The Different Types of Beer
There are over 100 different types of beer, and even glassware that is specific for certain styles of brews to enhance target features, like aroma. America has more styles and brands than any other beer market in the world, truly the land of the free. Every last one of them, though, falls within these 2 categories (which does not describe color, strength or flavor), determined by the type of yeast: Ales (top fermented yeast) and Lagers (bottom fermented yeast).
Here are a few of the most common:
Pale Ale – Whether American or English, the “pale” was clipped on long ago to distinguish it from the dark color of Porters. American and English styles differ, but generally they are gold or copper colored and dry with crisp hop flavor.
India Pale Ale (IPA) – Pale ale with intense hop flavor and aroma and slightly higher alcohol content.
Brown Ale – These distinctively northern English style ales have a strong, malty center and can be nutty, sweet and very lightly hopped. They are medium bodied and the name matches the color of the ale.
Stout (Guinness and Murphy’s are dry Irish stouts) – Thick, black opaque and rich. Stouts draw their flavor and color from roasted barley. They often taste of malt and caramel, with little to no hop aroma or flavor.
Porter – Very similar to stout but made from, or largely from, unroasted barley. Sweet and dark brown in color with hints of chocolate and a sometimes-sharp bitterness.
Wheat Beer – Germans take their beer very seriously, so much that it is required by law to use top-fermenting yeast in wheat beer. It must be made from at least 50% wheat malt. Wheat proteins contribute to a hazy, or cloudy appearance and are commonly unfiltered, leaving yeast sediment in the bottle. They are light colored, full flavored and the unique yeast strains produce flavors like banana, clove and vanilla.
Hefeweisen – The most commercially successful type of wheat beer. In the US they are regularly served with a lemon wedge to cut the intense yeast flavor.
Amber/Red Lager (Yuengling, Killian’s, Brooklyn Lager) – More malt and darker than their lighter lager relatives, usually amber to copper colored. Flavor profiles vary considerably between breweries. Nine times out of ten when a beer label says no more than “Lager” it is an amber.
Pilsner (Beck’s, Labatt Blue, Warsteiner, Pilsner Urquell) – Conceived in Czechoslovakia, easily the world’s most popular beer style. Pilsners are pale, straw colored and crisp with medium body and more hops than traditional lager, but typically smooth and clean.
Bock (Sam Adams Winter Lager) – Of German origin, brewed in the fall to be enjoyed in the winter or spring. A stronger lager with heavy malt, medium to full bodied, lightly hopped and dark amber to brown in color.
Doppelbock – or “double” bock is stronger and darker than bock, sweeter with more malt and a little higher in alcohol content.
Oktoberfest – indicates the Vienna style of “Marzen” beer, the German word for “March”. These are brewed in the spring and stored to serve in autumn. They have a toasted quality with a sweet tinge, robust malt flavors, and a deep amber hue.
…with help from primer