The resurgence in craft brewing has broadened the variety of beers that you'll find writen on the chalkboard of your local pub, but there are generally five main types of beer. The differences come from the ingredients, the brewing process and the yeast used for fermentation.
Lagers taste light and clean. The are crafted by fermenting for a long time at a low temperature, with bottom-fermenting yeasts.
Pilsner lagers are brewed with hard water, and are the hoppiest lagers, often with a dry, slightly bitter taste. They have a straw colour and originated from Pilsen in the Czech Republic.
Ales are the oldest style of beer, and are created from room temperature fermentation for a relatively short time. To create an ale, brewers add top-fermenting yeasts to the brew, to create a lovely drinkable ale.
There are different types of ale
A perfect summer tipple, blonde ales are pale in colour and have a trace of hops and a light malty sweetness.
Brown ales get their colour and taste from the different malts used, and can have caramel or nutty flavours.
Pale ales are quite hoppy and are known for their fruity scent and coppery colour. They are malty, medium bodied and easy to drink.
India Pale Ale
The famous IPA was a British pale ale brewed with extra hops to survive the long boat trip to India. The extra hops give the IPAs their citrus or pine resinous taste and they often have a higher alcohol content. Popular IPA beers include West Coast IPA, British IPA and New England IPA which have a fruity taste, a hazy appearance and very little bitterness.
Porters orignalted in London in the 18th century. A porter is known for its dark black colour and roasted malty flavour. The dark, opaque colour can look off-putting, but the sweetness from unfermented sugars offsets any bitterness. They have a chocolatey or caramel taste.
A stout is a type of porter with a thick creamy head and less of a sweet taste, they can often have notes of bitter coffee.
Wheat beers are hazy in the glass, they are brewed with wheat and have a smooth flavour with notes of spices or citrus and little bitterness.
Sour ales are brewed from wild yeasts and have a tart, tangy taste. They are often crafted with fruits or herbs to create interesting flavours.
You're now a beer expert! To try some of these magical beers, take a look at our beer styles page, and take it from there.