Beer Styles Explained, From IPA To Pilsner And Beyond
It's time you learned your IPAs from your Pale Ales.
Lagers are a typical entry point into beer for new drinkers. Made with bottom fermenting yeast that has a lower tolerance to alcohol, lagers can taste light and a little malty. Classic lagers in America include Miller High Life, Coors, Budweiser and Yuengling.
India Pale Ales (IPAs), which encompass numerous styles of beer, get their characteristics largely from hops and herbal, citrus or fruity flavors. They can be bitter and contain high alcohol levels, though the final product depends on the variety of hops used. Some IPAs can taste like pure citrus, while others are strong and bitter.
Pale ales are usually hoppy but carry a lower alcohol content than IPAs. Most types of pale ale, which can include American amber ale, American pale ale, blonde ale and English pale ale, are malty, medium-bodied and easy to drink.
Pilsners, which originate from the Czech Republic, fall under the lager category. German pilsners give off a pale gold color and crisp flavor, while Czech pilsners are a little darker with higher bitterness.
A dark beer, the flavor of stouts depend on where they come from. Sweet stouts largely originate from Ireland and England and are known for their low bitterness. In fact, Ireland’s Guinness brand produces some of the world’s most recognizable stout beer. Stouts produced in the U.S. combine the typical dark body and creamy notes with the hoppy bitter flavors characterized by American beers. American stouts are strong, highly roasted, bitter and hoppy, with high malt flavors that give them the taste of coffee or dark chocolate.
Traditional porters, which can trace their roots to the United Kingdom, are dark in color like stouts due to common ingredients like chocolate or other dark-roasted malts. Porters tend to taste less like coffee than stouts, with more of a chocolatey feel.
Belgium’s rich beer culture has poured into the U.S. over the years, giving enthusiasts on this side of the Atlantic a deep appreciation for the wide variety of Belgian-style flavors. Belgian beers span pale ales, dark ales, fruity beers and sour ales. Belgian-style beers as carrying fruity, spicy and sweet flavors with a high alcohol content and low bitterness.
Wheat beers rely on wheat for the malt ingredient, which gives the beverage a light color and alcohol level that makes it perfect for kicking back with during the summer and for combining it with fruit, like a slice of lemon or orange. Some wheat beers, with their funky and tangy flavors, fall under Belgian-style brews while the ones made in the U.S. have a light flavor that recalls bread.
Sour beer has shot up in popularity in the U.S. over the last few years, becoming an enticing beverage to people looking to branch out their beer palates or to those wanting to try something new. Highly tart, sour beers can take on many forms, including Belgian-style Lambic beer, fruity Flanders ale and lemony Berliner Weisse beer. With the addition of fruits like cherry, raspberry or peach, sour beers marry sweet and sour to make beer flavors completely unlike the lagers and IPAs of yore.