There are dozens, if not hundreds of brewing styles, and each country, district, prefecture, and brewery can produce different takes on each variety. From the smoked beer known as Rauch, ラオホ raoho, to the American Porter, アメリカン ポーター amerikan pohtah, and the Belgian Strong Ale, ベルジャン ストロング エール berujian sutorongu eeru, there are so many styles and names that it can be a touch overwhelming for someone new to the scene. Below are five of the most popular to get you started.
Types of beer
|A weizen is a wheat beer with very low bitterness, low to medium body, and is high in esters (the fruity flavors and aroma in beer, usually associated with ales and produced by higher fermentation temperatures). Weizens often have a banana and clove flavor. Because of their fruitiness, weizens are great summer beers and often popular with the ladies.|
|Good pilsners have clean, light malt flavors like grain and crackers, backed up by herbal and grassy hops. As with many beer styles, the flavors can vary a lot between countries and brewers. German-style pilsners are dry and crisp, and the bitter flavors tend to linger in the aftertaste. In comparison, Czech-style pilsners tend to have a richer malt character and a softer, rounder feel.|
|Pale ale is a beer made by warm fermentation using predominantly pale malt. So called because they are brewed with more lightly roasted “pale” malts, pale ales typically have a more equal malt-to-hop balance. The hops are definitely present, but fairly moderate. The higher proportion of pale malts results in a lighter color.|
|India Pale Ale (IPA)
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|IPAs tend to be more aggressively hopped, with the balance of hops-and-malts definitely tipping in favor of the hops (the hop plant is used in beer to give it a bitter, tangy taste). One of the most popular beer styles on the market today, the India Pale Ale (IPA) saturates beer drinkers’ palates with its sometimes over-the-top hoppy flavor profile. The style originates from England where in 1774, the British Empire appointed its first governor to India and began heavy trading with beer being one of the many items.|
|Stouts are black in color with the exception of oatmeal and imperial stouts, which can vary from dark copper to black. These dark beers are made using roasted malt or roasted barley, hops, water and yeast. Stouts were traditionally the generic term for the strongest or stoutest porters produced by a brewery, typically 7%-8% alcohol. There are a number of variations including Baltic porter, milk stout, imperial stout, and the most common variation is dry stout, exemplified by Guinness Draught, the world’s best-selling stout.|
Note: Any beer style that includes the word “Imperial” is usually quite high in hops and definitely higher in alcohol. “Imperials” were usually beers that were made in one country and shipped to another, often destined for the mouths of royalty (hence the name Imperial). Another invention of necessity, the long journeys meant that the properties of higher alcohol and hops were required to act as preservatives. If you think IPAs are strong and hoppy, you should try an Imperial IPA!