part I is here.
So one of the first things I did as I read through The Brewmaster's Table, taking notes, was to try to get a handle on the "family tree" of beers, so to speak -- all the classifications and sub classifications.
It started out fairly simple, with the world of Lambic:
Then things got a little more interesting, when I turned to the chapter on Wheat Beer:
But then I turned to the chapter on the British Ale Tradition, and my family tree sprouted suckers all over the place:
Let's just say that things didn't get any simpler when I got to Belgium. I have a few more pages like this.
This was all very overwhelming. I got myself a lab notebook:
I made myself a little Beerwatching List, so I could check off each variety as we tried at least one bottle of each:
But it was still kind of overwhelming, with 59 different kinds of beer, and that doesn't even count the fact that you can generally buy more than one brewery's version of each sort of beer.
Clearly I needed to prioritize.
After fussing around a bit considering what made the most sense (start with easy-to-find and move towards rarer? Tote the notebook to restaurants and order the most obscure draft beer on the menu every time? Geographical organization?) I decided to start with the most useful beers, by which I mean the beers that were listed in the book as being quite versatile and going with a lot of different kinds of food. Theoretically, from among that set we would find something that we wanted to keep in the fridge all the time.
The Brewmaster's Table has a handy lookup table to answer the question, "What should I drink with my food?" Conversely, one can use this really cool pairing chart to answers the inverse question, "What should I eat with my beer?" Turning back and forth between the two and taking notes, I came up with the following list of "Beers that supposedly go with lots of stuff:"
- English-style porter
- Belgian saison
- Vienna lager
- American pale ale
- American amber lager
Ah, nine. What a nice short list to start with. Much better than 59.
Mind you, these aren't "beers that go with everything," they are just "beers that showed up a lot in the list of food pairings." Whatever. I went with it.
Tune in next time and I will regale you with Adventures in Hefeweizen. Hint for fellow northern plains staters: Not at all like Leinie's Honey Weiss.