Did you know that 60% of Americans drink, and over 20% of them prefer beer in particular?
We get it — we love beer too.
Are you part of the craft beer drinking crowd or looking to join? Well, look no further friends — We’re going to take you on a journey through everything there is to know about beer and flavor, starting with Lager v. Ale and straight on through to some fantastic beer pairings.
What Are the Different Types of Beers?
If you’ve ever heard someone talk about beer, then you likely know that they throw around what feels like 50 different types of beer and use words and names that sound, quite honestly, almost made up (what’s a piña colada milkshake IPA, for cryin’ out loud?!).
First, though, let’s establish what we know. There are very few firm and fast rules in brewing, so don’t be alarmed by our generalizations in this post.
We’re here to simply make understanding the different styles of beers a whole lot easier. In fact, you’ll be pleased to know that there are actually only two primary families of beer: ales and lagers.
A lager is a beer family that is brewed using bottom-fermenting yeast. Lagers are typically light in color and have a clean, crisp flavor. They are the most popular type of beer in the world and are usually served cold.
When it comes to brewing, the longer fermentation process than ales helps to create the clean, crisp flavor that lagers are known for. Here are a few different types of lagers.
An American lager is a type of pale lager that is brewed using American hops and malt. These beers are typically light in color and have a crisp, clean flavor.
Many of the most popular brands of beer in the United States, such as Budweiser and Coors, are classified as American lagers.
Vienna-style lagers are a type of beer that originated in Austria. Unlike other lagers, which are typically light in color, Vienna-style lagers have a deep amber hue. They are also maltier and sweeter than other lagers, with slightly higher alcohol content.
Vienna-style lagers became popular in the United States in the 19th century, when Austrian immigrants began brewing them commercially.
A pilsner is a type of beer that originates from the Czech Republic. It is characterized by its light, crisp flavor and its straw-yellow color. Pilsners are typically brewed with noble hops, which give the beer its bitterness.
Today, pilsners are one of the most popular types of beer in the world, and they can be found in many different variations.
An Imperial Pilsner is a type of strong beer that also originated in the Czech Republic. It is similar to a traditional pilsner, but has a higher alcohol content and is fuller-bodied.
How do you identify an Imperial pilsner? They are typically golden in color and have a crisp, hoppy flavor. They are great with a meal or on the deck after a long day at work.
A Bock is a type of German beer that is typically characterized by its dark color and strong flavor. Bocks are also often associated with the springtime holiday of Easter, and many breweries release special Easter Bocks each year.
California Common is a type of beer that was historically brewed in, well, California. It is also known as Steam Beer due to the unique brewing method used.
The beer is made with lager yeast, but it is fermented at warmer temperatures. This results in a beer with some of the characteristics of both ales and lagers.
These beers are amber-colored and feature a moderate alcohol content. They also tend to have a malty taste with a subtle hoppy finish.
All right, now let’s dive into the other primary type of beer: ales!
Ale is a beer family that is brewed using a warm fermentation process, typically with top-fermenting yeast. Ales are usually darker, cloudier, and maltier than lagers, and they often have a fruitier flavor.
Today, ales are enjoyed all over the world, and they come in a wide variety of styles. Whether you’re looking for a refreshing Wheat Ale or a hearty Scottish Ale, there’s an ale out there for everyone to enjoy.
Brown ales are usually brewed with lower alcohol content than other types of ale, making them ideal for easy drinking. They’re also brewed with darker malts which, well, makes them darker.
These beers typically have a smooth, nutty, or toffee-like flavor, and may also feature notes of chocolate or coffee.
Pale ales are a type of beer that get their name from the light color of the malt that is used to brew them. They are one of the most popular styles of beer in the world and are brewed in a wide variety of countries.
Pale ales are typically light-bodied and have moderate alcohol content. They are often described as being crisp and refreshing, with a balanced flavor profile that is slightly bitter. Many pale ales also feature fruity or floral aromas and flavors, thanks to the use of hops.
India Pale Ale
India pale ales (yep, those famous IPAs) are a type of beer that is brewed with extra hops. The hops give the beer a bitter taste, and the extra hops also help to preserve the beer for longer periods of time.
IPAs were first brewed in England in the late 1700s, and they were originally intended for export to the British colonies in India. The extra hops helped to keep the beer from going bad during the long voyage.
The beer quickly became popular in India, and it eventually made its way back to England, where it gained a following among beer drinkers who appreciated the bitter taste. Now, they’re popular among pretty much any modern beer lover.
A hazy IPA is a type of IPA that is known for its unfiltered, hazy appearance. Hazy IPAs rely on very heavy late-addition hopping after the boil, as well as post-fermentation, to provide huge tropical aromas.
In addition, hazy IPAs often contain large amounts of yeast, which can contribute to the beer’s haze. While some brewers believe that the haze gives the beer a more complex flavor, others believe that it simply makes the beer look unappealing.
In addition, they often include wheat to add the hazy effect and add the thicker body associated with the Hazy IPA style.
A milkshake IPA is a beer that is brewed with milk sugar (lactose), giving it a creamy texture and sweetness.
However, in a milkshake IPA, the lactose helps to create a thick, creamy head on the beer. The hops in a milkshake IPA are also usually fruitier and juicier than those in a traditional IPA, giving the beer a more intense tropical flavor.
American-Style IPAs are characterized by their hop-forward flavor profile. This is because American hops are known for their citrusy, piney, and resinous aromas, which impart a distinct bitterness to the beer.
American-Style IPAs are typically deep golden in color and range from 6% to 7% ABV. Due to their high hop content, American-Style IPAs can be difficult to balance.
Did you know that a hazy IPA is the same as a New England IPA?
