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Archive-Name: alt-beer-faq
Last-modified: 20020123
Post-Frequency: 1 post / 14 days

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
     FAQ    20020130

i. Intro.

This list has been compiled over the time that has been up
available on Usenet. Please post any suggestions, corrections or
changes at news: or send to Jonathan Parshall,

Many Thanks to all of the people that contributed, notably:

 Tim P McNerney,
 Dean Cookson,
 John R. Mellby,
 Mark Enderby,
 Matt Dick,
 Roger Brown,
 Bruce Tindall,
 Tony Scott,
 Richard Stueven,
 Doug Ferrell,
 Jim Tyson,
 and all of the people that have kept this newsgroup going!

If you your name is up there, and you didn't know you contributed, it
probably is because I have saved an interesting post from

This list is divided into several sections, each addressing a bit
different aspect of beer. The topic is as broad as there are tastes for
different kinds of beer.  Due to this, this FAQ list cannot possibly
cover every aspect of the subject. It is only meant as an overview
that answers a few of the multitude of "Frequently Asked Questions"

Dan Brown

Ditto to everything in Dan's post.  I figured it was high time for this
faq to get an update.  I only changed what I knew was out of date.

Jonathan Parshall,


ii. Table of contents

The sections are as follows:

i.  intro.
ii.  Table of contents.
iii.  New Stuff
I. Drinking Beer.
II. Making Beer.
III.  General Beer FAQ's
IV. Questions about and the FAQ


iii.  New Stuff..

 20020123 Changed the date format to YYYYMMDD.
  Added new listings to book section and links to buy.
  Added info to What other Internet resources are available?

 19940117 Added Information about FTP by mail for the FAQ.
  Changed the date format to YYMMDD.
  Added new stuff section.

 19940602 Fixed Labic Info
  Added info in the Internet info part.
  Added info in the What are lagers part
  Fixed Malt liquor part
  Added Books about beer part

I. Drinking Beer

What kinds of beers are there?

What are Ales and Lagers, etc, types and styles.

What are ales?
 Ales are generally beers made with top fermenting yeasts
 They are brewed at "warm" temperatures, normally between 50 and
 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

What are lagers?
 Lagers are generally beers made with bottom Fermenting
 yeasts. They are fermented at cooler temperatures, generally 35 to
 50 degrees Fahrenheit. These cooler temperatures mean longer
 fermenting. The process of fermenting at cool temperatures is called

 Lagers are said to have originated in Germany where the brewers
 found that they could change the flavor and smoothness of their
 beers by storing them in cold caves.

 Pilsners (most American beers) are a subset of lagers.
 The style originated in Pilsen Chezkoslovakia, and the definitive
 beer of this style is Pilsner Urquel.

 Another type of lager is a "Bock" beer. A bock is typically a
 lager made with a bit more of everything, and is somewhat
 stronger. Mai-Bock's are a subset of that style that are brewed
 in the early spring time (Mai is German for May).

What are lambics?
 Lambics are specifically Belgian beers, made in a
 certain part of Belgium, specifically in Payottenland east of
 Brussels in the Zenne valley.  The beer may well be named for
 the Payottenland town of Lembeek.

 Lambics are fermented using wild, air born yeasts. Brewers often
 have their primary fermenting vessels on the top floor of the
 brewery so that they can open holes in their roofs to let the
 yeasts, rain, dust, bugs, and whatever else into their beer.

 Lambics have a very distinctive taste, and are often flavored
 fruit. Whole fruit is often added to the beer causing a secondary
 fermentation. These beers can range in taste from fairly sweet to
 very vinegary and sour. Often considered to be something of an
 acquired taste.

What are the government classifications?

What is malt liquor?
 In the United States, Malt liquor is a classification
 bestowed on beers that are above a certain alcohol content. The
 laws vary from state to state in the US. Many beers have been
 given the title malt liquor, even though that is not their true

What do 3.2 and 5.0% mean?
 This is a "rating" of the amount of alcohol in
 the beer, by volume or by weight depending on where you are.

What is Reinheitsgebot?
 It is an old German "purity" law that delineates
 the ingredients that can be used to make beer. Under this law, there
 are only four; water, barley malt, hops, and yeast.

 "Rein" means clean or pure; "-heit" means "-ness"; so "Reinheit"
 means "cleanliness" or "purity".

What is do the terms used in beer commercials mean?

What is "Dry" beer?
 Dry beer is beer that has less malt, and more corn
 or rice sugars added to it during the brewing process. This
 produces a lighter, slightly more alcoholic, "dryer" tasting beer.
 It also probably reduces the brewing costs. The style is said
 to have originated in Japan.

What is "Cold Filtered?"
 Cold filtering is beer that is physically filtered
 after it has been brewed, before it is bottled. This tends to
 eliminate all sediments (yeast and malt leftovers... things that
 can give beer character), and makes the beer clear.

