Ultimate Guide on Different Types of Beer (So That You Can Sound Like a Pro)

March 23, 2020

types of beer

Ultimate Guide on Different Types of Beer

Lager, ale, pilsner -- it's all beer and it's all delicious. But what exactly is the difference? It's a question that's been asked on many a drunken night.

The average consumer has no idea. But it's always best to know exactly what you're drinking, and why you might like one type of beer better than the other. Become a beer expert and dazzle your friends with this quick guide to the different types of beer.

What's a Lager?

Lagers are the most-consumed type of beer in the world. They're especially popular in Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands. The word 'lager' comes from the German word 'lagern', which means 'to store'.

The monks used to brew lagers way back in the 600s. They'd store it in mountain caves. 'Lagering' actually refers to storing the beer in a cool place for a length of time to make it smoother and stronger.

They're made from bottom-fermenting yeasts. This means yeasts that sink to the bottom of the tank during the fermenting process. They're fermented for a longer time than most beers, and at a lower temperature.

What's an IPA?

IPAs, or Indian Pale Ales, are high in fruity flavors and hops. They're generally more bitter than your average beer. They're more copper-y in color, and can come pretty strong.

IPAs were originally brewed in England to survive long boat journeys to India. The high amount of hops helps the beer keep longer, while giving it that famous bitter taste. Now the whole world has realized how amazing IPAs are, with U.S. companies producing their own variations.

What's a Pilsner?

A pilsner is a type of lager that originated in the Czech Republic. They're frequently made in Germany, with German pilsners holding a pale gold color. Czech pilsners are a little more bitter than their German counterparts, and a little darker as well.

Pilsners contain one of the highest hops-counts of all beers. They're dry, a little bitter, and crisp to the taste. Japan has grown especially fond of pilsners -- it's one of their favorite beer types.

What's a Stout?

The most popular stout beer is probably Guinness.

Stouts are dark, roasted, and creamy. They come from Ireland and England, but are now an equally popular choice in the U.S.

They're low in bitterness and give off a coffee taste thanks to the use of roasted barley.

If your beer is dark bordering on black, it's probably a stout. American stouts tend to be a bit more bitter than Eurpoean ones. Stouts are top-fermented, come in at around 8% ABV, and some people even prefer them warm!

What's an Ale?

Unlike lagers, ales are brewed with top-fermenting yeast. They're kept at cellar temperature and can be extremely complex. There's a lot of personality in an ale.

Ales are typically strong beers. They come in different classes, including brown ales, pale ales, blonde ales, and English bitter ales.

Brown ales have hints of chocolate or caramel and are, as expected, brown. Blonde ales are, you guessed it, blonde, and are more crisp and dry. They're not very bitter, leaning more on the sweet side of things.

There are even sour ales for the adventurous beer drinker, and they're rising in popularity. These are tangy, sour, and made of wild yeasts. They often contain fruits like cherries or peaches, coriander, and sea salt.

What's a Wheat Beer?

The main ingredient in wheat beer is none other than wheat. The wheat gives these beers a light color, and a medium alcohol level. Pair a wheat beer with a slice of lime or lemon and you might as well be in paradise.

Just don't expect to get a lemon slice if you're drinking a wheat beer in Bavaria. They typically frown upon that practice.

Wheat beers are even described as tasting a little bready! There are Belgian styles, and U.S. styles of wheat beer. They're top-fermented, and can be brewed with wild yeast, as lambics, or gose's.

What's a Porter?

Porters are very popular in the U.K. They have a distinct chocolatey, coffee-like taste. Porter's are known for their dark look and foamy head.

Porters can be fruity or dry depending on the malt used while brewing. A porter is a type of ale, but much different than most ales. The typical porter will probably remind you more of a Guinness than anything else.

If you've never tried a porter, do yourself a favor. They go great in beer gift baskets along with some nice ales and IPAs.

What's a Marzen Beer?

The Bavarian Marzen beer may not be a common one, but it's beloved by many.

You used to find these at Oktoberfest's thanks to their long shelf life. Marzen's are medium to full-bodied beers that go down clean and hold a malty flavor. They tend to be more on the amber side leaning towards dark.

Marzen's are most popular in Austria. they like to use caramel malts to give their Marzen's a sweeter taste. These are great Christmas beers, and make a great addition to a beer advent calendar.

What's a Bock?

A bock is another type of bottom-fermenting lager. It's put through the lagering process for a few extra months than your typical lager. This makes the brew stronger, smoother, and more robust.

Bocks are dark-amber to brown. They offer a nice balance of bitterness and maltiness that you won't find in your typical lager.

Time to Taste Test the Many Types of Beer

As you can see, there are a lot of different types of beer. Knowing what goes into each beer will help you determine what kinds you'll like, and what you might want to try next. Plus, it'll really impress your friends the next time you visit the pub.

Of course, the only way to really know which beer you'll fall in love with next is by drinking them. So what are you waiting for? Put your newfound knowledge to the test!

If you're looking for a beer gift basket for a loved one, see what we can do for you. Contact us with any comments or questions.

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