In the ab­sence of a beer cul­ture, in ad­di­tion to the ro­man­ti­cism of viti­cul­ture and mawk­ish­ness of wine, beer can be more invit­ing than just hav­ing a good time

AugustMan (Malaysia) - - Special Feature - WORDS BY JUSTIN NG PHO­TOS BY HEINEKEN MALAYSIA The wa­ter used in brew­ing Paulaner is drawn from an aquifer 623ft be­low ground

PIC­TURE SOME POTTY, mid­dle-aged men hang­ing around in a mock-Tu­dor bar ges­tur­ing at a telly show­ing two-dozen well-paid ath­letes chas­ing af­ter a ball ‒ that will drain any toe-curl­ing ro­man­tic mush left in you. Few peo­ple ever talk glee­fully about their pints of Guin­ness evok­ing tof­fee and cof­fee on the nose, fol­lowed by a long espresso fin­ish, like they would try to pluck that elu­sive pur­ple stone fruit out of the skies with a glass of Ar­gen­tinian Mal­bec. Ex­cept, Guin­ness does have that sort of fin­ish. On the other hand, Kirin Ichiban uses only the first strain of the wort. Which other drink utilises the first ex­trac­tion or press? Cu­vée cham­pagne. Now then, does beer seem a tad more gen­teel?

In con­junc­tion with #TheGreatBrewFest, let’s have a rudi­men­tary beer ed­u­ca­tion.

What makes ale ale?

It is in the fer­men­ta­tion process. Ale brew­ing takes place at room tem­per­a­ture, which is con­sid­ered “warm”. Dur­ing fer­men­ta­tion, the yeast is added to the wort to metabolise the smor­gas­bord of sug­ars and trans­form them into al­co­hol. The sweet wort is the re­sul­tant liq­uid ob­tained from the lau­ter­ing process which sorts the liq­uid from the malt. Lau­ter­ing comes af­ter the mash­ing process (will be ex­plained fur­ther as we go along). Upon com­plete fer­men­ta­tion, the yeast and as­so­ci­ated sed­i­ment rise to the top. Hence, the term top fer­mented, even though the fer­men­ta­tion takes place through­out the wort.

What makes lager lager?

In con­trast to mak­ing ale, lager brew­ing takes place at cool to near-freez­ing tem­per­a­tures. The yeast used in mak­ing lager sinks, along with the sed­i­ment, to the bot­tom of the wort upon com­plete fer­men­ta­tion.

Where does beer get its colours?

It lies in how the malt is roasted. The longer it is roasted, the darker the beer is.

Where does beer get its flavours, aro­mas and mouth­feel?

Beer is made from four key in­gre­di­ents: grain, wa­ter, hop and yeast. Flavours are im­parted by the grains used. Most beers are brewed from a mix of grains, in­clud­ing bar­ley, rye, corn, rice, wheat, etc. Some use malted grains, while some oth­ers don’t. The ra­tio de­pends on the brewer’s pref­er­ence. Wheat, thanks to an abun­dance of pro­tein, lends it­self to a fuller body and a thicker head. Amer­i­can brew­ers gen­er­ally pre­fer six-row bar­ley, which con­tains more pro­tein and less starch than two-row bar­ley, for the styles of beer they want to achieve.

Ev­ery brew­ery has its own se­cret mother yeast, which pro­duces the lit­tle strains of yeast to be used in a par­tic­u­lar beer. Heineken uses its pro­pri­etary A-yeast. The by-prod­ucts of the syn­the­sis in the wort are the flavour com­pounds.

Wa­ter piped into the mash af­fects the qual­ity of the beer. Mash­ing is a process that steeps the malt in warm wa­ter to

en­cour­age en­zymes to con­vert the starch in the malt into sug­ars. The amount of min­er­als and the pH level af­fect the taste so brew­ers gen­er­ally pre­fer the wa­ter to be as pure as pos­si­ble so they can con­trol what goes into the wa­ter af­ter­wards.

A good brew­ing wa­ter should be hard, in other words, con­tain­ing a con­trolled amount of cal­cium va­ri­eties, also known as brew­ing salts, which brew­ers will in­tro­duce them­selves.

Hops af­fect the tart­ness of the beer while im­bu­ing flavours and aro­mas. The more hops are added to the wort, the bit­terer the beer tastes. Fur­ther­more, hops are an­timi­cro­bial. In­dia Pale Ale traces its ori­gins to the golden age of the East In­dia Com­pany where pale ale from Europe was shipped from the con­ti­nent to In­dia. Hops were used heav­ily to help pre­serve the beer and pre­vent spoilages dur­ing the month­s­long voy­age. Brew­ers nowa­days em­ploy ster­il­i­sa­tion by boil­ing the sweet wort, be­fore hops are added, for health and safety pur­poses. None­the­less, In­dia Pale Ale with its hoppy taste still has its le­gion of fans.

Ox­i­da­tion is bad.

Leave a bot­tle of un­capped wine in the fridge and watch it turn into vine­gar af­ter a cou­ple of days. Ox­i­da­tion is bad for wine. It is also ruinous for beer. Be­fore fer­men­ta­tion and the in­tro­duc­tion of yeasts into the wort and af­ter ster­il­i­sa­tion and the in­ser­tion of hops, the wort which was pre­vi­ously boiled is rapidly cooled down to curb ox­i­da­tion. Brew­ers also make ex­tra ef­forts to pre­vent ox­i­da­tion such as pip­ing the car­bon diox­ide that oc­curs nat­u­rally dur­ing fer­men­ta­tion into stain­less steel tanks that hold the beer, fill­ing stain­less steel kegs to the brim to min­imise con­tact be­tween beer and air, or even en­forc­ing the bar to re­place its kegs be­fore pass­ing their shelf life. The lat­ter ap­plies to draught beer.

Foam isn’t al­ways de­testable.

The per­fect pour hinges on the tap­ster’s tech­nique ‒ and the tap it­self of course. Mlíko, a Czech word trans­lat­ing to milk, de­notes a glass of beer froth that is uber silky, fluffy and creamy on the mouth. A half-froth, half-liq­uid pour is known as šnyt. The stan­dard pour is called hladinka, which con­tains a quar­ter foam. Malaysians’ favourite? Cochtan ‒ foam­less, head­less and we love it. Be­cause we just love drink­ing. AM

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