Welcome to part 3 of the We Brought Beer A to Z of craft beer.

G – Grist, Gose

Grist

The grist is the term given to the mix of grains used during the mashing process (which is when the grains are steeped in hot water to extract their sugars). Another term used is the grain bill – i.e. the recipe of what grains are to be used. To be fair, a grist is used in many forms of production that involve grains, such as bread so it’s not exclusive to beer, but you may well hear it used by brewers. Or beer writers. Or just your mate Dan down the pub, who reckons he knows his stuff!

Gose

Pronounced Gos-a, this is a style of sour beer that originated in the town of Goslar, Germany. Like other forms of German sour beer, it is usually brewed with at least 50% of the grain bill being malted wheat. Gose typically has salt and coriander added to it, meaning the dominant characteristics of the style include a citrusy sourness, a herbal flavour and strong saltiness (interesting side note – historically the saltiness would have been due to the water source, the river Gose). The sourness now comes from inoculation with lactobacillus bacteria. Whilst not widely brewed anymore in Germany, the style is popular with brewers in the UK and USA.

H – Hops, Homebrew

Hops

Hops are the rock stars of the craft beer world, beloved by brewers and drinkers alike. They grow naturally as cones, but can be broken down into pellets, either of which can be used in brewing. Like wine grapes, the flavour characteristics of hops across varieties are affected by several elements, including soil type (what wine buffs call Terroir), hours of sunlight, humidity, bugs in the area and even the exact hour of the day that they are picked. 

 

These variables have led to the cultivation of many different hop varieties, producing many different flavours. Some of the most popular hop growing regions include the Pacific North West of America, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Czech Republic and parts of England. 

 

The role of the hop is to impart bitterness and aroma.

 

BONUS FACT: The Latin name for hops is Humulus Lupulus. This is why you see lots of beer names using some variation of that Latin in the name (e.g. Beavertown Lupuloid or Odell St. Lupulin).

Home Brew

Forgive us, we’re not sure if it’s Homebrew, Home-Brew or Home Brew. It probably doesn’t matter to be honest, we’re referring to the practise of brewing one’s own beer in a non-commercial setting, usually at home (hence the name). There are a few different forms of homebrew but essentially they involve much of the same processes, benefits and risks you get in a commerical brewery. Kit, or extract brewing, is the simplest form and involves taking a pre-made mix of malted barley extract and boiling it with water before adding hops and fermenting as usual. This is usually the entry level into homebrewing as it cuts out the tricky ‘mashing in’ step. If you are a bit more confident, then ‘All grain’ is the next level up, and this involves going from the very start, taking raw malted barley, steeping it in water to extract the sugars before following the rest of the process through. Homebrewing is a hobby. It’s not a super easy hobby. It’s not a super difficult hobby. It is a time consuming hobby!

I – India Pale Ale

India Pale Ale (IPA)

The IPA is one of the most popular styles of beer within the craft beer scene and always receives the most amount of entries of any style in the Great American Beer Festival. It has a fascinating history which dates back to the British Colonisation of India in the 18th Century. In order to keep their troops in the colonies happy, the East India Trading Company would ship English beer across the globe, around the Cape of Good Hope and up to East India – a sea journey that took around 6 months. Sending barrels of London Porter worked quite well but when the troops wanted something lighter, it was discovered that English pale ale didn’t travel quite so well, arriving spoiled (sour and eggy). This wouldn’t do and brewers back home were tasked with brewing a pale ale that would be able to survive the journey to arrive in great condition. After much experimentation it was discovered that by raising the strength of the beer (by using more malt to the same amount of water), and adding more hops, that pale ales were surviving the journey in tip-top shape, the reason being because hops and alcohol both act as natural preservatives. Not only was this a good thing, but the elevated strength and bitterness quickly became a highly desired quality in hot and humid climates. These beers became known as India Pale Ale or IPA. (NB: Incidentally, the reason the beer couldn’t just be brewed out in India was because it was too hot to allow the right conditions for fermentation to occur.)

 

Whilst the style was popular in India, it actually wasn’t ever a particularly well known style at home in Britain and indeed it all but died out when war time barley rationing meant production of strong beers went out of favour. This state of affairs remained until the early 1980s when the pioneering early craft brewers of America rekindled the style as it was intended – strong, hoppy and bitter – a situation improved all the more due to their use of hops from the Pacific north-west, which give lovely citrusy, piney qualities to the beer. It was the mid 1990s before the IPA in it’s true form started to make it’s way back onto the bar in Britain, a triumphant return for an almost extinct beer style. Modern IPAs such as Thornbridge Jaipur, BrewDog Punk IPA and Magic Rock Cannonball have put the style firmly into the public consciousness, with IPA now being one of the most commonly asked for styles.

 

To reiterate the key points on IPA, they are generally light golden to dark amber in colour, with high bitterness and an alcohol content of between 5.2% – 7.5% ABV.