Beer is nothing new in America - even our first president was a homebrewer. But George Washington never had to navigate trendy craft beer bar menus with 200+ beers. Like wine, beer can have many different ingredients and tastes. Ales and lagers are the two large categories of beers, but many subcategories exist such a pale ales, stouts, and pilsners. This guide will help you get to know different styles of beers so you can expand your palate and become a beer connoisseur.
Pale lagers are what we typically associate with beer. While Bud, Miller, and Coors are big pale lager sellers, many craft lagers have emerged also. Bocks and pilsners are types of lagers. Lagers are distinct from ales because their yeast is bottom-fermenting, meaning the yeast sinks to the bottom and does not release as many flavorful esters as ales.
Color: Light to golden yellow
Taste: Light and carbonated, mild, clean, slightly malty
Ales can range from light to dark, and encompass a variety of flavors and styles. Stouts, pale ales, IPAs, and porters are all ales. Ales are usually more flavorful than lagers and are distinct because they are top-fermented, meaning a thick layer of yeast rises to the top during brewing and releases flavor components called esters.
Roasted malts lend a smooth, rich flavor here. Stouts will be dark with low carbonation, and often nitrogen-based with little to no bitterness. Types of stouts include oatmeal, imperial, milk, coffee, chocolate, and dry stout.
Any style of beer can be an imperial or double. These terms refer to a bold-tasting beer that is twice or three times as strong as regular beers. The high alcohol content results from the ingredients (hops and malts) being doubled in the brewing process. These beers will usually be served in a small glass or chalice.