FAQ OF THE BREW
Question: What is a brewmaster?
Answer: In the United States, the term brewmaster is used to describe someone in charge of brewery operations, and the title is often given without any accreditation, according to Paul Gatza, director of the Boulder, Colo.-based Brewers Association. In Germany a brewmaster must train at the Weihenstephan brewing school, such as Dan Gordon, owner of Gordon Biersch Brewing Co. Top brewing schools in the United States include the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago and the American Brewers Guild in Vermont, which are among schools listed by the Brewers Association.
Q: What's the difference between ale and lager?
A: The two major categories of beer are:
* Ale: Robust and complex. For example, Keoki Brewing Co.'s Sunset and Gold Ales.
"There are golden ales that are light, medium-bodied and not far from the taste profile of a golden lager, what I like to call transitional beers," said Andy Baker of Keoki Brewing.
Styles of beer under this category include India pale ale, brown ale, amber ale, American pale ale, wheat beer and porters.
* Lager: Smooth and hoppy. For example, Pabst Brewing Co.'s Primo.
Styles of beer under this category include pilsner, bock and dunkel. "Lagers are bottom- fermented over long periods of time at a cold temperature in hopes of creating an even-tasting, tip-of-the-tongue to back-of-the-mouth consistent beer," said George O'Hanlon, general manager of the Liquor Collection in Ward Warehouse.
Q: What are the ingredients in beer?
A: The four primary ingredients are:
* Water: More than 90 percent of beer is water, according to Keith Kinsey, owner of Lihue's Keoki Brewing Co.
* Malted barley: The process of malting is allowing barley to take in water to let it germinate, then chilling it to let it dry. Roasting starts converting the starches to sugar.
There are specialty and base malts. Maui Brewing Co. owner Garrett Marrero uses combinations of German Pilsner 2 row as well as black barley and chocolate barley. For example, a light pale malt would give the color to his Bikini Blonde Lager.
"When you bake a cake, like zucchini or banana bread, you have your flour as your base, and then you add cinnamon and nutmeg and all these specialty powdered ingredients," he said. "The different malts are very similar plants. Most of them are identical, but with different levels of roasting."
* Hops: Hops play a threefold part in flavoring the beer, according to RJ Manson, assistant brewer at Sam Choy's Big Aloha Brewery, who said they add bitterness, taste and aroma. Hops, part of the hemp family, can be added in pellet form in the kettle boil so they break apart for an even disbursement in the kettle, or as buds, where the oil is stripped off. Dry hopping is when hops are added after the wort, or sweet liquid before fermentation, has cooled.
* Yeast: Yeast, or a variety of fungus, ferments sugars into alcohol. Yeast can be pulled off the bottom of the fermenter and used for up to 15 "generations," or batches of beer, Marrero said. Belgian Abbey ale flavors often are determined by the yeast used to ferment the beer. Maui Brewing's award-winning Belgian Abbey has the brewery's highest alcohol content, at 9.6 percent.
Q: What's the difference between a microbrewery and a brewpub?
A: A craft brewery is defined by the Brewers Association as having annual production of less than 2 million barrels with less than a quarter of ownership by an alcoholic beverage industry member who is not a craft brewer. All of Hawaii's breweries fit under this category among these titles:
* Microbrewery: Produces less than 15,000 barrels of beer each year. (Keoki Brewing Co., Maui Brewing Co., Mehana Brewing Co.)
* Brewpub: A restaurant-brewery that sells a quarter or more of its beer on site, primarily in the restaurant and bar. (Brew Moon Restaurant & Microbrewery, Sam Choy's Big Aloha Brewery, Waimea Brewing Co. and Gordon Biersch Brewing Co.)
* Regional craft brewery: An independent brewery with an annual beer production of between 15,000 and 2 million barrels. (Kona Brewing Co., when including California bottling)
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
* Weekly House of Brews beer tasting: Hosted by Andy Baker from Lihue's Keoki Brewing Co., sample eight types of beer, $20, Wednesdays, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Bar 35, 35 N. Hotel St., 537-3535
* The Willows: Monthly beer tastings hosted by Andy Baker from Lihue's Keoki Brewing Co., 901 Hausten St., 952-9200, www.willowshawaii.com
* Homebrewers on Pacific Shores (HOPS) club: Informal monthly meetings on home brewing; next meeting is midafternoon on July 19 at Pearl Harbor's Rainbow Bay Marina; beer is usually donated; nominal fee for potluck supplies (no more than $4); all levels of brewing expertise welcome, firstname.lastname@example.org (can also request to subscribe to e-mail newsletter)
* Kona Brewers Festival: Annual home brew competition, March 14, 2009, tickets on sale in late January, 75-5629 Kuakini Highway, Kailua-Kona, 331-3033, www.konabrewersfestival.com
* Ryan's Grill Beer Fest: Annual summer beer celebration featuring specialty beers, July and August, Ward Centre, 591-9132