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This FAQ is divided into sections which loosely encompass the variety of
Frequently Asked Questions that appear concerning beer. These are preceded
by a quick index section to aid in finding answers to specific questions.

The Quick Index section
     A listing of the most frequently asked questions.

Section 1 - Definitions of common terms regarding beer itself
     Some popular items are beer definition, styles, and marketing

Section 2 - Definitions of common terms for the brewing industry
     Topics such as alcohol strength, Reinheitsgebot, and CAMRA...

Section 3 - Beer handling and sensory issues
     Typical answers cover proper storage, serving temperatures, tasting
     methods, off flavors...

Section 4 - Miscellaneous topics
     Includes homebrewing and specific brand issues...

Section 5 - Beer resources
     Where to find good beer, the r.f.d.b. archives, and pointers to other
     Net resources...

Section 6 - Acknowledgements

Section 7 - Maintenance History


FAQ Section 1 - Definitions of common terms regarding beer itself
     1-1. What is beer?
     1-2. What are ales?
     1-3. What are lagers?
     1-4. How are they different?
     1-5. What are lambics?
     1-6. What is "bock" beer?
     1-7. What is "porter"?
     1-8. What are "dry" beers?
     1-9. What are "ice" beers?
     1-10. What are "cold-filtered", and "heat pasteurized" beers?
     1-11. What is "draught" (draft) beer?
     1-12. How is specific gravity related to beer?
     1-13. What does "Dubbel" mean on a beer label?

FAQ Section 2 - Definitions of common terms in the brewing industry
     2-1. How is alcohol strength measured?
     2-2. Why is beer stronger in Canada than the U.S.?
     2-3. How are "ale", "malt liquor", and "barleywine" related to
     2-4. What is the Reinheitsgebot?
     2-5. What about the new "Draught-flow" (tm) system (AKA the "widget"
     or "smoothifier")?
     2-6. What is "Real Ale"?
     2-7. What is CAMRA?
     2-8. What are the categories of brewers/breweries?
     2-9. What is a brewpub?

FAQ Section 3 - Beer handling and sensory issues
     3-1. How do I judge a beer?
     3-2. What is good/bad/skunked/spoiled beer?
     3-3. How should I store beer?
     3-4. How long does beer keep?
     3-5. Is beer considered a vegetarian/kosher/organic product?

FAQ Section 4 - Miscellaneous topics
     4-1. What is Zima and/or clear beer?
     4-2. What do the different Chimay packages/colors mean?
     4-3. What does the "33" mean on the bottles of Rolling Rock?
     4-4. Does Coors support Nazi organizations?
     4-5. Can I make my own it legal?
     4-6. How do I make it?
     4-7. WIMLIACLDAB? BTABFCTW!.....What was that?
     4-8. Is Guinness good for you?
     4-9. Where are Sam Adams beers made?
     4-10. Why does American beer suck?

FAQ Section 5 - Beer resources
     5-1. Where can I get more beer info and tasting tips?
     5-2. Where can I get good beer?
     5-3. I'm going to "some city", what brewpubs/bars are good?
     5-4. Can I get beer in the mail?
     5-5. Where can I get details on making my own?
     5-6. Where can I get recipes?
     5-7. What is r.f.d.b. about?
     5-8. Where are the archives?
     5-9. What is in the archives?
     5-10. I don't have ftp, can you e-mail files to me?

FAQ Section 6 - Acknowledgements

FAQ Section 7 - Maintenance History



What is beer?

     Beer is an alcoholic beverage made from malted grains, hops, yeast,
     and water. The grain is usually barley or wheat, but sometimes corn
     and rice are used as well. Fruit, herbs, and spices may also be used
     for special styles. In the distant past, the terms "beer" and "ale"
     meant different things. "Ale" was originally made without using hops,
     while "beer" did use hops. Since virtually all commercial products
     now use hops, the term "beer" now encompasses two broad categories:
     ales and lagers.


What are ales?

     Ales are brewed with "top-fermenting" yeasts at close to room
     temperatures, 50-70F (10-21C). Ales encompass the broadest range of
     beer styles including bitters, pale ales, porters, stouts, barley
     wines, trappist, lambic, and alt. The British Isles are famous for
     their ales and it is a popular style with homebrewers and


What are lagers?

