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5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Craft Beer

The craft beer scene is alive and well in the Valley, with more breweries popping up and more of us raising a glass. Sharing a pint or tulip with a friend is a favorite pastime of many, and since it's beer season—football games, Oktoberfest, new fall releases—it’s time to clear up some misconceptions and answer a few common questions.

What Type?

There are hundreds of different styles of beer. These labels (or names) help define how a beer is made; the ingredients used; and what the flavor, aroma, and texture will be like. Lager and pilsner are two of the most common types of beer, but recently there has been a lot of confusion regarding the difference between them. Some breweries are simply naming their beer a “lager.” But a pilsner is a lager. Pilsner is a subcategory of a lager, making a lager the “parent” style of a pilsner. Lagers are fermented at colder temperatures and bottom fermented, so they take longer to brew but have cleaner, crisper finishes.

Not all lagers are the same. Some are light in color like pilsners, and some are dark in color like a Schwarzbier—but both maintain a crisp, clean finish.

The other parent category of beer style is ale. Ales are fermented at warmer temperatures for less time and are top-fermented. Common examples of ales are IPA, wheat beers, sours, stouts, and ambers.

Light or Dark—Which is Easier to Make?

Many people are “fooled” by the color of a beer, thinking that darker beers may be higher in alcohol content or calories or are harder to brew. Believe it or not, traditional light beers are actually the most difficult to brew.

The reason? It's hard to hide flaws in a light beer because they are so delicate. I like to make the comparison that you can hide a lot more in a pair of swim trunks than you can in a speedo—and that's pretty much the same for light beers. You can’t mask flaws in the beer by throwing in a bunch of hops or toasted barley, as the beer is exposed. The Day Drinker Light Lager, our beer with the highest amount of awards, is our most difficult beer to brew—which speaks to the talents of our brew crew. 

Gluten-Free or Gluten-Reduced?

Over the past decade, there has been an increase in demand for gluten-free beers. Many wonder what makes a beer gluten-free versus gluten-reduced. For a beer to be truly gluten-free, it cannot be brewed with any glutenous grains, which is what traditional beer is made from—barley, hops, and wheat. Rice, sorghum, corn, and buckwheat are common examples of grains used in brewing gluten-free beer.

Gluten-reduced beer is brewed with grains containing gluten, but an enzyme is added to remove the gluten. This enzyme works so well that when tested using the Elisa test (a common test that detects and measures antibodies in your blood related to gluten levels), the result comes back under the level of detection.

Everylagerwe brew at Pedal Haus Brewery is gluten-reduced because we use that process with the enzyme to remove the gluten. It helps improve the clarity of the beer. However, we never call our beer gluten-free because we do brew with a grain containing gluten.

All About Hops

Hops is another area where many people have questions. Brewers like to experiment with different types of hops, which affects the flavor of beers, as well as when hops are added to the beer-making process. There are several times in the process when you can add hops—at the beginning of the boil versus the end, or even “dry hopping.”

The earlier you add hops to the boil, the more the bittering compounds affect the profile. If you add at the end for a short period of time, you will get the aroma of hops but not as much bitterness. With dry hopping, hops are added directly to the fermenter. The aromatics are more noticeable when dry hopping. It is like adding tea leaves to the pot of hot water or adding directly to the jar and making sun tea.

The world of craft beer is always growing and changing, and there’s a lot to know. Ask questions and try a new beer—that’s the best way to learn about a beer and determine if you like it or not.

For more information about Pedal Haus Brewery, which has three Valley locations, visit