Tagged "Beer"

What Is Soapstone?

Posted by Theresa Bunkers on

When Bryce was in the early days of creating the Beer Stones, he tried numerous types of materials—steel, glass, and soapstone.  After a considerable amount of prototyping and testing, Bryce ended up choosing soapstone.

But what exactly is soapstone?

Soapstone patterns on three Beer Stones

This unique material, also known as steatite, is a metamorphic rock.  It transforms deep within the earth's crust under high temperature and pressure, specifically where one tectonic plate plunges below another into the molten mantle.  I was really hoping metamorphic meant it came from planet Krypton or something.  Soapstone is mined all around the world, but it is mostly quarried in Brazil, which is where Brew Muse sources its product.

In its purest form, soapstone is talc, which is most commonly used to make baby powder.  Talc gives soapstone its characteristically smooth, slick feel for which it is named.  The percentage of talc is what determines soapstone’s texture and strength.

While soapstone is an incredibly dense material that is typically used as kitchen counters and fire places, it also works well for carving and was actually favored by the ancient Egyptians for their statues.  Since soapstone is easy to sculpt, Bryce was able to create the classic Beer Stone shapes and etch in the nucleation sites by hand.  Soapstone is nonporous, nonabsorbent, resistant to acids, and heat resistant, all of which help make Beer Stones compatible with beer.

Do you have more questions about soapstone? Let us know!
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How To Host A Beer Tasting

Posted by Theresa Bunkers on

I don’t know about you, but I am in the middle of a major bout of cabin fever.  I am counting down the days to when the weather starts to warm up, so I can get out of my house without my face freezing off.

There are a lot of things I’m looking forward to this spring, but the big one is hosting a beer tasting on our deck.  Having never done this before, I did some research and came up with a lot of great ideas and tips for how to host a beer tasting.  In case you’re interested in hosting your own party, I thought I’d share some tips with you.

Beer tasting flight on a table from a top-down view

First, you need to choose a theme for your beer tasting.  Choosing a tasting theme makes the event more fun and is a conversation starter.  There are essentially four types of tasting themes: horizontal, vertical, blind and seasonal.

Horizontal: This is the easiest theme to arrange.  In this type you select several beers of different styles – usually selections that are distinct in color, taste and strength.  This gives the taster the opportunity to taste new styles and learn the diversity that the world of beer offers.

Vertical: This theme compares beers from one style, region or brewer.  This is ideal for exploring a particular style, such as pale lagers or stouts, or a region, such as Belgium or Germany (and may include beers styled according to a particular region though not necessarily brewed there).  Or, feature a vertical tasting from the selections of one great brewery.

Blind: This theme may have the most fun appeal, but is harder for the host to manage.  In a blind tasting, typically the tasters do not know the brand or style they are sampling.  As host of the tasting, you are the only one (at the outset) to know the identity of the beer samples.  You will have to pour in another room, hide the bottles, and keep careful track of which beer is in which glass (and in which order you serve them).  One tip is to use a magic marker to number the cups before you serve them.

Seasonal: This theme is popular for tastings and is a particular version of a vertical tasting.  It is a fun way to start off a holiday party and a nice ice breaker.  Winter holidays offer great Christmas ales.  Other beer holidays can include Oktoberfest (many German and U.S. craft brew “fest beers” are now readily accessible), and May Day (Mai Bock’s are traditional, but wheat beers are good for the spring, too).  You can also be creative – why not a Valentine’s Day tasting (cherry and raspberry lambics, along with chocolate flavored beers) or a Thanksgiving tasting with pumpkin and spiced beers?

Beer tasting flight on a paddle

Once you’ve chosen a theme, the next step is to set a date, time, location, and invite people. After you do all that, you’ll need to decide how many different beers to taste.  The theme you’ve chosen will help you decide what styles of beer to get and how many.  Once you’ve picked out your beers, do a little research on the beers you’ve selected in order to provide some guidance during your tasting.  

Choose what kind of party décor you’d like to have, and then assemble all the items that you need.  There are a lot of great ideas on Pinterest and blogs, so just do a quick Google search and you’ll be set.  I like this one and this one.

Once you have your party décor and supplies all set, you are ready to party!  Enjoy!

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Why Beer Glassware Is Important

Posted by Theresa Bunkers on

My husband has a lot of glassware for his beer. Before I met Bryce, I pretty much just drank my beer in whatever receptacle it was served to me in—bottle, pint glass, red plastic cup, and so on. I was none the wiser to the reasoning behind serving beer in a particular glass shape.

Enter Bryce. The first time I met him he taught me about the best way to drink my Blue Moon, and I haven’t looked back. I learned that there's more to glassware than just making your drink look nicer. Each beer style has its own optimal glass type that works to release the style’s flavors, ergo, making your beer drinking experience as good as possible.