What does "Heat Pasteurized" mean?
 It means the beer has been heated after
 fermenting, killing all of the remaining live yeasts and any other
 microganisms. It means that the beer will not continue to age in
 its bottle.

What does "bottle conditioned" mean?
 It is beer that has not been pasteurized, and still has live yeast in it.
 It will continue to age in the bottle, and the character of the beer will
 change over time. For some kinds of beer this is good, for others it
 means they will spoil after a while.

What is "draught" (draft) beer? It is beer that has been drawn or pulled
 from a cask. Beer from pressurized kegs is often referred to as
 draft beer, but this is probably a misnomer, or an "Americanism"

What is ice beer/eisbock? Whats the difference?
 Ice beer is beer that has reportedly been fermented a nearly freezing
  temperatures. This is another ploy by Megabrewies to convince
 people that their beer is something different or better than everyone
 elses. Ice Beers are basically another style of light American lagers.

 True eisebock's are beers that have been frozen after they are
 fermented to raise the specific gravity and alcohol content of
 the beer. The water in the beer turns to ice when the beer gets
 cold enough. The ice crystals are strained or filtered out, leaving
 a beer with a higher specific gravity and generally a higher
 alcohol content.

How can you get draft beer in a can or bottle???

Where can I get beer?
 Breweries, brewpubs, stores, restaurants, distributors, and by
 making your own.

What is a brewpub?
 It is a combination of brewery, pub, and maybe restaurant.
 There are LOTS of these in Europe, and are getting to be more in

Can I get beer in the mail?
 Yes...  Beer Across America's phone numbr is 1-800-854-2337,
 and Microbrew to You is reportely now out of business.

How do I make my own beer?? See below.

How do I judge a beer or what is good beer?

Good beer (what is it, and how to tell).
 Good beer is determined by an individuals tastes. It has been
 suggested that trying a wide variety of beers will usually help a
 person figure out what beer tastes good.

What makes beer go bad? (what it is and why it is bad/skunked.)
 Bad beer is beer that tastes bad of is spoiled. Beer can and will
 spoil under certain conditions. Mishandling and old age are the two
 biggest causes of spoiled beer. Skunked beer refers to beer that
 has been lightstruck, causing the hops to take on a skunky odor.
 This is often happens with clear or green bottles, and tends to
 be prevalent in certain imported beers.

What are some good books on beer?

 Michael Jackson's Beer Companion does not give ratings.  It
 discusses various styles and profiles good examples of the
 the styles.  This is a very enjoyable book that every beer
 lover should have. (Hardcover - 218 pages 2nd edition published
 February 2000)

 Michael Jackson's Great Beer Guide is wonderful guide to the
 great beers of the world. (Paperback - 544 pages 1st edition
 published October 1, 2000)

 The Running Press Pocket Guide to Beer by Michael Jackson is the
 book commonly referred to in these groups when citing ratings on MJ's
 four-star system.  About 2000 beers from around the world are reviewed
 and rated. (Hardcover - 208 pages 7th edition published August 10,

 Stephen Beaumont's Great Canadian Beer Guide. Steve also uses the
 MJ four-star system. This is a must for anybody that appreciates
 Canadian Beers. (Paperback - 286 pages published January 2002)

 Jamie MacKinnon's Ontario Beer Guide: An Opinionated Guide to the
 Beers of Ontario. It has a good section on  tasting and evaluating beers,
 although I (Alan M.) disagree with his overattention to appearance factors.
 He rates all the beers in Ontario on a five star  scale. (Paperback
 October 1992)

 Fred Eckhardt's The Essentials of Beer Style: A Catalog of Classic Beer
 Styles for Brewers and Beer Enthusiasts. The editor of the book is Jeff
 who many will recognize from the beer groups, especially
 A book that does not rate beers, but does have a lot of technical
 about various beers as well as information  about tasting. (Paperback
 published January 1989)

I like to drink beer, how do I get rid of a beer gut?

 (ed note... this was just too classic to edit!)

|Subject: Re: Dilemma
|Message-ID: <>
|Date: 20 Aug 93 12:45:36 GMT
|References: <>
|Organization: South Bank University
|Lines: 9
|In article <>, (Ya'akov Miles)
|> Help.  I need advice.  I have a beer belly and I like beer.  How do I get
|> rid of the belly and not have to go without beer?
|> Ya'akov Miles,
|Stop eating, just drink Guinness.
|Tony Scott

II. Making Beer

WHERE DO I START... How do I make beer?
 Beer is made with basically, water, barley malt, hops and yeast.
 The water, malt and hops are boiled to produce a wort. This wort
 is cooled, put into a fermenting vessel, and the yeast is added
 (pitched). This vessel is sealed with an air lock, and the beer is
 allowed to ferment (sugar and water is turned to alcohol, carbon
 dioxide, etc) and age for a period of time. When the fermentation
 is over, a bit of additional malt or other sugar is added (for
 carbonation), and the beer is bottled or kegged. It is once again
 allowed to age for a period of time, during which the additional
 sugars carbonate the beer, and the taste of the beer developes
 and ages. The beer is then consumed.

