General Information about Beer

Which types of beer exist, what is the difference between top-fermented and bottom-fermented beers, what are the different kinds of beer and what are the differences? We explain important general knowledge about beer in a simple and understandable way.

Beer Types

The division into beer types is made on the basis of yeast. A distinction is made between two types of beer, top fermented and bottom fermented beers. The assignment depends on the particular yeast used.

Top fermented Beers (also called "ales")

The term "ale" or “top fermented beer” is based on the fact that the yeast rises to the surface during fermentation in the brewing process. Top fermenting yeasts require a higher fermentation temperature (15 - 30° C), which leads to an increased formation of fruit esters and higher alcohols. These often give the beers a fruity aroma.

Top fermented beers:

  • Ales
  • Altbier
  • Berliner Weisse
  • Gose
  • Kölsch
  • Oats beer
  • Porter
  • Rye beer
  • Saison
  • Spelt beer
  • Stout
  • Wheat beer

Bottom fermented Beers (also called "lager")

These beers are called bottom fermented beers since the yeast sinks to the bottom of the fermentation tank at the end of the fermentation process. Bottom fermented yeasts require a fermentation temperature of less than 12 °C. This has only been possible all year- round since the invention of the refrigerator. Therefore, the Märzen beer could formerly only be brewed until March which is why it is called Märzen ("März" means March in the German language).

Bottom fermented beers:

  • Export
  • Lager
  • Märzen
  • Münchner Dunkel (Munich dark beer)
  • Pils
  • Red beer
  • Black lager
  • Zoigl

Beer Categories

The division into beer categories is based on the °Plato.

The °Plato is the share of dissolved substances from the malt before fermentation, mainly the malt sugar. The amount of °Plato is largely responsible for the subsequent alcohol content. Beer categories are the valid tax subdivision used in Germany.

  1. Beer from 1.5 to 6.9 °Plato
  2. Beer from 7.0 to 10.9 °Plato
  3. Beer from 11.0 to 15.9 °Plato
  4. Beer from 16.0 °Plato

Beer mixes are beers with additions of soft drinks or fruit juices as well as exotic additions such as tequila aroma or energy drinks.

Tasting of the Beer

How do you taste beer correctly? Beer is tasted in three steps: at first the appearance is rated, secondly the smell of the beer and finally the taste. These aspects are often referred to as sensory evaluation of beer.

Tasting of beer

Appearance of the Beer

The decisive factors are color and foam of the beer. The appearance of the beer provides valuable clues to its character. Certain conclusions about the malts used can be drawn from the color. In order to assess the beer, hold the glass up against the light.

Smell of the Beer

A great part of the taste is actually smell impressions. It is best to smell immediately after pouring in an odor – neutral environment. There are many different smell classes such as fruity, floral or spicy.

Taste of the Beer

Taste of the beer You take a sip and keep it in the mouth at first. In the beginning you recognize the mouthfeel (slim, full-bodied) and the Rezenz (freshness). Afterwards you swallow the beer while paying attention to the decaying taste. In the finish you notice subtle nuances.

Useful Tips

In order to really enjoy beer you should consider the following tips on storage, drinking temperature and glass care.

Man draws a beer

Storage of Beer

Beer is sensitive to light, temperature, motion and oxygen. Therefore, it should be stored in a cool and dark place at a constant room temperature of 6 - 8 °C.

Optimal Drinking Temperature

The drinking temperature is crucial for the enjoyment of the beer. The ideal temperature is 8 - 10 °C (normal refrigerator setting). You can drink strong beers and oak aged beers a little warmer. Thus, the recommended drinking temperature varies slightly. Beer should never be quickly cooled in the freezer.

Glass Cleaning at Home

The gentlest care for the glass is hand washing. The glasses should be cleaned with warm water (as little detergent as possible). A special glass detergent is recommended. Afterwards you should rinse the glasses with cold, clear water and allow the water to drain instead of drying the glasses.

Frequently asked Questions

We answer frequently asked questions about beer and clear up persistent myths about beer. You also have the opportunity to ask further questions. We strive to answer all open questions with regard to beer and brewing.

FAQ

What is beer made of?
Beer consists of water (90 %), malt, hops and yeast.
What is craft beer?

Craft beer is characterized by innovation, diversity, passion and inspiration. The difference lies in the diversity. Craft brewers combine different malts, different yeast strains and hops from all over the world to create unique beers with a well-rounded taste. They are passionate and not afraid of experiments in order to stand out with their new beers.

Why are unfiltered beers healthy?

Many minerals and vitamins are retained in unfiltered beers. Beer contains easily digestible carbohydrates (isotonic drink, a quick energy booster) and especially B-vitamins. One liter of beer covers about 29% of the daily requirement of magnesium and about 17% of potassium. As beer contains alcohol, however, it should be consumed in moderation.

How do I know whether a beer is unfiltered?

Unlike filtered beers unfiltered beers are naturally cloudy. Filtered beers are bright and clear.

Why are beer bottles brown or green?

Beer is sensitive to light. The dark glass protects the beer from light.

Which glasses are used for beer?

For each beer style there is a matching glass which best highlights its particular characteristics. In the professional sector a special sensory glass is used for beer tastings. Thereby, the flavors unfold in a better way. Of course, beer also tastes delicious in a normal drinking glass.

Why is there sometimes too much foam?

There are several reasons for foaming: The beer is either too cold, has too much or too little carbon dioxide, carbon dioxide has been released (shaking) or the glasses are dirty.

Where do hops grow?

Hops grow and flourish between the 35th and 55th latitude.

What effect has hops in the beer?

Hops are condiments which give the beer unique flavors and bitter substances. Hops have 2000 ingredients, have a calming effect, are used in medicine and are awarded with “medicinal plant of 2007”.

Why are only female hop cones used for brewing?

Only the female hop cones contain the important lupulin. Lupulin contains the aromas and bitter substances.

How is malt produced?

Three different steps are required for the malt production:

  1. steeping (absorb water; grain begins to live)
  2. germinating (enzymes develop)
  3. kilning (dehydration, color and aromas develop)
Why does yeast ferment?

Yeast is a living organism and ferments at different temperatures. During fermentation sugar is converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide.

You have any further questions about beer?
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