Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lite Lagers

The best thing about Lite Lagers is there is no law requiring me, or anyone else, to drink them. Lite lagers are the moral equivalent of Wal Mart stores. Sure, they get the job done, but no one ought to brag about the encounter.

Despite the fact that they are disgusting, Lite Lagers are probably among the best selling beers in America. Most every one has tried one. Miller Lite, Bud Light, Coors Light are but some of the offerings foisted on an unsuspecting public. Some of the major craft brewers also offer these beers - most likely to get a toehold on the market. Sam Adams Light being one example. If you want to drink a lite lager but don't want to appear to be too much of a Philistine you can always order a Bitburger Light (at least that's German).

Believe it or not these beers are designed to be flavorless and borderline insulting to your intelligence as a beer drinker. These beers can often contain up to 40% rice or corn as adjuncts. That means that the brewers are intentionally brewing the flavor right out of them. They must be served cold because the coldness deadens your taste buds so that you can pour these things down your throat without puking. If you try to drink one of these warm you will get a mouthful of something that is best left undescribed.

In fact, if you want to know if you are drinking a good beer let it reach room temperature. At that point you will really begin to taste the actual flavors of the beer. If you can identify pleasant malty flavors and/or the aroma of hops, chances are you aren't drinking a Lite Lager.

Lite lagers tend to have an original gravity of 1.028-1.040 and a final gravity of .998-1.008. That means the alcohol by volume is between 2.9 - 4.2%.

The hop bitterness of the beers (measured in IBUs) is 8-12 and the color (measured in SRMs) is 2-3. That basically means there is little to no hop aroma and the color resembles pale straw.

The one redeeming quality of this kind of beer is that it is incredibly refreshing on a hot day and with it's relatively low alcohol content you can have a few and still see straight. It also has fewer calories than many other beers. There, I said something nice. Next style, please!

When I'm not humiliating myself at a BBQ competition or cutting huge gouges in my sharpening stones I teach Reformation history at two institutions of higher learning. I have always loved history and I suspect that's the underlying connective tissue that holds all my hobbies together. In all my avocations I am drawn to the fact that by cooking with fire, sharpening steel, brewing beer, or even fly fishing, I am able to touch a part of the past. Sorry to be a sap, but it's true.

During the coldest parts of winter, when I don't enjoy tending a smoker and I can't control fermentation temperatures, I concentrate on sharpening. But I have decided that this may be a good time for me to begin the process of studying for certification as a Beer Judge. The process of becoming a certified beer judge is nothing like becoming a CBJ in the competition BBQ world. The official study guides are close to 100 pages when combined. In addition, the exam tests a person's knowledge of the brewing process by requiring the test-taker to provide all grain recipies. And if that's not enough the examinee (is that a word?) must be able to provide detailed information on a number of beer styles.

Needless to say I'm loving the opportunity to turn my mind away from Reformation history and dig into a little liquid history, at least until the next term begins.

All blogs are self-indulgent bovine scatology, and this one is no different. So if you don't mind I'm going to use this little part of the internet to review what I'm learning and track my progress. First stop - Light Lagers. I don't mind studying them, so long as I'm not forced to drink them!