go wine tasting, you sip from the lightest white wine to the boldest red wine. Beer is the same way, you start with light beers and work your way to the darkest beer offered. A beer style is the category of beer based on factors including: color, flavor, alcoholic strength, ingredients, production method, recipe, history and origin.
There are two main types of beers: ales and lagers. Ales, are top fermenting yeast, they have a warmer and shorter fermentation period and have an earthy fruity character. Common ales include: Pale Ale, Indian Pale Ale, Porter, Stout, Wheat and Spiced. The Pacific Northwest is know for their Indian Pale Ales, since we produce 70% of the US hops. India Pale Ales have twice as much hops as regular Pale Ales since the hops were used to perserve beer being shipped from England to India during the British Occupation.
The other main type of beer is a lager. Lagers are bottom fermenting yeast, with a colder and longer fermentation period and have a smooth crisp taste. Lagers are identified primarily by color: amber (light) or dark lager, pretty simple to keep track of. When you travel to Prague, Czech Republic, the home of Budwiezer, most breweries don’t speak English so bartenders will ask you “Light or Dark?” and that is it.
That being said, my rule of thumb is light colored beers on sunny days and dark colored beers for dark days. Some of my favorite summertime beers here in Portland are the Hopworks Urban Brewery’s Organic Lager (if you are a beer newbie, ask for the Raddler, it’s half beer and half lemonaide) and Burnside Brewing Company’s Sweet Heat. I hope you learned a little about beer today, the process and the varieties.
Afraid of public speaking? How are your conquering your fear? (And what do you think of my speech?)