Beer Styles – Different Types of Beer

Beer Styles – Different Types of Beer

There are few things that are as universally revered as a cold frothy glass of beer. While beer is largely associated with relaxing and unwinding, it is anything but. At the surface, it is considered a simple beverage. The truth, however, is that Beer is one of the most fascinatingly complex drinks out there. A pocket sized nation like Belgium alone has over a 1500 different types of beers.

Each beer comes with an individual glass that it’s supposed to be served and cherished in. The US alone has over 3000 breweries that brew a variety of delectable craft beer. Understanding the different types of beer not only makes you a beer genius, but it also helps in picking what food goes best with that beer. This truly enriches both your drinking and culinary experience alike.

Broadly speaking, beer styles are classified into two main categories, Lagers or Ales. This classification is based on the type of yeast used in the fermentation of the brew. Lagers are made with yeast that ferments at the bottom of the mixture, while Ales are made with yeast that ferments at the top. There’s also a third kind, spontaneously fermenting yeasts, which like its name, reacts when the yeast in the beer is exposed to wild bacteria. These beers are generally funkier in nature. A lot of sour ales go through this spontaneous fermentation process.

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Top Fermentation and Types of Beer

  • Ale (Brown Ale, Pale Ale, Indian Pale Ale)
  • Porter
  • Stout
  • Wheat Beer

In each of these beers, the yeast ferments throughout the beer and settles at the top of. That’s why they are called Top Fermenting Beers. Ales are the most popular beers in this category. Ales were originally used to describe beers that were brewed without the use of hops. A mixture of fruits and spices (gruits) are used to act as a bittering agent while brewing Ale. Hops are now used in Ales and the color of the beer can vary from dark brown (Brown Ale) to shades of Pale (Indian Pale Ale).

Stouts are generally dark beers with a creamy texture. Stouts were initially considered a variation of the Porter beer. With time, however, Stouts have managed to create an identity that is independent of Porters. Guinness is one of the most popular stout beers in the world. In fact, it is widely and inaccurately considered that having a pint of Guinness is like having a meal.

Porters are not very different from stouts. For the longest time, it was the go-to dark beer, a favorite among regular English pub-goers. While it had seen a decline in popularity, thanks to the emergence of Stout beer, Porter has emerged as a favorite among the craft beer enthusiasts.

Wheat beer is a German favorite. It is traditionally brewed with malted wheat instead of Barley. If you see Hefeweizen or Weizenbier on the menu, it implies that the beer is a wheat beer. They are known for their extremely smooth taste, but can be just as strong as any of the other Ales.

Bottom Fermentation and Types of Beer

  • Pale Lagers & Dark Lagers
  • Pilsners
  • Bocks

With these beers, the yeast is a lot more fragile than its Ale counterparts. After the fermentation is complete, the yeast settles at the bottom of the vessel. These beers ferment slowly and need cooler temperatures, as opposed to the yeast used in the production of Ales. The yeast used in this process also has a lower tolerance level towards alcohol.

Lagers are one of the most easily available beers out there. Lager is generally stored at cooler temperatures than other beers. This explains why the beer is named after a word in German for store room. Lagers are generally lighter and fizzier in nature, as compared to other beers.

Pilsner, in simple words, is a beer from the city of Plzen in Czechia. It certainly must be good, considering how Czechia has the highest beer consumption per capita in the world. Pilsners grew in popularity because of its translucent golden color. The color of the pilsner would become a massive hit with the masses, especially after the introduction of the glass bottles, in the second half of the 19th century. Pilsners are known for their light color and their strong taste.

Bock, for the longest time, was a beer that was synonymous with religious festivals in Bavaria. It was a beverage that was looked to as a source of nutrition for Bavarian monks, when they were fasting. While the original bock is dark and has a strong malty taste, the Bock that is now widely available is much lighter in taste.

Spontaneous Fermentation and Types of Beer

  • American Sour
  • Belgian Gueuze
  • Belgian Fruit Lambic
  • Flanders Red Ale

Spontaneous Fermentation of beer was introduced in Belgium, and is still widely used there.

This type of fermentation occurs when the beer is exposed to the yeast and a wild bacteria. The interaction between these elements gives the beer its sour funky taste. This unique and extremely innovative process of creating beer and giving it their own distinct taste is adopted worldwide. In fact, it’s growing in popularity by the day. The Belgian Gueuze, for example, is created by blending young and old Lambics. Since the young Lambics have not fully fermented, a second fermentation takes place, which gives the Gueuze its musty barnyard-like taste.

Some of the most popular beers in this category are the Lambic beers. They are also some of the oldest examples of spontaneous fermentation of craft beers. Lambic is known for its dry taste and is generally sour. A few variants of the Lambic are considered to be similar to the cider, in more ways than one.

Periodic Table of Beer Styles

Periodic Table of Beer Styles Types

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See also: ABV Calculator