We’ve all heard someone in a movie simply order a beer at a bar. So you might be under the impression that all beer tastes the same. I don’t know what kind of beer they are getting, but there are over 100 different styles of beer.
Depending on the type of beer, it can taste sour, bitter, sweet, fruity, floral, or a host of other flavors. In addition to the wide variety of tastes, there are also different consistencies and textures for different types of beer. The taste, texture, and smell of beer, all depend on which type you drink.
Like wine, we tend to talk about the texture of beer as light, medium, or full bodied. The lighter the body the less heavy it is in the mouth. Full bodied beers sit thick and heavy on your tongue.
Let’s go through the most common types of beer and talk about what they taste like and how they are different.
Types of Beer
While there are multiple types of beer, we’re going to stick to some of the common types. We’ll be looking at stouts, porters, lagers, a variety of ales, wheats, and pilsners.
Stouts are dark, roasted beers. They are fairly heavy, with a full-body, meaning they are somewhat thick in the mouth. Often they are creamy in texture and smoother when swallowing.
Generally, stouts are a little sweeter than other types of beer. They often have notes of coffee or chocolate as well.
Stouts tend to look intimidating due to how dark they appear, but they are surprisingly pleasant. The sweetness of the beer tends to balance out the bitterness of some of the other types of beer.
Like stouts, porters are also dark. They also have a fairly strong chocolate taste but do not carry the same coffee flavor. It is common, however, for porters to have a fruity flavor and taste a little bitter on the finish.
Porters are not as heavy or creamy as stouts. They feel a little thinner in the mouth as well.
They are generally not as dark as stouts but tend to be darker than the ales.
Lagers tend to be fairly neutral in flavor, not overly bitter, or sweet. They generally have a malty taste. Although they can sometimes carry a floral flavor depending on which type of hops were used.
Unlike either stouts or porters, lagers are pale in color, light in the mouth, and crisp. They are often thought of as refreshing.
Typically, pale ale is broken down into American Pale Ale, English Pale Ale, and India Pale Ale.
American Pale Ale
American pale ale is generally fruity, floral, and citrusy. It’s not overly bitter and carries mild notes of malt.
This beer is fairly medium-bodied, but still has a crispness to it.
English Pale Ale
English pale ale has an earthy, floral taste to it. It is more bitter than its American counterpart but still has fruit and malt flavors.
Like American pale ale, it’s medium-bodied.
India Pale Ale
India pale ale has become increasingly popular in the last few years. It’s made with extra hops, making it more bitter than either of the other two pale ales. It’s somewhat malty in flavor and carries notes of caramel.
Unlike some of the other beer, India pale ale has a very pungent aroma. It smells floral, citrusy, piney, and somewhat sulfur-like.
Blonde ale tends to have a malty sweetness to it. It’s common for it to carry bread-like flavors as well. They are sometimes brewed with honey or fruit which can make them even sweeter.
It has a light body and goes down smoothly.
Brown ale is a beautiful dark copper color. It tastes like chocolate, caramel and nuts. Sometimes there are fruity flavors as well.
While brown ales tend to vary widely in terms of body, perhaps they are most often a medium-bodied beer.
These beers tend to smell less hoppy than they taste.
Generally, a sour ale is tarty and tangy. It’s often brewed with fruit, so it commonly has a sweet and sour flavor.
Sour ale tends to have a light body and very little hops, meaning it’s more tart, than bitter.
Wheat beers also have a somewhat tangy flavor. It’s common for them to also be a little spicy and carry citrus flavors as well.
Generally, they are a light bodied beer and have a smooth, refreshing finish.
Pilsners are generally dry, bitter and have a bit of a bread-like flavor.
It tends to be light bodied, and have a crisp, refreshing nature.
In addition to the common types of beer, there are also seasonal beers. These beers are only available for short periods of time each year. Some of the most popular are summer, fall, and holiday.
Seasonal Summer Beer
During the summer, it’s common for seasonal beer to be light bodied, crisp and refreshing. Oftentimes they try to infuse tropical fruit or other light flavors.
A common summer beer is a shandy which is made to be refreshing by mixing it with lemonade.
Seasonal Fall Beer
Fall is the season of pumpkin everything. So, it might not be a surprise to learn that many of the popular seasonal beers for fall include pumpkin.
In addition to pumpkin, fall beers are often made with nuts, maple syrup, and coffee.
Seasonal Winter Beer
Often winter beers tend to be heavier. They are full bodied and full of warm spices.
Typically winter beers are flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, cranberry, ginger and honey.
So, basically, there is a type of beer for everyone. If you want a refreshing, crisp beverage, try a lager or a seasonal summer beer. When you want something sweeter, try a stout or a seasonal fall beer.
And, these are only the most common types of beer. There are still dozens more for you to try if you haven’t found your perfect drink yet.