Sunday, January 31, 2010

Beer Pedagogy, in 140 characters or fewer

At the same moment that Twitter may have reached a tipping point —though huge in number of users, its growth has slowed dramatically, and 80% of those users post infrequently or quit outright (more here)— there are those who have found creative uses of its mini-blog service.

Ray Daniels is the founder of the Cicerone Certification Program, an on-line training course for beer sommeliers. He has begun to post a series of lessons on beer ingredients and beer styles, calling it Beer Education — in Twitter-speak: #BeerEd. And, since it's on Twitter, Daniels lectures briefly, in 140 characters or fewer.

  • Hybrid styles mix ale & lager: Anchor Steam uses lager yeast at warmer temperature. Cream ale uses ale yeast at cooler temp.
  • Germans say, “Malt is the soul of beer.” It provides most color and alcohol content as well as much of the flavor in beer.
  • Bohemian (Czech) pils: golden, full-bodied, notable malt flavor, spicy-floral hops. German pils paler, drier, less aromatic.
  • Brewers IBUs (International Bitterness Units) measure beer bitterness. Low of 5 to high of 105. Pilsner, Pale ale ~35 IBUs.
  • Malt: barley soaked in water til it begins to sprout. After 3-5 days, it’s kilned dry and develops most of its flavor.
  • ABV=alcohol by volume. Low: English mild ale~3.0%; High: Imperial Stout: to 12%. (Rare specialties higher & lower.)  
  • Pilsner created in town of Pilsen, Czech Republic. Soft water enabled pale, well-hopped beer first made in 1842.
  • ESB: Extra Special Bitter: amber draft English ale. 4.6-6.2% abv. Malty with equal bitterness, some flavor & aroma hops. 
  • Mild ale: popular w 20th C Eng workers. < 3.2% abv. Was dark, today often gold-amber. Very low bitterness. Tea-like tannins.
  • Lager yeast ferment at ~50° F; ales at ~68° F, but some Saison yeasts ferment at temps up to 90° F!
Daniels plans to continue his beer pedagogy in Tweets. This is great stuff: in byte-sized portions. To follow along, go to, and search for the term #BeerEd (including the # sign).
  • Daniels recently did a similar thing,  Tweeting  results from a lecture on dry-hopping by the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.
  • More on Mild Ale: here.
  • There are even beer tastings on Twitter. Two from Flying Dog Brewery here and here.  (Caveat lector: I sell Flying Dog beers for a beer/wine wholesaler in northern Virginia.)

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