Beer is More Than Just the Liquid
It’s a welcome problem that is not actually much of a problem at all: Our office is filled with beer bottles. Some are decorative because we like the label art long after the liquid is gone, but the majority here are full. From the ubiquitous 12-ounce, to the 22-ounce bomber, still others that are measured in milliliters. Each is usually topped with a crown cap that can be screwed off, or must be pried, while still others have swing tops or fancy cage and corks.
But it’s the bottles themselves that recently had me thinking. This necessary packaging, the trusted guardian of liquid that is ever-present in our lives: How often do we actually think about it, appreciate it, or consider it before it’s pulled from the fridge, or after it’s been emptied and headed for recycling?
We asked reporter Nate Schweber to examine the process behind bottle making, to examine how the workhorse of the industry has evolved and to shine a light on many of the things we just don’t consider because we’re so focused on the beer inside. As a bonus for all you DIYers out there, there’s even a tutorial on personal glass blowing.
The truth is, there’s a lot that happens in the beer-making process that we don’t consider because we’re so focused on the final product. We busy ourselves with aromas and flavors, colors and mouthfeel, and don’t often stop to think about how all those came together. This is certainly true with barrel-aged beers. Often the complex flavors are praised (or panned), as components like wood and wild yeasts are given due praise. Patrick Dawson, a long-time contributor, spent time in barrel-house and blending operations to find out just what brewers are looking for when assembling what will become a final consumer product.
Let’s be honest, though. In the end, we care about the beer itself and how it makes us feel, what it makes us think of. There’s no denying that consumer tastes have shifted in recent years. The India pale ale is among the best-selling beer categories these days, and brewers are scrambling to keep up with demand. Some established brewers, as we find out from reporter Bryan Roth, are making bold changes to their IPA recipes to keep up with current trends.
In our previous issue we introduced two new sections: Taste and Explore. We are grateful for all the readers who gave us feedback on these sections. Change was a long time coming for our reviews, and we have made some additional adjustments to the format, layout and depth of coverage for this issue, and plan to do the same for issues to come. The ground in this beer world continues to constantly shift under our feet. We want to make sure we’re paying attention to the obvious as well as the underappreciated, and invite you to share your thoughts with us via our various social media channels, so that we can continue to bring you the very best possible beer coverage each issue, and daily on allaboutbeer.com.
This column appears in the September 2015 issue of All About Beer Magazine. Click here to subscribe.
John is the editor of All About Beer Magazine and the author of three books, including The American Craft Beer Cookbook. Find him on Twitter @John_Holl.