LPLE #19: Microbrew and nanobrew beers; what they are and why they are delicious

Welcome to LPLE, "Let's Practice Listening in English!"

Andrew explains what microbrew beers are, and why we enjoy them so much. Jesse and Andrew also talk about nanobrews and homebrews, which are beers that we can make at home on our own, and our favorite microbeer store/bar called Chucks!

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TRANSCRIPT

Intro [Jesse]: Hi everyone. My name is Jesse Robbins, and welcome to LPLE from Dialogue FM. We're the podcast that lets you practice listening in English. We speak English slowly and clearly so that you can follow along and understand native English speakers more easily. I'm excited to help you improve your English listening skills, as well as help you learn new vocabulary, grammar, and idioms commonly heard and conversation among native English speakers. If you want to practice listening in English, then we invite you to join our conversation.

Jesse: Hey, Andrew.

Andrew: Hey, Jesse.

Jesse: You just came back from Vancouver BC in Canada.

Andrew: I did, yes.

Jesse: And during that time, it sounded like you had your fair share of microbrews. 

Andrew: I did, actually, which is good news for me because I'm a huge fan of beers that are made in a style that is not the common Budweiser, light lager style of the type that you can buy in almost every country.

Jesse: One of the things I want to talk about in this episode is microbrews because microbrews is something that you and I really enjoy.

Andrew: Yes, and I think people in our city, in Seattle, are actually very fond of this style of beer in general.

Jesse: So, let's start with what is a microbrew. How would you define a microbrew?

Andrew: Sure. I will start by defining a macrobrew, which is to say large companies like InBev, Anheuser-Busch, SABMiller, etc., who make very popular beers that are made in very large batches and distributed very widely. You might have heard of Budweiser, or Heineken, or Miller, or Corona; these are beers that are made by very large companies, they are made to taste the same wherever you go, wherever you get them, and they're very popular. But, they are also very plain to taste because they have to appeal to a lot of different people. Think about, like, for example, Coca-Cola, which is made everywhere, and always stays the same, and everyone likes it. If you like unique flavors or different flavors of soda, you might have to look for a smaller company that makes a more interesting soda, but doesn't sell it everywhere; and, microbrews are the same idea with beer. They are small companies--or even people doing this is as a hobby--that are making beers that have interesting and new flavors, that don't follow the same recipe rules that a Budweiser or a Corona might, and it gives you many different and interesting options to try when you go to a restaurant or to a bar in a place that carries them. And, the Pacific Northwest, which includes Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada, and also Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon in the United States, are all cities that have been very supportive of microbrews coming up and being sold right alongside the big names like Budweiser.

Jesse: "Macro" means "big," "micro" means "small," and the word "brew" is another word for "beer."

Andrew: Ah, "brewing" is the process that is used to make beer, much like "baking" is the process used to make bread.

Jesse: So, microbrews are pretty popular in Vancouver BC, Seattle, Washington, Portland, Oregon in the Pacific Northwest, and also parts of California, as well.

Andrew: Oh, yes. Definitely. The entire west coast of North America tends to make very flavorful, very hoppy beers that are not the normal style that is made in the big companies. Other towns have taken this up; Austin, Texas is known for it, Denver and Boulder Colorado make a lot of beers, and also many cities on the East Coast, although I have not been to them to try their own local flavors.

Jesse: What are the main ingredients in a beer? When you think about making your own beer, and you, Andrew, have actually made your own beer before...

Andrew: Yes.

Jesse: ...What are the main ingredients that you can control in a beer?

Andrew: Beer is actually very simple in terms of the number of ingredients. All you need is grain, and water, and hops. And, hops are a flowering vine whose bud, the flower part of the plant, contains a lot of very strongly flavored oils that almost make a kind of tea with the water and the grain. Most beers are made with barley, but you can also find them made with corn and rice; so if you buy a Budweiser, it is made mostly with rice as the grain. All you're doing is extracting the sugars from the grain and then using yeast to process the sugar into alcohol. And, what makes the flavor of a beer unique is the combination of the type of yeast, the type of grain, and the number and types of hop that you put into the mash, which is the yeast and grain mixture.

Jesse: Now, the word "extraction" means "to take out," right?

Andrew: Yes.

Jesse: So, you're trying to take out the sugar from the rice, or the corn, or the...

Andrew: Barley.

Jesse: ...or the barley.

Andrew: Or wheat, sometimes.

Jesse: Now, isn't the water also really important? The quality of the water?

Andrew: It is definitely true that some places have more flavorful water than others. So, depending on where your water is from, it might have more sulfur in it, it might be more clear, or in some places like big cities such as Los Angeles, California the water is very processed and cleaned and doesn't have a very crisp or clear flavor, and that definitely impacts the flavor of the beer, unless you treat the water or clean it; and, so it depends on what the brewery does to prepare the water before the beer is made.

