A Beginners Guide to the different Types of Beer

Beer is actually a large family of drinks rather than a single drink and they are many different styles and varieties available. Finding your way through them is made even more challenging as the same drink may be called different things depending on where you live. Undoubtedly the most fun way to find out is to try as many beers as you can, and remember the ones you like. Many towns now have a beer festival once a year where you can try as many as you can manage. Remember all beer is essentially Barley, Yeast, Hops and water and it is the variations in these which make the difference. I have listed the most common types below but there are many more less common ones out there.

The first major difference in types of beers is down to the yeast used which affects the fermentation. Most traditional styles of beer use a top fermenting yeast whilst lagers use a bottom fermenting yeast. This makes probably the largest difference as lagers and ales are very different in taste. Lagers tend to be gassy and light and have a much weaker taste than Ales, although are often a higher alcohol content. Most American and European beers are in fact lagers.

Ales, depending on the water where they are brewed, and the colour of the malts used range in colour from amber to deep brown, they tend to have a smoother taste than lagers, and are more malty in taste. Honey is now being used again instead of sugar by a number of breweries which gives a nice taste to the beer.

Very dark coloured beers called porters or stouts are brewed using barley that has been roasted till it is almost burnt. Guinness is the most popular variety of this type of beer.

Barley wines are any beer with a strength of 8% abv or above. These are still a beer but have been brewed for much longer and have a very strong taste.