A Very Short History of Beer

Where Did it Begin?

The brewing process of beer was first documented by the Ancient Egyptians on papyrus scrolls around 5,000 BC, making it the oldest recorded recipe in history. The first brew contained ingredients such as dates, pomegranates and indigenous herbs. By today’s standards, it’s likely to be a harsher beer to drink. It was often used for religious ceremonies by the Pharaoh, who would direct the brewing schedule as well as its distribution.

However, it’s been said that the Mesopotamians were actually the first to brew beer. They just never wrote down any recipes. If this is to be true, the first beer would have been brewed around 10,000 BC. The only evidence they left behind of brewing the beverage was malted barley scraps, along with bowls that contained a residue similar to beer.

From the Middle East to Europe

Beer inevitably made its way through the Middle East into the Mediterranean and Europe. It was then that beer became an integral part of daily life, especially for the Northern European countries of Germany, Belgium and, eventually, The British Isles. There was an abundance of barley crops that provided a large number of raw ingredients for brewers to utilize. The beverage was valued amongst the community for both its nutritional value and its safe consumption when compared to their drinking water, which was often contaminated by human waste.

Early Middle Ages

This is when modern beer was thought to be born, thanks to Northern Europe. Brewers would use malted barley as their chief source of fermentable sugar and continued doing so for hundreds of years. The use of hops as a flavouring and bittering agent weren’t commonly used until the twelfth century. Until then, herbs and spices were implemented in order to balance the malt flavours of the beer.

German monks began using wild hops in their brewing process around 1150, and the use of the ingredient caught on. The hops not only acted as a natural preservative for the beer, but it also added a nice bitterness that was desired by avid consumers. Monks were the most innovative of brewers during the Middle Ages, most monasteries having a brewery on site. Monks are credited for creating many brewing innovations, including the concept of cold storing beer to improve the flavour.

The British Isles

Beer was an integral part of British life, which is why many beer styles today come from Britain, including pale ales, porters and stouts. Brewed in England and Ireland for hundreds of years, the British army would deliver daily beer rations to soldiers. When the British empire occupied a majority of the civilized world, the Royal Navy would deliver beer to soldiers across the empire.

The New World

With the arrival of the first European colonists also came beer. The first permanent structure that was built once they landed at Plymouth Rock was a brewery, as they’d run out of beer upon arrival. That was the start of America’s passion for brewing beer. By 1810, New York City alone had 42 breweries. While almost all American beers were based off British styles, that began to change towards the mid-1800s. A wave of immigrants from Northern and Central Europe brought new beer styles and flavours. The pale, hoppy beer was soon joined by the dark, heavier ales that are still popular today.

While American beer production rose from the late-1800s to the early 1900s, it came to a halt with the 1920 Prohibition. For the next 13 years, brand loyalty disappeared, making room for new players that are still active today.

At Seven Degrees Liquor store in Edmonton, Alberta, we provide customers with high-quality wines, craft beers and spirits at a great price. Visit our Edmonton beer and wine store for a free sample and expert advice.

Warming Up By Drinking Red Wine in the Winter

Now that we are well into winter, it is time to find ways to stay cozy and warm until the spring thaw. While gloves, hats, and scarves can keep the cold out reasonably well, they cannot lift our spirits after a long commute in a snowstorm. That is where red wine comes into play. Even though it cannot literally warm us up, everyone always feels warmer and cozier after a glass or two. Red wine can be enjoyed during any time of year, but there are a few reasons its consumption is especially fitting in the winter.

Comforting

Few things compare to the feeling of taking the first sip from a glass of red. It tastes rich, inviting, and goes down smoothly. Curling up on the couch after a long day at work followed by a snowy commute is only made that much more therapeutic with red wine. It is comforting knowing you have a bottle of red waiting for you once you get home.

Hearty

When the temperature drops outside, the recipes people prefer tend to get richer. Instead of light salads, people opt for bowls of stew and plates of hearty pasta. A sweeter and spicier wine is needed to complement these types of dishes. Winter reds will have rich and dark tones of flavour and taste distinct. They can even be added to meats and sauces to enhance their flavouring.

Mulled Wine

A toasty mug of mulled wine has warmed the bodies of Nordic and Germanic people for centuries. It is enhanced with spices like ginger and cinnamon for a robust flavour profile. Mulled red wine can only truly be enjoyed during the dead of winter. It is a great drink warm up with that does not have the caffeine of coffee or tea. Simply warm up your favourite Cabernet Franc, Merlot, or Zinfandel and add ginger, cinnamon, and honey. It is the perfect way to warm your hands up again after shovelling your driveway or walkway.