     Lagers are brewed with "bottom-fermenting" yeasts at much colder
     temperatures, 35-50F (2-10C) over long periods of time (months). This
     is called "lagering". Lagers include bocks, doppelbocks, Munich- and
     Vienna-style, Maerzen/Oktoberfest, and the famous pilsners. Pilsner
     beer originated in the town of Pilsen, now in the Czech Republic and
     was the first non-cloudy beer. Most popular beers produced by the
     large North American breweries were originally of the pilsner style.
     These have diverged a great deal from the original style and succeed
     now by the force of the mass-marketing prowess of the brewers rather
     than any remarkable qualities of the beers themselves.


How are they different?

     The differences tend to be based on tradition more than anything
     inherent to either style. The major traditional differences are a
     result of the varying lengths of fermentation and temperature used
     for the two beer types. They can also vary in style and degree of
     hopping and in the types of malt used, but these differences are very
     arbitrary and exceptions abound.

     Ales generally undergo short, warm fermentations and are intended to
     be consumed soon after completion. The result of relatively warm
     fermentation is that a lot of by-products of yeast metabolism besides
     alcohol and CO2 get left in the beer. These usually manifest
     themselves as "fruity" or "buttery" flavors which vary in degree and
     flavor with the strain of yeast used and the temperature and duration
     of fermentation. Accordingly, ales exhibit their most complex flavors
     when served at warm temperatures, around 50-60F (10-15C).

     The trick with lager yeast is that they can survive, metabolize, and
     reproduce at lower temperatures. Lager yeast can assimilate compounds
     which ale yeast cannot, fewer by-products are made, and the stuff
     that does get made drops out during lagering. The result is a very
     clean, sparkling beer. Lagers are best served at slightly cooler
     temperatures than ales, 40-50F (5-10C).

     Of course there are notable exceptions:

     California Common
          The best known example is "Steam Beer" which is a trademark of
          the Anchor Brewing Co. It employs lager yeast fermented at ale
          temperatures which gives it some fruitiness usually associated
          with ales.

     Koelsch and Alt
          Ales that undergo a cold secondary fermentation and storage
          period resulting in only a hint of ale-like fruityness. Koelsch
          is usually associated with the city of Cologne, Germany while
          Alt is indigenous to Duesseldorf.

     Cream Ale
          Alternately, an ale fermented at lager temps or vice-versa. It
          has also been made by blending a conventional ale with a
          conventional lager after fermentation. Most examples are only
          slightly more interesting than mega-brews; a touch more body, a
          touch more fermentation flavor.


What are lambics?

     Lambics are a type of ale brewed in parts of Belgium by exposing hot
     wort (unfermented beer) to the outside air. Indigenous, wild yeasts
     and other microorganisms settle on the exposed surface of the wort as
     it cools and begin spontaneous fermentation. They are often sweetened
     with fruit flavorings and generally prized the world over.


What is "bock" beer?

     Bock is a style of lager beer which originated in Germany. It was
     traditionally brewed in the fall, at the end of the growing season,
     when barley and hops were at their peak. It was "lagered" all winter
     and enjoyed in the spring at the beginning of the new brewing season.
     Bocks can be pale (helles) or dark (dunkles) and there are
     double(doppel) bocks which are extra strong.

     Bocks are usually strong beers made with lots of malt yielding a very
     full-bodied, alcoholic beer. A persistent myth has been that bock
     beers are made from the dregs at the bottom of a barrel when they are
     cleaned in the spring. This probably seemed logical because of the
     heavier body and higher strength of bocks. From a brewing standpoint,
     this is clearly impossible for two reasons: 1) The "dregs" left after
     fermentation are unfermentable, which is exactly why they are left
     over. They cannot be fermented again to make more beer. 2) Any
     attempt to re-use the "dregs" would probably result in serious
     bacterial contamination and a product which does not resemble beer as
     we know it.


What is "porter"?

     From: The Guinness Drinking Companion by Leslie Dunkling (1992)
     Guinness Publishing; ISBN 0-85112-988-9 "In the London Ale-Houses and
     taverns of the early 18th Century it was common to call for a pint of
     "Three threads", meaning a third of a pint each of ale, beer, and
     twopenny (the strongest beer, costing twopence a quart). A brewer
     called Harwood had the idea of brewing a beer that united the
     flavours of all three. He called this beer "Entire". This was about

     Harwood's Entire was highly hopped, strong, and dark. It was brewed
     with soft rather than hard water. Within a few years Entire was also
     being referred to as "Porter" (short for porter's ale) because the
     porters of the London street markets were especially fond of it.
     Porter that was extra strong was known as "Stout Porter", and
     eventually "Stout"."


