A Guide to Beers, Wines, Meads, Ciders, Spirits and Liqueurs

Alcoholic drinks have been part of human history since ancient times. It seems that people have been in love with partying and getting drunk even then. Here are the types of alcoholic drinks you will find in the market today.

Beer is considered the oldest fermented drink in the world. Its alcohol content ranges from 0.5% to 20%. It’s made from water, yeast, starch and hops. The starch used are usually malted barley or wheat. Hops, which are flowers with a bitter taste, add flavor to the beer although some beers have extra flavors too. The term brewing is the process which turns starch into sugar. The sugar is then fermented so that it becomes alcohol. You may have noticed that bottles have labels indicating the strength of the beer. The strength is determined by the type of starch used.

Wine is made from fermented grape juice. The grape juice is from the wine grapes which are smaller and sweeter than table grapes. Wine is often produced once a year and most of the varieties come from a single species. Wine can either be made from a single variety of grape or blended with several varieties.

Mead is also a type of fermented drink. Honey is fermented using water and/or fruits, grains, spices, and hops. Mead can be dry, sweet, semi-sweet and carbonated, still or sparkling. The yeast used to make mead is also similar to those used for wine-making. Mead goes through two fermentation processes to make it clear before it is bottled.

The important ingredient in a cider is the apple juice. The alcohol comes from the fermentation process after the the juice is pressed. The varieties of ciders come from the type of apple used and the filtering during the pressing and fermentation processes. Cider can be sweet or dry and clear to brown in color. There is another type similar to cider but instead of apples, the beverage is made from pears. Called perry, it’s sometimes labeled pear cider

Spirits are are also fermented using yeast but they are distilled, that is why they have higher alcohol content than other liquors on this list. Distillation removes other contents like water. The beverages mentioned in the articles have lower alcohol proportion, usually below 15%, and are not distilled after fermentation. Common spirits include vodka, gin, tequila, rum, scotch, whiskey, moonshine, and bourbon. One type of spirit, rectified spirit or neutral grain spirit, undergoes repeat distillation and doesn’t have any added flavoring.

Liqueurs, also called cordials or schnapps, are alcoholic beverages which acquire flavors from fruits, herbs, flowers, woods, and others. Sugar and sometimes cream are also added to liqueur. Liqueur is distilled, not fermented. Common types of liqueur are berry, chocolate, coffee, cream, creme, flower, fruit, herbal, honey, nut-flavored, whisky and many more.