Exploring the Different Types of Beer Styles

Beer styles are a way to differentiate and classify beers by color, flavor, strength, ingredients, production method, recipe, history or origin. There are two major beer style classifications: lager and ale. Lagers ferment for a long time at a low temperature and rely on the yeasts fermenting at the bottom, while ales ferment at a higher temperature and rely on the yeasts that float to the top of the fermentation tank. Porters are known for their dark black color and their aroma and notes of roasted malt.

Stouts have a less sweet taste than porters and often have a bitter coffee taste, which comes from unmalted roasted barley added to the must. Blond beers have a pale color and a clear body, and they tend to be crisp and dry with few traces of bitterness. American Pale Ales beers are more hoppy and usually have malt. Pilsners are among the most hoppy lagers and generally taste dry and slightly bitter.

Bitter beers are made from wild yeasts, just like sourdough bread, and they are known for their sour taste that goes well with tropical fruits and spices. Lambicas are Belgian bitter beers mixed with fruit, goses are a German sour beer made with coriander and sea salt, and Flanders is a Belgian sour beer fermented in wooden tanks. Gluten-free beers have turned to malted sorghum and buckwheat, which are gluten-free grains to brew beers for their gluten-averse customers. Hybrid or mixed-style beers use modern techniques and materials instead of, or in addition to, the traditional aspects of brewing.

Scottish-style beers vary by strength and taste but generally retain a malty character with some degree of caramel-like malt flavors and a soft, chewy mouthfeel. Specialty beers are usually brewed in a classic style (such as Porter or Weizenbier) but with a little new flavor; some are made from unusual foods that are fermented. Imperial IPAs creep into some of the strongest beers in alcohol content but have an increased bitterness due to more hops than the original IPA beer recipe. Wheat beer is often brewed in winter by spontaneous fermentation, which means that it is left open to fresh air, and any organism that is in the air ferments the beer.

A number of craft brewers in the United States have brewed gluten-reduced and gluten-free craft beers so that everyone of legal age can be part of the craft beer community.