Know Your Beer – The Basics

When it comes to styles of beer, it can get a little mind boggling. While the distinctions might seem rather pedantic, as a beer drinker, knowing your IPA from your gose helps you work out what it is that you actually like and makes discovering new wonderful things that little bit easier.

To get started, here are the top 5 that I think are worth knowing.

Pilsners – in layman’s terms; larger. Pilsners are usually clear, light in colour and light on the ABV (4-5% is about usual).

Pale Ales and India Pale Ales (IPAs)
They tend to be light in colour ranging from golden to golden-brown. Taste wise an IPA is seen to be hoppier than a pale, but this is very subjective and varies brewer to brewer. Can be on cask or keg, clear or cloudy, and carbonation levels vary.

Stout/Porter
Dark in colour, usually with rich flavours; often coffee, nuts, oats and chocolate. They can be surprisingly light but usually malty.

Weissbier
a.k.a Wheat beer. As you’d expect, taste wheaty. Weissbiers often have a bit of a banana flavour (which comes from the yeast). Usually carbonated, straw coloured and have a nice thick, creamy head.

Sours
There are lots of different kinds, some of the most common are Gueuze, Lambic and Berliner Weis. They often have a tart sourness and vary in ABV according to style.

For more in-depth details, check out the BJCP Beer Style Guidelines here.

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