Although craft brewing has seen a rise in popularity, beer is still primarily a collection of basic styles. Learn about the most common styles to increase your familiarity and comfort with this oldest drink.
Ale is a broad category of beer. You will also find subcategories such as brown ales and pale ales. This beer is the oldest, dating back to antiquity. Warm-temperature fermentation that lasts for a short time makes an ale different. Brewers use top-fermenting yeasts to ferment the brew. This fermentation transforms what was once a barley and malt beverage into a boozy drink.
Lagers are a more recent beer style and have two main differences to ales. Lagers ferment at low temperatures for long periods and rely on bottom-fermenting yeasts that sink to the bottom to work their magic.
Lagers are a common feature in Europe, such as Germany, Czechia and the Netherlands. They also make up over half of Canada’s beer sales.
A type of ale, Porter beers are well-known for their dark color and rich roasted malt aroma. The roasted malt used to brew porters will determine whether they are fruity or dry.
Stouts are dark, roasted ales, similar to porters. Stouts are less sweet than porters, and they often have a bitter coffee taste due to unmalted roasted barley added to the wort. The head is thick and creamy. Guinness from Ireland may be the most well-known stout in the world.
The light malt sweetness and a trace of hops make this a popular summer beer. Blondes ales are pale in color with a clear body, as their name implies. These ales are crisp and dry with very little bitterness.
Brown ales come in a variety of colors, from amber to brown. They can also have chocolate, caramel, citrus or nut flavors. Brown ales can be a bit mixed up because the flavors and smells of these underrated beer styles are greatly affected by the malts used and the country from which they were brewed.
An English ale, pale ales are known for their fruity aroma and copper color. These beers can pair well with spicy food, despite their name.
The APA (American Pale Ale) is related to the pale. It is a blend of the traditional English pale ale style and the IPA style. American pale ales tend to be hoppier and contain American two-row malt.
India Pale Ale
India Pale Ale, also known as IPA or British Pale Ale, was originally brewed with additional hops. The beer was stable enough to withstand the long boat journey to India without spoiling because it contained high levels of this bittering ingredient. IPA beers have a bitter taste because they contain more hops. IPAs can have citrus-forward flavors, or a taste of resin or pine, depending on the hops used.
American brewers have adopted the IPA style and made it their own, introducing new flavors and ingredients to please beer drinkers in the United States.
Wheat beers are light, easy-drinking style of beer. They have a soft, smooth taste and a hazy, mellow body. Wheat beer tastes like citrus or spices, with unfiltered wheat beer (hefeweizen) being the most popular.
Pilsner beers, a subspecies in lager, are distinguished by the water they use. It can vary from neutral to hard. Pilsners are one of the hoppiest Lagers. They generally have a bitter, dry taste. Pilsners are a popular summer beer because of their clear, golden color and crisp finish.
Sour ales, an ancient beer style, has seen a revival in popularity in recent times. They are made from wild yeasts, much like sourdough bread. These beers have a tart, tangy flavor that goes well with tropical fruits and spices. You’ll also find lambics which are Belgian sour ales that have been brewed with fruit and goses. Flanders is a Belgian sour ale fermented in wooden tanks.
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