Beer 101

There are essentially two types of beer… Lagers and Ales. Both types involve the same basic four ingredients…water, yeast, malted barley, and hops. The type of yeast used differentiates the two. Lager (German-lagern) simply means “to store”. Lager yeast ferments at the bottom of the tank at cool temperatures. It is then stored and generally takes longer to mature. Ale yeast ferments at the top of the tank. It is brewed at room temperature which, as a result, makes for a quicker fermentation period. The majority of our menu is comprised of ales, but there are some lagers not to be missed!

There are a couple of abbreviations that are used to measure bitterness and alcohol content. We use them on our menu and they are defined as follows:

International Bittering Units

IBU basically stands for International Bittering Units. It is a scale that measures the bitterness in beer which is provided by the hops used during brewing. The technical limit for IBU’s is around 100; some have reportedly surpassed this number, but there is no real gauge after 100 IBUs when it comes to taste threshold. Light lagers without much bitterness will generally have 5 IBUs, while an India Pale Ale may have 100 IBUs or more.

Alcohol By Volume

ABV or Alcohol By Volume is a standard measure of how much alcohol (ethanol) is contained in an alcoholic beverage (expressed as a percentage of total volume).

From time to time Beer Geeks will be serving what is commonly referred to as “cask conditioned” ale . We are recognized to be the first establishment which proudly served cask-conditioned ales in Northwest Indiana from a Beer Engine. What is cask-conditioned ale you might ask? It is unfiltered, unpasteurised beer that still contains live yeast. You are literally drinking beer out of the secondary fermentation vessel.

It is often referred to as ‘real ale’ and is brewed using only traditional ingredients. While the beer is the cask, the active yeast continues conditioning the beer while creating a natural CO2 carbonation and also allows malt and hop flavors to develop…resulting in a quite distinctive, very creamy and rich tasting beverage. It is served without the use of CO2 or nitrogen to “push” the beer through the draught line. It is served from what is called a “beer engine” or “hand pump” which manually pulls the beer up through the line. Cask conditioned ale is living, fresh beer. The yeast is loaded with lots of B vitamins and probiotics.

Unfortunately, however the casks do not have a long shelf life once they’ve been tapped (just a few days)… which makes it a special occasion when we tap into one of these true marvels of the beer drinking world. So.. “Carpe cerevisiam”(seize the beer), order a couple and enjoy!