Norm Bélanger recently made a few comments about beer during one of his segments on CBC Radio One (listened to it on the Quebec This Week podcast).
My comments to them:
Glad to see beer is getting some media attention in a city which is getting international recognition for its beer scene.
Several factual errors slipped in this segment. The part of hops which are used in beer is in fact the flower itself, not the leaves. Typically, only female flowers are used. While hops are sometimes “macerated” in the beer (a process known as “dry hopping”), neither Schloss Eggenberg nor Moretti are brewed in this way, to the best of my knowledge. Hops are boiled in the wort to contribute bitterness and the length of this boiling process will determine the bitterness of the final beer (along with the percentage of alpha acids in the hops themselves). Hop flavour and aroma, on the other hand, come from late boil additions or dry hopping.
While lagers are typically fermented at lower temperature, the defining characteristic is the type of yeast used during their fermentation (Saccharomyces uvarum, formerly known as carlsbergensis). These yeast strains typically work from the bottom of the fermentation tank and are thus known as “bottom fermentating” yeast, while ale yeast (S. cerevisiae) works from the top of the fermenter and is known as “top fermenting” yeast. Yeast type affects the taste as ale yeast strains develop more of the fruity esters typical of Belgian and British ales while lager yeast strains tend to make for cleaner and crisper beer if it is used at lower fermentation temperatures. Some lagers are fermented at higher temperatures, such as California Common beers (Anchor Steam being the best-known example).
Wine glasses may work for some beer styles but are far from ideal for most. Snifter-style tulip glasses are preferred for some of the stronger examples of Belgian ales while pilsner glasses are closer to a flute.
Kilning temperature and method does affect colour but other factors are involved. Darker grains are not typically contributing more body than lighter grain. Guinness is in fact a very light-bodied beer (the impression of body comes from the nitrogen head and the general mouthfeel of the beer).
Too bad you didn’t focus on some of the many outstanding local breweries (i.e., not InBev’s Labatt breweries).
As for the more subjective aspects (beer being a summer drink, beer being somewhat less complex than wine, etc.), it’s hard to trust a wine enthusiast on other beverages but a training in wine tasting may not prevent someone from learning something about the wide world of beer (including the variety of its food pairings, some of the many seasonal varieties of the drink, the complexity of its aromas and flavours, etc.).
Information about beer is plentiful and it would be useful if your researchers could look deeper into the beverage. Montreal has a vibrant beer scene and your audience would surely appreciate the sophistication of the beverage if you could help them learn more about it.
You could also lead listeners to some of the following sites:
Beer guide to Montreal from a North American perspective
Thank you for your kind help!
Eventually, even the “wine people” of this world will give some credit.