Basic Beer Styles
Several years ago, wine was all the rage, and people spent lots of time learning about the different varieties and what they should expect from them. Nowadays, while wine is still popular, beer has also joined the ranks.
Craft breweries are popping up left and right, and your local grocery store has probably greatly increased your choices. But do you know the style of beer you like?
Here are a few notes on some of the basic beer styles you may encounter. Perhaps, it will help you figure out what you like – and save you from buying something that you don’t.
- Lagers: Lagers are a relatively new style of beer, and they have a unique fermentation process. They ferment at a low temperature for a long time and rely on “bottom-fermenting” yeasts. These yeasts rest at the bottom of the beer tank during the process. Lagers are extremely popular in the Netherlands, Germany, and Czechia – where you’ll find plenty of them on the menu at your local pubs and cafes.
- German Bocks: Bocks date all the way back to medieval times and, while it is a type of lager, it usually spends extra time in cold storage to help smooth out the flavor. It is dark in color and has a strong flavor of malt, and is usually not overly hoppy.
- Brown Ales: If you like a beer that often has hints of caramel, chocolate, nuts, or citrus, then you are most likely a fan of brown ales. They do vary in flavor depending on the malts used and where they are brewed, but they are definitely worth a try.
- Pale Ales: Pale ales often have a gorgeous copper color and a fruity scent to them, and they’re a traditional English style of beer. If you ever attend a beer pairing, you may find that pales ales are often served with spicy foods as they can handle the heat.
- India Pale Ales: If you took a pale ale and added some extra hops – which gives it its distinctive bitter flavor – then you’d have an India Pale Ale. IPAs have exploded in popularity here in the United States, and brewers do lots of experimenting with flavors and tastes here.
- Porters: If you see an extremely dark beer – almost black in color – it’s probably a porter. Porter is also a type of ale – which is made with roasted malt. Porters can range from fruity to dry – so you may have to try a few to find one that you like.
- Stouts: And if it’s not a porter, it could definitely be a stout. This is another roasted ale – which often has a bitter coffee flavor. That flavor comes from unroasted malted barley that is added to the wort. (Wort is the sweet infusion of ground malt or other grain before fermentation, used to produce beer and distilled malt liquors.) Guinness is the world’s most famous stout.
- Wheat Beers: This is a lighter style of beer that usually has a hazy appearance to it and is often flavored with spices or citrus. Hefeweizen is a popular style of wheat beer you might try.
- Pilsners: Pilsners are extremely hoppy lagers, and they often have a dry, slightly bitter flavor to them. They are light in color and have a crisp finish – making them a popular beer during the summer months.
- Sour Ales: Sour ales are made from wild yeasts and are usually tart – often with a fruit or spice flavor.
The next time you head to a brewery, if they offer a flight of beers, take the opportunity to try something new! Maybe you’ll find you like a new beer style from this list!