What are "dry" beers?


     "Dry" beer was developed in Japan. Using more adjuncts (like corn and
     rice) and genetically altered yeasts, these beers ferment more
     completely and have less residual sweetness, and hence less


What are "ice" beers?

     The making of "ice" beers, in general, involves lowering the
     temperature of the finished product until the water in it begins to
     freeze and then filtering out the ice crystals that form. Since water
     will freeze before alcohol, the result is higher alcohol content. The
     ice forms around yeast cells, protein particles, etc. so these get
     removed as well; leaving fewer components to provide taste and

     This process is not new to brewing, having been developed in Germany
     to produce "eisbocks". Apparently they were produced by accident
     during the traditional spring celebration with bock beers. Spring,
     being the capricious season that it is, probably sent a late cold
     snap around one year causing some of the spring bocks to partially
     freeze. People drank it anyway and liked the change in flavor.

     In its current incarnation, the process is an offshoot of the
     concentrated fruit juice industry. It was developed by orange growers
     to reduce the costs of storage and shipping by concentrating the
     fruit juice through freezing and removal of some water. Labatt
     Breweries claims to have pioneered this process for brewing and most
     of the large North American brewers quickly followed suit in the
     usual marketing frenzy.

     The main difference between these "ice" beers and true eisbocks is
     taste and character. Any beer brewed using this method will only be
     as good as the brew with which you start. In other words, if you
     start with a bland, flavor-impaired, adjunct-laden beer and remove
     some of the water, you end up with a bland, flavor-impaired,
     adjunct-laden beer with more alcohol. OTOH, if you take a rich,
     malty, traditionally brewed bock and remove some of the water, you
     end up with an eisbock.


Subject: 1-10. What are "cold-filtered", and "heat pasteurized" beers?

     Cold-filtering is a way of clarifying beer with a shortened lagering
     time. Beer (lager particularly) becomes clearer with extended storage
     which allows proteins and other particles to coagulate and settle out
     of suspension. The beer can then be drawn off and bottled. One way to
     reduce the time required is to chill the beer causing these molecules
     to "clump" and be easily filtered out. The up-side is that the time
     from brewing to finished product is shortened, thereby boosting
     productivity. The down-side is that cold-filtering also removes many
     components which contribute flavor and body to beer.

     Heat Pasteurized is a redundant phrase since pasteurization means
     heating to kill microbes.

     Some beers are bottle or cask conditioned, meaning that live yeast
     are still in the beer in its container. Most mainstream beers are
     either filtered, to remove all yeast and bacteria, or pasteurized to
     kill all yeast and bacteria. This makes for a more stable product
     with a longer shelf-life.

     Pasteurization is more expensive and tends to alter the flavor.
     Filtration is cheaper, leaves a clearer beer, and has less effect on

     The "ice" beer process (see above) enhances filtration schemes
     because more stuff can be filtered out more quickly using less
     filtration material which shows up directly on the old bottom line.


What is "draught" (draft) beer?

     Technically speaking, draught beer is beer served from the cask in
     which it has been conditioned. It has been applied, loosely, to any
     beer served from a large container. More recently, it has been used
     as a promotional term for canned or bottled beer to try to convince
     us that the beer inside tastes like it came from a cask. See also
     "Real Ale".
     part 2

Subject: 1-12. How is specific gravity related to beer?

     Specific gravity is a measure of the density of a liquid. Distilled
     water has a specific gravity of 1.000 at 60F(15C) and is used as a
     baseline. The specific gravity of beer measured before fermentation
     is called its Original Gravity or OG and sometimes its Starting
     Gravity (SG). This gives an idea of how much sugar is dissolved in
     the wort (unfermented beer) on which the yeast can work. The range of
     values goes from approximately 1.020 to 1.160 meaning the wort can be
     from 1.02 to 1.16 times as dense as water (in British brewing the
     decimal point is usually omitted). When measured after fermentation
     it is called the Final Gravity (FG) or Terminal Gravity (TG). The
     difference between these two values is a good gauge of the amount of
     alcohol produced during fermentation.

     The OG will always be higher than the FG for two reasons. First, the
     yeast will have processed much of the sugar that was present, thus,
     reducing the gravity. And, second, the alcohol produced by
     fermentation is less dense than water, further reducing the gravity.
     The OG has a significant effect on the taste of the final product and
     not just from an alcoholic standpoint. A high OG usually results in
     beer with more body and sweetness than a lower OG. This is because
     some of the sugars measured in the OG are not fermentable by the
     yeast and will remain after fermentation.

