Beer is More Complicated Than Wine

As most serious aficionados already know, beer is the Rodney Dangerfield of the beverage world. Despite the fact that it boasts a greater diversity of style, wider breadth of flavour and more food friendliness than any other alcoholic beverage, wine included, the prevailing view in most of the world is that beer is 'just beer.'
     Well, it's not. It's a remarkable beverage that may be brewed from any number of assorted grains and can boast flavours from sweet to bitter, chocolate to spice and dried leaf to ripe fruit. It can be seasoned with coriander, cinnamon, allspice or any one of hundreds of herbs and spices, or it can be fermented with whole fruit. It can even count among its ingredients poultry and molluscs, and come out tasting great for it.
     In short, beer is the most complicated beverage out there, far more complex and finely nuanced than wine. Don't believe me? Here's proof:
Ten Reasons Beer is More Complicated Than Wine
1. The two main classes of wine are red and white. The two main classes of beer are ale and lager, which are not only impossible to tell apart by sight alone but sometimes damn hard to figure out even by taste.
2. Wine = grape juice + yeast. Beer = barley malt + hops + water + yeast + (maybe) malted (or unmalted) wheat + (possibly) oats + (sometimes) other grains + (optional) spice or (perhaps) fruit + whatever the hell else the brewer feels like throwing into the mix.
3. Wine gone sour is vinegar and unsuitable for drinking. Beer gone sour is either vinegar and unsuitable for drinking or a classic and revered Belgian style called lambic.
4. A chardonnay is so-named because it is made from chardonnay grapes. A pale ale is sometimes called a pale ale simply because the marketing people say it should be.
5. Wine tasters spit. Beer tasters have to swallow because aftertaste is a vital part of a beer's flavour.
6. Classic wines hail from France, a big, easy-to-find European power. Classic beers come from Belgium, a country so tiny and obscure than most visitors don't even realize they have visited it until they've left.
7. Wine aficionados will nod thoughtfully if you refer to "cat pee" when describing a wine. Beer aficionados will make you an object of scorn and ridicule.
8. A particularly difficult wine will show great complexity and depth of flavour. A hard to fathom beer, on the other hand, can be as sour as battery acid, as smoky as a nightclub ashtray or so bitter and full of hops that it threatens to strip the skin off your tongue, and those are its positive attributes!
9. The fruitiness in wine comes from fruit. The fruitiness in beer springs from fermentation.
10. The same beer will taste different whether in the bottle, can or on tap. (Canned and draft wine may taste different too, but who wants to find out?)
Reply to
TOM KAN PA
"TOM KAN PA" wrote in message
And he's so FUNNY with it!
Okay... if we do know (and if we're on rfdb, we are serious and we do), why are you trying to tell us all this? Why not go tell someone who doesn't know?
We do believe that. And for better reasons.
Saying the two main classes of wine are red and white is like saying the main difference between ale and lager is top- vs. bottom-fermenting. It leaves out all the important stuff in the name of shorthand.
Beer gone sour is alegar. Look it up, dunce. And lambic is so much more than "beer gone sour."
Not originally. And "sometimes" covers your ass rather neatly, doesn't it?
Know why? Ever see a map of the tongue?
Piffle. "big, easy-to-find European power" France may be, Belgium is the freaking headquarters of NATO and the location of Waterloo. People who passed the 8th grade know where it is. And classic beers also come from Germany and the UK, both of which are quite easy to find even when your head's up your arse.
What losers they would be, since "cat pee" is one way of referring to the aromas caused by being light-struck, a regrettably frequent flaw in beer. Not to mention that beer aficionados will also refer to "barnyard" and "horse blanket" when intelligently discussing lambics...note they won't be saying "mmmm, this lambic tastes like beer gone sour."
The difference between the wine and beer is hard to find here. Better work on this one, too, Cicero.
Didn't you say something about all kinds of ingredients in brewing? The fruitiness in some beers comes from ... fruit. I'd tend to doubt that ALL the fruitiness in wines comes from fruit, too.
For one thing, if the canned and draft wine did taste different, that would be yet another example of your ignorance.
But please, spout on. After all, we're all just beer drinkers with opinions around here, why not you, too?
Reply to
Gunther Prien
"Gunther Prien" writes:
Nobody ever says "alegar", except complete prats. Malt vinegar, yes, but alegar never. Rarely, maybe.
It's not "gone sour" either, as I think it gets sour before it becomes beer.
Beer's more complicated because you don't always know what it is, I think. "Pale ale" might be true to style, or might just be something else that some suit decided to call a pale ale.
Anyway, like most top ten lists, it was sorta funny, a bit, but not generally true.
Reply to
Joseph Michael Bay
The point was not to speak to the common vocabulary, the point was to pierce this pricklet. But I've seen it referred to in print as "alegar" more than once. I saw it, I looked it up. Perfectly useful word, and more linguistically precise than "malt vinegar." Just because it's right, we shouldn't use it? Christ, with an attitude like that we'll be down to Basic English in another ten years. It's a rich language: celebrate it, flex it, use it. Do yourself a favor, subscribe to Wordsmith.org's A Word A Day e-letter:
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Tricky to pinpoint it, as the 'souring' is part and parcel of its' "becoming beer." The other half of the trick is...define "going sour." If something is meant to be sour/tart, does it "go" sour, or does it "achieve proper sourness?"
I'm not sure about that at all; that would seem to make wine more precise, which I don't believe it is. Beer "styles" are snapshots of a moving band of characteristics. Your second sentence here is unfortunately true, to some extent.
Sorta, and somewhat it was sorta funny in how it was not generally true/accurate.
Reply to
Gunther Prien

