Now that the weather is getting better outside, we like to think about where we are going on holiday this summer. To keep it as sustainable as possible we only want to think of places we can go to by train. But to what kind of regions do we want to go? As BorrelCie members we obviously like a drink from time to time. So, in this article, we will go into regions where you can have a really nice holiday and drink some great drinks in the meantime.
We start off our journey with one of the oldest drinks known to be produced by humans. Lots of people might be thankful for this invention, as it is the third most popular drink after water and tea. One of the first chemically confirmed barley beers was found in modern-day Iran, and the production and selling have been spread throughout the whole world. However, to save you the world trip let’s focus on beer production and its history within Germany, especially Bavaria (also known as Bayern) in the south.
The way lots of beers in Germany are produced has been heavily influenced by this region, as this is the place where the well-known ‘Reinheitsgebot’ was set up. This series of regulations dictates that the only ingredients of beer can be water, barley, and hops. Yeast was probably not mentioned but still allowed, as it was not viewed as an ingredient. This is because it was transferred between different batches by including samples of the older beers in the subsequent batch. Although they were using the term ‘reinheit’, which means purity in Germany, the law was probably not instated due to safety or health concerns, but rather as a way to restrict imports of beers from Northern Germany that usually contained additives that could not be grown in Bavaria. Besides that, it made sure that no price competition for wheat and rye would arise between bakers and breweries, as the breweries would now exclusively make use of barley.
Though these regulations limit the variety of beer types and flavors that can be produced, there are still a wide variety of beers that can be made according to this legislation. Think of for example dunkelweizen, weizenbock, lager, rauchbier, etc. These flavors are created in different parts of the process. It starts off with different types of malt (see the whisky section on how this is created), which vary in flavor by varying in time, temperature, humidity in different parts of the process of making the malt. Again, similarly to whisky, the malt is mashed with hot water. At this point, the hops are added, the mixture is boiled and lots of flavor, aroma, and bitterness is added to the mixture. After rapidly cooling the mixture, yeast is added to the mixture and the fermentation process starts.
Though the optimal experience for German beer tasting would of course be at a biergarten, in Bavaria, drinking from a big tankard, let us give you some advice on how to at least approach this type of experience. You start off by pouring the beer in a clean glass. Also, make sure the beer is at the right temperature. Though there are enough more exact recommendations online, a good indication is always to match the temperature of the beer with its alcohol percentage. To manage carbonation when pouring, tilt the glass to make sure not too much foam is created. After looking at the color, foam head, and cloudiness, swirl the beer a bit and, if you do not feel too bad about warming up a nice cold beer, warm it a bit in your hands to allow it to let go of more aromas. Then you can start tasting. Take at least three sips before judging the beer on its flavor. This allows your tongue to get used to all the tones in the beer. When tasting, take note of the initial and intermediate flavors, and the aftertaste.
To try out this tasting at the next drink, try the Erdinger Weißbier. This is a beer produced in the Bavaria region and is also brewed according to the ‘reinheitsgebot’. The beer is very fruity and light and has summery banana flavours. If you would like to try a 'reinheitsgebot’ beer but you can't find a German one? Alfa, a Limburgian brewery, also produces beers according to this principle, and their beers are sold in most grocery stores.
Cider, also called apple wine or apple cider, is a drink made from the juice of apples that goes through a fermenting process. It typically is served at around 10 degrees Celsius has a 4% to 8% alcohol content, however many varieties get made to have a higher alcoholic content than that.
A basic cider is made by juicing apples and adding yeast to the apple juice. The yeast is added to begin the fermentation process. Yeast consumes the natural sugars in the apple juice and converts them into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The fermentation takes up to a couple of weeks after which the cider should be aged a couple more weeks, so the flavors can develop. After the aging, the cider is done. A lot of cider makers add extra fruits and flavors to the cider to enhance the taste of the drink.
Well, now you might ask yourself, what makes a region a cider region? Apple trees of course! This probably is because any area growing apples also fermented them at some point in time. Today, regions that maintain a strong tradition of fermenting apples into cider are Northern Spain, Northern France, Ireland and most famous of all: Southwestern England. The UK produces the most volume of cider per year, 600 million liter per year to be exact.
The first records of tangible and verifiable proof that cider was a well-established part of the economy are from 1204. In this year manor of Runham (close to Norwich in England) paid taxes to the English King by means of 954 liters of cider. Apple orchards for cider making expanded in the 16th and 17th centuries, particularly in southeast England. And nowadays it still is a very popular drink (have you already seen it in the fridge during the Thursday drink?).
Now, what should you pay attention to when tasting ciders? Tasting glasses need to be clear so the cider can be seen, and have a shape that will help you to detect the smell (for example a tulip shaped glas). What does the cider look like? Generally, a darker yellow colour indicates more tannins, which indicates that is was traditionally crafted. The clarity of the cider has to do with how much yeast there still is left in the cider. Usually a cider is cleared when it has aged for longer. You also need to smell and taste the cider the three most important flavours in cider are sweetness, acidity and bitterness. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to drinks, so I would say taste lots of them and you will notice what you like best in your Ciders!
Fortunately, Cider is not really an expensive drink. If you would like to try a real dry Cider I would recommend trying bear cider, it is a dutch cider and a bottle is around 2,99. If you are more into the very sweet drinks I would recommend somersby apple cider (maybe you have already seen this one in the fridge at the drink). It is a lot more accesible to drink (maybe because it has a lot of added sugar) and around half the price of the bear cider. All in all you should drink what you like to drink and maybe sometimes expand your horizons to some new and cool tastes!
