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Beer Types & Definitions
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Beer is produced through the alcoholic fermentation of a malted cereal, usually barley malt, with or without other starchy materials, to which hops have been added. Beer or "liquid bread" was known to many ancient civilizations (such as the Egyptians), dating back to 4,000 BC.
A beer that has been served from, or conditioned in a cask (barrel). The term has been used misleadingly on "canned" and "bottled" beer, to suggest the taste is similar to beer from a cask. Draught beer is usually unpasteurized and suffers no loss of taste due to boiling. It should be consumed after being "tapped" and is generally truer to the flavors of the ingredients, as pasteurization exposes the beer to heat and changes the flavor profile. Draught beer should be refrigerated between 35°F and 40°F. Above this temperature, beer may become wild or turn sour and cloudy in a few days. A keg of draft beer should last 20-30 days before it loses its fresh brewery taste and aroma.

Hohenadel "U-Permit" Label


Typically, beers are made from water, malted barley, hops and fermented by yeast. The addition of other flavorings and/or sources of sugar are common.

Since beer is composed mainly of water, the characteristics from the source of water have an important affect on the character of the beer. Many beer styles were influenced by the "pure mountain spring" water from their region.

Among malts, barley malt is the most often and widely used because of its high enzyme content (which facilitates the breakdown of the starch into sugars). However, other malted and unmalted grains are widely used such as wheat, rice, maize, oats and rye.

Hops are a relatively recent addition to beer, having been introduced only a few hundred years ago. They contribute a bitterness that balances the sweetness of the malt and have a mild antibiotic effect that favors the activity of the brewer's yeast over less desirable organisms. Enzymes in yeast, in a process called fermentation, metabolize the sugars extracted from the grains, producing many compounds including alcohol and carbon dioxide. Dozens of strains of natural or cultured yeasts are used by brewers, roughly sorted into three kinds:

  • Ale (top-fermenting)
  • Lager (bottom-fermenting)
  • Wild yeasts

Baseball & Beer

Pennsylvania "Bock" Beer Labels

1939 Advertisement

  • Beer's "shelf life" is about three months and its quality is affected by both temperature and light.
  • Store beer in a cool, dark place.
  • Draft beer has to be refrigerated and finished within three weeks.


  • Beer is unique and tastes best when served in a special set of glasses reserved for beer. That's because milk, tea, coffee and even the soap used to clean the glasses, leaves a residue that diminishes a beer's head.
  • To test the cleanliness of your beer glass, dip it in clear water and turn it upside-down to drain. If the glass is clean, you will see a perfect film of clear water covering the entire surface.
  • Serve beer in a wet glass that has been washed in a mild soap-free detergent and rinsed several times in warm water. To prime your glass for a rich head, rinse it in cold water before pouring.


  • The perfect glass of beer boasts a rich head of foam. It looks great and by providing a natural cap for the beer's carbonation it yields a smoother, cleaner taste.
  • When you pour the beer, place the neck of the bottle over the edge of the cool, wet glass, tilting the bottle to a high angle and pouring the beer into the glass until you've created a fine, dense-textured head.
  • At that point, lower the bottom of the bottle to reduce the flow until foam nears the top of the glass. Leave just enough space for the foam to rise to the lip of the glass.



 * * * Types of Beer * * *



Lagers are probably the most common type of beer consumed. They are of Central European origin, named after the German "Lagern" (to store). Lagers are bottom-fermented, where the yeast culture ferments at the bottom of the fermenting vessel. They were traditionally stored at a low temperature for weeks or months, acquiring mellowness and becoming charged with carbon dioxide. The first golden lager was produced in the Bohemian town of Pilsen in 1842. These days, with improved fermentation control, most breweries use short periods of cold storage (1–3 weeks).

In 1840, John Wagner brought lager yeast from his native Bavaria and brewed the nation's first lager beer in Philadelphia.

Although many styles of lager exist, most lagers produced are light in color, high in carbonation, with a mild hop flavor and an alcohol content of 3–6% by volume. Styles include:


A type of German beer. Bottom fermented, it is named for the famous medieval German brewing town of Einbeck. The beer has a heavier taste than most lagers, darkened by high-colored malts. Bock is traditionally brewed in the winter time for drinking during the Spring. Many bock beer producers have displayed "goats" on bottle labels since "Bock" in German means billy goat. In local dialect, Einbeck is similar to "Einbock" which sounds like ein Bock (a goat).

