The art of brewing beer at home can inspire some interesting flavor combinations, says experienced home brewer Pius Werner. “One brewer I know is especially experimental. He has made caramelized onion beer, wheat and beet beer, shitake mushroom beer, bitter melon beer, prune beer, arugula beer, thyme beer and on and on.”
"I get to try new things and push the brewing envelope.”
The flavoring of beer, one of America’s favorite beverages, has certainly come a long way. A number of flavored beers have hit the shelves and have shown themselves to be a great trend for breweries and home brewing operations alike.
Werner, who has made more than 40 batches of beer in the five years since he took up the hobby, believes there’s nothing wrong with flavoring it.
“I think that there is definitely room for flavored beer,” he said. “There are plenty of 'by-the-book' beers to choose from for the purists.”
Werner said the process of making beer is largely "experimental," and many brewers resort to a trial and error process, as they try new things.
Flavoring beer can also vary by the time of year, he said. Generally, Werner prefers “darker, fuller bodied beers that focus on the malt more than the hops.” Some of his recent choices have been Fat Tire, Negra Modelo and Shiner Bock.
But his own creations are also some of his favorites, too.
“My favorite beer right now is a pale ale that I made using only Mosaic hops,” Werner said. He describes the flavor as slightly sweet, with passion fruit, citrus and “piney notes.” The fusion of flavors, he explained, stems from the flavorful hops, not from additional ingredients.
He also recommends vanilla bourbon barrel stout, bacon porter and raspberry wheat varieties.
Pius tailors his creations to his mood.
“If I want a winter seasonal beer in the spring or fall, I can make it. If I want a summer seasonal in the winter, I can make it. I get to try new things and push the brewing envelope.”
"Beer should be for everybody.”
But the way to brew the multitude of flavors varies by the specific brew house, which allows for some differences.
“From my understanding, commercial breweries use mostly extracts to flavor their beers, with some exceptions,” Werner said, adding that coffee flavored beers utilize coffee grounds or beans and fruit beers might use natural or artificial fruit extracts to get the flavor right.
There are taste advantages to patronizing smaller, local breweries, however.
“A smaller brewery can more easily use actual ingredients instead of extracts because they are making smaller batches and don’t require as much of the ingredient to make a batch of beer with,” he said.
Although Werner is deeply aware of the intense flavoring choices, he said the craziest ones he has made include a vanilla, bourbon, oak imperial stout.
“I have also made a couple of raspberry mocha porters and am experimenting with vanilla and cinnamon in a batch of mead.”
Overall, Werner said beer should be accessible to everyone.
“I support the idea of making beer more palatable to a larger audience…beer should be for everybody.”
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