Tuesday, March 3, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Point of Brew: Craft brewing back to the future

MichaelLewisW

By
From page A7 | January 02, 2014 |

Duke Albrecht IV enacted the well-known and durable German (or Bavarian) beer purity law called the Reinheitsgebot in 1487; it required that beer be made only from barley (meaning barley malt), water and hops.

Some brewers abide by that ancient dictum today, perhaps for marketing reasons or as an ideal guide to brewing excellence, although the Reinheitsgebot no longer has the force of law. In 1952, the Reinheitsgebot was incorporated into the Biersteuergesetz (beer taxation law), which — with some sensible modern updates that allowed yeast and wheat, for example — still severely restricted the raw materials from which beer could be made.

The Biergesetz still regulates manufacture of lager beers in Germany for sale there, although beers may be imported into Germany that contain any legal food additive, mostly other grains and sugar preparations, especially, e.g., ales from Britain and Belgium.

Now what these traditional German brewers might make of the craft-brewing scene in these United States I do not know; perhaps I shall find out one day. But for sure the Reinheitsgebot or the Biergesetz is not a guide to, nor a limit on, American craft brewers’ invention.

It seems to me that during the Year of Our Lord 2013 (now, thankfully, history) American craft brewers have become more and more adventurous in the raw materials they choose to make beer and the way they make them; I don’t doubt that will continue in 2014. Almost nothing seems to be off limits: brewers are rollicking in innovation and invention and glorifying in the term extreme beers.

Oddly enough, most of these ideas are coming from exploration of brewing and beer history; much of what I report here as innovation or invention is, in fact, a return to old and even ancient practices that were long ago replaced (for good reasons) by modern materials and methods; this is what I mean by brewing back to the future.

For a long time, we have seen craft brewers progressively use higher levels of traditional materials such as malt and hops in their formulations, leading respectively to more alcoholic (sometimes much more alcoholic) beers and beers that are intensely bitter. Also, brewers have explored vigorously the whole range of specialty malts available from around the world that bring to beer an intense range of colors and flavors.

Brewers also explore raw grains as adjuncts such as ordinary rice and corn and wheat, but also barley and rye and oats, and teff and quinoa and sorghum, and have harvested nuanced flavors from such inclusions. However, these are all quite reasonable extensions of common brewing practices that brewers and their customers can easily understand.

Incorporating honey in beer is not exactly new but is much more popular now than before; adding fruits such as oranges and other citrus such as yuzu (an Asian citrus fruit) and peaches and apricots with berries, including juniper berries most commonly used in gin, and herbs of all sorts including sweet gale or bog myrtle (a component of an herbal mixture called gruit that was added to beer before the use of hops) and vegetables such as beans and twigs of spruce and pine buds is almost usual.

One brewer, sure to be copied by others, uses grape juice as a significant beer component, perhaps blurring the distinction between beers (cereal products) and wines (fruit products). Perhaps the oddest addition is kombucha, a sweetened tea fermented with a mixed colony of yeasts and bacteria.

I do not doubt that modern brewing methods that superseded the old ways, took away much of the excitement and invention (and risk) of brewing beers and introduced reliability and consistency (boring!). Such practices as native or spontaneous fermentations, using wild yeasts for primary fermentation, aging beer in wooden barrels, usually used bourbon barrels, encouraging sour fermentations and blending back of old beer into new are all resurrected brewing practices that allow craft brewers to explore the outer limits of their craft.

Perhaps in 2014 they will make the beer they dream on or, at least have fun; perhaps they will create a product that becomes a modern marketing hit. Who knows? Some beers with unusual components have made the list of the Top 25 Beers of the Year 2013 according to Draft magazine.

I’m not sure where all this exploration and innovation leaves the ordinary beer drinker. If the ordinary drinker be defined as someone who drinks beers from the large American breweries, then these unusual beers leave the ordinary drinker out in the cold; that’s a two-way street of course because the drinkers and the brewers are not interested in each other; this is a dangerous business model for small brewers!

If, on the other hand, the ordinary drinker is one who has already embraced the kinds of craft beers that are the mainstay of the craft industry such as IPAs (India pale ales) then such curious beers give drinkers alternatives to explore that may bring pleasure and expanded choice and increased interest.

In 2014 who can be against that?

— Reach Michael Lewis at [email protected] Comment on this column at www.davisenterprise.com

Comments

comments

.

News

Nominees sought for city’s human rights awards

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1

 
A different kind of March Madness: pedal power

By Felicia Alvarez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

STEM-Tastic Sunday highlights summer opportunities

By Chloe Lessard | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
County: Baby Justice was on Social Services’ radar

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Budget standoff leaves California college hopefuls in limbo

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Pets of the week

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Embroiderers will discuss needlework tools

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Tuleyome needs volunteers for work party

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
‘Pearls Before Swine’ joins daily comics lineup

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Winter market wraps up Wednesday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Public broadband, on ‘Davisville’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Alcoholic liver disease strikes Hispanics years earlier

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Logos Books hosts conversation groups, poetry readings

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Get a taste of Middle Earth at library

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Holmes’ talent showcased

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Bingo games Sunday will benefit DHS Madrigals’ trip

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Go all in for fun at Texas Hold ‘Em tournament

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

DCC Nursery School hosts open house

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Join a fitness party at Zumba class

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Sure and begorrah!

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

Cycle de Mayo kicks off Bike Month

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

 
Overeaters get support at meetings

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6Comments are off for this post

Klein’s book featured at Authors on the Move

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
.

Forum

One more family insult

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
.

Sports

Lady Blue Devils in semis Tuesday night

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Aggie men host two big ones this week

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Dream run ends for Davis’ master wrestlers

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Devil boys net an easy tennis victory

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

In the Clubhouse: Summerhays Jr. talks about new post at El Macero CC

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Sports briefs: Aggie lacrosse team takes home opener

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

 
Newly acquired Smith scores in Sharks’ victory

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Blue Devil girls look for revenge in the pool

By Kellen Browning | From Page: B10 | Gallery

 
DHS boys aim to repeat as section swim champs

By Kellen Browning | From Page: B10

.

Features

Name Droppers: Dunn graduates from Marine Corps basic training

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
.

Arts

Thursday Live! features Keith Cary, Wyatt Hesemeyer

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

 
Songs of the Civil War to be performed by Anonymous 4

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
Davis Chorale starts year with demanding music

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

.

Business

.

Obituaries

Dieter W. Gruenwedel

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Tuesday, March 3, 2015 (set 1)

By Creator | From Page: B5

 
Comics: Tuesday, March 3, 2015 (set 2)

By Creator | From Page: B7