Wait! Before you skip this post thinking that I’m just another “tree hugger” ranting about saving the planet, I want to tell you that I’m going to divide this post into two parts. The first part will be reasons you should drink green that only affect your enjoyment of the beer. Only the second part will be about why drinking in this manner also saves the planet. I’ll let you know before the switch.
Okay, well let’s get on with it!
First of all, there are several things you should be doing to ensure that you’re drinking green. In no particular order, here are my top several:
- Drink from a glass.
- Drink local beer.
- Drink seasonal beer.
- Drink ales.
- Drink barley.
- Enjoy cellar temperature.
- Love yeast.
Some of those are going to need explaining. So, here are the reasons for each of them, in how they relate your your beer enjoyment.
Drink from a glass. If you’re drinking from a bottle, you’re severly limiting your ability to taste the beer. A large portion of a human’s taste sensation comes from smell. A glass allows your nose to get right down in the aroma.
Drink local beer. For all of its exploits, all around the world, beer is, at some level, a fragile, tempermental beverage. It needs to be stored in a dark place, at a proper temperature. Even then, it has a maximum shelf life of only a few months. Drinking locally means that you have the best chance of enjoying that beer before it has been subjected to terrible storage practices.
Drink seasonal beer. Same as above, beer has a maximal shelf life, and should be drunk as soon as it’s ready. Find out what’s in season and drink it in its prime.
Drink ales. The world of ales is vast. Pale, IPA, Brown, Strong, Stout, Porter, Wheat, Red – and that’s not even making a dent. If you’re looking for a particular flavor, there is an ale to match it.
Drink barley. If you’re a typical American, you get your daily fill of corn without even thinking about it. Demand that your beer supply you with something else. Barley has a complex flavor all its own, and nutrients to match. Seek the different roasts, and never be bored.
Enjoy cellar temperature. Ice-cold serving does one thing: numbs your taste buds. You’re drinking a fine beverage – why would you want to avoid its taste? Store and enjoy your beer at cellar temperature – you’ll find more flavor that way.
Love yeast. Yeast is a very simple organism that plays a very large role in beer’s flavor. Some beers (include real ale, unfiltered wheats, and bottle-fermented varieties) still have yeast (alive and/or dead) in the beer while you drink it. This adds yet another flavor for your tongue to ponder. Yeast is also a great source of vitamin B – so it’s good for more than just your tongue.
Alright, this is the point where I go all tree-hugger on you. Hopefully I’ve caught enough of your interest with the points above that you’d like to know why these things are important for more than just taste. If so, read on.
Drink from a glass. If you’re drinking from a glass, you most likely had your beer poured from a keg. That means no extra energy was wasted on making a bottle, cleaning a bottle, or transporting a bottle. Just make sure it’s a reusable glass.
Drink local beer. If your beer is made locally, much less energy has been used in getting it to you.
Drink seasonal beer. It takes extra energy to provide conditions in which to brew unseasonal beer out of season. Embrace the cycle.
Drink ales. Lagers must ferment (and be stored) at much lower temperatures than ales. If you know someone that still makes lagers by burying casks in caves, covering them with ice harvested from a lake in the winter, then good for you, and drink up. However, most lagers are brewed by refrigerating large warehouses, and delivered in refrigerated trucks.
Drink barley. Americans are practically made of corn. Barley is an excellent source of nutrition, and encouraging its growth means that our farms have other profitable crops to fall back on when weather ruins corn crops. It’s unhealthy for the planet to run farming monocultures.
Enjoy cellar temperature. Even if you’re not drinking a lager, if your ale is served ice-cold, it’s being refrigerated in a way that is completely unnecessary. Turn the thermostate up a few degrees, and save some watts.
Love yeast. Naturally-fermented beer requires no extra piping of CO2, no extra pump pressure to force beer through a filter, and no extra cooling. And, you get smaller bubbles (which make for thicker head) without bothering with a Guinness-style nitrogen “widget”.
So there you have it. Drinking green – good for both you and the Earth. If you’d like to read more about the benefits of drinking beer responsibly, I recommend Christopher Mark O’Brien’s Fermenting Revolution.
P.S. This post is part of Blog Action Day. Yes, I agree that actions speak louder than words, but I already act on the words I wrote above, so I figured adding the words couldn’t hurt.
P.P.S. I know it’s been a while since I posted here, and this post isn’t likely to be on the topic many of you were hoping. But, I assure you that there is BeerRiot development going on. I’ll be posting about it soon.