With St.Patrick’s day festivities just around the corner, I cannot think of a more appropriate time to write a stout style guide. No other beer style is personified by a single beer, or rather a single brewery as much as stout.
Stout popularity was achieved nearly single handedly by one man, Arthur Guinness. The name Guinness, as relevant to the beer world, first emerged in 1759 when Arthur Guinness leased a defunct brewery in Dublin. Although Guinness attempted several ales in their early days, they soon decided to focus on one single type of ale most popular at the time and thus, began brewing porter. After decades of successful brewing, Guinness ales gained popularity in England and West Indies and expanded their product line to feature distinct types of porters that would be referred to as “stouts.” Even though the term “stout” was first recorded in the 1630s in reference to strong dark ales, the name was not truly popularized until the invention of Daniel Wheeler’s over malt and barley roasting process, thus allowing more precision when creating the beer’s roasted flavour.
Stouts are a close relative of porters. In fact the relationship is so close that at times it is difficult to tell where porter territory ends and stout begins. One of the more distinct differences between the two styles is that stouts, especially classic stouts commonly referred to as Irish Dry Stouts, are very dry and exhibit a distinct espresso-like bite achieved by roasting barley rather than using roasted malt. Stouts are always very dark, often pitch black with a roasted aroma of coffee beans, roasted barley and chocolate. On the other hand, classic stouts are, surprisingly enough, very light and frequently are the lightest beer you can order on tap.
Porter is one of the most complicated styles of beer to describe. I’m pretty sure that is because Porter was originally a mix of several beer styles. Similar to how you might order a mixed drink or a martini at the bar, imagine that you asked the bartender to mix a few taps for a highly customized brew. This may sound weird to you now, but in London via the 1700s, mixing different ales was all the rage and bartenders would mix as many as five different ales at the request of their customers. This trend kept up until brewer Ralph Hardwood analyzed popular combinations and came up with a brew that mimicked the most popular three-beer mix known as the “three threads.” Ralph Hardwood’s new mix was a strong, dark and tasty brew that received the name Mr.Hardwood’s Entire and eventually became the single most popular brew in London. This style of beer became very popular with a particular group in London’s working class, the dock workers, or “porters.” In time, the beer became associated with the group of people that enjoyed it the most and thus became known as “porter beer” or simply porter.
At the peak of its glory, porter was so popular that it was possible for a brewer to make a fortune just by making porter and giving up all other styles. Eventually the fame of this beer reached beyond London and even outside of England with porter breweries opening up in Dublin, Glasgow and all over the British Isles. Arthur Guinness, who is most known for his stout, was the brewer that made porter popular in Ireland and made a fortune doing so. Porter expansion didn’t end there; it went on to take hold in Baltic Sea countries such as Sweden, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia and Poland eventually evolving into its own style called Baltic Porter, featuring a higher alcohol content typical for beer enjoyed in colder climates.
Although porter has not yet achieved the level of popularity it enjoyed back in England, a few brewers in North America have also taken up brewing this style as it was a favourite of many British colonists. Unlike many other styles of beer brought from the Old World, Porter did not evolve into anything distinct in North America. Once Lager and Pilsner became the next big thing in the world of beer, porter popularity dwindled everywhere and eventually porter became less of a crowd pleaser and more of a treat for the gurus.
Its going to get warmer very soon! Lets keep our beers cool in style.
More after the jump!
Continued from The Hangover: How to prevent one.
So if you did have too much to drink and found yourself one-on-one with a hangover, you are probably very much interested in how to get rid of this wretched condition. Fact of the matter is that there are plenty hangover cures out there. Some of them work and some don’t. In this post, I will try to explore some of the hangover cures known to me.
We’ll start with the most common one:
1) Greasy Breakfast – Probably the most common hangover cure known in this part of the world. Personally, I don’t feel this one works. The theory behind this hangover cure is that a greasy “All American,” “Full English,” or whatever-you-call-it will soak up the alcohol, thereby making you feel better. There is some mixed information here that makes this hangover cure a dud. It is true that too much alcohol may upset your stomach. it is also true that egg yolks contain amino acids that reduce stomach acid and may help you get over your upset stomach Unfortunately, if you are going to have a greasy breakfast after an alcohol induced, coma-like sleep, it is really too late for anything to absorb alcohol since the alcohol has been in your system for hours. So it is a good idea to have your greasy breakfast before you pass out and you may wake up without nausea and the upset stomach. Keep in mind that bacon and eggs will not save you from a headache. Another downside is that if you are feeling nauseous, just the thought of eating might make you hurl. (Which actually may be a relief, but you won’t find the process pleasant.) And after a night of polluting your system with alcohol, clogging your arteries with grease and making your liver work overtime is really not the best idea. Instead of this, I would recommend a bowl of chicken soup.
No matter what kind of alcohol you prefer, I think we can all agree that the worst part of alcohol abuse enjoyment is the hangover. Thus, this blog entry is not exclusive to the world of beer and could have been written about any type of alcohol.
I hate hangovers and I’m sure you do too. I’m also certain that, like me, one of these painful hung-over mornings probably caused you to regret the events of the previous night. You also probably tried to get rid of your hangover or even vowed to never drink again (usually for reasons more than just physical and nausea caused by your alcohol consumption). So in this BrewBlog entry I will talk less about beer and more about how to relieve the pain caused by having too much beer (or anything else you were drinking).
First of all, what is a hangover? A hangover is an automatic physical reaction towards excessive consumption of alcohol. This may result in a crescendo of side effects such as reduced blood sugar levels, increased blood pressure, liver strain, nausea and some other unpleasant effects. The severity of the hangover depends on the amount of alcohol consumed, your body’s ability to cope and your age.
Before alcohol consumption results in a hangover, there are actually a couple of hangover-prevention methods that you may arm yourself with in an attempt to prevent a morning of misery. Some of the common ways to prevent a hangover are:
• Don’t drink on an empty stomach…duhh.
• If possible, don’t downshift alcohol volume. In other words, if you were drinking beer and then decided to have a scotch on the rocks, don’t go back to beer or anything that has a lower alcohol content than scotch.
• It’s a good idea not to mix alcohol types. So don’t mix grain alcohol (vodka, sake, whiskey) with grape alcohol (champagne, wine, brandy) or and agave alcohol (tequila).
• Have a glass of water in between drinks.
• Avoid chasing shots with carbonated soft drinks. That might actually make you barf before you even get to the hangover phase.
Following these simple rules will reduce your chances of a hangover. Check back soon for part two of my hangover post, where I will write about common hangover cures.
Beer commercials are great, usually a lot better than the beer itself. I find that this is especially true for Bud Light commercials. Good advertising, marginal beer.
On that note, my top 5 favourite beer commercials:
#1 Miller Light.
Here is a great example of how beer has shaped the world as we know it. Courtesy of Manolith.
North America’s largest Ukrainian street festival will be touching down in Toronto this weekend.
Being Ukrainian myself and living in the area where the festival takes place, I have an obligation to be there. Those of you who aren’t Ukrainian, may find this festival to be a good opportunity to try Eastern European food, check out daring Ukrainian folk dancing(which, in some circles, believed to have spawned breakdancing), meet hot Ukrainian girls, make new friends or simply roam the Bloor West Village area. This festival is also a good opportunity to try Ukrainian beer.