Year round, we celebrate. We dine, we wine, we spend time with friends. Most of the time, it’s with a drink in our hands.
Chris Anderson has been brewing for about 20 years and ran Maryland Homebrew for just under 18 years where now she is the owner for almost 1 year. She started brewing with all grain, taught by a previous boyfriend. Her favorite styles are IPA’s, Pale Ales, Porters and sours, but she hardly turns down a sample of something new. At home she has a natural gas 10 gallon set up. Chris used to brew with a 30-gallon system but right now likes the variety for her 5 tap kegerator.
Outside of managing Maryland Homebrew Chris is very active in the homebrew community. She is the longtime treasurer of the Freestate Homebrewers Club guild and member of CRABS homebrew club and has desires to become more involved with the Cross Street Irregulars Club as she was in the past. Chris attends many homebrew and craft brewing events either to learn or help out.
Chris is also one of the founders of Baltimore Beer Babes which is a group for women to be able to learn more about beer. Includes brewing, styles, understanding the ingredients and of course sampling.
When not involved in things beer, she is spending time with her family & friends(which still includes beer), downtime with her cats. Loves cooking and yard work!
What exactly is an IPA?
There are many different styles of IPA. English, American, Belgian, Black, Brown, Red, Rye, White, New England (East Coast), West Coast, Double, Session and the newly formatted Brut IPA. They range in colors and Maltiness (level of Flavor from the malt). The one thing that makes them all similar is that they have more hops in them compared to many other beer styles. Generally, they average about 7% ABV. The biggest one around right now is the New England IPA or on the west coast it is called East Coast IPA. This IPA isn’t as bitter as some of its predecessors. It has a much more floral, fruity nose with a golden color and is generally very cloudy from water chemistry, flaked oats that are added and lack of filtration.
But what is an IPA? IPA is short for India Pale Ale. The first ones came from England using English hops. The beer was hoppier than other ales produced and that was done to help preserve the beer on its boat ride to the States from the UK.
Here are the basics if you want:
English: English hops, back end bitterness, some aroma. English malts and Yeast
American: Same as English more bitter and American ingredients.
Belgian: Generally American Hops, Belgian yeast and UK & American Malts
Black, Brown, Red: Basically American with extra malts to make them more red or black.
Rye: American IPA with some rye malt added for some extra spiciness.
White: Similar to a Belgian but with coriander and orange peel added. Has the same yeast as a blue moon. Just hoppier than a blue moon.
Double IPA: Higher ABV and more Hops!
Session IPA: Not so bitter and about 4% abv so you can have a couple more.
West Coast: An American IPA on steroids with the bitterness and aroma. More hops
Brut IPA: Very dry and refreshing. Think Champagne but with malt and Hops. It doesn’t taste super dry because they do use some fermentable malts.
I lean towards the American styles. Really like the Session, New England and West coast IPA’s
What are Hops and what does it mean for a beer to be Hoppy?
Hops are a vine that is like a weed! It grows up over 20ft tall and sprouts rhizomes that need to be kept in check or they will grow all over the place. Being a cousin to marijuana hops have some medicinal properties such as helping someone to sleep if you make a pillow or a tea. The plant has little buds or Hop cones that are what one uses to flavor the beer. You can brew with the whole flower or they can be broken down into pellets. Pellets are much easier to work with. Inside the hop cone is a yellow powdery substance called luplin powder. This is where the bitterness of the plant comes from.
There are hundreds of varieties of Hop Plants grown all over the world. They have different flavors and aromas. New Zealand Hops are very hot right now but American hops don’t get knocked too far down the ladder. Hops balance the beer or make it bitter. It gives beer that piney, citrusy, floral and/or fruity aroma. Hops are added to beer during the boil. The longer you boil the hops the more bitterness you get out of them. The less time the more flavor and aroma. You can also add hops during fermentation for added flavor and aroma.
Is there a technique to drinking or picking beer like there is for wine?
You just need to try them. Find the styles that you like. If it’s hoppy, chocolaty, malty, fruity or even sour. Once you understand the styles you will know which styles you love and maybe some you aren’t too fond of. Smell them for sure but sometimes it will smell different than it tastes.
When people are sampling beers they generally do not spit it out like you see with wine. They do swish it around in the mouth to get all the flavors on all parts of the tongue, we also start with smelling the beer. Flavors come out of a beer when it is warmer. Budweiser type beers that are a lot lighter are served colder since there isn’t a lot of flavor. Beer drinkers generally like their beer about 40-42F. Then there are English beers which can be served warmer and not as carbonated but I won’t get into that now.
Is there a particular beer or kind of beer you would recommend for someone new to beer?
If you don’t think you like beer, here are some styles of the ones you can find at a local brewery or in the liquor stores. German beers are generally easy to drink. Start with a Hefeweizen, Kolsch or pilsner. Belgian Wit beer is also popular. To start with. Union Brewery in North Baltimore has the skip jack pilsner and an alt bier which is darker but tastes light. Hysteria brewing in Columbia has a witbier, pilsner and American wheat beer that would be good too. I can suggest a lot of other local beers but I am not certain where you are located.
How many different types of beer are there and what are they?
Wow! Lots! There is a beer judging certification you can get and they track styles and add when new ones come along that get voted in. They are currently listing 34 styles with each style getting broken down into sub styles and there are 2-8 in each one. www.bjcp.org for more info on this. The most popular ones are IPA, Stouts, Porters, Pale Ales, Pilsners, Oktoberfest, Wheat Beers, Belgian ales. Even stouts (which is what Guinness is) has like 5 styles of stout.
What’s the strangest/craziest beer you’ve ever had?
Oh, that is tough I have had so many! I have has beers with Spruce tips in it (not my fav!), seaweed, smokey and ones that are beers that taste like a cordial. I say these are crazy because of the ingredients. They aren’t really my thing. I generally just like normal beers. One beer I had even had yeast from the brewer’s beard. Yeah, that might be the craziest!
We loved hearing more about beer from Chris. Thank you so much for talking with us, and sharing more with our readers.
What’s your favorite beer? Drop it down in the comments below!
CEO & Founder of Babes, Books & Bordeaux || sushi addict || crazy plant lady & dog-mom