     Here are some rough guidelines:

     Some Bitters, Milds, Wheat beers, and most "Lite" beers have an OG
     ranging from 1020-1040. The majority of beers fall in the 1040-1050
     range including most Lagers, Stout, Porter, Pale Ale, most Bitters,
     and Wheat beers. From 1050-1060 you'll find, Oktoberfest, India Pale
     Ale, ESB (Extra Special Bitter). In the 1060-1075 range will be Bock,
     strong ales, Belgian doubles. Above 1075 are the really strong beers
     like Dopplebocks, Barleywines, Imperial Stouts, and Belgian trippels
     and strong ales.


What does "Dubbel" mean on a beer label?

     Belgian ales often carry additional wording on their labels
     indicating their strength. This applies to their original malt
     strength not their alcoholic strength. Variations may appear as

          Dutch/Flemish - enkel (pron. 'ankle')
          French/Walloon - ?
          Dutch/Flemish - dubbel (pron. 'double')
          French/Walloon - double (pron. 'doobluh')
          Dutch/Flemish - tripel (pron. 'treepel' or 'trippel')
          French/Walloon - triple (pron. 'treepluh')
          Dutch/Flemish - quadrupel (pron. 'quadruple')
          French/Walloon - quadruple (pron. 'quadrupluh')

     Also on the Trappist Ale "La Trappe" you will see the Latin versions:
     Angulus, Duplus, Triplus, and Quadruplus.



How is alcohol strength measured?

     Most of the world measures alcohol as a percent of volume (abv). In
     the U.S., alcohol in beer is measured by weight (abw). Since alcohol
     weighs roughly 20% less than water, abw measures appear 20% less than
     abv measures for the same amount of alcohol. In Europe, beer strength
     tends to be measured on the basis of the fermentables in the wort.

     Until recently, Britain used OG (original gravity), which is 1000
     times the ratio of the wort gravity to that of water. Thus a beer
     with an OG of 1040 was 4% more dense than water, the density coming
     from dissolved sugars. You can generally take one tenth of the last
     two digits to estimate the percentage alcohol by volume once the
     dissolved sugars are fermented. In the example used, the abv would be
     approximately 4% (40/10 = 4%)  Currently, British beer is being taxed
     on its actual %ABV rather that the older OG so you'll often find both

     Continental Europe tends to uses degrees Plato. In general, the
     degrees Plato are about one quarter the last two digits of the OG
     figure. Hence, in our example above, the beer would be 10 degrees
     Plato. To get the expected alcohol by volume, divide the degrees
     Plato by 2.5.


Why is beer stronger in Canada than the U.S.?

     This is just folklore that results from the way alcoholic strength is
     measured. The alcohol content of mainstream U.S. beers is measured as
     a percent of weight (abw). Canadian beers (and most other countries)
     measure percent alcohol by volume (abv). A typical Canadian beer of
     5% (abv) will be about the same strength as a typical U.S. beer at 4%


How are "ale", "malt liquor", and "barleywine" related to

     The U.S. regulations about the labelling of beer products were
     antiquated, but they are changing rapidly. When Prohibition ended, a
     statute was enacted that prohibited the alcohol content from
     appearing on beer labels unless required by state law. Nor could they
     use words like "strong", "full strength", or "high proof". Coors
     recently challenged this law in court and has won their lower court
     battles. It is now pending a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.
     However, some states have regulations that require certain beers to
     be labelled using other terms that are supposed denote strength
     without violating the above statute. Consequently some beers are
     labeled ales, even if they are lagers, due simply to their strength.
     Texas is one example of this usage. Similarly, "malt liquor" is the
     appellation attached to strong beers in other states, such as
     Georgia. Barley wines are strong beers, typically at strengths
     comparable to wines (8% alcohol by volume and over). However, this is
     not just an arbitrary term for strength but the actual name of the
     beer style as well.

     In April 1995, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Coors' favor regarding
     the placement of alcohol percentages on beer labels. Some of Coors'
     beer labels now include this figure and other brewers are following


What is the Reinheitsgebot?

     This is the German (originally, Bavarian) purity law that restricts
     the ingredients that can be used to make beer to being water, barley
     malt, hops, and yeast. In the 1516 version of the law, only water,
     malt and hops were mentioned, because yeast was not isolated until
     the 19th century by Louis Pasteur. The Reinheitsgebot is actually
     part of a larger document called the "Biersteuergesetz" or "Beer Tax
     Law" which defined what beer was and how it should be taxed according
     to strength.

