Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Look Back at Beer Vessels

It is commonly known that beer has been around mankind for a long while. As beer itself changed, expanded, and improved, so did the way in which we actually got the beer to our mouths. Pottery, wood, stoneware, and even sewn up pieces of leather made up the earliest drinking vessels. As time went on, man witnessed small advancements in the quality of their beer receptacles. Early Europeans that lived during the time of the black plague saw the development of beer steins, which had a closed top on the steins to prevent flies from landing in the beer and making the person ill.

Today, the most important factor to influence modern beer glass making was the creation of glass. As consumers actually started to be able to look at what they were consuming from the glass they began to demand a beer with more flavor and a improved hue. Customers didn't want chunks in their drinks anymore so manufacturers began to filter their beers. With this new, improved wave of beer glasses, it appeared beer steins were on the way out.

A variety of glasses were created and produced for the various kinds of beers. The sixteen-ounce pint glass is the most in demand glass in the United States. It was originally used to fit the top of a Martini shaker, but barkeeps soon discovered that as the beer poured out of the beer tap handles the pint glass was the top receptacle because it let part of the carbonation to be released and let the aroma of the brew to be more obvious. The pint glass rapidly became popular with barkeeps who had to rinse each glass by itself because it can be put on top of each other and stored easily on the shelves.

An attempt to get consumers to get their kind of beer by breweries led to some unique and groundbreaking moves on the marketing and advertising front. Handing out glasses to consumers was a way that manufacturers found to promote their beers even though it was illegal. This led to the manufacturers creating glasses that were works of art unto themselves. The first were gaudy and costly; they would often have gold or silver embossed on the sides. Eventually, artists for the breweries began doing detailed carvings on either side of the beer glasses or steins and even developed a method of cooking enamel paint onto the glasses. These enameled glasses are still some of the most rare beer souvenirs, even though they were made more recently than the others. Nowadays avid collectors all over the earth continue to collect these tin signs and memorabilia that are sometimes worth thousands. Have you looked up in the top of Grandpappy's old drawer in a while?

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Taste of Wine

Red Wine

The first operation performed on grapes after they are removed from their storage is to de-stem them, which is the process of removing the grape from the shoots to which they are attached.
As soon as all the grapes in the batch are de-stemmed, they are placed into the wine press where they are compressed into a paste which in turn releases the must (the juice of the fruit). The resulting paste (or pomace) and must combination then spend time together in a cask and it is the length of time that the mixture sits with the must in contact with the grape skin and pulp that determines the character of the finished wine.

When the winemaker determines the right amount of time has passed, the juice is drawn off and yeast added to begin the fermentation process with the remaining pomace, in many cases, being returned to the vineyard to be used as a fertilizer.

Once the colour and sugar content are correct the cask valve is opened and the first juice, which is the best quality wine, is then transferred into other containers where the fermentation process is finalized.

‘Pressed wines’, which are full of tannin, are made from the leftover solids. They have a strong colour and are generally mixed with the first juice in many different ways to create wines of different strengths and flavours.

When the fermentation process is complete, the wine is either bottled straight away, or left to age.

White Wine

When making white wine it is important not to damage the grapes, so they are poured into the receiving bins as quickly as possible. Once they are all in the receiving bin, the grapes are then transferred to the press where the must is separated from the skins and other solids.

At this stage the solids are disregarded and the remaining must is slightly refrigerated before being transferred into a stainless steel vat where it is allowed to ferment. Care is taken to maintain the temperature during fermenting which preserves the delicate aromas of the finished wine.

Once the fermentation process is complete, the resultant wine is decanted taking care to avoid the sediment which collects at the bottom of the vat. After decanting, the wine is bottled and ready to be sold, and is best drunk within two years.

Sweet Dessert Wines

Dessert wines are produced in one of two ways. In the first method, Botrytis Cinera, a fungus which grows very quickly, is used. This transforms the fruit and changes the colour and also alters the acid components and sugar levels. The second method is to interrupt the fermentation process by adding alcohol. This method creates a strong, sweet wine where the grape is the major flavour.

Grapes used for sweet wines are of the white Moscatel and Garnacha varieties which, along with the production process, leave the wine with a mushroom type smell as the bottle is opened.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Home Beer Making Kit Will Improve Your Popularity!

It is a well known fact that Americans love their beer and desire nothing but the best from their beer. No doubt the large commercial beer manufacturers hold a considerable chunk of the beer making pie, but the number of home beer makers too has steadily been rising.

In fact, the popularity of home brewed beer has risen dramatically during the past twenty years or so, and custom made beers are more popular now than ever before.

Only Need a Few Hundred Dollars to Get Started

The American taste for beer is quite sophisticated and faced with an inexpensive as well as easy method of making home brewed beer has only stoked the fire of brewing beer at home. You may only require a few hundred dollars investment to purchase the required home beer making kits along with ingredients before you are well on your way to preparing homemade beer.

You can easily source home beer making kits from homebrew supply stores who stock not only the kits, but also the required ingredients as well. Before you actually get stuck into brewing beer at home you should be well acquainted with the different home beer making kits available that each comes with different supplies.

At the very least, your home beer making kit must include vital items such as the brewing kettle that is usually made from stainless steel and is used to make the wort. You should select a brewing kettle size that can hold at the very least twice the amount of beer you wish to brew.

Another important piece of equipment that your home beer making kit should have is the fermenting container which holds the brew at the same time as the yeast performs its function. In addition, the container should allow the brewer to check the fermentation that is going on, and it should also have an airlock to let gases escape.

Your home beer making kit should also have a hydrometer which is a tiny probe whose function is to measure the wort’s specific gravity while fermentation is taking place, and also before the fermentation process begins. A good thermometer is also necessary to check the temperatures between a low of sixty degrees Fahrenheit and a high of two hundred twelve degrees Fahrenheit at which point water begins to boil.

A very important facet of brewing beer at home is cleanliness and so you should ensure that your home beer making kit also has a sterilizer and it should also come with a racking cane, associated tubing as well as racking bucket - all of which help in transferring the fermented beer into a temporary location before it is actually bottled.

It is not unusual for home beer making kits to not contain bottles, caps as well as cappers which you will require for storing the fermented beer from the racking bucket into the bottles. With these pieces of equipment you should have no difficulty in brewing your beer at home.