Drinking beer is fun… (updated December 2018)
It doesn’t take a whole lot of experience to figure out if you’d rather order a Miller Lite or a Bud Light when you step up to the bar. However, if you feel like you’re ready to get serious about your beer drinking, it might be helpful to understand the basics of each of the different types of beer before you dive in.
All beer is made with four basic ingredients: malted barley, hops, yeast, and water. Many beers may also utilize additional ingredients, such as herbs and spices, fruits, or vegetables.
Beers are divided into two major categories, Lagers and Ales, based on the kinds of yeast used in their creation and the temperatures used during the fermenting process. Lagers use a yeast that best ferments at cool temperatures, and ales use a yeast that best ferments at warmer temperatures.
Types of Lagers
- Pale Lager: Pale lagers have a light color and are light-bodied. They are highly carbonated and have a light taste. Examples of pale lagers are Coors and Budweiser.
- Pilsner: A pilsner beer has a pale color like a pale lager, but is more bitter in taste. The flavors of pilsners are a bit more distinctive. An example of a pilsner is Pilsner Urquell, of course!
- Light Lager: Light lagers are America’s most popular beers. They use less hops and barley to create low-calorie beers. This is the category that Bud Light, Miller Lite, and Coors Light fit in.
- Dark Lager: Dark lager beers are made with roasted hops and barley. The result is a beer with a much richer flavor and a dark color. They are full-bodied and quite flavorful. An example is Dunkel.
Types of Ales
- Brown Ales: Brown ale beers can be dark brown, red, or copper in color and are generally rather mild in flavor. A good example would be Newcastle Brown Ale.
- Pale Ale: A pale ale is a beer with a considerably lighter color than most other ales on the market, and is known for a bitterness in the taste. An example is the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
Porter beers are darker in color and full-bodied, with the barley flavors dominating over the mild hop flavors. They can come in many varieties, even chocolate flavored!
Stout beers are similar to Porters. It is the darkest and thickest of beers. The strong barley and hops flavors prevail. Guinness is certainly the most famous stout beer.
Updated for 2018!
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