According to some accounts, hazy IPAs first emerged in the early 2000s in New England, when brewers began experimenting with unfiltered, hazy beers. Others say that hazy IPAs have their roots in Belgium, where breweries have been making hazy wheat beers for centuries.
Whatever the true origin story may be, we all agree on one thing: this type of IPA is characterized by its hazy, opaque appearance and juicy, fruit-forward flavor profile.
While traditional IPAs are often quite bitter, hazy IPAs tend to be much more balanced, making them incredibly easy to drink.
East Coast IPA vs. West Coast IPA
East Coast IPAs are somewhat distantly related to the early British IPAs of 300 years ago. This is evident as they are balanced between pulpy orange, lemon, or lime notes, and their sweet maltiness.
When it comes down to it, the East Coast IPA of the 80s and 90s paved the way for the New England or Hazy IPA. West Coast IPAs, on the other hand, are known for their clear, crisp appearance and bitter, hops-dominant flavor.
Sour ales are a type of beer that has a tart, acidic flavor. What gives them that sour taste? They’re made with wild bacteria and yeast.
Some popular sour ales you might have heard of include a German Gose, Berliner Weisse, and Belgian lambic.
While they may not be everyone’s cup of tea, sour ales are perfect for those who enjoy exploring new and unusual flavor profiles.
Stout beers are a stronger version of mild ale and are well-known for their dark color and coffee-like flavors. This flavor comes from the fact that they’re made primarily from unmalted roasted barley.
Common styles of stout include Irish stout, dry stout, and milk stout. Often stouts are sweeter without roasted notes of the closely related porter-style ale.
Stout traditionally referred to any dark beers. Porters have become known today as slightly less intense versions of stouts, with less body and sweetness yet with a more pronounced roasted malt character.
Lager v. Ale
So, now that you know a bit about each type of beer…which is best? Lager v. ale is quite the debate in the world of beer.
As you know, a lager is brewed at lower temperatures and for a longer period of time than ale, often resulting in a lighter-bodied, crisper beverage.
Ale, on the other hand, is brewed at warmer temperatures and features a fuller body and higher alcohol content.
Due to these brewing methods, a lager is typically served cold, while ales are more traditionally served at slightly warmer temperatures to allow the vast flavors to express themselves.
When it comes to flavor, lager tends to be clean and malty, while ale can be fruity or even spicy. So, which is best? It comes down to preference, honestly! The biggest thing is just that you’re able to tell the difference between the two so you know what to order.
Beer Pairing: Food and Drink Combos
Okay, we’ve made it to the part of this guide where we told you there’d be a saucy surprise! And we’re not here to disappoint.
Now that you know what kinds of beers exist out there, it’s time to think about pairing them with food. Yep, beer pairing exists and it’s oh-so-delicious.
Here are a few food pairing suggestions to get you started.
What to Pair With Lagers
Lagers pair really well with cheesy and hearty dishes. For a hearty, full-flavored meal, try pairing a lager with a dish featuring grilled chicken or fish.
BeerSauce Tipsy Chili Margarita Rub and Super Stacked Salt-Free Seasonings pair nicely with lagers , chicken or fish.
The umami flavors of the meat will be accentuated by the maltiness of the beer, creating a delicious and balanced meal. Let’s get a little more specific, though, and help guide you through food pairings for specific types of lagers.
What foods to Pair With an American Lager
Again, lagers go great with cheesy dishes, and that’s especially true for American Lagers. The subdued sharpness and twinge of tang from a strong Gouda are perfect for pairing with an American Lager, for example.
Craft a charcuterie board featuring Gouda cheese, mozzarella, and salty cured meats. Pair it all with your favorite American Lager and delight in the flavors that come from the pairing.
What to Pair With a Pilsner
Pilsners go great with cheeses such as Havarti and Muenster. They also pair well with lighter meals like salmon salads.
What to Pair With a Bock
There’s a reason Texans love drinking Shiner Bock with BBQ. Smoked meats taste so delicious when paired with the hearty malt flavors of a bock. Smoke sausage and beef and paint on a light BBQ sauce and see how it all tastes paired with a bock.
What to Pair With Ales
When pairing food with ales, it is important to take into account the beer’s sweetness, bitterness, and notes of fruit or spice. For example, a fruity ale would pair well with grilled chicken or fish, while a sweeter ale would be a good match for pork or lamb.
Here is a quick guide on what to pair with various different types of ales.
What to Pair With a Hazy IPA
Because hazy IPAs can tend to have tropical, fruity flavors, they pair well with spicy, exotic dishes. For example, have you ever paired a hazy IPA with Thai food?
Another alternative pairing could be pairing a hazy IPA (or any type of IPA, really) with spicy wings. Or, try a super citrusy hazy IPA with some well-made ceviche.
What to Pair With a Sour Ale
The acidity of a sour ale makes it ideal for pairing with other intense flavors. Think strong, stinky cheeses and salty meats. Additionally, you can try pairing a nice sour ale with mussels.
Any type of seafood with a squirt of lemon and butter tastes oh-so-delicious when washed down with a sour ale.
What to Pair With a Stout
Get ready for dessert! Any type of chocolate cake or dessert usually pairs well with a stout.
However, if you’re not ready for dessert or don’t have a super sweet tooth, you can try pairing a stout with anything roasted or salty. This includes roasted meats, oysters, and rich stews.
Spice Up Beer Tastings
Whether you’re comparing a lager v. ale or are trying different beer styles to see how you can mix, match, and mingle new flavors in every corner of your mouth, we’re here for you.
BeerSauce is the ultimate flavor room, featuring hundreds of artisan-crafted BBQ sauces, hot sauces, rubs, seasonings, and condiments as well as 500+ craft beers of all styles!
Stop by one of our store locations and let our “flavor experts” guide you on a path of enlightening flavors and pairings.