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  These FAQ are from usenet group. It is old, but still useful.

FAQ Section 1 - Definitions of common terms regarding beer itself
    1-1. What is beer?
    1-2. What are ales?
    1-3. What are lagers?
    1-4. How are they different?
    1-5. What are lambics?
    1-6. What is "bock" beer?
    1-7. What is "porter"?
    1-8. What are "dry" beers?
    1-9. What are "ice" beers?
    1-10. What are "cold-filtered", and "heat pasteurized" beers?
    1-11. What is "draught" (draft) beer?
    1-12. How is specific gravity related to beer?
    1-13. What does "Dubbel" mean on a beer label?

FAQ Section 2 - Definitions of common terms in the brewing industry
2-1. How is alcohol strength measured?
    2-2. Why is beer stronger in Canada than the U.S.?
    2-3. How are "ale", "malt liquor", and "barleywine" related to strength?
    2-4. What is the Reinheitsgebot?
    2-5. What about the new "Draught-flow" (tm) system (AKA the "widget" or "smoothifier")?
    2-6. What is "Real Ale"?
    2-7. What is CAMRA?
    2-8. What are the categories of brewers/breweries?
    2-9. What is a brewpub?

FAQ Section 3 - Beer handling and sensory issues
3-1. How do I judge a beer?
    3-2. What is good/bad/skunked/spoiled beer?
    3-3. How should I store beer?
    3-4. How long does beer keep?
    3-5. Is beer considered a vegetarian/kosher/organic product?

FAQ Section 4 - Miscellaneous topics
4-1. What is Zima and/or clear beer?
    4-2. What do the different Chimay packages/colors mean?
    4-3. What does the "33" mean on the bottles of Rolling Rock?
    4-4. Does Coors support Nazi organizations?
    4-5. Can I make my own it legal?
    4-6. How do I make it?
    4-7. WIMLIACLDAB? BTABFCTW!.....What was that?
    4-8. Is Guinness good for you?
    4-9. Where are Sam Adams beers made?
    4-10. Why does American beer suck?

FAQ Section 5 - Beer resources
5-1. Where can I get more beer info and tasting tips?
    5-2. Where can I get good beer?
    5-3. I'm going to "some city", what brewpubs/bars are good?
    5-4. Can I get beer in the mail?
    5-5. Where can I get details on making my own?
    5-6. Where can I get recipes?
    5-7. What is r.f.d.b. about?




Subject: 1-1. What is beer?

Beer is an alcoholic beverage made from malted grains, hops, yeast,
and water. The grain is usually barley or wheat, but sometimes corn
and rice are used as well. Fruit, herbs, and spices may also be used
for special styles. In the distant past, the terms "beer" and "ale"
meant different things. "Ale" was originally made without using hops,
while "beer" did use hops. Since virtually all commercial products
now use hops, the term "beer" now encompasses two broad categories:
ales and lagers.


Subject: 1-2. What are ales?

Ales are brewed with "top-fermenting" yeasts at close to room
temperatures, 50-70F (10-21C). Ales encompass the broadest range of
beer styles including bitters, pale ales, porters, stouts, barley
wines, trappist, lambic, and alt. The British Isles are famous for
their ales and it is a popular style with homebrewers and


Subject: 1-3. What are lagers?

Lagers are brewed with "bottom-fermenting" yeasts at much colder
temperatures, 35-50F (2-10C) over long periods of time (months). This
is called "lagering". Lagers include bocks, doppelbocks, Munich- and
Vienna-style, Maerzen/Oktoberfest, and the famous pilsners. Pilsner
beer originated in the town of Pilsen, now in the Czech Republic and
was the first non-cloudy beer. Most popular beers produced by the
large North American breweries were originally of the pilsner style.
These have diverged a great deal from the original style and succeed
now by the force of the mass-marketing prowess of the brewers rather
than any remarkable qualities of the beers themselves.


Subject: 1-4. How are they different?

The differences tend to be based on tradition more than anything
inherent to either style. The major traditional differences are a
result of the varying lengths of fermentation and temperature used
for the two beer types. They can also vary in style and degree of
hopping and in the types of malt used, but these differences are very
arbitrary and exceptions abound.

Ales generally undergo short, warm fermentations and are intended to
be consumed soon after completion. The result of relatively warm
fermentation is that a lot of by-products of yeast metabolism besides
alcohol and CO2 get left in the beer. These usually manifest
themselves as "fruity" or "buttery" flavors which vary in degree and
flavor with the strain of yeast used and the temperature and duration
of fermentation. Accordingly, ales exhibit their most complex flavors
when served at warm temperatures, around 50-60F (10-15C).