Dry Beer

Dry is a category of beer originally developed in Japan. The "dry" refers to the amount of unconverted sugar remaining in the beer after fermentation. In dry beer, nearly all the sugar is converted into alcohol due to long fermentation periods, resulting in a crisp, clean finish with less aftertatste.


Pilsener or pilsner is a type of lager beer. It was developed in the city of Pilsen (Czech Republic) and is distinguished from other lagers by a more prominent hop character.

Up to the 1840's, Czech beers were top-fermented, dark and cloudy, though Bavarian brewers had begun "lagering" beer in cold caves, which improved its flavor and keeping qualities.

The Mestansky Pivovar (Burgess Brewery) recruited the Bavarian brewer Josef Groll (1813-1887) who, using new techniques and the newly available paler malts, created the first batch of modern pilsner on October 5, 1842. The combination of pale color from the new malts (helped by Pilsen's remarkably soft water), noble hops and Bavarian-style lagering, produced a clear, golden beer which caused a huge sensation. Improving transport and communications meant this beer was available throughout central Europe and its style was soon widely imitated. Pilsners are the most popular type of beer in Germany, having largely supplanted the older styles.


Top-fermented beers, particularly popular in the British Isles. include mild, bitter, pale ale, porter and stout. Top-fermented beers tend to be more flavorsome, including a variety of grain flavors and fermentation flavors (they also have lower carbonation, are fermented and ideally served at a higher temperature than lager).

Differences among top-fermented beers are decidedly more varied than those found among bottom-fermented beers and are difficult to categorize. For example, California common beer is produced using a lager yeast at ale temperatures. Wheat beers are often produced using an ale yeast and then lagered, sometimes with a lager yeast.

Lambic styles employ wild yeasts and bacteria, naturally occurring in the Payottenland region of Belgium. Other examples of ale include stock ale and old ale. Real ale is a term for beers produced using traditional methods, and without pasteurization. Styles include:


Mild is generally a dark beer developed in the mid-19th century as a cheaper and sweeter alternative to the dark ales and porters present at the time. For this reason, mild was the most popular draught beer of this period. Once commonly found on tap, mild has almost completely disappeared from British pubs.


Bitter is a type of ale, originally derived from pale ale. A stronger version has become a popular bottled beer. The main ingredient is malted barley, with hops only added to improve the keeping properties and give a distinctive smell and taste. Bitter covers a wide variety of taste, aroma and appearance. These include copper, malty, dry and sweet, while some have the aroma of hops.

Pale Ale

Pale ale is generally a light beer, similar to a light mild ale, only drier and with a distinctive hoppy taste. English pale ales are golden or copper colored rather than pale. The term pale is used to distinguish them from dark porters.

India Pale Ale is a British pale ale originally made for export to India during the late 1700's, where refrigeration (on ships) was not available for the long voyage. This style has an intense flavor from the high alcohol content and high hopping rates used to preserve the beer from souring, associated with long storage times. India pale ale has a golden to copper color with a medium maltiness and body. The aroma is moderate to very strong. This version with higher alcohol content (5.5-6.3% by volume) is also known as Strong Pale Ale.


Porter is a type of ale which has a malting aroma and hop bitterness. It is generally strong and dark and brewed with soft rather than hard water.

It is often said that the precursor of today's porter was made by Ralph Harwood, a publican in East London in 1722. Tired of blending various beers from different casks to suit patron's tastes, Harwood produced an ale that reduced serving time, decreased the dependence on various beer stocks and increased profits. This variation was known initially as the "Entire" and was embraced by London's working class, particularly porters (hence the common name).

An influx of German immigrants and breweries to the eastern United States, produced a bottom-fermented version of Porter as part of their portfolio throughout the 1800's. Pennsylvania
had many offerings of Porter including Yuengling, Stegmaier, Neuweiler's, Esslinger's and Valley Forge (to name a few).

Extra-strong porter was called Stout-Porter and eventually became stout.

During the first world war in Britain, shortages of coal led to restrictions on the production of dark malt and hence stout and porter. This allowed Irish brewers such as Guinness to fill the market need and gain market dominance, a position that they continue to enjoy to this day.


A dark beer made using roasted malts and is a variant of porter beer. Porter was first recorded as being made and sold in London in the 1730's. It became very popular across Britain and Ireland. The first use of the word Stout was the Stout-Porter brewed by Guinness of Ireland in 1820, although Guinness had been brewing porters since 1759.

