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Q&A: What are the types of beers throughout the world?

Question by Randy: What are the types of beers throughout the world?
I though I was well versed in the beer world. I am aware of the pilsners, stouts, lagers, ales, stouts, IPAs, Belgiams, etc. However, I went to Octoberfest in Frankenmuth Michigan and found out that I’m barely scratching the surface. So, please enlighten me so I can experience the world of beers.

Best answer:

Answer by aslongasitrocks
Ok, to get an understanding of these different beer types, let’s first look at what beer is actually made of.

The basic building blocks of beer are the four ingredients: water, malted barley, hops and yeast.

An ale yeast is called top fermenting because of its tendency to flocculate (gather) at the surface of the brew during the first few days before settling to the bottom.

To brew an ale, fermentation must take place in warmer temperatures for the yeast to multiply and do its magic. Ales are usually higher in alcohol and will be noticeable fuller and more complex.

Types of Ales:
Barley Wine. Ex:Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot Barley Wine, Adnam’s Tally-Ho Barley Wine
English Bitter. ex:Young’s London Special Ale, Fuller’s London Pride
Pale Ale. ex:Anchor Brewing Co.’s Liberty Ale, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Samuel Smith’s Pale Ale
Scottish Ale. ex:Samuel Smith’s MacAndrew’s Stock Ale, Scottish Courage’s McEwans Export
Belgian Strong Dark Ale. ex:Bières de Chimay’s Chimay Grand Reserve, Brouwerij Westvleteren’s Westvleteren Abt 12 (Yellow Cap)
Porter. ex:Anchor Brewing Co.’s Anchor Porter, Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter, Fuller Smith and Turner’s Fuller’s London Porter
Imperial Stout. ex:Grant’s Imperial Stout, Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout

The lager yeast simply flocculates (not at the surface) and sinks to the bottom. Therefore it is known as bottom fermenting. Lager yeasts need cool temperatures during fermentation to perform their magic.

Lagers tend to be lighter in color and usually taste drier than ales. They are generally less alcoholic and complex. This is the most common beer type sold in the U.S.

Types of Lagers:
American Lager. ex:Anheuser Busch’s Budweiser, Coors Brewing Co’s Coors Light
Pilsner. ex:Plzensky Prazdroj’s Pilsner Urquell, Pivovar Velke Popovice’s Kozel Pilsner
Bock. ex:Pennsylvania Brewing Co.’s St. Nick Bock, Spaten-Franziskaner’s Optimator
Oktoberfest (Marzen). ex:Paulaner-Salvator’s Paulaner Oktoberfest-Bier, Great Lakes Brewing Co.’s Eliot Ness
Helles. ex:Brauerei Weihenstephaner’s Weihenstephaner Original, Hofbrauhaus’ Hofbrau Original
Dunkel. ex:Hacker-Pschorr Brau’s Munchner Dunkel, Pennsylvania Brewing Co.’s Penn Dark

Specialty Beers
Specialty beers are either ales, lagers, or a hybrid of the two that will contain other ingredients that cause it to not fit into a true ale or lager style.

Types of Specialty Beers:
Weizenbier (Weissbier). ex:Brauerei Weihenstephan’s Weihenstephaner Hefeweisbier, Hacker-Pschorr Brau’s Hacker-Pschorr Weisse
Smoked Beer. ex:Alaskan Brewing Co.’s Alaskan Smoked Porter, Stone Brewing Co.’s Stone Smoked Porter
Fruit/Vegetable Beer. ex:New Glarus Brewing Co.’s Wisconsin Belgian Red, Weyerbacher Brewing Co.’s Raspberry Imperial Stout
Herb/Spice Beer. ex:Highland Brewing’s Cold Mountain Winter Ale, Smuttynose Brewing Co.’s Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale

One Final Note: There are many other ingredients typically used in specialty beers ranging from coffee to nuts to chocolate and just about anything else you can think of. Sure it’s good to have true beer styles consisting of only malt, hops, yeast and water, but it’s OK to experiment and try something new from time to time.

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1 Comment

  1. Beer Entusiast

     /  December 22, 2012

    Believe it or not, there is an organization that can help you here. It’s call the “BJCP” – Beer Judge Certification Program. They have formalized all of the sytles in the world. So while technically, there are only Ales and Lagers, the BJCP has divided them into 23 different categories with 2-5 subcategories each.

    For instance, category 1 is “Light Lagers”. But underneath it are 1A. Lite American Lager, 1B. Standard American Lager, 1C. Premium American Lager, 1D. Munich Helles, and 1E. Dortmunder Export.

    Take a look at what the professional brewers have used to categorize their own beer for competitions – their are examples of the style in each category.

    Hope this helps!


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