The trick with lager yeast is that they can survive, metabolize, and
reproduce at lower temperatures. Lager yeast can assimilate compounds
which ale yeast cannot, fewer by-products are made, and the stuff
that does get made drops out during lagering. The result is a very
clean, sparkling beer. Lagers are best served at slightly cooler
temperatures than ales, 40-50F (5-10C).

Of course there are notable exceptions:

California Common
The best known example is "Steam Beer" which is a trademark of
the Anchor Brewing Co. It employs lager yeast fermented at ale
temperatures which gives it some fruitiness usually associated
with ales.

Koelsch and Alt
Ales that undergo a cold secondary fermentation and storage
period resulting in only a hint of ale-like fruityness. Koelsch
is usually associated with the city of Cologne, Germany while
Alt is indigenous to Duesseldorf.

Cream Ale
Alternately, an ale fermented at lager temps or vice-versa. It
has also been made by blending a conventional ale with a
conventional lager after fermentation. Most examples are only
slightly more interesting than mega-brews; a touch more body, a
touch more fermentation flavor.


Subject: 1-5. What are lambics?

Lambics are a type of ale brewed in parts of Belgium by exposing hot
wort (unfermented beer) to the outside air. Indigenous, wild yeasts
and other microorganisms settle on the exposed surface of the wort as
it cools and begin spontaneous fermentation. They are often sweetened
with fruit flavorings and generally prized the world over.


Subject: 1-6. What is "bock" beer?

Bock is a style of lager beer which originated in Germany. It was
traditionally brewed in the fall, at the end of the growing season,
when barley and hops were at their peak. It was "lagered" all winter
and enjoyed in the spring at the beginning of the new brewing season.
Bocks can be pale (helles) or dark (dunkles) and there are
double(doppel) bocks which are extra strong.

Bocks are usually strong beers made with lots of malt yielding a very
full-bodied, alcoholic beer. A persistent myth has been that bock
beers are made from the dregs at the bottom of a barrel when they are
cleaned in the spring. This probably seemed logical because of the
heavier body and higher strength of bocks. From a brewing standpoint,
this is clearly impossible for two reasons: 1) The "dregs" left after
fermentation are unfermentable, which is exactly why they are left
over. They cannot be fermented again to make more beer. 2) Any
attempt to re-use the "dregs" would probably result in serious
bacterial contamination and a product which does not resemble beer as
we know it.


Subject: 1-7. What is "porter"?

From: The Guinness Drinking Companion by Leslie Dunkling (1992)
Guinness Publishing; ISBN 0-85112-988-9 "In the London Ale-Houses and
taverns of the early 18th Century it was common to call for a pint of
"Three threads", meaning a third of a pint each of ale, beer, and
twopenny (the strongest beer, costing twopence a quart). A brewer
called Harwood had the idea of brewing a beer that united the
flavours of all three. He called this beer "Entire". This was about

Harwood's Entire was highly hopped, strong, and dark. It was brewed
with soft rather than hard water. Within a few years Entire was also
being referred to as "Porter" (short for porter's ale) because the
porters of the London street markets were especially fond of it.
Porter that was extra strong was known as "Stout Porter", and
eventually "Stout"."


Subject: 1-8. What are "dry" beers?

"Dry" beer was developed in Japan. Using more adjuncts (like corn and
rice) and genetically altered yeasts, these beers ferment more
completely and have less residual sweetness, and hence less


Subject: 1-9. What are "ice" beers?

The making of "ice" beers, in general, involves lowering the
temperature of the finished product until the water in it begins to
freeze and then filtering out the ice crystals that form. Since water
will freeze before alcohol, the result is higher alcohol content. The
ice forms around yeast cells, protein particles, etc. so these get
removed as well; leaving fewer components to provide taste and

This process is not new to brewing, having been developed in Germany
to produce "eisbocks". Apparently they were produced by accident
during the traditional spring celebration with bock beers. Spring,
being the capricious season that it is, probably sent a late cold
snap around one year causing some of the spring bocks to partially
freeze. People drank it anyway and liked the change in flavor.

In its current incarnation, the process is an offshoot of the
concentrated fruit juice industry. It was developed by orange growers
to reduce the costs of storage and shipping by concentrating the
fruit juice through freezing and removal of some water. Labatt
Breweries claims to have pioneered this process for brewing and most
of the large North American brewers quickly followed suit in the
usual marketing frenzy.

The main difference between these "ice" beers and true eisbocks is
taste and character. Any beer brewed using this method will only be
as good as the brew with which you start. In other words, if you
start with a bland, flavor-impaired, adjunct-laden beer and remove
some of the water, you end up with a bland, flavor-impaired,
adjunct-laden beer with more alcohol. OTOH, if you take a rich,
malty, traditionally brewed bock and remove some of the water, you
end up with an eisbock.


Subject: 1-10. What are "cold-filtered", and "heat pasteurized" beers?

