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Different Styles of Beer

Beers styles are categories assigned to beers based on their flavor characteristics and location of origin.

Some styles are classics, typically those from Belgium, Germany or United Kingdom, while others tend to deviate away from the classic flavor profile and create their own experimentation.

Styles of beer
Styles of beer

Influence of Origin

The place where the beer style originated plays a large part in how that style was shaped. Beer styles arose largely out of the ingredients available to the people of that region and many other circumstances that affected their finished beer. The Belgium Saison for example arose from the need to quench the thirst of the farmers.

Wallonia Belgium
Wallonia Belgium
It began as a pale ale brewed in the cooler, less active months in farmhouses in Wallonia, the French-speaking region of Belgium, and stored for drinking in the summer months. As a result, the Saison is an incredibly crisp, cleansing, and refreshing beer. It is still known as the 'farmhouse ale'.

Result of Transformation

American IPA is a good example of Beer styles that has been created as a result of experimentation and transformation.

IPA started out as India Pale Ale in the 18th century, brewed in England and shipped to India. It was well-hoped, due to the long sea voyage, as hops have a natural preservative quality that extends the shelf life of beer. Two hundred years later, American craft brewers took the idea of a strong, hoppy beer and, by using American hops, transformed it into a beer exploding with citrus-like hop character. Now it is produced in many different ways and variations. The originals are gone and in their place are many new versions.

Beer Categorization

All beers are either ales or lagers, and that's determined by the type of yeast used during the fermentation process. Lagers are made with yeast that ferments at the bottom of the beer mixture, and ales are made with yeast that ferments at the top. There are also spontaneously fermenting yeasts, which make wild or sour ales.

Different types of beer
Different types of beer
Beyond lager or an ale, there is further differentiation determined by the flavor, appearance, body and aroma of the beer. These determine what style family a given beer falls into. Within that style family, there are varieties, which have even more distinct characteristics. For example, an American Lager and a German Helles are both lagers that belong to the 'pale lagers and pilsners' style family. They are two different varieties of beer, distinctly different though sharing the same categorization as a lager.

Top Fermenting Styles of Beer

  • Brown Ale
  • Pale Ale
  • India Pale Ale (IPA)
  • Porter
  • Stout
  • Belgian Style Beer
  • Wheat Beer

Ales tend to be complex, heavier and more intensely flavored.

Bottom Fermenting Styles of Beer

  • Pale Lagers and Pilsners
  • Dark Lagers
  • German-Style Bocks

Lagers and Pilsners tend to be clean and crisp.

Spontaneous Fermenting Styles of Beer

  • American Sour
  • Belgian Fruit Lambic
  • Flanders Red Ale
  • Belgian Gueuze

Spontaneous fermentation occurs when beer is exposed to wild bacteria and yeast. These beers originated in Belgium, but brewers all over the world have found ways to manipulate this process to create sour, funky-tasting beers of their own.

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