Whether chilling out at Friday night, watching a ball game or just a quiet night at home, beer can always be our buddy. One of the oldest beverages, beer is a staple drink for bars, ball games, parties, fraternity houses.
From its ancient beginnings, beer has now evolved and diversified into many different types and styles, i.e. ales, lagers, stouts, porters, etc. Below are some of the different types of beers.
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Types of Beer
1. American Pale Ale
Pale ale is a beer brewed with a higher proportion of pale malts resulting in a lighter color. It is brewed through the warm fermentation process (temperatures around 65-75 °F).
Pale ale is famous for its moderate to high hoppiness and is often considered bitter to new beer drinkers (the same way coffee is bitter to new coffee drinkers). But beer enthusiasts would disagree and it’s often the beer of choice while eating.
2. India Pale Ale (IPA)
Probably the most popular type of beer in the US, India pale ales did not actually originate in India, but were originally created for the British troops in the East.
During the 1700s, bringing beer to the East has been a difficult challenge because of long voyages and the hot climates. Exposure of beer to high temperature for an extended period of time affects the quality of beer, giving an off-flavor taste.
Making the beer more hoppy and increasing the alcohol content solved the problem. Hence, IPAs are hoppier than the other versions of pale ale.
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While ale is made through the process of top-fermentation (uses top-fermenting yeasts), a lager on the other hand is made through bottom-fermentation (uses bottom-fermenting yeasts) where fermentation happens more slowly producing a beer that is more stable.
Oxford dictionary defines lager as a kind of beer that is effervescent and light in color and body and originated from Germany in the mid-19th century from German Lagerbier which means “beer brewed for keeping” and Lager which means storehouse.
Thus, it is logical to say that the product of bottom-fermentation, a stable beer, can be stored (or lagered) longer than ale.
Wheat beers, such as as Hefeweizen, Shock Top, and Blue Moon, have a rich golden or caramel color and often have a zesty, citrusy flavor. It is often left unfiltered giving it a cloudiness which other beers don’t have.
They have less hoppiness than many other beers making them easy to drink for those that normally don’t like beer. Wheat beer is often garnished with a slice of orange or lemon.
5. Amber Ale
Amber ale is a form of pale ale fermented from amber malt and other crystal malt may be added, in some cases, producing coppery to brownish color.
This type of beer is also often with caramel flavor and the proportion of malt and hop flavors varies, but more on a balanced side, hence, resulting to a taste that can either be inclined towards being malty or being hoppy.
The term is invented by American brewers to draw the line between pale ales and brown ales. Being a form of pale ale, some consumers assume the color to be somewhat “pale” literally, like blonde ales which are very pale in color.
Brewers then came up with the term amber ale to given more identity to this type of beer. The Alcohol by Volume (ABV) content of amber ales is usually around 4.5-6% and the IBUs are usually around 30-45+.
Originally coming out of Plzen in the Czech Republic, pilsner is a crisp and refreshing beer with a good amount of bitterness and maltiness. I comes in a very light gold color. Pilsner Urquell is probably the most well known brand of pilsner beer in the US.
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While pale ale is brewed with a higher proportion of pale malts resulting to a lighter color, stout is brewed with roasted dark malts, thereby resulting to a darker color. This type of beer still falls under the ale category and is relatively considered to be strong.
The name stout came from the word strong. Stout originated from strong porter and often has a slightly sweet and chocolate flavor to it. Guinness is one of the most popular kinds of stout. Not only is it great tasting, it’s one of the lowest calorie beers around making it a treat when sticking to a diet.
This type of beer is somehow confused with stout. Just like stout, porter also has a dark color because of black malt. It also falls under the ale family of beers. To differentiate it from stout, it can be said that stout is the stronger porter.
Bitters are also pale ales but brewers came up with the name Bitter for the purpose of differentiation of pale ales based on drinkability, measured by bitterness. Bitter beer is an English style of beer, with a clear light yellow to light copper and with a medium to high bitterness.
The term bitter is thought to be just the same as pale ale – bitter for English and pale ale for Americans.
10. Brown Ale
Much darker than a typical ale, brown ales often have toffee, chocolate, or roasted caramel undertones. They are much less bitter than many other types of beers which makes them a favorite to new beer drinkers or those who normally dislike beer.
Newcastle is a common brand of brown ale in the United States. The beer goes well with just about anything.
Various types of sour beers have risen in popularity in recent years. They have a tartness to them that’s attributed to the lactic acid produced during the fermentation process.
The level of sourness or tartness varies quite a bit and fruit flavors are most common although spice flavored sours also exist. These are not your traditional beer and you can find some very unique flavors which make them quite interesting.
12. Irish Ale
Irish ale, also called Irish red ale or simply red ale, originated from Ireland. According to legends, this type of beer is likely brewed in monasteries. This beer ranges from amber to reddish copper in color but usually have a deep red tint to it, hence the name red ale.
The word wine in Barleywine does not really mean wine. This type of drink is still classified as a beer, however, it can be as strong as wine.
A strong ale with an alcohol content of a least 9% and up to even higher than 13% by volume, Barleywine is believed to have been brewed for hundreds of years though it is only in the early 1900s that it was designated as Barleywine.
Merriam-Webster defines Bock as a strong dark rich beer usually sold in the early spring. The name bock originated from German word Bockbier. Others believe the name Bock came from the shortening and alteration of Einbecker Bier, literally beer from Einbeck, Germany.
Bock is a rich, complex, malty, low-hop style of lager and has a higher nutritional and alcohol content than other beers. It is because of higher nutritional content that bock was used by German monks during Lenten fast as a liquid substitute for food.
Dunkel is a German word which means dark; hence, dunkel beer is a dark beer. However, the origin of the name that means dark somehow brought confusion – are all dark beers dunkel?
First, dunkel falls under the lager family of beers. It can be divided into dark wheat beers and dark lagers.
Märzen takes its name from March, the month when it is usually brewed. The name itself, Märzen, is a German word for March. The origin of Märzen is somewhat similar to that of India Pale Ale.
In the Middle Ages, brewers had a difficult time brewing beers of good taste and quality during the summer because the fermentation product could become easily infected with air-borne bacteria. To solve this problem, brewers came up with extra strong and well-hopped beer which now can last for a longer time.
Malty. Bitter. Hoppy. Strong. Pale. No matter what adjective we used to a beer, it is somehow like our life – a mixture of bitterness and sweetness. It is also like a personality of humans. We all have our sweet side, bitter side, the good side and the bad.
But then again, all of these are relative. What may be bitter to you may be sweeter for me. So no matter what, let’s all enjoy our drink whether at home, a restaurant, or during Oktoberfest surrounded by polka, accordions, and tubas. Beer, anyone?