Cold-filtering is a way of clarifying beer with a shortened lagering
time. Beer (lager particularly) becomes clearer with extended storage
which allows proteins and other particles to coagulate and settle out
of suspension. The beer can then be drawn off and bottled. One way to
reduce the time required is to chill the beer causing these molecules
to "clump" and be easily filtered out. The up-side is that the time
from brewing to finished product is shortened, thereby boosting
productivity. The down-side is that cold-filtering also removes many
components which contribute flavor and body to beer.

Heat Pasteurized is a redundant phrase since pasteurization means
heating to kill microbes.

Some beers are bottle or cask conditioned, meaning that live yeast
are still in the beer in its container. Most mainstream beers are
either filtered, to remove all yeast and bacteria, or pasteurized to
kill all yeast and bacteria. This makes for a more stable product
with a longer shelf-life.

Pasteurization is more expensive and tends to alter the flavor.
Filtration is cheaper, leaves a clearer beer, and has less effect on

The "ice" beer process (see above) enhances filtration schemes
because more stuff can be filtered out more quickly using less
filtration material which shows up directly on the old bottom line.


Subject: 1-11. What is "draught" (draft) beer?

Technically speaking, draught beer is beer served from the cask in
which it has been conditioned. It has been applied, loosely, to any
beer served from a large container. More recently, it has been used
as a promotional term for canned or bottled beer to try to convince
us that the beer inside tastes like it came from a cask. See also
"Real Ale".


Subject: 1-12. How is specific gravity related to beer?

Specific gravity is a measure of the density of a liquid. Distilled
water has a specific gravity of 1.000 at 60F(15C) and is used as a
baseline. The specific gravity of beer measured before fermentation
is called its Original Gravity or OG and sometimes its Starting
Gravity (SG). This gives an idea of how much sugar is dissolved in
the wort (unfermented beer) on which the yeast can work. The range of
values goes from approximately 1.020 to 1.160 meaning the wort can be
from 1.02 to 1.16 times as dense as water (in British brewing the
decimal point is usually omitted). When measured after fermentation
it is called the Final Gravity (FG) or Terminal Gravity (TG). The
difference between these two values is a good gauge of the amount of
alcohol produced during fermentation.

The OG will always be higher than the FG for two reasons. First, the
yeast will have processed much of the sugar that was present, thus,
reducing the gravity. And, second, the alcohol produced by
fermentation is less dense than water, further reducing the gravity.
The OG has a significant effect on the taste of the final product and
not just from an alcoholic standpoint. A high OG usually results in
beer with more body and sweetness than a lower OG. This is because
some of the sugars measured in the OG are not fermentable by the
yeast and will remain after fermentation.

Here are some rough guidelines:

Some Bitters, Milds, Wheat beers, and most "Lite" beers have an OG
ranging from 1020-1040. The majority of beers fall in the 1040-1050
range including most Lagers, Stout, Porter, Pale Ale, most Bitters,
and Wheat beers. From 1050-1060 you'll find, Oktoberfest, India Pale
Ale, ESB (Extra Special Bitter). In the 1060-1075 range will be Bock,
strong ales, Belgian doubles. Above 1075 are the really strong beers
like Dopplebocks, Barleywines, Imperial Stouts, and Belgian trippels
and strong ales.


Subject: 1-13. What does "Dubbel" mean on a beer label?

Belgian ales often carry additional wording on their labels
indicating their strength. This applies to their original malt
strength not their alcoholic strength. Variations may appear as

Dutch/Flemish - enkel (pron. 'ankle')
French/Walloon - ?
Dutch/Flemish - dubbel (pron. 'double')
French/Walloon - double (pron. 'doobluh')
Dutch/Flemish - tripel (pron. 'treepel' or 'trippel')
French/Walloon - triple (pron. 'treepluh')
Dutch/Flemish - quadrupel (pron. 'quadruple')
French/Walloon - quadruple (pron. 'quadrupluh')

Also on the Trappist Ale "La Trappe" you will see the Latin versions:
Angulus, Duplus, Triplus, and Quadruplus.




Subject: 2-1. How is alcohol strength measured?

Most of the world measures alcohol as a percent of volume (abv). In
the U.S., alcohol in beer is measured by weight (abw). Since alcohol
weighs roughly 20% less than water, abw measures appear 20% less than
abv measures for the same amount of alcohol. In Europe, beer strength
tends to be measured on the basis of the fermentables in the wort.