Wine is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented grapes and other fruits. It typically contains between 9% and 16% alcohol and has been enjoyed by people for thousands of years.
To make wine, you need to crush grapes to extract juice. This juice then gets transferred to tanks where yeast is added to start the fermentation process. After the fermentation is complete, the wine is aged in barrels to develop flavors and aromas. In the end the wine can be blended with other wines to achieve a desired taste. After the aging and blending is done, the wine gets bottled and sealed for aging and further development. Of course, there are many different variations of this process depending on the type of wine being made, the region where it is produced, and the preferences of the winemaker
The top three wine-producing countries are in Europe! They are Italy, France, and Spain (yes, in that order). Italy has over one million vineyards which in total contain over 500 different kinds of grapes. The country produces over 4.5 BILLON(!) liters of wine per year. One of the most well-known types of Italian wine is the prosecco, which is a sparkling wine produced in the Veneto region from the Glera grape. Another famous Italian wine is the pinot grigio, pinot grigio is a type of grape. It is known for producing crisp, refreshing, and light-bodied wines with flavors of citrus, pear, apple, and melon. This grape also grows in other parts of the world, for example, France. In France, this grape is called pinot gris. France is a close second in wine production with around 4.0 billion liters of wine per year. Due to climate change, however, the country has seen a decrease in vineyards in the past few years. A few of the most well-known French wines are obviously Champagne, a sparkling wine made from grapes that grow in the Champagne region of France. Another French grape you probably have heard of is the sauvignon blanc, a grape that finds its roots in the southwest of the country. The most distinct fruit flavors of Sauvignon Blanc are lime, green apple, passion fruit, and white peach.
While tasting wine think of the 5 S's: see, swirl, sniff, sip, savor.
- See: Look at the appearance and color of the wine and see what it tells you. For example, in red wines, an intense red color usually indicates a higher acidity than more purple wines.
- Swirl: Swirl the glass to let aromatic notes come out. When you swirl your wine, the surface area of the liquid increases, aroma compounds come out, and if you have a correctly shaped wine glass, you are then able to proceed to
- Sniff. Smell the wine and see what scents you can isolate, take note of the intensity of aromas and the actual scents themselves. Some grapes are known to be far more aromatic than others.
- Sip: Taste the wine and think about components like acidity, tannin, flavor, and more.
- Savor: Sit back and reflect on what you just tasted, thinking about how you like your wine.
If after reading this you really want to drink some wines, then go to the bottle shop on a Sunday and Rob Janssen can give you some great recommendations (he also chose the wines for the wine tasting drink!)
Whisky comes in many shapes and forms and is produced in lots of regions in the world. The most well-known region for whisky production in Scotland, where they produce scotch whisky. The region exports 53 bottles around the world every second, which makes the industry account for 75% of Scottish food and drink exports.
Though whisky has lots of complex flavors, it only requires three basic ingredients: water, grain, and yeast. The process is started by soaking and then laying out the grain. After a few days, enzymes will be produced in the grain, which help with the conversion from starch to sugar. Once these sugar levels are optimal, the barley will be dried which interrupts the enzymes’ process. This drying process adds malty flavors to the grain, and, if peat is added, also includes smoky flavors. After the drying, the malt is mashed together with hot water, cooled and yeast is added. At this point, the first alcohol will start to develop, after which the whisky is distilled twice. The final flavors are created by maturing the whisky in casks, which come from the climate, cask material, and age duration.
The name ‘Whisky’ comes from the Gaelic term uisge beatha (pronounced as iesjkje bjahe). This means water of life, which is the common way distilled alcohol has been named since the Middle Ages. Scottish whisky was first made by monks, using the known techniques for making wine but substituting the grapes for barley. This was done because grapes can't grow there and there was a large excess of barley. The first references can be found from 1494 onwards and describe whisky as a way to pay taxes. The first known distilleries are mentioned from 1690 onwards, showing how quickly an industry grew around this product.
To get the full experience and understanding of the drink, here is a recommendation on how to drink the whisky.
- Serve in a glass made for whisky drinking. The design is usually wide at the bottom, to make room for swirling, and either wide at the top, to allow alcohol fumes to dissipate and let aromas come forward, or narrow at the top, to concentrate the aromas in a smaller area.
- Adding ice is never recommended, as the cool numbs the taste buds. Adding a bit of water, however, can amplify the whisky flavors, especially if it’s cask strength. Do take into account that the water dilutes the flavor, so only add a little if you feel like doing so.
- Observe the color (usually, the darker the color, the more concentrated the flavor).
- Give it a smell, but keep it gently. If you don't, the alcohol will overpower and might numb your sense of smell. Look for smells like caramel, honey, citrus, smoke, etc.
- Take a small sip, and keep it in your mouth for a few seconds. This allows you to taste beyond the alcohol flavor and understand the complexity better
In case you got thirsty, here are two recommendations to try yourself. In general, whisky is quite expensive. However, at the bar, we currently have a bottle of Talisker Skye, which you can order to try. It tastes sweet and slightly smoky. If smoky is not your thing, try the Glenlivet Founders Reserve. It is a bit easier on the tongue and tastes smooth and fruity. Both these whiskies cost around 30-40 euros.