At Craft Beer Club, we always have a wide variety of beer styles to offer, from fan favorites, to lesser-known iterations. To give you a deeper understanding of what you can expect in your next shipment, here are a few of the classic beer styles in today's breweries.
Lager vs. Ale
The first thing to note is that there's essentially 2 different beer types through which all styles derive from: ales and lagers. Ales are made with top-fermenting yeasts with warmer temperatures ranging from 60°-70°F, and generally ferment pretty quickly (around 3-5 weeks). Conversely, lagers are made with bottom-fermenting yeasts at cooler temperatures that range from 35°-50°F. Given the cooler fermentation temperatures, lagers ferment much slower, anywhere from 6-8 weeks. There are certainly a few beer styles that exhibit traits from both beer types, but generally most styles fall in one of the two camps.
American Lager - Probably one of, if not America's most widely produced commercial beer. American lagers are yellow in color, and light in flavor and alcohol (usual ranges are 3.2-4%). Flavors consist of crisp, malt-forward flavors. This is where you'll find the All-American lineup of beers: Budweiser, Miller, and Coors all fall under this category.
Pilsner - Originating from the Czech Republic, this beer is pale straw to light amber in color and can reach an IBU (International Bitterness Unit) of up to 50! Despite the potentially high bitterness levels, Pilsners are still very crisp and refreshing, with minimal fruit flavors.
Though there are more examples of other lager styles, ales have been for centuries longer, and have a wider breadth of styles that are still popular today.
India Pale Ale - A very trendy beer in the craft world, the IPA has higher alcohol levels and higher amounts of bitterness (5.1-10.6% and 50-70 units, respectively). IPAs are also known for their fruit, piney, and floral flavors. A few sub-categories for IPAs include hazy (hazy appearance, smoother in texture), double (even higher levels of alcohol and bitterness), and New England (emphasizes hop aroma and flavor without high IBU levels).
Pale Ale - Just a step under IPAs, these beers are medium in body while still focusing on the hoppy character for flavor.
Sour - Technically, sours can be either lagers or ales. In fact, because of the wide possibilities that sour can take on, it's tough to specify its characteristics using the traits we've gone over thus far. You can expect a sour to be tart and acidic, but its alcohol level, IBU, and flavor profile can vary drastically.
Stout - Hands down, stouts are the darkest and fullest style of beer. Flavor-wise, this malty beer has flavors of chocolate, caramel, and even coffee. Alcohol and IBU can vary widely, from 3.2-12% and 15-80, respectively.
Two trendy buzzwords you might find alongside your beer are "imperial" and "nitro." Imperial in this case simply refers to a beer bigger in flavor and alcohol. (ex: Imperial IPA or Imperial Stout). A nitro beer contains more nitrogen gas, and less carbon dioxide. Foam from a nitro beer is thicker and lasts longer; the beer is much smoother as well, without so much carbonation.
We hope that these descriptions can help you appreciate your next pint a little more, and hopefully you've found a new favorite style to try soon. Cheers 🍻