Until recently, Britain used OG (original gravity), which is 1000
times the ratio of the wort gravity to that of water. Thus a beer
with an OG of 1040 was 4% more dense than water, the density coming
from dissolved sugars. You can generally take one tenth of the last
two digits to estimate the percentage alcohol by volume once the
dissolved sugars are fermented. In the example used, the abv would be
approximately 4% (40/10 = 4%) Currently, British beer is being taxed
on its actual %ABV rather that the older OG so you'll often find both

Continental Europe tends to uses degrees Plato. In general, the
degrees Plato are about one quarter the last two digits of the OG
figure. Hence, in our example above, the beer would be 10 degrees
Plato. To get the expected alcohol by volume, divide the degrees
Plato by 2.5.


Subject: 2-2. Why is beer stronger in Canada than the U.S.?

This is just folklore that results from the way alcoholic strength is
measured. The alcohol content of mainstream U.S. beers is measured as
a percent of weight (abw). Canadian beers (and most other countries)
measure percent alcohol by volume (abv). A typical Canadian beer of
5% (abv) will be about the same strength as a typical U.S. beer at 4%


Subject: 2-3. How are "ale", "malt liquor", and "barleywine" related to

The U.S. regulations about the labelling of beer products were
antiquated, but they are changing rapidly. When Prohibition ended, a
statute was enacted that prohibited the alcohol content from
appearing on beer labels unless required by state law. Nor could they
use words like "strong", "full strength", or "high proof". Coors
recently challenged this law in court and has won their lower court
battles. It is now pending a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.
However, some states have regulations that require certain beers to
be labelled using other terms that are supposed denote strength
without violating the above statute. Consequently some beers are
labeled ales, even if they are lagers, due simply to their strength.
Texas is one example of this usage. Similarly, "malt liquor" is the
appellation attached to strong beers in other states, such as
Georgia. Barley wines are strong beers, typically at strengths
comparable to wines (8% alcohol by volume and over). However, this is
not just an arbitrary term for strength but the actual name of the
beer style as well.

In April 1995, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Coors' favor regarding
the placement of alcohol percentages on beer labels. Some of Coors'
beer labels now include this figure and other brewers are following


Subject: 2-4. What is the Reinheitsgebot?

This is the German (originally, Bavarian) purity law that restricts
the ingredients that can be used to make beer to being water, barley
malt, hops, and yeast. In the 1516 version of the law, only water,
malt and hops were mentioned, because yeast was not isolated until
the 19th century by Louis Pasteur. The Reinheitsgebot is actually
part of a larger document called the "Biersteuergesetz" or "Beer Tax
Law" which defined what beer was and how it should be taxed according
to strength.

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

In 1987, the Reinheitsgebot was repealed by the EC as part of the
opening up of the European market. Many German breweries elected to
uphold the Reinheitsgebot in their brewing anyway out of respect for
their craft and heritage.

The full text of the Reinheitsgebot, as it existed before 1987, is
available via anonymous ftp in English or German from the archives
(see later).


Subject: 2-5. What about the new "Draught-flow" (tm) system (AKA the
"widget" or "smoothifier")?

This device has recently appeared in canned beers in an attempt to
mimic the taste and appearance of a true draught beer. It employs a
small plastic bladder filled with a mix of nitrogen and beer at the
bottom of the can. When the can is opened, the mixture is forced out
through small holes in the bladder causing considerable turbulence at
the bottom of the can. This results in a thick, foaming head of
creamy bubbles. While not real ale (see next), this process does
mimic the serving of beer through "swan necks" or "sparklers" and is
the subject of much debate.


Subject: 2-6. What is "Real Ale"?

"Real Ale is a name for draught (or bottled) beer brewed from
traditional ingredients, matured by secondary fermentation in the
container from which it is dispensed and served without the use of
extraneous carbon dioxide"....from CAMRA's handbook.


Subject: 2-7. What is CAMRA?

CAMRA is the CAMpaign for Real Ale. It was founded in the early 1970s
in Great Britain to preserve Britain's beer traditions. It is used in
marketing courses as one of the most successful consumer movements of
all time. It is now concerning itself with the preservation of beer,
the British pub, and brewing traditions worldwide.

Anyone can join CAMRA by writing to:

Campaign for Real Ale
230 Hatfield Rd., St Albans
Herts AL1 4LW, UK.

Or, you can use Visa/MC and join by phone: 44-1727-867201

Check out the CAMRA WWW site at


Subject: 2-8. What are the categories of brewers/breweries?

According to the Institute of Brewing there are four categories as

Large Brewers - Production in excess of 500,000 barrels/year
Regional Brewers - Production between 15,000 and 500,000 bbl/yr
Microbrewers - Production less than 15,000 bbl/yr
Brewpubs - Production for onsite consumption only

In addition you may see/hear the term pico-brewer which is used to
describe brewers so small that distribution is limited to pubs and
bars in their immediate area. To complicate matters their are
contract brewers. These companies develop a recipe and then "buy"
excess capacity at a large brewery to have their beer made for them.
They, then, market and distribute the finished product. Some of these
can be quite large. The Boston Beer Co., which brews the Sam Adams
line, is a good example of a large contract brewer.