Jesse: When I went to Vietnam a couple of months ago, one of the things I was really excited about was that in Ho Chi Minh City they have a microbrewery.

Andrew: One...

Jesse: One, which is a big step for many reasons. One, it means that there are more people in Vietnam who are exploring different tastes. The popular beers in Vietnam are Heineken, Tiger, Saigon Beer, Hanoi Beer, and these are macrobrews, right?

Andrew: Yes.

Jesse: They're made in large quantities and sold throughout the country, if not the entire region of Southeast Asia.

Andrew: Right, and they also have the same characteristics of most of those more popular, more broadly distributed beers, and that is that they are very mild in flavor and in taste, and so there is a lot of room to make things more interesting with a microbrew where you can use more specific ingredients to get something interesting.

Jesse: There was a small microbrew bar in District 2 that I went to. Now, their selection was very small--that's fine. They had about 10 or 12 different kinds of microbrew, and I had the chance to try about three. I was really excited because, again, you and I really appreciate microbrews. I think the biggest challenge that microbrews have in Vietnam, especially at a bar, is being able to serve them cold. Now it's of course very hot in Vietnam, and you want your beers to remain as cold as possible.

Andrew: Yes.

Jesse: However, when you order a pint of a microbrew in Vietnam, it gets warm really quickly...

Andrew: Right.

Jesse: ...and the common practice in Vietnam is to put ice in your beer...

Andrew: Oh no...

Jesse: But, you don't do that with microbrews; that ruins everything about how the beer was made and the flavor, right?

Andrew: It definitely changes the balance and makes the flavor weaker. And, much like watering down tea or watering down coffee makes it taste less rich and less full, the same thing happens with beer. And, especially beer because beer is carbonated--they're the fizzy bubbles in it--and when you put the ice in it removes most of that carbonation, and the bubbles actually have a flavor to them. The carbon dioxide tastes a bit bitter, and it adds to the overall taste, and when you put the ice in, it gets more watery, less flavorful, and less bitter, all at the same time, which never works out well.

Jesse: One of the things I really love about our city is that we can legally make our own beer.

Andrew: Yes.

Jesse: We can't sell it, right? But, we can make it and share it with friends.

Andrew: Right, it's called "home brewing" or "homebrew."

Jesse: Right, so we have macrobrew, microbrew, we also have nanobrew, and then we have homebrew.

Andrew: Right.

Jesse: Again, the homebrew cannot be sold to anybody. Macro, micro, and nano can. 

Andrew: And, nanobrew..."nano" just means "very small," whereas "micro" means "small," so it's an even smaller brewery. And, really the only difference between a nano brewery and a home brewery is that they have gotten the permission to sell the beer that they make, as well as be making it in a small establishment, or even a kitchen.

Jesse: How many times have you make beer at your house?

Andrew: Oh gosh. Probably 10-20 times.

Jesse: And, what is your favorite style of beer that you make at your house?

Andrew: I almost always make IPAs, which stands for India Pale Ale. It is a type of recipe for beer that uses a lot of very strong hops in it. And the reason for that is that originally the hops were added to the beer because it keeps the beer safe to drink even if the water has gone bad. So, on long ship voyages, the British would bring beer along for the trip, but it would go bad unless they added extra hops. And, so this style of beer was sent on the ships that were going all the way across the world to India, the very long trips where the normal beer would go bad. That style has been taken over by the western United States and western Canada, and they have made it even more strong and even more flavorful, and the hops they use are even richer and have even more interesting tastes to them. And, that has become the main style that is made here and then my very favorite style, as well.

Jesse: In Seattle, we have a lot of microbreweries, and we even have a few nanobreweries, as well.

Andrew: Oh, many. Yes.

Jesse: Our favorite store to go to is a place called Chucks.

Andrew: Yes.

Jesse: And at Chucks they have fifty different kinds of microbrews on tap.

Andrew: Right, and they're different every time because they bring one batch in, and as soon as it's empty they bring another one to replace it. So, there's always something new to try.

Jesse: Right. If you ever visit Seattle, and for the listening audience I hope you do, when you come to Seattle, if you like beer, or even if you're curious about different kinds of beer, talk to us. We will happily take you to Chucks.

Andrew: I can't wait to see you.

Outro [Jesse]: Thank you for listening to this episode of LPLE, Let's Practice Listening in English, from Dialog.FM. Subscribe to LPLE on iTunes to hear the latest episodes, or listen to past episodes on our website, Dialog.FM. That's d-i-a-l-o-g-dot-f-m. If you have questions or comments about English, or if you would like for us to use a word, grammar, or idiom in our conversation so you can learn how to use it correctly, we would love to hear from you on Twitter at @dialogdotfm or Facebook at facebook.com/dialogFM.