The limitless world of beer means a dizzying number of drink options are available at any given bar. From classic lagers to bold IPAs to funky sour ales, each type of beer spawns more sub-categories than drinkers know what to do with. Draft beer menus at local watering holes have gone from offering a few standard brands to listing beverages that seem to come out of nowhere — and each beer tastes more complex than the last. Knowing what certain styles of beer taste and look like can make narrowing down a favorite a lot easier
The major difference between types of beer comes down to the type of yeast used to ferment it. A beer can qualify as either a lager or an ale, depending on the fermenting process.
Lagers are a typical entry point into beer for new drinkers. Made with bottom fermenting yeast that has a lower tolerance to alcohol, lagers can taste light and a little malty. Classic lagers in America include Miller High Life, Coors, Budweiser and Yuengling.
They are clean, consistent, well made, and not particularly challenging on the flavor, he said. “It’s not a bad place to start as you work your way up the flavor ladder.
India Pale Ales (IPAs), which encompass numerous styles of beer, get their characteristics largely from hops and herbal, citrus or fruity flavors. They can be bitter and contain high alcohol levels, though the final product depends on the variety of hops used. Some IPAs can taste like pure citrus, while others are strong and bitter.
IPAs are usually a beer drinker’s first introduction to the world of craft beer. He suggests trying out a variety of IPA types before eventually settling on a couple of favorites.
Pale ales are usually hoppy but carry a lower alcohol content than IPAs. Most types of pale ale, which can include American amber ale, American pale ale, blonde ale and English pale ale, are malty, medium-bodied and easy to drink.
Pilsners, which originate from the Czech Republic, fall under the lager category. German pilsners give off a pale gold color and crisp flavor, while Czech pilsners are a little darker with higher bitterness.
A dark beer, the flavor of stouts depend on where they come from. Sweet stouts largely originate from Ireland and England and are known for their low bitterness. In fact, Ireland’s Guinness brand produces some of the world’s most recognizable stout beer.
The darker color of the beer gives the impression it’s tough to drink, these stouts carry sweetness from unfermented sugars that offset any bitterness. American stouts are strong, highly roasted, bitter and hoppy, with high malt flavors that give them the taste of coffee or dark chocolate.
Traditional porters, which can trace their roots to the United Kingdom, are dark in color like stouts due to common ingredients like chocolate or other dark-roasted malts. Porters tend to taste less like coffee than stouts, with more of a chocolatey feel.
The Belgian-style beers carries fruity, spicy and sweet flavors with a high alcohol content and low bitterness.
Popular Belgian beers also include Trappist ales, which are produced only at Trappist monasteries that brew their own beer. Trappist ales encompass beers like Belgian Dubbel, which is somewhat strong and complex, and Belgian Tripel, which is pale, spicy and dry. Blond ales like Delirium Tremens further add to the strong flavor profile of Belgian beers.
Wheat beers rely on wheat for the malt ingredient, which gives the beverage a light color and alcohol level that makes it perfect for kicking back with during the summer and for combining it with fruit, like a slice of lemon or orange. Some wheat beers, with their funky and tangy flavors, fall under Belgian-style brews while the ones made in the U.S. have a light flavor that recalls bread.
sour beers can take on many forms, including Belgian-style Lambic beer, fruity Flanders ale and lemony Berliner Weisse beer. With the addition of fruits like cherry, raspberry or peach, sour beers marry sweet and sour to make beer flavors completely unlike the lagers and IPAs of yore.