To give you a better perspective here are some examples with 1993
production figures (barrels per year):

Large Brewers:
Anheuser-Busch - 93,000,000
Miller - 49,000,000
Coors - 25,000,000

Regional Brewers:
Boston Beer - 450,000
Sierra Nevada - 104,325
Anchor - 92,000
Pete's - 74,000

Summit - 10,500
Celis - 10,500
Yakima(Grant's) - 8,000

Wynkoop - 4,200
Gordon Biersch (No. 3) - 2,700
Great Lakes - 2,700


Subject: 2-9. What is a brewpub?

A brewpub is, generally, a combination brewery/restaurant. The beer
is made on-premises for consumption by the restaurant patrons.
Various regulations govern the ratio of beer/food sales to prevent
breweries from serving token food items while selling mostly beer.
Very common in Europe and the source of a growing industry in the
North America.




Subject: 3-1. How do I judge a beer?

Much has been written about wine tasting, and that technique and
vocabulary apply quite nicely to beer, as well. Of course, beer is a
more complex beverage and its evaluation covers some additional
ground, but the concepts are the same. The biggest change most
drinkers must undergo is warming up their beer. Ice cold beer numbs
the taste buds and doesn't allow the beer to develop its full flavor
potential. In general, pale beer is best served at cooler
temperatures than dark beer, and lagers cooler than ales. Start with
40-50F (5-10C) for the cooler beers and 50-60F (10-15C) for the
warmer ones.

Beer should be evaluated using four senses: sight, smell, taste,
feel. Always drink beer from a clear glass to fully appreciate it.
Look at it and note the color and clarity. Hold it up to a light if
necessary. Take a good sniff from the glass to get the aroma or
bouquet. Taste it, swishing it around in your mouth, and notice its
body and flavors. After swallowing, notice any aftertaste or finish.

You should be noticing things like:

Was it golden, amber, black?
Clear or cloudy?
Did it smell sweet, malty, flowery, alcoholic?
Did it taste bitter, sweet, tart, smooth, roasty?
Did it feel "thick" or "thin" as you swished it around?
Did it leave a buttery taste, nutty, fruity?

With additional experience and some reading you will begin to develop
not only a sense of what you enjoy, but what marks a truly good beer
from a bland or mediocre one.

Also, it is usually a good idea to try a beer more than once. Get it
from different sources, try it when your in a different mood or
setting, wait for a full moon, whatever. Many factors will affect
your overall perception, so be flexible. Be aware, as well, that
tasting many beers at once is not a good idea. The taste buds begin
to tire and send confusing impressions.


Subject: 3-2. What is good/bad/skunked/spoiled beer?

In the most ideal sense, there are no good or bad beers. The
enjoyment of beer is a highly subjective and personal experience.
However, in this very real and flawed world, various camps develop
and embrace their favorites while denouncing all others. This is
illustrated by "The best/worst beer in the world is...." posts.

The best approach is to appreciate what beer is about and how to
recognize the outstanding qualities of a fine beer (see previous

Bad beer can be easily identified, however, when it has been damaged
or spoiled. The two most common occurences are:

When beer has been exposed to strong light, either natural or
artificial, certain components in hops alter and produce acrid
flavors, AKA being "lightstruck". This is why beer should be
bottled in brown bottles. Clear bottles offer no light
protection and green is only slightly better. Technically, light
of wavelengths from 550 nm and below can cause photochemical
reactions in hop resins, resulting in a sulfury mercaptan which
has a pronounced skunky character. 550 nm is roughly blue-green.
Bottled beer can become lightstruck in less than one minute in
bright sun, after a few hours in diffuse daylight, and in a few
days under normal flourescent lighting.

Also referred to as going "off". This is a more vague term and
often refers to beer that has not been properly stored or
handled allowing oxidation (a cardboard taste) or other
off-flavors resulting from contamination, overheating, etc. As
with any fermented beverage, alcohol can also turn to vinegar,
imparting a sour taste to beer.


Subject: 3-3. How should I store beer?

I general, beer should be stored in a cool place. In warmer climates
this often means refrigeration and you get used to letting your beer
warm a little before you drink it. Cooler climates often use cellars
to store beer which works quite well. As long as temperatures are
kept between 35F(2C) and 60F(15C) you're probably OK. Keep in mind
that storing at the warmer end of this scale will increase any aging
effects since any yeast remaining in the beer will be more active.
This is a Good Thing if you're aging a barleywine but will cause
lower gravity beers to go "stale" sooner.


Subject: 3-4. How long does beer keep?

To quote Michael Jackson: "If you see a beer, do it a favour, and
drink it. Beer was not meant to age." Generally, that is true.
However, some beers that are strong and/or highly hopped must age to
reach their full flavor potential.

How a beer is conditioned and handled has a great affect on its
shelf-life. Beer conditioned in the bottle or cask still contains
live, active yeast and should be drunk as soon as possible. Most
larger scale, commercial beers have been filtered or pasteurized to
remove/kill the yeast and stabilize the product for the longer
storage times encountered in the retail world. In any case, stored
beer should never be exposed to heat or strong light.


Subject: 3-5. Is beer considered a vegetarian/kosher/organic product?

It depends on how you define each of those terms and what your
particular values are. Rather than try to make a broad
generalization, I'll describe the products and practices that are
usually called into question regarding these topics. You are then
free to apply these facts to your own system of beliefs and make an
informed judgement. Also, I have ignored the fact that beer is an
alcoholic beverage produced by the metabolism of yeast. This should
be taken for granted. Read labels carefully and call the brewer if
you need specific information about ingredients or processing since
labeling laws allow the brewer to omit a great deal.

Finings are substances sometimes added to beer during
fermentation to help settle out particles and yeast, leaving the
beer clear. It is important to note that finings are not present
in the finished beer in any significant quantity. Their purpose
is to settle out of the beer, not stay in suspension. OTOH, if a
careful chemical analysis were to be performed, there would
probably be a few molecules of a fining agent still to be found.
Also, many brewers do not use finings at all, but filter their
beer to clarify it. That said, these are the common fining

Made from the dried swim bladders of sturgeons. Used a
great deal in British brewing.
Irish Moss
Also known as carragheen, a type of dried seaweed.
The same stuff used to make Jello (tm). Made from animal
(mostly cow) hooves, skin and connective tissues.
A brand name for PVP (polyvinylpyrdlidone), a man-made,
plastic substance.
More commonly known as diatemaceous earth.

FYI, beer brewed according to the Reinheitsgebot (see related
Q&A) is not prohibited from using finings since it was generally
assumed that finings were not present in the finished product.

These are products used to alter the flavor, color, or body of
beer. They are used in addition to the "Basic 4": malted barley,
hops, yeast, and water. They do not settle out and can be
present in beer in significant quantities.

Used a great deal by the mega-brewers as a cheap way to
make huge quantities of beer since corn is cheaper than
malted barley.
Same as corn.
Used in some beer styles to produce a lighter-bodied beer
with a tangy flavor.
Used as another fermentable sugar in addition to malted
barley to impart different flavors.
Also known as milk sugar because of its dairy origin. Used
to increase sweetness and body of certain beer styles such
as cream stouts.
Another form of sugar used to flavor some dark ales.

Heading agents
Various products added to a beer to increase its ability to form
and hold a head. Used most often in beers made with large
quantities of corn and/or rice. Pepsin is a common heading agent
and is often derived from pork. Beers using only malted barley
or wheat don't need heading agents.

Organic ingredients
To be truly organic, a beer would have to be made from barley
and hops cultivated using accepted organic practices. Most
brewers do not make this claim, but a few are appearing. Those
that do clearly label their products as organic. It is also my
understanding that organic does not mean no animal products.

Other ingredients
Many other ingredients are used in brewing beer to give it
unusual character or marketing appeal. As such, these items are
often clearly indicated on the label. Some of the more common
examples are:

Oatmeal, Pumpkin, Potatoes, and all sorts of fruit
Also spices such as: Ginger, Licorice, Coriander, Cinnamon, and




Subject: 4-1. What is Zima and/or clear beer?

Clear beers are malt-based beverages that have had all their
character removed completely leaving one to wonder "What's the
point?" Clear beverages like Zima are not beers, and are discussed in
their own newsgroups like or alt.zima.


Subject: 4-2. What do the different Chimay packages/colors mean?

Chimay is the best known of the famous Trappist ales from Belgium and
the Netherlands. Two package types are used: a 33cl(11oz) bottle with
the standard metal crown and a 75cl(26oz) "Bordeaux" bottle which is
corked. Three beers are produced by Chimay which differ in character
and alcoholic strength. They have different names, but are often
referred to by the color coding of the crown, cork seal, and labeling
as follows:

Chimay Red, Rouge, Premiere - 7% abv
Chimay White, Blanche, Cinq Cents - 8% abv
Chimay Blue, Bleue- 9% abv (33cl bottle only)
Chimay Gold, Grande Reserve - This is a vintage bottling of Chimay
Blue in a 75cl bottle


Subject: 4-3. What does the "33" mean on the bottles of Rolling Rock?

There several versions:

The first is that it is the number of words on the label which a
Rolling Rock employee wrote down before sending it to the
artist/printer and it stuck. This is the most popular one.

The second is that "33" is the year prohibition was lifted.

