Garrett Oliver: How to Drink a Beer
Garrett Oliver is the Brewmaster of The Brooklyn Brewery, the author of The Brewmaster's Table, and the foremost authority in the United States on the subject of traditional beer. After years of amateur brewing inspired by beers he had encountered during a year in England, Garrett Oliver began brewing professionally at Manhattan Brewing Company in 1989 as an apprentice. He was appointed brewmaster there in 1993. He soon became widely known both here and abroad for his flavorful interpretations of traditional brewing styles and as an avid and entertaining lecturer and writer on the subject of fine beer. Garrett has hosted hundreds of beer tastings and dinners, writes regularly for beer and food-related periodicals, and is internationally recognized as an expert on traditional beer styles and their affinity with good food.
Question: What's the best way to drink a beer?
Garrett Oliver: As with wine, you need to have a proper glass drink it out of. Any beer that’s actually worth drinking in the first place should never ever be drunk directly out of a bottle. I mean now I've been seen on fishing boats, you know, at times, swigging out of the bottle, so there is always that exception. But aside from situations like that, really, you are going to miss more than half of what’s going on there if you are going to do that. The head on the beer is important. The aroma of the beer is very important etc. So there are glasses that are designed for beer. When I do beer dinners, I have done a great many of them, we almost always use white wine glass, because they are great tasting glasses. You can get the beer around the glass you can get the aromas etc, and so that’s what we're pretty much working with for glassware. Now, when it comes to actually how do drink a beer, it depends are you drinking or you tasting? If you drinking you just go ahead and drink it, if you are tasting you really do want to get it around the glass, pick up the aroma first. You always want to make sure you don’t serve the beer overly chilled. Most American beers, even craft beers, are designed so they at least taste good coming out of straight out of the refrigerator, but many of them will actually taste better in another 10 minutes. Let it warm up a little bit given it an extra five degrees warmer. Nobody else in the world except from Americans and perhaps Australians want ice cold beer. That’s like an oxymoron. Nobody wants it, because you know you make something ice cold that numbs the taste buds and you can’t taste it, so Americans have the same problem with wine, red wine is usually served too warm, like room temperature, and white wine is usually served too cold--straight out of the fridge. In either case you are losing the best of what the wine has to offer it’s the same with beer. I am not saying that beer wants, you don’t want to drink the beer at room temperature, but you probably don’t--if it has been sitting in a tub of ice for half an hour and it’s a 32 degrees, there is no way you're really going taste that.
Question: How should you pair beer with food?
Garrett Oliver: Well basically when you are looking to match beer with food, it is similar the principles are similar in some ways to what they would be for wine that is you don’t want one thing to overwhelm the other that’s where you got to start out is balancing the impact on your pallet, so you are not going to take your big heavy stout for example and put it with delicate white fish that you clearly won’t be able to taste after you had such a big beer or the other way around you put some relatively light delegate beer up against a really hugely flavored dish, once you have that part worked out then I like to work on what I called the flavor hook which is the part of the beers flavor that links up with some part of the fruit flavor so, may be for example caramalization if you got a really nice you dark char on a stick you may want to use the caramalization or a roast in a beer to grab on to that flavor, a brown yale for example you can approach a stick that’s cooked that way in a completely different way than a wine would, the wine approaches with fruit and some tanning etc, which is in almost entirely in opposition to what’s going on there when as I can approach with caramalization and roasted in chocolate flavors that directly link in to the flavors of the sticks, so where as wine is very good at doing contrast and then some times some harmony, I think beer is tremendous at harmony, we have a much, much wider range of flavor to work with in beer then you do on the wine side which is simply a fact, it’s not saying that’s wine is not complex and interesting etc, I love wine but if you look at the biggest stove all the way out to the lightest sweet beer right there you have a much wider range of flavor than you have with most of the drink so there is lot to work with.
Question: What are the pros and cons of beer drinking?
Garrett Oliver: Well there are certainly benefits I mean even now finally the US RDA guidelines tell you that it is better for you to have a beer or two everyday than not to have a beer or two everyday, teetotalers are unwell. So, statistically no matter, where you look at the world they are unwell so, you it is best to have a beer or two everyday now if the beer has yeast in it, you can go and buy breweries yeast and tiny little expensive nasty tablets in how food store or you can drink a bottle of wheat beer for example everyday which usually has yeast in it which has all your vitamins B etc and may of these beers that have yeast are actually prescribed one a day by doctors in Europe saying you should have one of these everyday and it is going to be better for you etc and so I think that they are certainly is a big up side when it comes to help obviously, the down side would come if you are simply going out and drinking 6 pack everyday you going to get fat and that’s not going to be good for you but beer people have all these various concepts. They think that beer is more fattening than wine which is patently untrue and anybody who is a nutritionist or what ever else can lay it all out there for you why, very low residual sugar etc, people talk about carps and things like that where as the carbohydrate have already largely been eaten by the yeast what’s really were the calories are in beer is as in with wine is in the alcohol and the glass of wine and that the larger glass of beer have about the same amount of alcohol and about the same calories so the whole idea of the beer got actually I think has more to do with the fries, or what ever else that people are more likely to eat with the beer then it has to do with the beer itself but drink a lots of beer we are doing just a lot so.
Recorded On: 3/25/2008
Like wine, treat beer with the respect it deserves.
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