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Beer School: Your Basic Beer Questions, Answered

March 17, 2020

By October Staff, March 17, 2020

Millions of people around the world now sheltering-in-place amid the COVID-19 epidemic, and that means that lots of us have plenty of time at home to do that thing we keep meaning to do: learning to bake sourdough, organizing our entire apartments Marie Kondo-style, or just spending more time with our mini donkeys and mini horses like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

And unless you're already studying to become a Master Cicerone, now is also a great time for you (or your beer-newbie roommates and loved ones, with whom you will soon share a case of cabin fever) to brush up on some brew basics. In this multi-part series, we'll guide you through some must-have beer knowledge, answering common questions and helping you level up your understanding of essential beer styles.

Lay the groundwork with these pieces on best beer practices, and we'll start tackling styles tomorrow.

Does Beer Go Bad? (And How You Can Tell)

In our time of self-quarantine, the question of beer's shelf life has never been more relevant. The simple answer is: Yes, like almost everything, beer does go bad. There are a variety of factors at play (like oxidation and breakdown) that contribute to a beer's demise, but there are also instances in which beer, like wine, tastes even better with a little age on it.

The Great Bottle Versus Can Debate

As Miles Liebtag notes, "For years, one of the central arguments in favor of bottles over cans was glass kept beer tasting better, longer. Many people thought cans made beer taste tinny or metallic, though it’s unclear why." There are a couple of ways in which glass is better for your brew, but you'll have to read through this article to understand way.

A Basic Guide to Hops — With Examples

Do you really know your Mosaic from your Citra? You certainly don't need to in order to enjoy a beer, but in our IPA-dominated craft beer landscape, being able to pick up on each variety's flavor profile will help you make more informed choices at the taproom. For example, if your palate isn't a fan of dank, piney notes that can sometimes tip over into cat urine territory, you might want to know what to look out for.

Does Fancy Glassware Really Matter?

There are those among us who believe that a beer's vessel is merely that—a jalopy and a Jaguar will both get you to the same destination, right? That's not necessarily true for our brews, however. As Gray Chapman points out, "Just as one would never expect a decent wine bar to serve a Chianti Classico in a coffee mug, you’ll never catch a Brick Store bartender pouring your pilsner or Hefeweizen into a pint glass.”

The Art of the Beer Fridge

Another relevant question in the age of self-isolation: How much beer should you keep in the fridge, and how should you store it? If your answer is "enough to drink, and anywhere it fits," then you need to read this guide from bona fide beer connoisseur Aaron Goldfarb. Whatever you do, please don't put any beer on top of your fridge!

A Practical Guide to Off Flavors

Everything tastes better when it's buttery, right? Not beer. Miles Liebtag notes, "Anyone who’s ever been treated to a buttery West Coast style IPA knows how off-putting the combination of citrus and pine with butter can be." Learn the origins of the dreaded diacetyl and more in this piece.


Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

ZX Ventures, a division within AB InBev, is an investor in October
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