A third, more colorful one, is that the brewery was started with
money won at the track betting on #33 "Old Latrobe", hence the 33 and


Subject: 4-4. Does Coors support Nazi organizations?

The Adolph Coors Co., as a publicly held US corporation, does not.
Nor is it likely they could do so and succeed in the US market. The
Coors family supports the Coors Foundation which donates funds to
many political, social, and educational organizations. Whether these
organizations can be considered Nazi, right-wing, or even
conservative is not an appropriate topic for this newsgroup since it
doesn't affect the brewing, distribution, or marketing of Coors beer.
This policy is stated in the r.f.d.b. Charter. These discussions can
take place in soc.politics or talk.politics.misc.


Subject: 4-5. Can I make my own it legal?

U.S. regulations state that an individual can brew up to 100 gals/yr
for personal consumption or up to 200 gals/yr per family without
being subject to taxes. Other countries will certainly have different
regulations. State laws often override the Federal tax law with more
stringent regulations or ban any homebrewing, so check locally. In
any case, you cannot sell your homebrew. Also, be aware that the
presence of homebrew supply stores does not imply that homebrewing is
legal in your state. More often, in a strange quirk of law-making, it
is legal to sell the supplies, but illegal to make beer with them!?


Subject: 4-6. How do I make it?

Making your own can range from quite easy to very complicated
depending on how much of the science you want to absorb. At its most
basic, you can make beer following these steps:

1. Mix together malted barley extract, hops, and water and boil to
produce what is called the wort.

2. The wort is cooled, placed in a fermenter and yeast is added.
Fermentation will take place converting the sugars in the wort to
carbon dioxide (which is vented out) and alcohol.

3. When fermentation is complete, the new beer is mixed with a small
amount of primer (made from malt extract or corn sugar) and
placed in sealed bottles or kegs. The primer will provide just
enough additional fermentation to carbonate the beer.

4. Wait until the beer has properly aged and drink! The aging time
depends on beer style and can range anywhere from 2 weeks to 1

For further details, subscribe to rec.crafts.brewing and lurk for a


Subject: 4-7. WIMLIACLDAB? BTABFCTW! What was that?

This is a very old, very tired beer joke attributed to Monty Python.
I'll spell it out for you:

Q: Why is making love in a canoe like drinking American beer?
A: Because they are both fucking close to water!

But don't ever repeat this on the Net or the following will occur:

1. You will be scorched to a crunchy black by some excruciatingly
creative individuals.
2. You will receive a number of "corrective" e-mails.
3. Your family/relatives will be visited by "Guido", a large,
ill-tempered man with hairy knuckles. that order!


Subject: 4-8. Is Guinness good for you?

Answers to this, and many other Guinness questions, may be found in
Alan Marshall's "Guinness FAQt and Folklore". This document is
available in the archives or on WWW at


Subject: 4-9. Where is Sam Adams beer made?

As the largest contract brewer in the U.S., Boston Brewing Co. uses
several breweries around the country to make the various Sam Adams
beers. This info is accurate as of JAN-95.

Boston, MA
AKA Jamaica Plain. Former Haffenreffer brewery, a company-owned
facility brewing the Boston Ale and doing R&D work on other
Pittsburgh, PA
Pittsburgh Brewing Co. brews the largest portion (by volume) of
Sam Adams beers, mostly lagers for eastern distribution.
Lehigh Valley, PA
Stroh Brewery Co. brews the ales for eastern distribution.
Portland, OR
Blitz-Weinhard Brewing Co. (owned by G. Heileman). Most Sam
Adams brews for western distribution.
Nagold, Germany
A Gambrinus brewery brews the Boston Lager for the European

The relationship with F.X. Matt of Utica, NY has ended and Sam Adams
beers are no longer made there. There is also a Sam Adams brewpub in
Philadelphia, PA which brews ales from malt extract recipes. Also,
FYI, the Sam Adams Triple Bock was brewed at the Jamaica Plain
facility and then shipped to Bronco Winery in Ceres, CA for aging in
their vats.


Subject: 4-10. Why does American beer suck?

You might as well ask In fact, any country in the world with a
sufficiently large brewer is guilty of brewing beer that is (ahem)
less than it could be. In an effort to boost profit margins and still
be acceptable to the broadest possible market, the mega-brewers have
resorted to using cheaper adjuncts, like corn and rice, instead of
all barley malt. The resulting less-sweet beer doesn't need as much
balancing bitterness, so they cut back on hops to save money and to
make the end-product innocuous to the casual drinker. The change has
been a gradual one, taking place in small increments over many years,
so that most consumers would not notice the difference. These
practices are followed up by huge, multi-media, marketing campaigns
that attempt to sell brand image rather than beer flavor.

