14 Basic Beer Styles You Should Know!
American Pale Ale
Characterized by floral, fruity, citrus-like, piney, resinous American hops, the American pale ale is a medium-bodied beer with low to medium caramel, and carries with it a toasted maltiness. American pale ale is one of the most food-friendly styles to enjoy, since the pale ale works wonderfully with lighter fare such as salads and chicken, but can still stand up to a hearty bowl of chili; a variety of different cheeses, including cheddar; seafood, like steamed clams or fish, and even desserts. The American pale ale’s affinity to food can be attributed to the simplicity of its ingredients, which include toasty pale malt, a clean fermenting ale beer yeast, and the counterbalance of American hops to help tease out the flavor or cleanse the palate, preparing you for another bite.
India Pale Ale (IPA)
Characterized by floral, fruity, citrus-like, piney or resinous American-variety hop character, the IPA beer style is all about hop flavor, aroma and bitterness. This has been the most-entered category at the Great American Beer Festival for more than a decade, and is the top-selling craft beer style in supermarkets and liquor stores across the U.S.
Strikingly bold and undeniably beautiful, the American stout beer style blends generous amounts of dark malts with American hops to offer an adventurous experience that is unmatched by other styles of beer. Are you afraid of the dark? When it comes to American stout, don’t be. Allow your senses to run wild with this deceivingly sophisticated take on a European staple.
Typically lighter in appearance, wheat beer can be made using either ale or lager yeast, and American wheat beer can be brewed with at least 30 percent malted wheat. Like the traditional German hefeweizen, these beers are typically served unfiltered and can have a cloudy appearance when roused. Traditionally hoppier than its German cousin, American wheat beer differs in that it does not offer flavors of banana or clove, which is indicative of the weizen yeast strain. Nevertheless, the American wheat beer is known worldwide as a refreshing summer style.
American lager has little in the way of hop and malt character. A straw to gold, very clean and crisp, highly carbonated lager.
Quite possibly the most iconic beer style in modern history, the pilsner captured the attention of beer drinkers across the world and inspired a myriad of regional imitations. This lightly colored, exquisitely balanced lager remains one of the most loved beers to enjoy, and one of the most challenging for the brewer to create. Pilsner are characteristically light in color and have a very short finish. The world over, pilsner -style lagers have become the standard beer for many reasons, and American craft brewers have worked hard to put their own unique spin on this classic German beer.
English Pale Ale
This style is known for its balance and the interplay between malt and hop bitterness. English pale ales display earthy, herbal English-variety hop character. Medium to high hop bitterness, flavor and aroma should be evident. The yeast strains used in these beers lend a fruitiness to their aromatics and flavor, referred to as esters. The residual malt and defining sweetness of this richly flavored and medium bodied.
Like most amber beers, American amber ale is named after the golden to amber color this American version of English pale ale exhibits. The color is derived from the use of caramel and crystal malt additions, which are roasted to provide amber beers with the color, body and flavor many beer fans have come to appreciate. Falling under the ale beer type, amber ales ferment at warmer temperatures for what is typically a much shorter amount of time than lager style beers.
Definitively American, the imperial porter should have no roasted barley flavors or strong burnt/black malt character. Medium caramel and cocoa-like sweetness is present, with complementing hop character and malt-derived sweetness.
The German-style hefeweizen is straw to amber in color and brewed with at least 50 percent malted wheat. The aroma and flavor of a weissbier comes largely from the yeast and is decidedly fruity (banana) and phenolic (clove). The intensity of these wildly differing flavor qualities varies depending on the brewer, but the two are most commonly balanced. Hefeweizen typically contains a low to moderate alcohol content and is considered to be the most popular amongst the German weissbier variety.
The acidity present in sour beer is usually in the form of lactic, acetic and other organic acids naturally developed with acidified malt in the mash, or produced during fermentation by the use of various microorganisms. These beers may derive their sour flavor from pure cultured forms of souring agents or from the influence of barrel aging.
American Brown Ale
Roasted malt, caramel-like and chocolate-like characters should be of medium intensity in both flavor and aroma for the American brown ale. American-style brown ales have evident low to medium hop flavor and aroma and medium to high hop bitterness. The history of this style dates back to U.S. homebrewers who were inspired by English-style brown ales and porters. It sits in flavor between those British styles and is more bitter than both.
American barley wine ranges from amber to deep red/copper-garnet in color. A caramel and/or toffee aroma and flavor are often part of the malt character along with high residual malty sweetness. Complexity of alcohols is evident. Fruity-ester character is often high. As with many American versions of a style, this barley wine ale is typically more hop-forward and bitter than its U.K. counterpart. Low levels of age-induced oxidation can harmonize with other flavors and enhance the overall experience. Sometimes sold as vintage releases.
The Belgian-style dubbel ranges from brown to very dark in color. They have a malty sweetness and can have cocoa and caramel aromas and flavors. Hop bitterness is medium-low to medium. Yeast-generated fruity esters (especially banana) can be apparent. Often bottle-conditioned, a slight yeast haze and flavor may be evident. “Dubbel” meaning “double,” this beer is still not so big in intensity as to surpass the Belgian-style quadrupel that is often considered its sibling.