     "Rein" means clean or pure; "-heit" means "-ness"; so "Reinheit"
     means "cleanliness" or "purity".

     In 1987, the Reinheitsgebot was repealed by the EC as part of the
     opening up of the European market. Many German breweries elected to
     uphold the Reinheitsgebot in their brewing anyway out of respect for
     their craft and heritage.

     The full text of the Reinheitsgebot, as it existed before 1987, is
     available via anonymous ftp in English or German from the archives
     (see later).


What about the new "Draught-flow" (tm) system (AKA the
"widget" or "smoothifier")?

     This device has recently appeared in canned beers in an attempt to
     mimic the taste and appearance of a true draught beer. It employs a
     small plastic bladder filled with a mix of nitrogen and beer at the
     bottom of the can. When the can is opened, the mixture is forced out
     through small holes in the bladder causing considerable turbulence at
     the bottom of the can. This results in a thick, foaming head of
     creamy bubbles. While not real ale (see next), this process does
     mimic the serving of beer through "swan necks" or "sparklers" and is
     the subject of much debate.


What is "Real Ale"?

     "Real Ale is a name for draught (or bottled) beer brewed from
     traditional ingredients, matured by secondary fermentation in the
     container from which it is dispensed and served without the use of
     extraneous carbon dioxide"....from CAMRA's handbook.


What is CAMRA?

     CAMRA is the CAMpaign for Real Ale. It was founded in the early 1970s
     in Great Britain to preserve Britain's beer traditions. It is used in
     marketing courses as one of the most successful consumer movements of
     all time. It is now concerning itself with the preservation of beer,
     the British pub, and brewing traditions worldwide.

     Anyone can join CAMRA by writing to:

     Campaign for Real Ale
     230 Hatfield Rd., St Albans
     Herts AL1 4LW, UK.

     Or, you can use Visa/MC and join by phone: 44-1727-867201

     Check out the CAMRA WWW site at 

What are the categories of brewers/breweries?

     According to the Institute of Brewing there are four categories as

     Large Brewers - Production in excess of 500,000 barrels/year
     Regional Brewers - Production between 15,000 and 500,000 bbl/yr
     Microbrewers - Production less than 15,000 bbl/yr
     Brewpubs - Production for onsite consumption only

     In addition you may see/hear the term pico-brewer which is used to
     describe brewers so small that distribution is limited to pubs and
     bars in their immediate area. To complicate matters their are
     contract brewers. These companies develop a recipe and then "buy"
     excess capacity at a large brewery to have their beer made for them.
     They, then, market and distribute the finished product. Some of these
     can be quite large. The Boston Beer Co., which brews the Sam Adams
     line, is a good example of a large contract brewer.

     To give you a better perspective here are some examples with 1993
     production figures (barrels per year):

     Large Brewers:
          Anheuser-Busch - 93,000,000
          Miller - 49,000,000
          Coors - 25,000,000

     Regional Brewers:
          Boston Beer - 450,000
          Sierra Nevada - 104,325
          Anchor - 92,000
          Pete's - 74,000

          Summit - 10,500
          Celis - 10,500
          Yakima(Grant's) - 8,000

          Wynkoop - 4,200
          Gordon Biersch (No. 3) - 2,700
          Great Lakes - 2,700


What is a brewpub?

     A brewpub is, generally, a combination brewery/restaurant. The beer
     is made on-premises for consumption by the restaurant patrons.
     Various regulations govern the ratio of beer/food sales to prevent
     breweries from serving token food items while selling mostly beer.
     Very common in Europe and the source of a growing industry in the
     North America.




How do I judge a beer?

     Much has been written about wine tasting, and that technique and
     vocabulary apply quite nicely to beer, as well. Of course, beer is a
     more complex beverage and its evaluation covers some additional
     ground, but the concepts are the same. The biggest change most
     drinkers must undergo is warming up their beer. Ice cold beer numbs
     the taste buds and doesn't allow the beer to develop its full flavor
     potential. In general, pale beer is best served at cooler
     temperatures than dark beer, and lagers cooler than ales. Start with
     40-50F (5-10C) for the cooler beers and 50-60F (10-15C) for the
     warmer ones.

     Beer should be evaluated using four senses: sight, smell, taste,
     feel. Always drink beer from a clear glass to fully appreciate it.
     Look at it and note the color and clarity. Hold it up to a light if
     necessary. Take a good sniff from the glass to get the aroma or
     bouquet. Taste it, swishing it around in your mouth, and notice its
     body and flavors. After swallowing, notice any aftertaste or finish.

     You should be noticing things like:

     Was it golden, amber, black?
     Clear or cloudy?
     Did it smell sweet, malty, flowery, alcoholic?
     Did it taste bitter, sweet, tart, smooth, roasty?
     Did it feel "thick" or "thin" as you swished it around?
     Did it leave a buttery taste, nutty, fruity?

     With additional experience and some reading you will begin to develop
     not only a sense of what you enjoy, but what marks a truly good beer
     from a bland or mediocre one.

     Also, it is usually a good idea to try a beer more than once. Get it
     from different sources, try it when your in a different mood or
     setting, wait for a full moon, whatever. Many factors will affect
     your overall perception, so be flexible. Be aware, as well, that
     tasting many beers at once is not a good idea. The taste buds begin
     to tire and send confusing impressions.


What is good/bad/skunked/spoiled beer?

     In the most ideal sense, there are no good or bad beers. The
     enjoyment of beer is a highly subjective and personal experience.
     However, in this very real and flawed world, various camps develop
     and embrace their favorites while denouncing all others. This is
     illustrated by "The best/worst beer in the world is...." posts.

     The best approach is to appreciate what beer is about and how to
     recognize the outstanding qualities of a fine beer (see previous

     Bad beer can be easily identified, however, when it has been damaged
     or spoiled. The two most common occurences are:

          When beer has been exposed to strong light, either natural or
          artificial, certain components in hops alter and produce acrid
          flavors, AKA being "lightstruck". This is why beer should be
          bottled in brown bottles. Clear bottles offer no light
          protection and green is only slightly better. Technically, light
          of wavelengths from 550 nm and below can cause photochemical
          reactions in hop resins, resulting in a sulfury mercaptan which
          has a pronounced skunky character. 550 nm is roughly blue-green.
          Bottled beer can become lightstruck in less than one minute in
          bright sun, after a few hours in diffuse daylight, and in a few
          days under normal flourescent lighting.

          Also referred to as going "off". This is a more vague term and
          often refers to beer that has not been properly stored or
          handled allowing oxidation (a cardboard taste) or other
          off-flavors resulting from contamination, overheating, etc. As
          with any fermented beverage, alcohol can also turn to vinegar,
          imparting a sour taste to beer.


How should I store beer?

     I general, beer should be stored in a cool place. In warmer climates
     this often means refrigeration and you get used to letting your beer
     warm a little before you drink it. Cooler climates often use cellars
     to store beer which works quite well. As long as temperatures are
     kept between 35F(2C) and 60F(15C) you're probably OK. Keep in mind
     that storing at the warmer end of this scale will increase any aging
     effects since any yeast remaining in the beer will be more active.
     This is a Good Thing if you're aging a barleywine but will cause
     lower gravity beers to go "stale" sooner.


How long does beer keep?

     To quote Michael Jackson: "If you see a beer, do it a favour, and
     drink it. Beer was not meant to age." Generally, that is true.
     However, some beers that are strong and/or highly hopped must age to
     reach their full flavor potential.

     How a beer is conditioned and handled has a great affect on its
     shelf-life. Beer conditioned in the bottle or cask still contains
     live, active yeast and should be drunk as soon as possible. Most
     larger scale, commercial beers have been filtered or pasteurized to
     remove/kill the yeast and stabilize the product for the longer
     storage times encountered in the retail world. In any case, stored
     beer should never be exposed to heat or strong light.


Is beer considered a vegetarian/kosher/organic product?

     It depends on how you define each of those terms and what your
     particular values are. Rather than try to make a broad
     generalization, I'll describe the products and practices that are
     usually called into question regarding these topics. You are then
     free to apply these facts to your own system of beliefs and make an
     informed judgement. Also, I have ignored the fact that beer is an
     alcoholic beverage produced by the metabolism of yeast. This should
     be taken for granted. Read labels carefully and call the brewer if
     you need specific information about ingredients or processing since
     labeling laws allow the brewer to omit a great deal.