Good to see you tilting at the trolls again, "Gunther."
I don't believe that. Beer is the most complicated beverage out there? Bah. I'll throw Hirsch 16 y.o. up against any beer for complexity. And more finely nuanced than wine? Wine's all about the nuance in many cases - part of the reason, incidentally, that many beer drinkers don't "get" wine, IMO.
-Steve
Reply to
Steve Jackson

Is it beer at conception or at bottling/kegging? Some believe it's beer as soon as grain and water are combined, others not until it's put into its delivery container. And at what point can you terminate the process? Is it unjust to stop the process before the yeast is added? Mid-fermentation? Or no stopping once the mash starts?
I'd say in its nomenclature wine in *some* ways is more precise. You often have the variety of grape used (how many beers are named after the variety of barley or hop?), the precise area where it's made, etc. If you go by the German labels, it's painfully precise.
-Steve
Reply to
Steve Jackson
"Gunther Prien" writes:
Yeah, me too, in a book on cider. But it's an archaism, like calling everyone "cousin" or saying "prithee".
I think it "sours", or maybe just "ferments".
It does sort of ignore that, say "Chablis" might be a dry sharp Burgundy wine or might be a semidry soft white California (sometimes jug or box) wine.
Yeah, and also I think anything that tries to set beer enthusiasts against wine enthusiasts is doomed, since pretty much everyone I know who appreciates good beer also likes good wine.
Reply to
Joseph Michael Bay
"Steve Jackson" writes:
It'sa pizza as soona you put-a you fist in the dough!
German is by its nature painful and precise.
Reply to
Joseph Michael Bay
Mr TOM KAN PA needs to give credit to the original author for this article.
____Reply Separator_____ I did!
"The Case for the Complexity of Beer"
Steve Beaumont's World of Beer
June 2003
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Reply to
TOM KAN PA
It has to have fermented noticeably to be beer. Before that it's wort. -- Joel Plutchak Boneyard Union of Zymurgical Zealots
"Resorting to personal harassment is a tactic of desperation."
Reply to
plutchak joel peter
Jeez, not this again.
Look, "balance" is not a single thing. An American-style IPA is not unbalanced for style just because hop flavor and bitterness dominate other parameters. That's what the beer is supposed to be.
Just yesterday I was at a tasting where we had something like 18 different Belgian and Belgian-style beers. The single most unbalanced beer in the whole thing was a Belgian dubbel, which had too much alcohol in the aroma and flavor. By contrast, a US-brewed tripel was one of the nicest beers there. -- Joel Plutchak Boneyard Union of Zymurgical Zealots
"Resorting to personal harassment is a tactic of desperation."
Reply to
plutchak joel peter
Eh, I've encountered narrow-minded snobs on both sides of that particular fence. -- Joel Plutchak Boneyard Union of Zymurgical Zealots
"Resorting to personal harassment is a tactic of desperation."
Reply to
plutchak joel peter
Lambics existed before they became popular in the US. The US has a few more people in it than does Belgium. Is the per capita consumption of "overly sour" lambics higher in the US or in Belgium? What it looks like is that the data doesn't support your assertion, it's still the fault of those ugly Americans and their unbalanced ways. I don't buy it. -- Joel Plutchak Boneyard Union of Zymurgical Zealots
"Resorting to personal harassment is a tactic of desperation."
Reply to
plutchak joel peter

Pfft. Beaumont. What a pretentious, blinkered, wooden-palated, agenda-driven tool. No wonder that list read like unmitigated bullshit when I read it.
Stotz -- "Having lived in Rhode Island most of my life, I have never had much of a problem enjoying a diverse sampling of cuisines from around the world." -- []
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