The GRAM Guide to Craft Beer

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What is Craft Beer?

Most good beer aficionados would simply say water, malt, yeast and hops, but it’s so much more than that. Craft beer is community, it’s healthy, it’s fun times and it sparks conversation between absolute strangers, which is pretty cool if you ask me.

Craft beer is made by passionate, earthy people who believe in providing choice, in quality ingredients and in producing a tasty beverage to be consumed by like-minded customers who connect with their story and enjoy a good beer.  It changes lives, mine included. So many great travel experiences all over Australia and the world tasting local beers and meeting new people that have now become old friends.

It’s also a revolution, feeding society’s rediscovered interest in how their food, coffee and beer was made before it was dumbed down, cheapened and mass produced in the late twentieth century.

Yes, I love good beer and you should too.

How do you serve it?

Use glassware
Beer was never intended to be consumed directly from a bottle. A naturally fermented beer, on average, contains about 2.5 bottles worth of carbon dioxide, which naturally, leaves you feeling bloated so make sure to always pour into a glass. Unless you’re Kanye West, I doubt you would drink a good wine or champagne straight from the bottle, so please do the same with your beer.

Head is good
Now now… stop your snickering. Your Grandpa may have tipped his glass when pouring a VB longneck but it’s actually better to “pour straight”. Aim for about an inch down from the lip and take your time, stopping when the glass is two-thirds full. Your beer needs room to breathe and should end up with about an inch of foam. Good head protects your beer from the harmful effects of the air, and in my opinion, makes it taste better.

Savour the colour, aroma and taste
As soon as beer hits the glass, the smell, taste and colour is affected. If you’ve ever been to a craft beer bar, you will notice a heap of tattoo-covered bearded guys swirling their glass in an attempt to squeeze every ounce of street cred out of it. The bonus is by doing this it also tests the head retention and brings out the aroma of the beer. Now really get your nose in there, smell, exhale then take a generous swig – and don’t spit! This is beer, not wine.

The serving temperature
Thanks to the huge advertising budgets of the multinational breweries, the most common misconception is that your beer should be drunk ice cold, straight out of a stubby. But the reality is that at freezing temperature, your taste buds become totally numb, thereby missing out on 90% of what you’d hope to experience. Most craft breweries will put the serving temperature on the label, so take note.

The proper glass
Like wine, for optimum appreciation, you should try and drink beer from the correct kind of glass. There are many different combinations, but basic thing to remember is:
An ale is like red wine – it’s more robust, aromatic and flavourful, which is why you should use a wide, bulbous glass.
A lager is like white wine – it’s more delicate and requires a tall, narrow glass to show off the colour and clarity.

What are all the styles of beer and food pairings?
Let’s keep this simple. Trust me, there are MANY more styles than the ones listed below and there are multiple combinations for food pairings. The great thing about beer is everyone’s palate is slightly different so have some fun with this. Experiment. Argue. Don’t be boring.

Food Pairing

Wheat Beer Light
Pair With: Seafood like scallops or pan-fried prawns
Must try: Two Birds Taco Wheat or Red Hill Wheat

Pale Ale
Pair With: Burgers…. any burger!
Must Try: Bridge Road Pale Ale or Wolf Of The Willows XPA

India Pale Ale
Pair With: Spicy, oily Asian or Tex Mex.
Must try: Mornington Peninsula IPA or Feral Hop Hog

Lambics
Pair With: Light fruity dishes, sorbet.
Must Try: Lindemans Kriek or Boon Kriek

Porter
Pair With: Bacon, coffee-flavoured or chocolate desserts
Must Try: Holgate Temptress Porter or Southern Bay Metalhead Porter

Amber Ale
Pair With: Smoked brisket, BBQ ribs
Must Try: Mountain Goat Fancy Pants or Bright Hellfire Amber Ale

Stout
Pair With: Oysters
Must Try: 4 Pines Dry Stout or Nail Stout

Brown Ale
Pair With: Roast pork, anything with a peanut sauce.
Must Try: Brookes Brown Ale or Cavalier Brown Ale

On the Bandwagon

Trev has earned a reputation in the Australian craft beer industry as a passionate advocate for local breweries and educating the masses about the beer they are drinking. He is the founder and Chair of Bendigo Beer which runs many events including the widely acclaimed Bendigo On The Hop festival.