          Finings are substances sometimes added to beer during
          fermentation to help settle out particles and yeast, leaving the
          beer clear. It is important to note that finings are not present
          in the finished beer in any significant quantity. Their purpose
          is to settle out of the beer, not stay in suspension. OTOH, if a
          careful chemical analysis were to be performed, there would
          probably be a few molecules of a fining agent still to be found.
          Also, many brewers do not use finings at all, but filter their
          beer to clarify it. That said, these are the common fining

               Made from the dried swim bladders of sturgeons. Used a
               great deal in British brewing.
          Irish Moss
               Also known as carragheen, a type of dried seaweed.
               The same stuff used to make Jello (tm). Made from animal
               (mostly cow) hooves, skin and connective tissues.
               A brand name for PVP (polyvinylpyrdlidone), a man-made,
               plastic substance.
               More commonly known as diatemaceous earth.

          FYI, beer brewed according to the Reinheitsgebot (see related
          Q&A) is not prohibited from using finings since it was generally
          assumed that finings were not present in the finished product.

          These are products used to alter the flavor, color, or body of
          beer. They are used in addition to the "Basic 4": malted barley,
          hops, yeast, and water. They do not settle out and can be
          present in beer in significant quantities.

               Used a great deal by the mega-brewers as a cheap way to
               make huge quantities of beer since corn is cheaper than
               malted barley.
               Same as corn.
               Used in some beer styles to produce a lighter-bodied beer
               with a tangy flavor.
               Used as another fermentable sugar in addition to malted
               barley to impart different flavors.
               Also known as milk sugar because of its dairy origin. Used
               to increase sweetness and body of certain beer styles such
               as cream stouts.
               Another form of sugar used to flavor some dark ales.

     Heading agents
          Various products added to a beer to increase its ability to form
          and hold a head. Used most often in beers made with large
          quantities of corn and/or rice. Pepsin is a common heading agent
          and is often derived from pork. Beers using only malted barley
          or wheat don't need heading agents.

     Organic ingredients
          To be truly organic, a beer would have to be made from barley
          and hops cultivated using accepted organic practices. Most
          brewers do not make this claim, but a few are appearing. Those
          that do clearly label their products as organic. It is also my
          understanding that organic does not mean no animal products.

     Other ingredients
          Many other ingredients are used in brewing beer to give it
          unusual character or marketing appeal. As such, these items are
          often clearly indicated on the label. Some of the more common
          examples are:

          Oatmeal, Pumpkin, Potatoes, and all sorts of fruit
          Also spices such as: Ginger, Licorice, Coriander, Cinnamon, and




What is Zima and/or clear beer?

     Clear beers are malt-based beverages that have had all their
     character removed completely leaving one to wonder "What's the
     point?" Clear beverages like Zima are not beers, and are discussed in
     their own newsgroups like or alt.zima.


What do the different Chimay packages/colors mean?

     Chimay is the best known of the famous Trappist ales from Belgium and
     the Netherlands. Two package types are used: a 33cl(11oz) bottle with
     the standard metal crown and a 75cl(26oz) "Bordeaux" bottle which is
     corked. Three beers are produced by Chimay which differ in character
     and alcoholic strength. They have different names, but are often
     referred to by the color coding of the crown, cork seal, and labeling
     as follows:

     Chimay Red, Rouge, Premiere - 7% abv
     Chimay White, Blanche, Cinq Cents - 8% abv
     Chimay Blue, Bleue- 9% abv (33cl bottle only)
     Chimay Gold, Grande Reserve - This is a vintage bottling of Chimay
     Blue in a 75cl bottle


What does the "33" mean on the bottles of Rolling Rock?

     There several versions:

     The first is that it is the number of words on the label which a
     Rolling Rock employee wrote down before sending it to the
     artist/printer and it stuck. This is the most popular one.

     The second is that "33" is the year prohibition was lifted.

     A third, more colorful one, is that the brewery was started with
     money won at the track betting on #33 "Old Latrobe", hence the 33 and


Does Coors support Nazi organizations?

     The Adolph Coors Co., as a publicly held US corporation, does not.
     Nor is it likely they could do so and succeed in the US market. The
     Coors family supports the Coors Foundation which donates funds to
     many political, social, and educational organizations. Whether these
     organizations can be considered Nazi, right-wing, or even
     conservative is not an appropriate topic for this newsgroup since it
     doesn't affect the brewing, distribution, or marketing of Coors beer.
     This policy is stated in the r.f.d.b. Charter. These discussions can
     take place in soc.politics or talk.politics.misc.


Can I make my own it legal?

