Cheers! It’s International Beer Day, so let’s get your beer facts straight for this glorious day. After all, it is the third most popular drink in the world.
WHAT IS BEER?
Beer is more than just an alcoholic beverage, it’s a masterpiece, created from water, malt, hops, and yeast. Wonder where the flavors in beer come from? Blame it on the hops. Hops are the flowers of the Humulus Lupulus plant, cousin of the cannabis plant. Hops also preserve the beer, keeping it fresh for your enjoyment. As with any alcoholic beverage, the fermentation process is crucial in giving the drink its “fun” effects. In simple terms, fermentation is the process in which sugars are converted to alcohol. Alcohol levels in beer can range from 2% to 15%.
BEER TYPES AND STYLES
Just like clothing and cars, we all have different tastes. Beer is no exception to this! Most beers fall into 2 categories, then into multiple other styles on top of that. The 2 types of beer are Ales and Lagers. To the naked eye, they can usually be identified by color. Ales typically being darker and cloudier and Lagers lighter and more clear. Ales have a more robust flavor and stronger hints of hops causing them to usually be more bitter. Lagers, on the other hand, are typically going to be sweeter and crisper. Diving into the science behind how they are both made: Lagers are fermented at a slower pace and at colder temperatures, whereas Ales are the opposite. Budweiser would be an example of a Lager and Guinness would fall into the Ale category. Now that you are familiar with the two main types, we can dive a little deeper into 5 common styles of beer to add even more to your beer-cabulary.
Known as the leader in the launch of the American craft brew scene, Pale Ales are usually quite hoppy, including citrus or fruity aromas. Expect their color to be amber-gold.
Example of a Pale Ale: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
INDIA PALE ALE (IPA)
Similar in color to pale ales, IPAs turn it up in terms of hops, flavor and alcohol content. They usually taste bitter and are very aromatic.
Example of an IPA: Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
In the family of lagers, pilsner beers stand out against the rest, due to their heavier hops flavor. They are usually bold in flavor, light in color.
Example of a Pilsner: Lagunitas Brewing Company Pils
If you are looking for a creamy, almost silky beer with hints of chocolate or coffee flavoring, stout beer is the way to go. Stout beers are usually created from roasted barley, which is to blame for their distinct smooth flavoring. Part of the ale family of beers, stouts are usually very dark brown in color.
Example of a Stout: Guiness
Like its name, sour beers taste (you guessed it) sour. The same bacteria that gives yogurt its slightly sour taste is also commonly present in this style of beer. Unlike most other beers, this style, in particular, is made by allowing bacteria and wild yeast strains to be present in the brew.
Example of a Sour: Gose
KEY BEER TERMS
To really sound like a beer connoisseur, there are a few key terms you should keep in your back pocket at all times. These will help you make decisions on beers to drink, be able to offer advice, and feel confident in your conversations about beer.
ABV (ALCOHOL BY VOLUME)
ABV is the measurement of alcohol in the beer. This percent typically ranges from 2% to 15%.
A microbrewery is a brewery that creates small amounts of beer and is usually independently owned. Usually, you will find specialty beers at these locations.
IBUS (INTERNATIONAL BITTERNESS UNITS)
IBUs let you know how bitter a beer will be in flavor. The scale ranges from 1 to 100 (1 being less bitter, 100 being more bitter).
This term is commonly used to describe how thick the beer feels in your mouth. Full-bodied would be used to describe a thicker beer and light-bodied the opposite.
When ordering a beer you will typically see bottled or draught. Draught is a beer that is served in a glass from a keg or cask.
Now that you are equipped with the basics, we hope you have a deeper appreciation for beer and are excited to share your knowledge and good times over a cold one!
P.s. Nobody likes a beer snob or a sloppy drunk.