Where to find more information about making beer??

What other Internet resources are available?
 You can find more information in the newsgroups rec.crafts.brewing, and There is a mailing list, "The
 Homebrew Digest"sent out almost daily.  There is an archive of HBD
 items available via ftp at, in the /pub/homebrew
 directory. There is also a mead-makers archive in the /pub/mead directory.

 For the people that are using World Wide Web, here are some
 interesting URLs
 Old faq archive">

What books are available on homebrewing?
 One of the most popular is "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing
 by Charlie Papazian. This is the book that made the phrase "Relax,
 Don't worry, Have a Homebrew" popular.

Where can I find recipes?
 TCJOH by Papazian, "The Cats Meow" from the HBD, etc etc.

How should I store my homebrew?
 The most common method is in bottles. These can be either the Grolsh
 kind, that have a stopper that is attached to the bottle, bottles that you
 put a crown cap on, or bottles that you cork. How do I get the labels of
 the bottles that I am going to use for my brew? The most effective
 method is commonly said to be by soaking them in a solution of water
 and ammonia. Most labels will fall off after soaking overnight.

III. Some General Beer FAQ's.. AKA, Pet Peeves that pop up on
 all too often.

What does the "33" on the back of Rolling Rock bottles mean?
 There are several common answers. First, it is said to be the number
 of words on the back label. The story goes that the Latrobe Brewing
 Company was deciding on which slogan to use on the new bottles,
 and had counted the number of words, and written it on the piece
 of paper that went to the bottle supplier. The bottle supplier
 mistakenly included the 33 on the printed bottles, and it has been
 there since. Another explanation is that it is the year that
 prohibition was repealed. One notable comment about the mysterious
 33 from a Latrobe exec goes something like; "Who cares what it
 means as, long as people continue to ponder it while drinking a
 cold Rolling Rock."

What is the thing in Pub Draft Guinness? How does it work?
 Where can I get it?  The thing is a can that has a widget in it
 that is used to produce a creamy head as you pour the beer.
 Probably the closest thing to "draft beer in a can!"

What is CAMRA?
 CAMRA - the Campaign for Real Ale was formed 21 years ago
 in the UK to protect the rapidly disappearing cask ales from a
 tide of bland keg beers which were being foisted on the public
 by the large breweries. It was fantastically successful (the most
 successful consumer movement in Europe) and now addresses other
 issues such as licensing law and protecting the British pub.
 It has now formed alliances with similar organisations througout
 Europe to deal with impending Europe issues. There are branches
 of CAMRA in several countries (eg Canada). As to Australia, I
 think there is a local organisation - will check it out during
 the break. However, you can get further details from the UK HQ at
  34 Alma Road, St Albans, Herts AL1 3BW, UK.
 Mark Enderby, (CAMRA Regional  Director) or at

What is Jagermeister?
 It is a German herbal liquor. It is NOT beer. Discussions about it  should
be held on or alt.alcohol
 The same holds for all other beverages... like Everclear...

How is the typical mass produced American beer like sex in a Canoe?
 WHO CARES!!!! This is a lame joke that has been beat into the
 ground! Enough already! For newcomers who haven't heard it,
 the punch line is "Because they are both f*cking close to water."
 YAWN! This joke has been attributed to Monty Python. I will
 personally email 10 bottles of heavily skunked, over-primed
 homebrew beer grenades to anyone who repeats it on the net.

IV. Questions about

What is it about? is a newsgroup that was created for the express purpose
 of discussing topics related to beer.

Where are the archives? The archives were available via anonymous
 ftp to Change directories to ~/pub/

 In the near future, they will be on under

Can I get the FAQ by FTP mail?



  =========================== BEER.NDX ==========================

  Since  many  folks  don't have real  FTP  capabilities,  I  have
  started  this  "FTP  by mail" service (if you want  to  call  it

  To get a file, send mail to "". In the
 n body  of  the message, type GET FILENAME where FILENAME  is  the
  file  that you  want.  Example to get ALT_BEER.FAQ type
  GET ALT_BEER.FAQ in the message body. The system will then send
  it back to  you in your Email message. These  are  standard  "DOS"
  files with linefeed/carriage returns at each line. Not the files
  are NOT case sensitive.

  Doug Ferrell

  BEER.NDX       1194 01-16-94 Index of alt_beer files available
                               from THE EXCHANGE!.
  ALT_BEER.FAQ  14598 12-01-93 Frequency Asked Questions (FAQ)
  BEERGAME.TXT   2944 03-03-92 Locations of Beer Drinking Games
  BEERMAGS.TXT   4352 02-05-92 Text file of Beer Magazines

  ============================ EOF ===============================

What is in the archives? Various files... this FAQ list, the charter, some information about CAMRA, etc etc.
<a href="">  Dan Brown.
</a><address></address>        Sysadmin for:
<a href="">    The Electronic Frontier Foundation. </a>

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