     U.S. regulations state that an individual can brew up to 100 gals/yr
     for personal consumption or up to 200 gals/yr per family without
     being subject to taxes. Other countries will certainly have different
     regulations. State laws often override the Federal tax law with more
     stringent regulations or ban any homebrewing, so check locally. In
     any case, you cannot sell your homebrew. Also, be aware that the
     presence of homebrew supply stores does not imply that homebrewing is
     legal in your state. More often, in a strange quirk of law-making, it
     is legal to sell the supplies, but illegal to make beer with them!?


How do I make it?

     Making your own can range from quite easy to very complicated
     depending on how much of the science you want to absorb. At its most
     basic, you can make beer following these steps:

     1.  Mix together malted barley extract, hops, and water and boil to
         produce what is called the wort.

     2.  The wort is cooled, placed in a fermenter and yeast is added.
         Fermentation will take place converting the sugars in the wort to
         carbon dioxide (which is vented out) and alcohol.

     3.  When fermentation is complete, the new beer is mixed with a small
         amount of primer (made from malt extract or corn sugar) and
         placed in sealed bottles or kegs. The primer will provide just
         enough additional fermentation to carbonate the beer.

     4.  Wait until the beer has properly aged and drink! The aging time
         depends on beer style and can range anywhere from 2 weeks to 1

     For further details, subscribe to rec.crafts.brewing and lurk for a



     This is a very old, very tired beer joke attributed to Monty Python.
     I'll spell it out for you:

     Q: Why is making love in a canoe like drinking American beer?
     A: Because they are both fucking close to water!

     But don't ever repeat this on the Net or the following will occur:

     1.  You will be scorched to a crunchy black by some excruciatingly
         creative individuals.
     2.  You will receive a number of "corrective" e-mails.
     3.  Your family/relatives will be visited by "Guido", a large,
         ill-tempered man with hairy knuckles. that order!


Is Guinness good for you?

     Answers to this, and many other Guinness questions, may be found in
     Alan Marshall's "Guinness FAQt and Folklore". This document is
     available in the archives or on WWW at



Where is Sam Adams beer made?

     As the largest contract brewer in the U.S., Boston Brewing Co. uses
     several breweries around the country to make the various Sam Adams
     beers. This info is accurate as of JAN-95.

     Boston, MA
          AKA Jamaica Plain. Former Haffenreffer brewery, a company-owned
          facility brewing the Boston Ale and doing R&D work on other
     Pittsburgh, PA
          Pittsburgh Brewing Co. brews the largest portion (by volume) of
          Sam Adams beers, mostly lagers for eastern distribution.
     Lehigh Valley, PA
          Stroh Brewery Co. brews the ales for eastern distribution.
     Portland, OR
          Blitz-Weinhard Brewing Co. (owned by G. Heileman). Most Sam
          Adams brews for western distribution.
     Nagold, Germany
          A Gambrinus brewery brews the Boston Lager for the European

     The relationship with F.X. Matt of Utica, NY has ended and Sam Adams
     beers are no longer made there. There is also a Sam Adams brewpub in
     Philadelphia, PA which brews ales from malt extract recipes. Also,
     FYI, the Sam Adams Triple Bock was brewed at the Jamaica Plain
     facility and then shipped to Bronco Winery in Ceres, CA for aging in
     their vats.


Why does American beer suck?

     You might as well ask In fact, any country in the world with a
     sufficiently large brewer is guilty of brewing beer that is (ahem)
     less than it could be. In an effort to boost profit margins and still
     be acceptable to the broadest possible market, the mega-brewers have
     resorted to using cheaper adjuncts, like corn and rice, instead of
     all barley malt. The resulting less-sweet beer doesn't need as much
     balancing bitterness, so they cut back on hops to save money and to
     make the end-product innocuous to the casual drinker. The change has
     been a gradual one, taking place in small increments over many years,
     so that most consumers would not notice the difference. These
     practices are followed up by huge, multi-media, marketing campaigns
     that attempt to sell brand image rather than beer flavor.

     American brewers take the biggest hit because they're the best at
     this game. In addition, most people outside the U.S. only see the
     brews exported by the mega-brewers and judge the entire market by
     these examples. But such blatant generalities as the opening question
     always fall short of the truth. The truth is that excellent beer is
     also being brewed in America and
     Germany/England/Canada/Mexico/Japan/Holland, etc. and the way to
     enjoy good beer from any country (or avoid bland beer) is to
     patronize the brewers that provide it and avoid the ones that don't.