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Beer Varieties

From Lagers to Ales, beer is a universal drink and is enjoyed by many all over the world. Since beer comes in different colors and flavors it’s practical to learn about the varieties and discover which one you like best. Not only to stock up on your favorite beer but also to share it with your friends and family.

Let’s start with the different varieties of beer. The beer you are drinking can be either Lager or Ale. Within these two groups are different varieties to choose from. Let’s explore them, shall we?

The term “Lager” refers to storing the beer at cool temperatures. Lager is considered as the base of all beers and usually serves as a standard to measure other beers. After a brewing process of four to twelve weeks, it results in a smooth beer with crisp taste. The lager category consists of “Pale Lager” and “Dark Lager”.

Pale Lager
Pale Lagers are the most consumed and commercially available style of beer in the world. With their golden color, they possess a clean very subtle "hoppy" flavor. The main ingredients are water, malt and noble hops. The noble hops are the source of the dry bitterness of the beer. Other ingredients occasionally added are corn or rice, to lighten the body of the beer.

Dark Lager
Dark lagers come in colors ranging from copper to dark brown. Their dark color comes from the extra caramel that is added to the drink or the type of malt that is used. It has a low level of hops strength and bitterness. The taste tends to lean more toward sweet hints of caramel, chocolate and nuts.

Pilsner has an almost transparent golden color and claims to be the oldest variety of Lager. It has by far the most intense bitter taste from the hops. However, the taste of pilsner differs between the production countries. For example, the Czech pilsner has a lighter flavor, while the German pilsner is more bitter and earthy.

The term “Ale” was originally used to describe a “hopless” brewed drink, however throughout the years, the meaning changed to “lightly hopped” drink. This is exactly what ale beers are. Hops are added to impart a bitter herbal flavor that balances the sweetness of the malt. Because of the high temperature during fermentation, the speed in which the yeast ferments the beer increases, giving it a sweet, full bodied and fruity taste.

Brown Ale
Brown Ale has a dark amber or brown color. This variety of Ale is mostly popular in England and North America. When produced in North America it tends to be dry with slight citrus hints. The sweet and chocolaty aroma, bitterness and medium body are drawn from the American hop type. In England the taste ranges from malty, nutty to sweet with low alcohol. The taste depends if it’s from Northern or Southern England.

Pale Ale
Pale Ales are made from malt that is dried with coke, which is a type of coal. The malt used for this type of beer is called, pale malt. That is why it results in a lighter colored, pleasant beer. Pala Ale has a very high level of hops, making it nice and bitter.

Flavors of Beer

The flavors that are present in beer generally described in three terms. By learning to identify these flavors you will be able to decide what balance of these traits you prefer. Then you’ll be well on your way to ordering beer like a true expert.

The term maltiness is used to describe the sweetness of the beer. Malt is derived from grains, and is the part of the beer that is fermented. The grains that are generally used to create malt are wheat and barley. There are several varieties of malt, with varying flavors.

Hops are the plants used during production of beer to add the bitter flavor. Bitter might sound unpleasant, but actually it is not hard to appreciate. Pale ales are generally the hoppiest beers available. Another way to recognize high level of hops in you beer is the aroma of fresh herbs, grapefruit and pine needles.

Actual fruit are not added to the production of beer, but their flavors can be tasted in the beer. How is that possible? Well during fermentation, not all sugars are consumed; these leftovers provide the beer with a sweet taste, usually very similar to the taste of fruits. The fruitiness in beer is reminiscent of pears, apples and bananas.