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Old 03-30-2015, 07:16 AM   #41
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Around here, most brewpubs and bars that have a lot of craft brews on tap will gladly pour you a small sample before you commit to a full pint. And many of these places can also sell you a growler of beer (1/2 - 1 gallon screw top bottle filled from the tap) if you'd like to take some home with you.

At some bars, I suppose you might get funny looks if you asked for a sample first, but it never hurts to ask

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Old 03-30-2015, 07:47 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by jIMOh View Post
I have not found a bartender yet which can explain the difference between an APA and an American IPA
Depends on the place. If you want to learn, and get great beer served in the right glassware (probably more tradition than anything, but some will insist it affects the flavor - the wine geeks are like that) and at the right temperature (very important), you have to go to places that are serious about their beer.

They aren't all that hard to find these days, but you have to seek them out.

OTOH, I've sat at a table at a bar, asked for their beer list, and have had the server tell me, 'we have just about everything, so just tell me what you want'. Right. So after a few go-arounds, she says "OK, we have Miller, Miller lite, Bud &Bud lite, Coors lite and Keystone". I guess that's 'everything'.

"I'll just have water then, thanks".

I should have left her a copy of the BJCP guidelines as a 'tip'.


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Old 03-30-2015, 08:16 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by GalaxyBoy View Post
What's the point? You can figure the BU/GU (boo-goo) ratio of the beer, which is somewhat of an indicator of how bitter it will seem. A Russian Imperial Stout will have more IBUs than a typical IPA, but will be perceived as much less bitter. Just like adding sugar to your coffee, it is the balance.
Someone alluded to that before (probably braumeister, the pdf was great!) and I will bet that'll get me closer than anything I've tried before, thanks! I will still have to use my smartphone, but it beats the bad advice I sometimes get in bars & restaurants. Every server/shopkeeper says they know, so do, some don't, not always obvious.

I haven't had problems in any brewpubs, it's old school bars, restaurants and even stores that can be hit or miss. My favorite local brewpub always shoves a sample in front of me even when I ask how bitter/hoppy a new style offering is - they'd rather have me taste, so again brewpubs are not a problem. And again, I am not so much looking for specific brand styles, 'I want to learn how to fish, not be given a fish.'

[EDIT to add BU:GU chart!!!]

And then this, one step closer to a relative bitterness holy grail?
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Old 03-30-2015, 08:30 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
And again, I am not so much looking for specific brand styles, 'I want to learn how to fish, not be given a fish.'
I think the problem is that there may be styles of beer, but when it comes down to it, it's pretty much "anything goes" with US brewers and their broad interpretations of any given named style. I think you're going to have to sample and use your iPhone to research or not take a chance on a beer you haven't tried before.
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Old 03-30-2015, 08:35 AM   #45
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Originally Posted by braumeister View Post
A big beer with tons of malt can handle a lot of IBUs just to balance it out. That's why some IPAs seem far more bitter than others. The ones that are more pleasing are made with a bigger malt "backbone" to balance the ridiculous load of hop bitterness. The aggressively bitter ones lack that level of malt.

You can judge the level of malt (approximately) by another number frequently shown on the beer list: the original gravity (OG). This may be expressed as actual specific gravity (1.065 or the like) or in degrees Plato (16.25 for example). The higher the gravity, the more malt was used in the recipe.
This isn't quite the way it works. OG is more an indicator of alcohol level, rather than the "maltiness" of a beer. While you're correct that a higher OG means more malt was used to brew the beer, that doesn't necessarily mean the beer has more sweetness (malty backbone) to be balanced out by bitterness. Without getting too technical, the amount of malt presence that persists to the final product is more a function of the temperature at which the beer was mashed (soaking the grains) than strictly how much actual malt was used.

You can have a high-ABV beer (i.e., it has a high OG) made with lots of malt, but if it was mashed at a lower temperature, then the resulting beer will be quite dry, and will not need much bitterness to balance it out. Conversely, you could brew a low-ABV beer with relatively less malt, but mash at higher temperatures, producing less-fermentable sugars that the yeast will not eat, and thus will persist to the final beer, manifesting as sweetness or "maltiness," that would require more hop bitterness to achieve the same balanced flavour profile.

Also, "Imperial" just means high-alcohol (typically 8+%), and has nothing to do with bitterness.
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Old 03-30-2015, 10:04 AM   #46
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We homebrewers need to be careful not to lose the average beer lover who doesn't fiddle with all these numbers like we do. I still think the best approach is to do as much field research as possible.
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Old 03-30-2015, 12:54 PM   #47
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Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
... And again, I am not so much looking for specific brand styles, 'I want to learn how to fish, not be given a fish.'

[EDIT to add BU:GU chart!!!]

And then this, one step closer to a relative bitterness holy grail?
Nah, I don't think so. I doubt that chart will be anything more than a general guideline. I see lots of exceptions to what I think some one would consider a 'too hoppy' beer to be, and vice-versa, relative to its placement on that chart.

For example, they list "Dry Stout" as second , right after Imperial IPA? Guinness is a Dry Stout, and I don't think most beer drinkers would describe it as a 'hoppy' beer. And you said earlier " I've had many Porters and Stouts I like (Guinness, though light for a stout)". It may have a relatively high alpha acid content (IBUs) relative to the gravity, so that's why it is there on the chart, but those are bittering hops, not 'forward' hops, and probably muted by the roasty bitterness of the roasted barley (which tastes pretty much like charcoal if you chew a few grains).

Like I've been saying, there just isn't any standard number or descriptor for perceived 'hoppiness', which is really what you are talking about - not an alpha acid number, not a ratio, but really how 'forward' the hops present themselves in that particular beer. Beyond a general guide, you need to try them or learn to trust someone.

Like I explained earlier with my aversion to phenols. I can't count on a a label to tell me if the phenols will be too much for me or not. Some styles (German Hefe's) will very likely be too much (like you know an Imperial IPA will be too hoppy for you), and some I can count on to be no problem at all.But then you get into some middle ground styles, and I have to try them (or trust someone who knows what I'm describing, which probably means tasting a 'too much' and 'OK' beer side by side with me to calibrate their palette to mine.

You are looking for a simple solution to a complex problem (perceived taste). The guides will get you part way there, that's all.


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