Seasonal Wine

Some wines taste better in the winter than the summer and vice versa. Save your sangrias, rosés, and whites for the spring and summer when you want to cool down. A rich, dark Pinot Noir goes down better while sitting under a blanket in front of a fire or heater. Reds come in a variety of price ranges, which means you are sure to find one that suits your budget.

If you are in search of the perfect red wine to complement a meal, make mulled wine with, or to get cozy, stop by Seven Degrees. We have a wide selection of winter reds that are sure to make the coldest days seem a bit warmer.

All About Orange Wine

You are likely familiar with red, white, and rose wines but did you know there is an orange wine as well? It is a bit of a misnomer though since it is not actually made from oranges and it does not refer to a mimosa either, which is a blend of orange juice and sparkling wine. Orange wine is entirely different. It is a type of white wine that is made by leaving grape seeds and skins in the mix, creating a drink that is deep orange in colour.

What is it?

First, you take mashed up white grapes and put them in a large cement or ceramic vessel. The grapes are then set to ferment for four days or even more than a year with the seeds and skins still attached. It is an entirely natural process that uses little to no additive – not even yeast sometimes. It tends to taste different from standard white wines because of this process with a sour taste and nutty flavour from oxidation. The term orange wine was first coined by David Harvey, a British wine importer. He initially described it as a non-interventionist style of white winemaking. There is also an Italian Pinot Grigio made this way called Ramato, which means auburn in Italian.

What does it taste like?

There are several notes orange wine can take on, but it is typically described as bold and robust. You will notice aromas of sweet jackfruit, hazelnut, Brazil nut, dried orange rind, bruised apple, juniper, sourdough, wood varnish, and linseed oil. It will taste big, dry, have tannin similar to red wine, and sour like a fruit beer. It can taste surprisingly intense when you first try it.

Food Pairings

Orange wine is bold and, so, it pairs well with equally bold dishes like Moroccan, Ethiopian, Korean, Japanese, and Indian cuisine. Try it with fermented kimchi (bibimbap), fermented soybeans (Natto), Injera (a sponge-like pancake), or curries. There are a variety of meats orange wine pairs well with from fish to beef because of its tannin, bitterness, and nutty tartness.

Where is it from?

The orange winemaking process is quite old, dating back 5,000 years in modern-day Georgia (the country). Back then, orange wine was fermented in large vessels called Qvevri, closed with stones, and sealed with beeswax. The ancient process resurfaced about two decades ago and had become modernized since. It is still quite rare to come across orange wine, but several countries have grown more interest in this style.

Most orange wine is found in northeastern Italy along its border with Slovenia, which also produces it as well. There are also orange winemakers in Georgia, Austria, France, Australia, South Africa, Canada, and the United States.

Stop by Seven Degrees to try an orange wine from Canada. We have an Amber Pinot Gris from Sperling Vineyards made in Okanagan Valley. It is certified organic with no added sulphites. You will notice aromas of earl gray tea, stone fruits, and jasmine with a fresh, dry finish. Our wine connoisseurs can help narrow down our vast selection of wine, beer, and spirits to suit your particular palate.

Tips on how to Pair Wine with Christmas Dinner

With all of the things to consider for the holiday season, let this guide take care of your Christmas dinner wine pairings. It can be difficult trying to figure out which type of wines to choose for the evening with all of the different side dishes you have and their unique flavours. Traditionally, people will pick one red, one white, and perhaps one rose. You do not have to adhere to this rule if your guests lean more to one type over another, but having all three might make it easier to ensure everything has a pairing. Here are some recommendations for common Christmas dinner recipes.

To start off

You should keep your Christmas appetizers and starting drinks light. Make sure your guests have plenty of room for the main event and that they are still able to hold their utensils properly by the time it is served. Save the 15% alcohol by volume (AVB) red for later in the evening.

Smoked salmon canapes – A bubbly or Chenin Blanc

Pick something relatively dry and lower in AVB for this appetizer. A Chenin Blanc or Gewurztraminer works best, though Champagne or Cremant compliments smoked salmon as well.

Pigs in a blanket – Sparkling Rose

This wine will cut through the richness of the buttery dough and also play up the smoky-sweet pork in the middle.

Mains

The star of the show is usually different types of meat, but vegetarian and vegan mains are becoming more popular as well. This includes a little bit of everything.

