Craft Beer Styles and How to Choose
If you are a true-blue beer lover, you would totally agree that beer is a personal and pleasant experience that is very close to your heart. Craft beer is one of the most genuine types of beer that gives paramount importance to the flavor, quality, scent, and the brewing method. Brewing experts, aka brewmasters, across the world, choose the finest ingredients to create the best craft beer for you to have a memorable affair with beer. In the United States, craft beer is becoming highly popular. There are so many reputed craft breweries to choose from, which is great news for all the beer buffs!
Why don’t you discover the fascinating world of beer to get a better understanding of the multiple craft beer styles, their brewing methods, yeast content, fragrances, and colors? Let’s navigate right away!
Unique Ingredients in Craft Beer
You may have sipped on lovely craft beers at different breweries several times. But have you wondered how the beer was made and how it is so yummy? The four chief ingredients of beer are malted barley, water, yeast, and hops. Sometimes, brewers may use fruit, rye, or wheat, depending on what beer they want to make. Now, let us try to understand the importance of using the right kind and amount of these ingredients:
Have you observed the different hues and shades of your beer? The color of your beer is determined by the malt chosen by the brewer. At craft breweries, brewmasters love experimenting to give the most delicious flavor. They also make sure that they add only 100 percent malt to bring out the true color, flavor, and the alcohol level! While drinking beer, you would most certainly want the right alcohol level. If it is made with corn or rice instead of malt, it can get quite dilute. With craft beer, you can be assured that it is authentic.
You must have heard of hoppy beer quite often. What does hoppy beer actually mean? There are these flowers known as hops that are used in beer for adding the right aroma and flavor. They also help in increasing the life of beers by serving as a good preservative. While making craft beer, brewers take the hops quite seriously. The bitterness in a beer needs to be alluring and accurate. If the bitterness is too high or unenjoyable, then the beer can taste quite bad. By using hops in the right quantities, the bitterness scale can be accurate. Craft brewers are passionate about making beer in a special way so they never forget to add the hops while brewing the delicious potion!
In case you thought that water does not play a significant role in your beer, you are quite wrong. Water is extremely important while preparing beer. It is an age-old brewing tradition to have a pure water system to make quality beer. Today, almost every brewery in the United States has water systems with reverse osmosis processes for getting rid of impurities and ions that are present in the water. Some breweries generally add a small amount of tap water to the pure water to create the right flavor.
Yeast is a vital component of beer that is added for the purpose of fermentation. It determines the flavor and nature of your beer. You can tell if your beer is a lager or an ale by analyzing the type of yeast. The yeast needs a cool temperature for preparing a lager. The yeast usually ferments at the bottom part of the wort. On the other hand, if you need to brew an ale, you need a higher temperature for the yeast to ferment. For making an ale, the yeast is spread across the top of the wort. When yeast is fermented for making a lager at the bottom, it takes a very long time. This leads to the crispy flavor that you enjoy in your lager.
Types and Descriptions of Craft Beer Styles
Craft brewing is an art, and over the years, many norms have been broken to make numerous craft beer styles that are much-loved across the globe. The United States has many talented small and independent craft brewers that are committed to designing excellent craft beer styles. Let us take a look at some of the most adored craft beer styles that have transformed this art in America:
The American brown ale has a hop flavor that ranges from low to medium and a hop bitterness that ranges from medium to high. It comes with a medium level of caramel, roasted malt, and chocolate. This beer type was inspired by the British brown ale. You can pair the American brown ale with some grilled meat and vegetables or some finely aged gouda! The ideal glassware for this tasty drink is a nonic pint. So next time you visit a brewery, why don’t you ask for your brown ale in a nonic pint with some fritters or grilled meat?
American Pale Ale
The American pale ale looks classy and reminds you of the pine trees in a dense forest. It has a tempting floral and fruity feel with piney hops from America. With the delicious pale malt in this beer, you will absolutely relish the blend of medium caramel and strong citrus. You can combine your pale ale with some hot seafood, chili, salad, or just some cheese! The American pale ale is a great drink to have some good food with, as it’s brewed with clean ale yeast. Of late, American breweries have started to use homegrown and local materials to experiment with the beer making process and are making wonderful progress! This drink tastes the best in a tulip beer glass, as it helps to observe the aroma and flavor of your American pale ale. If you love a medium and dry bitterness, this is your go-to drink.
Red Ale or Amber
The amber or red ale is a very beautiful drink with hues such as amber, light brown, copper, red, or even dark amber. A red ale is a balanced beer, as it has the right balance of malt and hop. If you are very new to the big world of beer, a red ale is a great choice! When you sip on this beer, you will enjoy a sweet sensation in the beginning. You can choose the level of your malt and hop. This beer is served with crystal malts that range from medium to dark. Go for a dessert or a medium cheddar with your amber ale to taste its delicious caramel flavor. You could drink it in a tulip beer glass to admire its clear to slight haziness and bubbles. The finish length of the red ale ranges from short to medium.
Stouts and Porters
Stouts and porters are made with dark malts, which is why they come in jet-black color. Both stouts and porters are strong in nature. Stouts are usually stored in wooden barrels for long periods in order to get the true essence of the beer. Stouts and porters are two drinks that have a lot in common. Sometimes, even real beer enthusiasts find it hard to distinguish between the two. Porters are typically beers that can be consumed on a regular basis without any unwanted lavishness. When compared to a porter, a stout is always the stronger beer type. Beer experts say that stouts are made with unmalted roasted barley, as opposed to porters that are made with malted barley. Stouts have a strong coffee flavor. These velvety dark beers are characterized with a rich history. Due to the rising popularity of craft breweries, stouts and porters are back with a bang. Breweries usually use simple drum roasters to add the pure flavors of chocolate and coffee. There are different types of stouts and they include milk stout, dry stout, oatmeal stout, chocolate stout, imperial stout, oyster stout, porter, and so on.
American Wheat Hefeweizen
The American wheat hefeweizen is a craft beer style that is created with a mix of five American grains, citrus, Altbier yeast, and Tettnager hops. It has a light shade of golden yellow and is a great hit among beer beginners. It is the best choice for bright summers. A very crucial ingredient of this beer type is the Bavarian weizen yeast. The American wheat hefeweizen is a very tantalizing drink that is sometimes spruced up with extra ingredients such as watermelon, raspberries, and chilis too! If you want to munch on something with this beer, you could go for something light like shellfish, cheese, or some good old fresh salads. The perfect glassware for the grand American wheat beer would be a classy flute beer glass. You can use this glass to simply check out the straw to light amber color of the beer. The grainy wheat and the low to medium hop aroma in the beer can help you unwind after a long day at work.
Saison Ale and Farmhouse Ale
Do you like your beer to be spicy yet fruity? Why don’t you check out the saison ale? It has a rustic flavor with an alcohol level ranging from medium to high. It is a highly carbonated pale ale and is one of the classiest craft beer styles. With a dry finish and quite light body, it has an elegant golden-orange shade and is spicy because of the presence of Opal hops. If you are a funky beer type, this beer is the best choice! The most notable characteristic of the saison ale is that it is a bottle-conditioned drink. Saisons also inspired the invention of another drink known as the farmhouse ale. It has an earthy flavor that could remind you of wet hay or raw strawberries. Craft breweries are exploring new ways to make farmhouse ales, especially for people living in cities. In the early days, farmers used to brew beer with grains from their own fields. Some brewmasters try to implement farmhouse brewing techniques to get the authentic flavor.
American India Pale Ale (IPA)
When you drink an American IPA, you can sense the rich aromas and flavors of hop. Among craft beer lovers, this beer is one of the biggest hits. It is an ideal choice for watching a game at home with friends or for catching up with your college friends. The finish of this beer type has a strong presence of the yeast used in it. If you do not enjoy intense beers, you can go for this fruity IPA. In the United States, you can come across various types of IPAs. The IPA is one of the oldest craft beer styles in America. It comes with a malty touch so that the beer is not too sweet or floral. Also, it has a nice medium-bodied mouthfeel. You can simply pair it up with some simple fried foods or gooey desserts.
If you are looking for a quick or an easy-to-have beer, grab a blonde ale right away! It is undoubtedly one of the most welcoming craft beer styles. Simple and tasty, it is also known as the golden ale. For fermentation purposes, breweries use ale yeast or lager yeast depending on the requirement. The alcohol level of this drink is mild and nice. The hop aroma is not dominant in this beer and is just right. You can feel a slight malt sweetness in this style. You can enjoy a couple of blonde ales in a tulip beer glass. The carbonation in this beer type is visually appealing as you can see the bubbles that rise at a medium to fast pace. The main hops in this drink are called Willamette hops. When you catch up with your friends next weekend, why don’t you order a few blonde ales with some hot spaghetti and meatballs?
These are a few of the numerous craft beer styles. Hope our craft beer style guide helps you select the right beer type depending on your mood and preference!