American brewers take the biggest hit because they're the best at
this game. In addition, most people outside the U.S. only see the
brews exported by the mega-brewers and judge the entire market by
these examples. But such blatant generalities as the opening question
always fall short of the truth. The truth is that excellent beer is
also being brewed in America and
Germany/England/Canada/Mexico/Japan/Holland, etc. and the way to
enjoy good beer from any country (or avoid bland beer) is to
patronize the brewers that provide it and avoid the ones that don't.




Subject: 5-1. Were can I get more beer info and tasting tips?

Look through the archives (see next section).

Also, check out Usenet group with archives at
in /pub/

On the World-Wide Web, point your browser at:

WWW Virtual Library Beer & Brewing Index

The Real Beer Page (TM)

Dan Brown's Beer Page

Spencer Thomas' Beer Page

The Virtual Pub
Watch for and participate in the beer tastings posted every so
often by Joel Plutchak, publican.

For lambic fans there is the Lambic Digest mailing list. You can
receive it by sending SUBSCRIBE to

Michael Jackson (not the pop star) is an acknowledged authority on
beer world-wide and has written several books:
The New World Guide to Beer
The Beer Companion
Simon & Schuster's Pocket Guide to Beer

Also look for:
The Beer Enthusiast by Gregg Smith
Evaluating Beer from Brewers Publications
The Essentials of Beer Style by Fred Eckhardt
Beer Cuisine by Jay Harlow

All About Beer - 800-977-BEER(2337)
Beer, the magazine - 800-646-2701
Beer Magazine - 613-737-3715 (Canada)
The Malt Advocate - 800-610-MALT
What's Brewing - comes with CAMRA membership (see above) (U.K.)
Get beer-mags.Z from the archives or see the Beer Periodicals
List, for a complete listing.

On video tape:
The Beer Hunter with Michael Jackson
Call 800-262-4800 - $34.95 + t/s/h.
Beer and Ale: A Video Guide
Call 800-546-5034 - $24.95 + t/s/h.


Subject: 5-2. Where can I get good beer?

In most parts of the world, just go to any place that serves beer and
ask for it. In North America, micro-breweries and brewpubs are the
best places to get freshly brewed, finely crafted beer. But they
aren't everywhere, yet.

Many bars and restaurants are beginning to offer high quality beers
on tap and in bottles. Don't fall into the trap of asking for an
"import" when you want a good beer! The market today is such that you
could easily end up with a very disappointing import while missing a
truly wonderful domestic. Always, always, always ask to see a beer
list. Servers are not always educated in beer lore and may
misinterpret what you are looking for in a good beer.

Most liquor stores carry a good selection of bottled beers. Many
major grocery chains are also beginning to carry remarkable


Subject: 5-3. I'm going to "some city", what brewpubs/bars are good?

A comprehensive list of brewpubs and good bars is available via
anonymous ftp to in /pub/clubs/homebrew/beer/docs.
The file is publist.Z. Caution: I don't think this is being updated.

There are some other regional guides stored in the archives. On WWW,
check out the Real Beer Page's Brew Tour at Also see the
Regional Guides section of the WWW Virtual Library's Beer & Brewing


Subject: 5-4. Can I get beer in the mail?

Yup, monthly subscriptions just like a magazine. These services send
a selection of beers each month until you tell them to stop. For an
up-to-date list look for the Beer-by-Mail FAQ posted the 4th Tuesday
of every month on r.f.d.b or on WWW at you can
ftp it from the archives (see below).


Subject: 5-5. Where can I get details on making my own?

Brewing discussions are held in the rec.crafts.brewing newsgroup. The
FAQ for that group is posted once each month and can be viewed at

On the World-Wide Web, point your browser at:

WWW Virtual Library Beer & Brewing Index

"The Brewery" Brewers Page

Spencer Thomas' Beer Page

Eric Wooten's Beer & Homebrewing Page

Anonymous ftp from in /pub/clubs/homebrew/beer/docs
the following guides:


Read the Homebrew Digest mailing list. You can receive it by sending

Good books to read are:
The New Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian
The Complete Handbook of Brewing by Dave Miller
Brewing Quality Beers by Byron Burch

Zymurgy - comes with membership in American Homebrewers
Association (AHA): 303-546-6514
Get beer-mags.Z from the archives or see the Beer Periodical List for a complete listing.

Video tape:
Home Brew with Charlie Papazian - Call 303-546-6514 - $29.95 +


Subject: 5-6. Where can I get recipes?

Check the same sources listed above plus look in the
ftp site in /pub/clubs/homebrew/beer/recipes.
On the World-Wide Web you'll find over 1,000 recipes indexed by style
in Cats Meow III at


Subject: 5-7. What is r.f.d.b. about? was created on 16-MAR-1993 as a Usenet newsgroup
dedicated to serious discussions concerning beer.



This site was last updated 05/13/08