Sometimes All I Want is a Beer Flavored Beer

Every time I go shopping for beer the plethora of choices always brings a smile to my face. I’m not just talking about the various styles of Craft Beer. I’m talking about the flavors that are added to those styles. For example, Peanut Butter Milk Stout, Serrano Baltic Porter, Mexican Lager with Lime, Tangerine IPA, and Honey Blonde Ale just to name a few. An exhaustive list would have thousands of beers in it.

Speaking for myself. There are times where all I want is a beer made from the four required ingredients in beer. I was not the first to refer to these beers in this way. I felt compelled to just put out there is a need that comes upon me often. The taste of a Beer Flavored Beer.

My Definition

I define a Beer Flavored Beer as any beer that is made with the four essential ingredients only. Water, Barley (grains), Hops, and Yeast. Each of these ingredients are essential in providing that flavor that many of us grew to enjoy way before the explosion of Craft Beer Brewing in the United States some 30-35 years ago.

A Pilsner by Oskar Blues
Also a Beer Flavored Beer

Water– Water is the medium in which the other ingredients provide us with a liquid beverage. Although it is not as simple as that. Depending on the Brewery’s location, the mineral, biological, and pollution levels in the water can have a distinct effect on the flavor of the beer. Example: Alesmith Brewing’s Special Pils was brewed using a recipe with water from a specific Eastern European Lake. In their initial brewing of this beer they brought some of that water back, analyzed its mineral content and other variables. This was to have the ability to replicate that water, making it taste like it was made with that European lake’s water.

Barley (Grains)– Brewers use the grains to make “The Mash”. The Mash is where the Barley is hydrated by steeping the grains in hot water. During this time enzymes are activated and the starches in the grains are converted into fermentable sugars.

Yeast– Yeast simply is a single cell plant organism. The yeast simply takes fermentable sugars from the Mash and converts them to carbon dioxide and alcohol.

Hops– Hop plants are climbing vines. The part of the plant used in brewing is the hop flower. When used at the beginning of the brewing process (the boil) it provides beer it’s bitterness. When used at the end of the brewing process hops provides that unmistakable aroma and various flavors depending on the specific varietal of the hop. These flavors come from the essential oils in the different hop varietals.

Author’s Note: In the history of the IPA it is noted that high levels of hops were added to beer as a preservative for the trip from England to India. It is my understanding that it is the English hops which provides the preservative function. It is also my understanding that American hops do not provide the same preservative function.

Repeating what I said my definition of beer flavored beer is a beer using only the four main ingredients. I’ve defined those ingredients with my use of the internet to ensure accuracy.

Beer Flavored Beer

All four ingredients in beer are important. As with any chemical reaction it is the right combination of those ingredients, in proper and varying proportions that provides that Beer Flavored Beer taste. What makes it more difficult and fun is not all Beer Flavored Beers taste the same.

A Mexican Lager Beer Flavored Beer
with a shot of Tequila

A Stout, Beer Flavored Beer such as Guinness has none of the same characteristics as Stone Brewing’s Scorpion Bowl IPA. The real differences in beer flavored beers, in my opinion, is determined by whether the beer is malt forward or hop forward.

A Classic Beer Flavored Beer

All styles of malt forward beer can be Beer Flavored Beers. For example, Mexican Lagers are Beer Flavored Beers. Mexican Lagers with Lime such as Belching Beaver’s Dio de los Deftones is not a Beer flavored Beer.  Modelo Negra, a Mexican-style Vienna Lager is a Beer Flavored Beer. Mexican and Vienna Lagers have a distinct place in being in my heart as Beer Flavored Beers. That said, there are times when I add lime and salt to the beer. So, the question I would ask of the reader is; Is it no longer a Beer Flavored Beer if the person drinking the beer adds flavor, such as lime and salt? I would say yes. I’m sure many of you would say no.

A Hop Forward
Beer Flavored Beer

Hop forward beers are a completely different animal. Consider the comparison of two Ballast Point (or is it Kings and Convicts now) beers. Ballast Point’s Sculpin is an IPA that has high IBU and a fruity taste of peach, mango, and apricot. These flavors come from the choice of hops used in brewing the beer. Grapefruit Sculpin is the same beer as Sculpin, using the same hops profile, but adding grapefruit to the mix would eliminate Grapefruit Sculpin from being a Beer Flavored Beer. Ballast Point did a similar thing with Even Keel and Mango Even Keel.

Not a
Beer Flavored Beer

Stout and Porter Beer Flavored Beers are becoming increasing more difficult to find. Being honest I don’t have a problem with this in that I love Stouts and Porters. I’d be willing to bet most of the readers of this would not be able to name a combination of five Stouts and/or Porters that don’t have additional flavors such as Coffee, Chocolate, Coconut, Peanut Butter, Milk (lactose),Bourbon, Rye, Oak, or Cherry. Just to name a few.

In conclusion, I’d just like to say. I love most of the styles of beer there are, whether they are in the BJCP Style Requirements or the Brewer’s Association Style Guidelines. There is nothing wrong with any Mad Scientist Brewer putting external flavors into their beers. Artists will be Artists just as Brewers will be Brewers.

It’s just that sometimes… DAMMIT, I NEED A BEER FLAVORED BEER!

If you are interested in some of the beers I have called Beer Flavored Beer. Check out the Twitter Hashtag #BeerFlavoredBeer


How to Brew by John Palmer, Chapter 14 How the Mash Works

Beer Cartel The role of Yeast in Brewing

All About Beer Magazine- Hops.

Regis Schmerheim

One thought on “Sometimes All I Want is a Beer Flavored Beer”

  1. I so easily identify with the sentiment of your article. I live in Atlanta and it is hot and humid about 6 months of the year. Sometimes I just want a cold, easy drinking Helles or Czech Pils to cool off with. Just a simple, “beer flavored beer”. I am really digging the craft beer breweries that are starting to make American Lager. I am starting to find some really good local ones, that actually have some subtle flavors; but don’t overwhelm. Additionally, you are so right about finding your standard porter or stout. I went looking for something without added adjuncts recently and was nearly stumped. Walked out of the store with a Fuller’s Porter, Reformation Stark Porter (local), Pretoria Fields Stout (local), and Gate City Terminus Baltic Porter (local). Obviously had the hardest time finding a local non-adjunct infused stout. Great article!

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