Stout differs from porter in being darker and richer through the use of more roasted malt. As such, the two beers are considered distinct. There are several kinds of stout including Irish (Dry), Imperial, Sweet and Oatmeal.

Did You Know?

On January 24, 1935, the first "canned" beer was sold by the G. Krueger Brewing Company (Newark, New Jersey) at a test location in Richmond, Virginia. The new "flat-top" cans for both "Krueger's Finest Beer" and "Krueger's Cream Ale" were opened using a specially designed can opener (also known as a church key). The instructions to pierce open the can were provided on the side of the container.

Krueger Foam Scraper

Foam Scraper

Foam has always been perceived as a "bad pour" in most taverns, however, it is good for beer to foam. The foam allows some of the carbon dioxide to escape before you drink the beer.

Nevertheless, this condition created the need for foam scrapers. This unique device looks like a tongue depressor. After the bartender poured the beer, he would use the scraper to swipe the foam level with the rim of the glass.

These were simple tools, but the breweries came up with various ways to enhance them. Materials like wood, metal and plastic, different colors and the addition of brewery logos and slogans, set foam scrapers apart.

The breweries also offered different types of containers to hold the scraper when not in use. These "caddies" built to hold the scrapers, were made of glass, metal, plastic or ceramic and were very three dimensional in design.

Stegmaier "Ball Knob"

Following the end of Prohibition, many taverns would advertise a particular brand of beer, but then serve a lower grade. To stop this practice, U.S. federal and state governments set specific requirements regarding the identification of beer being dispensed from taps in taverns. The "tap" or "spigot" had to be clearly marked with the beer name being dispensed, leading to the development of tap markers. At first, these markers were simply functional and known as "ball knobs." They were made of chrome or Bakelite, about 2 to 3 inches tall and looked identical except for a round insert, usually enamelled metal, which advertised the brand on one side. These "ball knobs" would last through the mid 1950's. The breweries began to use these markers as a way to advertise their beers. After World War II, more artistic shapes and colors were used, creating the modern tap handles still present today. These knobs and handles make excellent collectibles. 


~ Recommended Pennsylvania Breweries ~


Josh & Jon at Yuengling Brewery
Pottsville, Pa. (August 17, 2005)

David G. Yuengling (born in Württemberg, Germany) came to America in 1827. After being attracted to the developing coal industry and the anticipated demand for beer by the coal miners, David opened the Eagle Brewery in Schuylkill County (Pottsville, Pa.) in 1829. The brewery relocated to Mahantongo Street in 1831 (the current site), after the Eagle Brewery was destroyed by fire.

We toured the Yuengling brewery during our vacation in August. Touring the old brick brew house, with floors connected by a series of metal staircases, was like stepping back in time. Below the main structure, is a maze of caves and tunnels, where the beer was stored in the 1800's, since the temperature remains about 50º year-round. Some brewery facts:

  • During Prohibition, Yuengling survived by brewing non-alcoholic beer and by opening a dairy store across the street from the brewery.
  • Yuengling dates back to 1829, making it the oldest brewery in America.
  • On the day Prohibition was repealed, Yuengling sent a truckload of beer to President Franklin Roosevelt.
  • Yuengling bought the rights to use the Bavarian Premium Beer name and label, when the Mount Carbon Brewery went out of business in 1977.

Click Here for Yuengling Brewery

Jon & Josh
Original keg room at Yuengling

St. Nikolaus Bock Bier

The Pennsylvania Brewing Company is committed to making authentic German beers. It was Pennsylvania's first craft brewery (founded 1986) and a pioneer in the microbrewery movement. Penn's beers are all natural, using only the four classic ingredients of malted barley, hops, water and yeast. Corn, rice or preservatives are never used. The brewery and restaurant are located within the former Eberhardt and Ober (E&O) Brewery in historic Deutschtown (Pittsburgh's North Side). E&O, founded in 1848 by C. Eberhardt, merged with 19 other breweries in and around the city to form the Pittsburgh Brewing Company in 1899. The plant continued to brew its "E&O" and "Dutch Club" brands until 1952. Today's remaining buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Sites.

Oktoberfest, September 23, 2006
Eberhardt & Ober Brewing Company

Early 20th century claims stated that beer was a kind of health food, which "makes rich, red blood" and serves as "the staff of life." Another advertisement recommends that bar patrons "Drink E & O Early and Often."

"Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."

Benjamin Franklin


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