Where Does the Color of Beer Come From?
There are various factors that can affect the color of beer. The main factor is the concentration of malt in the batch. When the beer is heated, the malt oxidizes, resulting in a brown color. The temperature and duration of heating play a significant role in determining the final shade, whether it’s yellow, red, or brown.
Since the aesthetics of craft beer are almost as important as its taste, it’s not surprising that brewers pay attention to its color. The preferred color can be influenced by personal preference, market expectations, or even seasonal changes. For example, a beer with a chocolate note may have a darker appearance, while a beer with a citrus note tends to be brighter.
Some brewers may add artificial colors to the batch to achieve the desired color.
ACE Craft Beer Equipment
Darker Beer Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Heavier
As a general rule, lighter beers are crisp and less filling, while darker beers are considered rich, heavy, and often have higher calorie counts and alcohol contents. However, it’s important for craft beer enthusiasts to remember that these profiles are not set in stone. They can serve as guidelines when trying new beers or pairing craft beer with specific dishes.
Most craft beer fans are already familiar with the broad differences between pilsners, lagers, and darker brews. However, what’s interesting is that we tend to make these associations without much conscious effort, which can lead to false assumptions.
To understand why, we need to realize that darker beer is not necessarily heavier than light beer. For a more detailed explanation, you can read this article that debunks the myth of dark, heavy beer and provides insights into the oxidation process. Our eyes and experiences can sometimes deceive us – just because a beer is dark doesn’t mean it has to taste or feel heavy.
Generally, darker beers have a stronger and more distinct flavor profile. However, judging a beer solely by its color means missing out on fully appreciating the nuances of a good brew.
You Taste the Beer First with Your Eyes
One aspect that often goes unnoticed when enjoying a fine craft beer is that the first sip you take is with your eyes. In other words, you see the beer and anticipate its flavor before actually tasting it. In fact, one could argue that your tongue is the last to truly experience it since sight and smell come first… but that’s a topic for another day.
The reason this matters is that it shapes our expectations. If we expect a dark, bitter brew that pairs well with chocolate cake, how do we react when we’re served something light and refreshing instead? Are we disappointed or pleasantly surprised?
The answer may depend on various factors, but there are two things worth appreciating and considering. Firstly, it’s a good idea to ask questions, read labels, and be curious about the beers you want to try. Not only will you learn interesting things along the way, but you’ll also have an easier time choosing which ones to sample. Secondly, we should never judge a beer solely by its color. All beers are beautiful, and we can gain some insight into their taste from their appearance. However, the shade of gold, red, or brown we see might not reveal the whole story.
Perhaps that’s for the best. Sampling craft beers – like anything in life – is much more enjoyable when we don’t always know what to expect!