Learn about common styles of beer to increase your comfort and familiarity with one of the world’s oldest drinks.
- Beers are made from grains that are usually malted, like barley or wheat.
- They vary depending on the ingredients and brewing techniques used.
- Beers can be classified by what is added during the brewing process. These include hops, malt roast, honey malt, other grains and sugar syrups such as corn syrup or cane sugar.
- The type of yeast added used in the process also can make beers taste different.
- Most beers are between 3% and 9% alcohol by volume (ABV). – Light lagers, ale and most stouts typically have higher ABVs.
Here are descriptions of common styles:
The flavor profile of an individual beer may vary slightly depending on geographical location and brewing techniques.
Light Lagers are made by adding corn or rice to the wort during the process of mashing, which is heating the wort to about 148 degrees (F) for a period of an hour or more. The mash is then boiled with hops for one to three hours, and then cooled. The grains and yeast are separated from the slurry using a strainer basket called a lauter tun. One, two or three extract additions perform this process. The beech wood used to smoke the malt can add a slight flavor and there are many different varieties of hops available. Light Lagers are typically 4–5% ABV.
The following beers are examples of this style: Miller Lite, Bud Light, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Coors Light
Ale is fermented with top fermenting yeast at warm temperatures between 64 and 73 degrees (F). Most ales have a pale amber hue and different hop characteristics distinguish them from lagers. Ale also differs from lager due to its higher concentration of sugars and more complex malt flavors. Dubbel is a Belgian-style ale that is brewed with equal amounts of pale, caramel and crystal malts.
The following is an example of an ale: Harvest Ale by Brooklyn Brewery
Stouts are dark ale or porter brewed with roasted malts for additional flavor. They have a rich, malty taste that may contain chocolate notes resulting from roasting or caramel notes from the addition of sugars during the brewing process. They have low hop profiles and are typically 5–8% ABV.
Stouts contain a considerable amount of a chemical called melanoidin, which gives them their distinct flavor and darker color. They are brewed using roasted malts or roast barley.
They often have a bitter or sharp taste due to the roasted grains that are used to make them. The flavors they contain can be quite diverse, ranging from chocolate to coffee to fruity notes such as those found in cherry-flavored beers..
The following beers are examples of stout: Guinness