There are two main types of beer that you need to know: ales and lagers. All beer is made from four basic ingredients: malted barley, hops, yeast, and water. The only difference between ales and lagers is the type of yeast used.
Lagers are relatively new types of beer, dating back to the mid-19th century. Lagers are made using bottom-fermenting yeast and are fermented at cooler temperatures around 46-55 degrees F.
- Pale Lager: This is the most popular type of lager, boasting a lighter color and body. These are highly carbonated and have a much lighter taste
Examples: Budweiser, Heineken, and Stella Artois
- Pilsner: The Pilsner was first created in the 1840s in Plzen, Czechoslovakia. It is similar to the Pale Lager in color, but is much more bitter.
Examples: Pilsner Urquell, Dos Equis, Sierra Nevada Summerfest Lager
- Light Lager: This is typically a beer that contains less hops and barley in an attempt to make a low calorie beer.
Examples: Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, Coors Light
- Dark Lager: Dark Lagers are much more full-bodied and flavorful. They are typically very malty with a gentle hops flavor.
Examples: Guiness Black Lager, Michelob Dark, Heineken Dark Lager
Ales are the oldest types of beer and have been around for thousands of years. Ales are made using top-fermenting yeast and are fermented at warmer temperatures around 65-76 degrees F.
- Pale Ale: This type of beer is made with gently roasted barley and pale malt. It is a bitter and spicy brew.
Examples: Sweetwater 420 Extra Pale Ale, Samuel Adams Boston Ale, Newcastle Founders’ Ale
- Brown Ale: Brown Ale ranges from dark amber to copper in color and contains a higher level of malt. These beers are mild in flavor and tastes range from sweet to hoppy to earthy.
Examples: Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale, Newcastle Brown Ale, Imperial Nut Brown Ale
- Porter: Porters are very dark beers that are nearly opaque. These are made with roasted malt or barley and some even taste like chocolate.
Examples: Sierra Nevada Porter, Smoked Porter, Fuller’s London Porter
- Stout: Stouts are the darkest and thickest type of beer and are typically made with highly roasted malt or barley. These beers have a thick, creamy head and are very full-bodied.
Examples: Guiness Extra Stout, Highland Black Mocha Stout, Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout