Beer is one of the oldest beverages in the world. It has been around for thousands of years and is enjoyed by people in every culture and region. There are many different kinds of beer. The most common ones are ales, lagers, and stouts.
Regardless of what type of beer you enjoy drinking, there’s always something new to discover about this beverage. This beer guide will help you find what makes your perfect pint. The guide discusses the three most common types of beers.
Main Categories of Beers
Ales are beers that are fermented at warm temperatures. The term “ales” is an umbrella term for a group of beers that are all related to one another but vary in their characteristics. Ales are usually brewed with top-fermenting yeasts, which produce a more complex flavor than lager yeast. Ales typically have higher alcohol contents than lagers and various flavors that can include fruity, spicy, or even earthy.
Some examples of ale styles include:
- India Pale Ale (IPA): This style was originally brewed in England for export to India. IPA has a strong hop flavor and aroma, a whole body, and light caramel color. IPA is often served cold with an ample amount of head.
- American Pale Ale (APA): APAs have a medium body and amber color from brewed with American hops such as Cascade or Centennial. APAs are often bitter with a citrusy or piney flavor that balance the malt sweetness nicely.
- Amber Ale: Amber Ales have a medium body, reddish brown color, and caramel sweetness from crystal malts used in their brewing process.
Lagers are a type of beer that is fermented at a cold temperature. The lager yeast strains used to make this beer style were thought to have originated in the Czech Republic and Germany, where they were stored in caves during the winter months. Lagers are also known as bottom-fermented beers.
The main difference between lagers and ales is that ales use top-fermenting yeast strains, which means they ferment at warmer temperatures than lagers. Lagers are fermented at colder temperatures because they produce fewer esters and phenols than ales, resulting in a cleaner flavor profile.
The name “lager” comes from the German verb “lagern,” which means “to store.” Storing the beer after it has been brewed allows it to age, creating more complex flavors than ales.
Stouts are a type of beer that is dark in color and has a full, creamy body. They are brewed with roasted or unmalted barley, giving them their characteristic dark color and bitter flavor. The word “stout” comes from the word “strong,” but stouts were not always known for their strength.
Most stouts are made with a mix of malted barley and either unmalted roasted barley or black patent malt, which creates a robust and dark-colored brew. Adding unmalted roasted barley increases the bitterness of darker styles like dry stout and Irish dry stout.
Stouts are typically characterized by their high alcohol content (ranging from 3% to 7% ABV) compared to other styles like pale ales or lagers.
The world of beer is vast, and there are wide varieties. If you’re a fan of the beverage, it’s worth taking some time to experiment with different kinds of beer before deciding on your favorite.