Helping readers to tell the difference among different beer varieties
DISCLAIMER: This hub is just a guide and for educational purposes only, not necessarily promoting the sale of liquor.
With the rise of craft beers over the past decade, telling the difference between types and varieties of beer is certainly getting more difficult for the casual beer drinker. However, while the number of new bottle styles, labels and colors of beer has grown, understanding the basic differences is still pretty simple.
Ales & Lagers
When it all comes right down to it there are essentially two types of beer, ales and lagers. The only difference between them is the temperature level which the beer is fermented. While lager is generally fermented between 46-55 degrees, ales are fermented at a warmer temperature generally 65-75 degrees.
Another difference is the type of yeast applied during the fermentation process. Ales use yeast that ferments on the top while lagers use one that ferments on the bottom. A third type of beer known as Lambic uses wild yeast, but this type is far less popular than ales or lagers.
Popular Categories of Beer
With the beers divided into ales and lagers, the following are the popular types of both:
Bock: A very robust beer that is heavy on the malt, this is the prototypical German beer that is rich and malty with a few hops added to the mix. A lager in the true sense, this is a very popular beer.
Brown Ale: As the name implies, this is a dark beer that dates back to the 18th century. Brown ale has a higher amount of brown malt where it gets its color and has relatively few hops. There is a great variety of brews and tastes to brown ale from earthy to sweet depending on the mix.
Double or Imperial IPAs (India Pale Ale): This beer has a heavy mixture of hops and malt to add more to the flavor. A strong beer, many double IPAs feature a fruity taste with strong support from the malt and hops.
Porters: These are dark beers that use roasted barley or nuts and brewed with yeast that is slow to ferment. Despite the appearance, Porter beers have a generally mild taste that not like stout and often features roasted grains or even chocolate.
India Pale: Another 18th century beer whose origins were to solve the issue of preserving the beer until it reaches distant locations, such as India for English soldiers to drink. By adding more hops which is a natural preservative, the beer lasted much longer and has a slight bitter taste as well.
Pale Ale: A popular style made with gently roasted barley and pale malt. In the US versions, the hops are more prevalent which makes it a very tasty beer.
Stout: As the name implies, stout beer has a strong taste and are crafted from black, non-malted barley which gives them a dark appearance. It features a heavily roasted flavor with hints of licorice, chocolate, coffee and even molasses with no hops.
Wheat: Typical of many traditional beers, this is a mixture of wheat and barley grains with few hops that are present. Wheat beers are often cloudy in appearance and feature the prominent taste of yeast in the mixture. Generally light, wheat beers are most popular during the summer.
There are many more categories and types of beer, but these are some of the most popular types. Next time your out at a restaurant or pub touting its “hundreds of beers” now you will know the basics.