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Undoubtedly, there is no better thirst quencher than a cold beer, for a person having accomplished and honest day’s work or someone who simply enjoys a glass or two of refreshing suds.

Canadians are still great beer consumers ranking 11th in the world at per capita beer consumption. While the domestic beer market is still dominated by Labatt’s , now owned by Interbrew,  a Belgian multinational brewery organization, and Molson, there are now many micro breweries in practically all provinces taking market share from the two.
     Quebecers favoured ales, and the rest of the country lager, but now, with better-educated palates, practically all styles enjoy popularity in certain market segments. Canadians largely prefer local beers, however imports are making significant inroads. Ontario’s control board now offers a wide range of suds from all over the world
     Lager beer is bottom-fermented, light bodied, pale to golden yellow, well carbonated, refreshing with a slightly bitter finish, pending on the art and philosophy of the brewer.

     While most continental European breweries adhere to the 1516 Bavarian Purity laws stipulating the use of malted barley, yeast, water and hops exclusively (wheat was added later) except in Switzerland and Norway, elsewhere there are no regulations allowing brewers the use of corn syrup, rice flour, and other ingredients to impart different flavours and texture characteristics.
     Mainstream Canadian and American beers contain many additives both to appeal to certain market segments and to reduce cost. Generally lagers contain 4.5 to 5 % ABV, and practically all bottled beer is pasteurised which effectively impair taste but prolong shelf life.
     Light beer, once popular, tends to be pale and less alcoholic (2.5 to 4 % ABV), very light in body with a watered-down taste.
     Dry beer was first marketed in Japan and became popular in Canada mostly due to enormous marketing efforts of Labatt’s and Molson. Essentially, dry beer contains no residual sugar, and possesses a weak taste but slightly more alcohol than mainstream beer.
     Bock beer, an invention of German brewing genius, was once their specialty and offered only for a few months every spring. It contains 6 to 8 % ABV and more body. The taste is intense, satisfying and aftertaste long. Then there is doppel-bock (double bock) with 8 to 12 % ABV to knock off even the strongest beer drinkers. There are, however, still stronger beers with respectable 14 to 14.5 % ABV brewed around Christmas (called St. Niklaus beer).
     Within lager beers there are many sub categories invented in traditional brewing towns like Pilsen (Plzen) in the Czech republic, Munich in Bavaria, Vienna in Austria, just to name a few.
     Ale is the generic term used for all top-fermented beers- a style invented by English brewers and still quite popular there and in many other English-speaking countries.
     There are many ale styles ranging from mild to bitter, porter, stout (bitter or milk).
Brewing ale requires less time since aging time is two to three days, thus pubs can handle even high volumes by brewing frequently.
     Properly brewed lager beers require at least 3 to 4 weeks aging requiring a lot of storage capacity.
     Mild ales are lightly hopped and low in alcohol, whereas bitter ales contain to 5.5%ABV and much higher levels of hops – hence the name
     IPA (India Pale Ale) was invented by an observant and skillful English brewer in Burton-on-Avon who experimented with increased levels of hops for beers destined to India. When the shipment arrived in India consumers, mostly expatriate Englishmen, were delighted to find it to be more refreshing and “cleaner” in taste than they remembered from previous shipments. Since then IPA has become a style in its own right.
     Porter- originated in London and is brewed using highly roasted barley with a very high hop content. Porters are always dark and emit aromas of “ coffee”. Generally high in alcohol, porters are viscous and deeply flavoured with a long aftertaste. Beer aficionados prefer porters.
     Stout- a successor of porter was popularized by Guiness of Ireland. It is an extremely dark, refreshing and unique beer, still successfully brewed in Dublin and elsewhere in Ireland. Increasingly, Caribbean breweries make and market stouts.
     Stout and oysters on-the-half-shell is a famous food and beer match people should, try.
     Then there is San Francisco’s famous steam beer brewed exclusively by Anchor Brewery. It is a hybrid-technique using both lager and ale brewing technology.
     Belgians are famous for their fruit-flavoured (raspberry, cherry, strawberry, peach) ales which are surprisingly refreshing and appealing, both aromatically and texturally.
     Abbey beers represent no specific style other than being brewed by monks. Some are bottle fermented and throw a sediment but are extraordinarily tasty. Abbots for their own use originally brewed Abbey beers, but financial hardship forced some to sell the fruits of their labour to the public in an attempt to fend off bankruptcy.
     The most famous of all abbeys is Chimay in Belgium well-known for its fine, full-bodied, deeply flavoured beers.
     Pub owners catering to a high-disposable income clientele over 30 could benefit greatly by selecting well-brewed beers from all over the world
     Imported draught beers are micro-filtered, generally considered as bad for taste and pasteurization. Low volume operations are better off serving bottled beer only. Locally brewed draught beer is not pasteurized and has a limited shelf life.
     Is is imperative to clean draught beer lines at least once a month to ensure quality.
Volume pubs catering to young, low disposable income clientele can safely go with main stream locally brewed beers, those aspiring to serve a sophisticated market segment should concentrate on carefully selected, well-brewed products.

Article contributed by Hrayr Berberoglu, a Professor Emeritus of Hospitality and Tourism Management specializing in Food and Beverage. Books by H. Berberoglu

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