Getting a beer is much more complex than it once was, thanks to the large variety of brands and types available these days. It’s true, it can be an intimidating process, and it may be difficult to find the right one. There are nine different (main) categories for beer, and we’re going to give you the low down on all of them. Next time you have to pick out a beer, you’ll know exactly what you’re looking for.
Number Nine: Wheat Beer. Wheat beers, also called “whit” or “white” for their pale color, are some of the lightest beers available. This is due to their low alcoholic content and lack of hops in fermentation. The flavor of wheat beers is primarily developed by yeast, and there is quite a variety of yeasts to choose from when crafting this type of beer. This means that no two wheat beers are ever quite the same. However, because of their light taste and profile, they are great introductory beers and also great for any beach day.
Number Eight: Pilsner. Pilsner beers are also quite light; however, they introduce a bit more flavor to the glass. These pale lagers bear a clean and crisp aroma. The flavor is mainly of hops, with a light addition of malt. Occasionally, aromatic or citrus bitters are incorporated, producing the perfect spring day beverage.
Number Seven: Red Ale. When discussing ales, it is important to note the difference between ales and lagers (the two main categories for this malted beverage). Ales primarily refer to the classic styles of beer, dating back as early as the first fermented malt beverage. They are fermented with top-floating yeasts in relatively warm temperatures for shorter lengths of time. Lagers, on the other hand, were developed relatively recently, meaning in the past few hundred years. In contrast to ales, they are fermented with bottom-fermenting yeasts (meaning they sink to the bottom) at higher temperatures for a longer period of time.
Red ales are named for their token color: a beautiful and full, hazy red. Primarily an Irish style of beer, they are known for their light hoppiness as well as a naturally sweet flavor. Often, they are sold in varieties with fruity aromatics or bitters. Of all beer styles, they are usually lighter in alcohol than most others.
Number Six: Brown Ale. Though you may be thinking most beers are brown, these ales are coined for their deep, amber hue. Brown ales are usually a British beer, though modernization has allowed crafters from all over to try their hand at this flavorful variation. Once upon a time, they earned their color from fermentation of solely brown malt; however, that is not always the case these days. Because of their brown malt base, the flavor profile tends to be more earthy and robust, and not quite as bitter as other brews. To complement this flavor, it is common for brewers to add in a slight hint of hops or sweet flavors.
Number Five: Pale Ale. Pale ales have become increasingly popular, as it is a more modern brewing style. It involves a slow roast of barley to induce a unique fermentation, and is made with pale malt. Depending on the origin of the crafted beer, this beer can bear a woody malt flavor, or a spiced bite.
Number Four: IPA. IPA stands for India Pale Ale, which is remarkably different than a normal pale ale. IPAs are recommended for people who love bitter beers. They are known for their full hops flavor, producing a beer that is heavy on both bitterness and booziness. They are also available in terms of double and triple IPAs, only increasing the flavor and alcohol content as they go. Don’t be frightened; as you explore the world of beer, your taste buds will become more inclined to desire the taste of this unique and delicious beer. I once despised IPAs, and now they are by far my favorite style.
Number Three: Bock. Bock is a stronger style of lager, with a fully developed, heavy malt flavor. They are not quite bitter; however, they are very rich. They can be crafted as savory beers with an essence of hops to complement the dark, robust taste, or they can be lightened with sweet additions such as vanilla, caramel, or chocolate.
Number Two: Porter. Porters are heavy and dark beers. These are highly recommended for those of you who appreciate black coffee, as there is a high complexity in the earthen flavor balance. They are made from barley or malts primarily, and then they are roasted and slow-fermented. The taste can be described as grainy, sweet, and often chocolatey. Unlike stouts, they lack bitter qualities and are extremely smooth.
Number One: Stout. Stouts are rumored to be a variation of porters; however, they are more smoky and harsh. They are extremely dark, derived from the fermentation of roasted black barley (un-malted) and absolutely no hops. They contain flavors such as coffee, molasses, and licorice, and most often are found in sweet variations. Guinness is one of the more commonly known stouts.