People have enjoyed beer for hundreds of years, and during that time, it has evolved into a variety of types. All of beer’s body, colors and flavors fall into two main categories: ale and lager. Altogether, those two classifications encompass thousands of types of beer; the two categories’ primary difference is in their brewing temperature and the yeast used in the brewing process. Lager beer uses yeast which ferments best at colder temperatures, and ales use a different kind of yeast that ferments best when it’s warm. Both ales and lagers also contain water, barley and hops.
Beer-drinking is an enjoyable pastime for many, not just for the variety that’s available or for the relaxing feeling of kicking back with a cold brew, but for the experience of savoring the flavor. If you want to know more about beer and begin to experiment with beer/food pairings, you should read on to learn more about the different types of beer.
More about Lagers
Of all the hundreds of kinds of lager available, there are four types: Light lager, dark lager, pale lager (American style) and pilsner. A pale lager almost always has more carbonation than the other types; as its name implies its light in color and in body. The most popular American beers, Budweiser and Coors, are pale lagers.
Pilsner is another pale-colored lager, but these beers are often more bitter and fuller in flavor than an American-style lager. In the US, lighter lagers have less barley and hops, resulting in a less caloric brew; lighter beers also have less alcohol. In European countries, “light lager” isn’t an indication of caloric content, but of color. Dark lagers contain roasted hops and barley, and they have a dark color and full, rich flavor.
Most beers in the ale category are either stout, brown ale or a porter. Brown ale is usually copper or red, and has a milder taste than other ales. Porters are fuller-flavored and darker in color, with a noticeable taste of barley and hints of chocolate. A stout is the darkest kind of beer available; it’s almost black and tastes much like the hops and barley from which it’s made.
Aptly named, microbrews are beers brewed in smaller, independently run breweries. Most use locally sourced ingredients, for unique properties and taste; these beers are almost always brewed in smaller batches.
Bottle or Draft?
Draft beer is typically served in a cold mug with a thick head of foam. Bottled beer doesn’t foam when poured, and many beer aficionados prefer the draft for that very reason. The primary difference between bottled and draft beer is in the pasteurization method—keg beer isn’t pasteurized so it must be kept cold; bottled beer is packed at high temperatures, which can impact taste.
Although there are only two main beer categories, there are thousands of unique varieties with unique ingredients and special flavors. Vegetables, spices and fruits are sometimes added to ales and lagers alike to create new flavor combinations—there are enough choices to satisfy even the most discriminating beer drinker.
This article was written by Crispin Jones for Tennant Rubber – a UK supplier of rubber and polymer products for a number of markets including the food industry.