TRADITIONAL BEER CLASSIFICATIONS – BEER TYPES AND STYLES:
Ales, Porters, Stouts, Lagers, Bocks, Malts
Ale: Ales are the oldest of beers dating back over 5000 years and are brewed with top-fermenting yeasts (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). They are often brewed with roasted malt, are full bodied, more bitter, with a fruity taste, and with a strong hops flavor. Ale is roughly translated as “love child beer.” Ale beers need a higher temperature fermentation compared to lagers. The Ale yeast thrives in the mid-range room temperatures of 60° and 75° Fahrenheit process where the yeast floats on top, is pearl in color, and has an alcohol content of around 4.5%. They are mostly produced in the United Kingdom, however are seeing a resurgence in the US. Modern Ales use calcium sulfate-rich water, causing the fermenting yeast to have higher alcohol content, reaching in the ranges of 5% alcohol content for colored ales and 6.5% for the dark wheat ales.
Porter (Special Run Dark Beer): In the top-fermenting family. Porter is a dark beer that was named due to it being a working class drink. Porter is an English beer style that has become very popular in the US. It is rich, concentrated and with more foam, contains hops and is sweeter than an Ale, however not as strong as a Stout. It is still fruity like a dry wine with around 4.5% alcohol content.
Stout: In the top-fermenting family. Stout is dark brown to black in color with a thick creamy tan/brown head. It has a malt flavor, is sweeter than an Ale, yet less sweet than a Porter. It contains more hops, therefore a very strong hops flavor which some people say it is slightly astringent and reminds them of coffee. Alcohol content of 3% to 7.5%, and has a tonic effect. Ireland and the United Kingdom are the main producing countries, including Ireland’s famous and most known Guinness Stout.
Lager: Lagers are made with bottom-fermenting yeast (Saccharomyces uvarum) that thrives best at cooler temperatures, between 35° and 55° Fahrenheit. The main raw material remained malt and is sometimes combined with corn or rice. It is made after aging and after precipitation, and then after the charring process is complete. Beer quality is light and full of bubbles, because of the use of temperature at the end of fermentation. The beer is often stored in a cold cellar for aging also known as lagers.
Bock Beer (Buckwheat Beer): In some areas it is known as Polk beer, named because the initial lead in the Emibock region of Germany. It is a dark beer made of Buckwheat. It has a thick quality, and is usually black and sweeter than the average beer, with an above average alcohol content. The most recognized trademark for beer kegs is a goat (Bock) standing on one end.
Malt Liquor: Malt Liquor encompasses both Lagers and Ales. It typically is straw to pale amber in color and often includes any alcoholic beverage with 5% or more alcohol by volume made with malted barley. There are many brands, and its main feature is the high alcohol content generally above 6%.
Ambers, Blondes, Goldens, Creams, Wheats, Pale Ales, India Pale Ales, Browns, Reds, Darks, Fruits, Honeys, Pilsners, Lights, Strongs, Nears
Ambers: Popular in the US, Amber beers come in both Lagers and Ales. They are a very balanced full bodied malt beer and feature hints of caramel.
Blondes: Blondes are Ales with roots to the German style Kölsch and have been a times called Lager like. They are a good balanced beer and range in color from very pale to a deep golden (called a Golden). They have low to medium hop bitterness while containing some sweetness from the malt and tend to be clear, crisp, and refreshing.
Goldens: Goldens are a subset of Blonde beers. Many times you will find Goldens with a slight citrus or vanilla taste.
Creams: Creams are another subset of Blondes and Goldens with the main difference that Creams tend to be very mild and sweet compared to the Blondes and Goldens.
Wheats (Weiss): Wheats are Ales that are characterized as having very little aftertaste due to the relative amounts of wheat to malted barley used.
Pale Ales: Pale Ales are Ales which tend to be pale in color and made with predominantly pale barley malt. They are not as dark as a Porter, but not as bright as a Blonde or Golden, they fall in-between. They tend to be balanced with a fruity to fresh citrus aroma.
India Pale Ales (IPA): India Pale Ales are hoppier (relatively bitter with a bite) and stronger version of a Pale Ales.
Browns: Browns tend to be dark amber or brown in color. The coloring tends to be due to the caramel and chocolate ingredients used. They can range from a slight citrus taste to a strong malty or nutty flavor depending on what was added in the brewing process.
Reds: Reds are Lagers and Ales that can range between red or light brown in color. They tend to be medium to high in flavor. They contain hints of toasted caramel and many times fruit esters. They are full-bodied beers.
Darks: Darks are Ales very popular in the UK. They are medium brown to an almost black color. They tend to have a very malty taste many times offset with a fruity tang.
Fruits and Sweets: Most fruity beers are Ales. The Belgians are credited with first adding fruits to the beers. Sweet Beer has added juices and many times higher alcoholic content.
Honeys: Honeys come in both Lagers and Ales. Honey beers tend to be sweet from both the honey and the caramels that go into them. Most honeys have an amber color to a slight copper tone. They range from a full-bodied to medium-bodied beer.
Pilsners: Pilsners are named after the city of Pilsen in Bohemia. They are Pale to Golden Lagers and tend to be dry, crisp, slightly bitter and hoppy.
Lights: Light beer is a Pilsner Lager that was invented in 1967 by American biochemist Joseph Owades with fewer calories and many times a lower alcohol content. The color content is very light and clear with a mild flavor. Miller Lite, which started out as Meister Brau “Lite”, is credited with being the first mainstream light beer.
Strongs: Strongs are any beer over 7% Alcohol By Volume (ABV).
Nears and NA: Near Beer and Non-Alcoholic Beer make up the Low-alcohol beer segment. They contain both Ales and Lagers and typically contain less than 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV).