If you are new to craft beer then some of the terminology can be confusing, especially if you’re used to everything being just “beer”. Craft beer isn’t just for hipsters, there are tons of varieties and craft brewing is a skill. So let’s clear up the confusion between ale, beer, lager and whatnot. Let’s go over the different types of craft beer.
What is Beer?
Beer is a generic term used to describe an alcoholic beverage made with a starchy grain and water. Granted there are a ton of variations on the basic recipe but if it is made with barley, we call it beer. Beer, in one form or another has been around for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians brewed beer and it has been part of our culture since then. Beer is typically broken down into two different types, ales and lagers. Here is a look at how craft beers are made.
Ale is just beer that is brewed with hops and it is fairly common. Hops makes the beer bitter so malt is added to but the bitterness and add some sweetness. The key to brewing a good ale is to find a balance between the bitterness and the sweet. Ales also include stout, which is a thick dark beer. Guinness is probably the most famous stout that you have tasted, they are available pretty much everywhere. Pale ales or IPAs are also common among craft brewers and they are a golden color and a lot milder than a stout.
Lager is the most common type of beer in the world and if you have ever had a Budweiser then you have tried lager. Originally, lager was brewed by Germans in the late fall so they could have a drink in the hot summer months. Lager was originally fermented slowly in cold winter caves where the temperatures would help the fermenting process. Today lager is still brewed through cold fermentation and storage to give it that flavor that makes it so popular.
Granted there are dozens of different types of lagers and ales in the marketplace and plenty of subcategories within lagers and ales that you can try. Don’t be intimidated by terminology that describes how beer is made, try new things and discover what you like. You may even become interested in brewing your own craft beer. Craft beer is there for everyone to try and there are many different flavors you’re bound to love.