The list of recognised beer categories seems to be growing every day. If the more obscure classics such as salty-sour goses and herbal fruits weren’t enough to bewilder beer newcomers, newly invented styles including India pale lagers and Black IPAs only continue to add to the confusion. However, if you go to the bar and just say the words “All I want is a beer” when looking at an overcrowded menu at your local pub, hopefully learning about these six styles ensure you never freeze up in terror when placing your next beer order.
01 - Pale Ale
The pale ale is pretty much responsible for inspiring the entire American craft beer movement. Originated with the English pale ale, the American pale ale is less malty and more hop forward. American pale ales are often golden or a deep amber in colour, they are fairly medium bodied and generally have a moderate to high hop flavour and naturally has a citrus flavour to it. If there was ever a style most representative of a classic American craft beer, then a pale ale would be the one. It’s worth mentioning that there is some sort of overlap here with American Amber Ales but pale ales tend to be a lot cleaner crisper, and more hop forward, while the amber ales have a much maltier, more caramel forward profile.
02 - India Pale Ale (IPA)
IPAs are the youngest style of the bunch but are very popular, they are of a similar colour to those of pale ales, but have a much more elevated hop aroma and flavour to them. This style of beer was initially created to survive transport from England to India, as when additional hops were introduced as a preservative due to the fact the oils help keep the beer fresh for a longer period of time. However, the secondary result of using extra hops is that they generally make the beer a lot bitter and aromatic. In more recent years, it’s the imperial IPAs which have come into fashion, which can have up to twice as much malt, hops and alcohol as a regular IPA.
Take a look at our extensive list of IPAs which you may not see in your local supermarket, Vibrant Forest - Kaleidoscope, Tiny Rebel - CLWB Tropicana, Greyhound - Rainbow Eyes and Longdog - India Pale Ale, these are just a small selection of IPAs we have to offer.
03 - Stout
The darkest of beers are stouts, which made an appearance in the early 18th century to describe strong porters. The line between stout and porter has since then become incredibly blurred, and the terms are now basically interchangeable. Stout variations include dry stouts, milk or sweet stouts, oatmeal stouts, and American stouts. What unites all of these is that they are made with deeply roasted malt, resulting in a dark brown to jet black colour.
04 - Wheat Beer
On the complete opposite ends of the stout spectrum, we have wheat beers, which also come in a variety of sub-styles. The Belgian wheat beers are most distinguishable by a zesty orange flavour accented by coriander and other spices too. German wheat beers are known for strong banana and clove flavours from chemicals known as esters and phenols, respectively while the American versions are normally the cleanest and most hoppy, with less emphasis on yeast and fruit flavours but more on crispness.
05 - Lager
All beers are able to be broken down in “ales” and ‘Lagers”. If a beer isn’t an ale then it’s a lager, which is fermented at a cooler temperature by yeast that feasts upon sugar at the bottom rather than the top of the tank. While there are quite a few different types of lagers out there the most popular you will find will be the American lagers, which includes Budweiser as they’re generally a very pale yellow colour and very translucent, with very subtle grain aromas. Most are made with adjuncts - ingredients other than malted barley - such as corn, rice, or oats and while hop levels are very low, carbonation is extremely high. Lagers are refreshing and thirst - quenching but not all that full of flavour.
06 - Pilsner
Last but no means least we have Pilsners, this is a specific type of lager that tends to be a lot more flavourful than the standard lager. This type of beer is pale gold in colour and fairly clear, with a more spicy and floral hop taste than a lager. Pilsners are crisp and refreshing with a complex maltiness and will get its bitterness from noble nops called snaz hops. The German pilsner, however, was first brewed following the success of the Bohemian pilsner around about 30 years later.