The shape of a glass affects the way beer looks, smells, and tastes. Now I know some of you might be thinking “but I like drinking my beer out of the bottle”, but just bear with me on this.

Light, medium, and dark beers in tall, average and short glassware

Okay, here we go.

When picking out a glass, start with the overall proportions—the height and diameter.

If your beer is light in color and low in alcohol, go with a tall & narrow glass. They keep light lagers and ales cold longer, which need to stay around 40 F to remain crisp and refreshing.

If you have a beer that’s dark in color and higher in alcohol, pick a short & wide glass. They allow beer to warm, which releases more aroma. The best flavors and aromas in dark and strong ales and lagers don’t emerge until closer to 50 F.

If your beer is between light and bold, pick a glass of average height and diameter. Proportions are pretty easy, right?

Next comes the shape of the mouth.

When the mouth flares in, it directs beer towards the back of your tongue where you taste more bitterness—good for hoppy beers like IPAs. Flaring in also concentrates the beer’s aroma right at your nose.

When the mouth flares out, it spreads beer to the sides of your tongue where you taste more sourness—good for Belgians, lambics, and aged beers. Flaring out also conforms to your lips, making each sip more comfortable.

Large diameter mouths are for easy drinking—fun for session beers. Small diameter ones are better for sipping—a good way to savor higher alcohol brews.

One cool feature some glasses have is Nucleation Sites – fine texturing inside the glass on the bottom. Nucleation assists in forming and keeping a nice foamy head on beer, because it releases a steady stream of carbonation. Nucleation Sites are added inside the glass by etching, engraving, lasering, or sandblasting after the glass is molded. If you don’t want to replace your nice beer glasses for ones with nucleation sites, it’s okay. Beer Stones achieve the same foamy head effect in any beer glass.

Still hankering for more details regarding beer glassware design? Check out Brew Muse’s educational page on beer glassware.

As always, how you drink your beer is up to you. Serving beer in the “optimal” glass is a way for people to get the most out of their beer drinking experience. If your goal of drinking beer is to take your time and explore the flavors, busting out a good glass (and washing it later) is well worth the effort. 

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Do I Want A Foamy Head On My Beer?

Posted by Bryce Bunkers on

Beer with missing head of foam

Do I want a foamy head on my beer? 

This is probably the question we get asked the most when explaining how Beer Stones work.  In other words, is the head on my beer good, neutral, or bad? 

Most people eventually determine that beer head is a virtue, because it enhances the drinking experience.  

That’s all great, but I really don’t want to fight through all the foam to get to my tasty beer.

We get it. Sometimes that foam isn’t easy to work around.  Some people feel a beer poured with a head is wasting volume that liquid beer should occupy.  And some feel a foamy head is just a bothersome obstacle between them and liquid beer.  Heck, they even make “mustache protectors” now days, if that has you worried.

The Whisker Dam

The Whisker Dam stache protector, source: whiskerdam.com

Let’s look at the science behind it.  The head on your beer is foam composed of CO2 bubbles (and sometimes N2 bubbles) coated with amino acids.  Most beers are carbonated, because it’s a natural byproduct of fermenting beer.  CO2 and N2 can also be artificially added to beer during conditioning, packaging, or dispensing. 

How does a foamy head improve the beer drinking experience? 

As carbonation releases and rises in a stream of bubbles, it carries with it beer’s volatile compounds.  If your beer is releasing enough CO2 to retain a head, it’s releasing those volatile compounds to boost the aroma. 

The pressurized CO2 in beer actually forms some carbonic acid as well.  As carbonation releases to form a foamy head, this carbonic acid decreases.  It allows the beer’s flavor to come through more purely.  It also reduces the prickly mouthfeel on your tongue, resulting in a smoother texture. 

Any carbonation used to form a foamy head reduces the amount of gas ingested, making your beer less filling. 

Beer head more aroma, smoother flavor, less filling infographic

In the end, the choice to have foamy head on your beer is up to you.  You’re a grown-up after all.  The main takeaway here is that your beer head does serve a purpose.  Whether or not you want to take advantage of that purpose, and its benefits, is up to you.

Next time you’re served a frothy beer, give it a chance. You might be pleasantly surprised.
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How To Use A Beer Olive

Posted by Bryce Bunkers on

We published a helpful video on how to use the Beer Olive.  They make a great gift for beer lovers or wedding parties!  Watch and let us know what you think! 

0:07 What you need
0:14 Pour your beer
0:44 Add the Beer Olive
1:04 Beer Olive in action
1:33 How to Clean
1:42 Store in a freezer
1:50 Thank you for watching

To buy the Beer Olive store.brewmuse.com/products/the-beer-olive
To buy the Beer Hop store.brewmuse.com/products/the-beer-hop

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