Q&A

A week or two ago, I asked my readers to send in questions; now I’ll offer my thanks to those who did! For this first Q&A session, I chose three questions at random from the three I received.

  • If money and time were no object, what kind of beer would you brew? -Katie

Is it a bad sign that I’m stumped already? To be honest, if time and money were no object, I’d be brewing as many different kinds of beer as possible. One of my long-term goals is to run my own beer bar/microbrewery (which is hard nowadays, considering the ever-growing number of craft breweries in America — a topic I’ll discuss further in an upcoming article about beer and wine). Before starting my own brewery, however, I’d want to perfect my skills at home, which means practicing with recipes and fine-tuning the basics. After that, I’d start writing my own recipes and tweaking those beers into greatness. I’d probably start with something heavy (an imperial stout?), something light (a hefeweizen?), and something somewhere in between (probably a Belgian ale). So, to end this babbling and summarize my answer, the kind of beer I’d brew is my beer, even though I have no idea what kind of beer that is yet!

  • Hi, Scott! I heard someone say that drinking 2 beers per day has health benefits. I’m all for being healthy! Can you tell me about the health benefits of beer? -Deb

When it comes to health, alcohol is a coin with familiar sides: On the heads half, we hear modern research hinting that certain drinks (mainly red wine) are good for you in moderation; on tails, we see medicine’s longstanding argument that alcohol abuse leads to all kinds of health problems. Both present valid points, but beer occupies a perplexing place in between, especially with drinkers who think of beer as a high-calorie junk food and who spend their money on light lagers designed (with questionable success) to keep beer bellies in check.

But several recent studies show that moderate beer intake — that is, one or two 12-ounce glasses a night — can benefit your bones, your heart, and your everything else. That’s partly thanks to alcohol, which lifts your body’s good cholesterol and lowers the chances that your blood will clot. But some studies have suggested that beer’s soluble fiber and B vitamins are its big health boosters and that, because of these nutrients, beer is better for you than most beverages — even red wine.

Despite these recommendations, few doctors would prescribe beer as medicine when a healthy diet and regular exercise achieve better results. But you shouldn’t feel guilty about indulging in a bottle or two; in most cases, beer is far from junk food. For a point-by-point appraisal of the risks and benefits of beer, check out this list on realbeer.com.

  • My son has a little under 20 years to go until he can enjoy beer.  What kind of beer would you recommend we either put in a time capsule for him, or what do you envision in the world of beer twenty years from now? -Shane

Here’s the good news: tons of beers age well. Some, such as strong Trappist ales or hoppy double IPAs, are made to age with style. Although conventional knowledge suggests that even the best beers top out after 10 years or so, a forgotten beer cache was discovered in 2006 at Worthington’s White Shield brewery in Burton-on-Trent, and the oldest one — a 137-year-old Ratcliffe ale — was said to be outstanding. More evidence: I recently intercepted a tweet from homebrew guru Charlie Papazian in which he mentioned a 40-year-old bottle of Westvleteren! But that stuff ain’t cheap. If you want a less expensive beer that’ll (probably) survive a decade or two, try one of the Trappist ales I mentioned, such as Chimay Grande Reserve (the blue label) or Rochefort 10. Just remember to store them in a dry, dark, temperature-controlled room or fridge, or you might wait 20 years for a spoiled beer. That would suck.

As for the world of beer in 20 years … I have numerous ideas about that, and they’re battling in my head like a clan of angry thought-badgers. Will craft-brew culture continue growing? Will beer-nerdery spread across the land? Or will multinational conglomerates tighten their grip on the market, driving small brewers out of business? These questions seem too big for this little paragraph — perhaps I’ll devote an entire post to it soon.

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