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Breaking Down a Brewski

Jordan Mackay | October 17, 2012 | Story Wine and Spirits

The head of a beer speaks directly to the quality of the beer it caps. A full, thick head—such as the bushy white of a properly poured tripel from San Francisco's Triple Voodoo Brewing—means your beer has been brewed true to classical form. Bubbles also help bring the aromas out. Take a whiff:
Hops smell grassy, piney, citrusy, and woodsy; malts are sweet, dark-roasted, and caramelized; and yeast is, well, yeasty.

A beer’s body is partially derived from the grain and the amount of malt. An oatmeal stout can have a viscous, almost slick texture. By contrast, Budweiseresque beers incorporate inexpensive grains like rice and corn, which makes for a thin, light body. don’t be too quick to dismiss the rice, though: Two custom brews made for local restaurants—Supafly, Linden Street's rice, lemongrass, and shiso creation for Hawker Fare, and Magnolia’s toasted-rice ale for Namu Gaji—are supremely delicious.

Color and Clarity:
You can’t always judge a beer by its color. A very light shade generally indicates a lager, but not always. A dark color doesn’t necessarily mean a heavy beer. Case in point: Moonlight Brewing’s Death and Taxes, a black lager. The cloudiness seen in many wheat beers? That doesn’t mean they’re middleweights; it just means they’ve been left unfiltered.

It’s not just for holding. The shape and size of a beer glass can have an impact on the way a beer tastes, not to mention help the development of its head. Locally, Trumer has its own pilsner glass—a tall, thin cylinder—to accentuate color and nose.

Read More:

Meet the Local Beer Meisters

Good Food for Good Beer

Taste Test: Tap vs. Bottle

Beer Gypsies and DIY Brewers

Know Your Beer Terms: A Short Glossary

Upstart Breweries Around The Bay

The New Beer Buzz

The 9 Best Place to Drink Beer Now

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