Prime rib – Bordeaux

Something as bold as prime rib should be paired with an equally bold wine. A Cabernet Sauvignon from California will do but, if you really want to step it up for the holidays, a Bordeaux is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

Spiral ham – Zinfandel

This dish can be tricky to pair since it can be both salty and sweet. Cut through the fatty sweetness of ham by pairing it with a Zinfandel or Lambrusco. These wines will also have an adequate fruit flavour to them as well.

Roast goose – Red Burgundy

This decadent dish deserves an indulgent wine like a nice red Burgundy. Goose is not as common of a Christmas dish in North America as it is in Britain and Germany, but those that make consider the effort that goes into making it worth it. Goose is notorious for having a lot of fat, but if it is prepared carefully, it can be juicy and delicious. In Germany, they even use it like butter and spread the fat on bread.

Turkey – Pinot Noir

This classic main is light tasting and should be paired with a light wine. A Pinot Noir’s fruity notes and earthy undertones go well with most side dishes as well.

Spinach and gruyere souffle – Gamay

Vegetarians no longer need to be left with just a few side dishes. This main is light and rich at the same time, making a Gamay its perfect pairing. Both omnivores and herbivores will enjoy it alike.

Twice baked butternut squash with cashew cheese and cranberries – Riesling

There are a lot of flavours and textures at play in this vegan main. Butternut squash is both a bit fruity and a bit sweet, making a dry Riesling an excellent choice to balance it out.

Sides

Secretly, or not so secretly, most people look forward to holiday dinner sides. There is something so satisfying about creamy mashed potatoes and bacon garnished greens. If your main dish is paired better with a red, then it could be worthwhile to pair your sides with a complimentary white. Sweet sides pair better with dry wines like a Chardonnay, while savoury sides go best with a medium-bodied red like a Merlot. Having different types of wine makes it easy to find a match for all of your dishes.

For a customized wine menu for your holiday dinner, talk to one of our connaisseurs at Seven Degrees. We can help you pair any food with our wide selection of wines.

 

 

Health Benefits of Beer

It might seem crazy to think that beer can actually make you healthier, but there’s growing evidence to confirm just as much. The key to obtaining the health benefits of beer is through moderation, meaning drinking around one or two glasses a day. However, don’t go thinking that binge drinking will lead to healthy kidneys and a higher IQ. It doesn’t work like that, which is why we’re here to tell you substantiated health benefits that come with drinking, or cooking with, beer.

Nutritional Value

While beer is 90% water, that remaining 10% is packed with a number of nutrients our body needs to keep functioning, including fibre and trace amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and more. Beer contains more protein and vitamin B than wine and its unique antioxidants come from the malts and hops used in brewing. The amount of antioxidants present is the same as those found in wine but they’re of a different composition due to varying ingredients. Beer also contains probiotics that aid in increasing the good bacteria in your gut for a healthier digestive system.

Boosts Bone Health

One of the few dietary sources for silicon is found in beer and is important regarding the growth and development of bone and its connective tissue. One study showed that moderate drinkers were 38% less likely to have osteoporosis compared to non-drinkers, while another revealed that moderate drinkers were 20% less likely to fracture their hip.

Reduces the Risk of Diabetes

It’s the belief through the amount of research done, that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is reduced by 30% with a healthy intake of beer. A Dutch study looked at 38,000 male health professionals and determined that, over the course of moderate drinking for four years, they were less likely to develop diabetes. Similarly, a Danish study concluded that the moderate consumption of alcohol over three to four days is associated with a lower risk of diabetes.

Lower Risk of Heart Disease

Studies have found that men who’d already suffered heart attacks before becoming moderate beer drinkers had a 42% lower chance of developing further heart disease or dying than non-drinkers. One 500ml glass that’s about 5% alcohol is what researchers recommend drinking per day to gain these benefits. Another study done by the American Heart Association in 2016 followed 80,000 people over six years. They determined that moderate drinking slowly declined cholesterol levels which, in turn, lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Aids with Mental Health Issues

One reason many people drink beer, or alcohol in general, is to reduce stress and tension in the body. But beer also affects the brain, boosting creativity and, according to researchers at Loyola University, moderate drinkers were 23% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s and dementia than non-drinkers. Light to moderate drinking from 50 years of age and on was associated with a slower decline in cognitive abilities than heavy and non-drinkers, according to multiple Parkinson’s disease studies. These results are connected with the improvement of blood flow to the brain from the rise of good cholesterol.

At Seven Degrees in Edmonton, Alberta, shop our extensive collection of wine and craft beer to your heart’s content. Our liquor store’s number one goal has always been to bring you high-quality wines, craft beers and spirits at a great price. Our experts have the knowledge and experience to help you find the perfect beverage for any occasion. So stop by today and try a sample or two of select products.