Have a Homebrew After Dinner

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Homebrew can be a digestif

A homebrew after dinner not only tastes great, but it is good for your health!

A digestif is typically an alcoholic drink consumed after a meal to aid the digestive process. Although the medical field is uncertain as to whether these nightcaps actually help with digestion and sleep, it sure feels great and comforting to have a little warming nip at the end of your meal, bringing a close to your long day and possibly an exhausting dinner party.

When you think of digestifs, you probably think of fortified wines like port or sherry, aged spirits like single-malt Scotch or Cognac, flavored liqueurs like herbal Chartreuse (French liqueur), Fernet-Branca (bitter Italian liqueur), or sweet dessert drinks like Sambuca (Italy) or Amaretto (Italy). However, with more beer sold and homebrew consumed in the U.S. than any other alcoholic beverage, it is important we explore our favorite drink’s health benefits—more specifically, the digestive components of beer.

For the most part, beer is a wonderful digestif. Your homebrew has tons of fibers that help cleanse your gastrointestinal tract, which promotes a healthy heart and cholesterol levels. Beer has also shown to stimulate the secretion of gastin hormones, cholecystokinin hormones and pancreatic enzymes that all help with good, healthy digestion. Some studies have even shown drinking two beers with a meal can reduce the effects of food poisoning.

But knowing all this information begs the question: which beers are the best for after dinner? Most of the traditional digestifs are high in alcohol content, so you’d want to start looking at the strong American ales, Imperial IPAs, Belgian Tripels, Imperial Stouts, Eisbocks and Belgian Dark Strong Ales. Maltier beers can be a nice, sweet way to end your meal, while bigger, hoppier beers can refresh your palate.

In the end, the beer you choose as your digestif should be consumed in small quantities and savored as a leisurely, wind-down activity, which means a using a small snifter and sipping on it with friends and family.

Homebrew Recipes For After Dinner

Beer and digestion recipeImperial IPA

An imperial IPA, which is formally known as a double IPA, is close to what the name says—hoppier and a higher ABV than an IPA, but not necessarily “doubled.”

These beers are big and bitter, which give you an intense experience all around, but that’s what you should look for after dinner.

The imperial IPA is strongly hopped, but clean and usually rather dry. The hop flavor profile can be anywhere from floral, citrusy and spicy to resinous and piney, followed by low to medium malt flavor that usually has notes of rich caramel or toasty flavors. The complexity and layers of flavors make this a great digestif. Try out our Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute IPA clone, brewed to about 9% ABV with notes of brandied fruitcake, raisins and citrus with a great malt backbone that’ll stand it’s ground against the extreme hoppiness.

Beer and digestion recipeImperial Stout

Imperial stouts are big, intense and dark ales. They normally will have roasty-burnt malt with deep dark or dried fruit flavors, and a warming, bittersweet finish. The alcohol is present, but it’s a gentle smooth warmth that shouldn’t overpower your experience.

The imperial stout is rich and complex, and the finish is going to leave you savoring each sip. Although a stout, the bitterness might catch you by surprise because of the aggressive hoping regime compared to a strong traditional stout.

You might pick up on some caramel, bready or toasty flavors in conjunction with the highly roasted malt flavors of chocolate, cocoa or strong coffee—all things that your palate desires after a big meal. The intensity and complexity of this style makes for a great after dinner drink. Try our Split Open and Melt Imperial Stout, brewed to about 9.25% with heavy amounts of Chinook and East Kent Golding hops.

Beer and digestion recipeBarleywine

Strong and warm, barleywines are on the strongest side of ales and usually boast a big grain bill, which leads to a high ABV (8-12%). These full-bodied beer are often described as  chewy and have noticeable but smooth alcohol warmth.

The intensity and complexity of barleywines will have you wanting to sip slowly. Barleywines fall into two categories, American and English, with the former being more heavily hopped and containing more American ingredients, which leaves a very long finish. English barleywines will usually feature more English hops and end up darker, maltier and fruitier than their American counterparts. This style displays maturity and elegance with age. Try our Old School Barleywine that is close to the Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, an American barleywine that comes in at 10% ABV, has big malt and big hops, and will be the nip you’re looking for after dinner.

Beer and digestion recipeBelgian Dark Strong Ale

A big Belgian beer, the Belgian dark strong ale is definitely dark, complex and very strong—but don’t let that deter you.

This style has a delicious blend of malt richness, dark fruit flavors and spicy elements that are so common in Belgian beers. However, because of this Belgian bad boy’s smooth, rich and delicious profile, it can be dangerously good.

Authentic Trappist versions of this beer tend to be drier than Abbey versions, which are rather sweet and full-bodied. Regardless, the Belgian dark strong ales have dark fruity esters like fig and raisin and spicy phenols like pepper and vanilla with lots of alcohol warmth that comes in soft, spicy and smooth to help balance everything out. These beers usually finish dry on the palate with the high carbonation ensuring each sip is as good as the last. Try our recipe for Blunt Trauma, which comes in at 11.16% ABV.

It’s important to repeat that over the years, nearly all of the health benefits attributed to beer, or any alocholic beverage, have been associated with moderate consumption. Beer is a beverage of moderation, as well as the perfect accompainment to have after dinner. Excessive amounts can be dangerous to your health and can negate any to all beneficial effects. Too much of a good thing can end up a bad thing.

The American Homebrewers Association reminds homebrewers and beer enthusiasts everywhere to “Savor The Flavor Responsibly™” and encourages the responsible enjoyment of beer as an alcohol containing beverage.


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