The Irish are well known for their love of Guinness and other stout beers that are thick, dark and frothy. Further investigation reveals that stout is only part of the Irish beer culture, accounting for one third of beer consumption on the Emerald Isle. Lager is the overwhelming favourite among Irish beer drinkers, resulting in around 60% of all production, while ale takes 6% of the market share. Irish beer, especially Guinness, has become incorporated as part of Irish folklore alongside the shamrock (clover), leprechauns and traditional music celebrations. The number of Irish breweries has dropped significantly during the past century, although microbreweries are on the rise and some of the world’s most iconic beer brands are still in production.
If you visit a bakery or restaurant for any period of time, you will encounter customers enquiring about gluten-free items. Many of us might feel inclined to dismiss their request as yet another faddish trend or health-kick based on new-age propaganda, but in actuality gluten intolerance is a very real occurrence that is especially felt by those suffering from celiac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis. Some people even avoid drinking beer due to fear of gluten, and might prefer alternative alcoholic beverages. So what is gluten, and is beer gluten-free?
Red wine is made from black (dark coloured) grape varieties. The colour of the wine is often associated with aging of the finished product and younger wines are often of violet hue while older wines more often brick-red or almost brownish. Most black grapes have greenish-white flesh and juice, therefore red wine production is reliant on processing red pigments in the grape’s skin. In fact, much of the flavour of red wine is achieved by extracting and blending components of the skin. There are many red wine types, all with their own special characteristics suited to pairing with foodstuffs and stimulating the palate.
There are a huge range of white wine varieties with characteristic colourings that can range from straw-yellow to almost golden. Surprisingly, white wines are manufactured from the pulp of both light and dark-skinned grapes. Most grapes, regardless of skin colour, have white pulp, and white winemakers avoid using the dark skin that gives red wine its colour. Wine grapes have become established in all corners of the globe where climatic conditions are suitable, and although there are hundreds of varieties, only a handful are commonly used in large-scale wine production.
Among countries where beer is a significant feature of cultural identity, Germany stands tall. From famous brewing regions, world renowned festivals, and a prohibition-free history of production since the bronze age, beer has been consistently identifiable with the German people. Germany boasts around 1,200 breweries and 5,000 styles of beer, with pilsner holding a 60% market share around the country. However, local allegiances are strong, and favouritism for local beer varieties ensures the beer produced in regional homelands has a dedicated following.
It’s only since the 19th century that beer was reinvented in China after an interlude of several thousand years when the Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties prevailed. However, the Chinese have taken to the beer revolution with a zeal typical of its people, and Chinese consumption has grown dramatically. It’s predicted that this populous nation will become the world’s leading beer market by 2017, and it comes as no surprise that the best-selling beer brand in the world is Chinese. As with other Asian countries, the pairing of appropriate beverages with food is part of culture and heritage, with regional ingredients playing an important role in the beer brewing process.
Belgium is home to some of the most passionate beer aficionados in the world. The pride in locally produced Belgian beer is understandable – the result of 1,000 years of brewing tradition. Close to 200 breweries in Belgium dedicate their expertise toward creating unique flavours that are not found anywhere else, and with around 60% of the product being exported there are plenty of opportunities to discover just why Belgian beer is so highly recommended.
There are more than 3,000 breweries in the USA and although the majority of beer drunk by Americans is produced by large-scale manufacturers, the craft brewing industry is booming. Beer is the alcoholic beverage of choice for most Americans, outstripping the sale of wine and spirits, and brewers are producing a greater range of styles than ever before. Beer is big business in America, and although once derided for producing only pale lager, America is now a brewing powerhouse capable of capturing a sizeable share of the global beer market. Continue Reading…
From the beginning of British colonisation of Australia in the late 1700s, beer was already playing a significant role in the development of this fledgling nation. Within a few short years of settlement by British ex-pats, early governors and their convict charges the first hops were successfully grown and the first Australian pubs opened. The taste for beer and the varieties available have grown steadily in the ensuing years, and the favourably warm climate and outdoor lifestyle of Australia lends itself to the reputation of an Australian people who enjoy an ice-cold beer at the end of a hard-working day. In Australia, beer drinking has been an evolution rather than a revolution, with favourite brands steadfastly promoted by their loyal customers.