With the popularity of Craft beers and microbreweries sky rocketing across our nation the beer industry is rapidly growing and changing. Someone new to the beer culture may be asking themselves, what makes a beer a craft beer? As defined by the Brewer's Association a craft brewer must be small, independent, and traditional. The most important aspect of a craft brewer is the flavors of their particular beer brand must be original by nature and distinctly unique to their brand. The production of their beers must be less than 6 millions barrels per year.
In this blog, I will outline the different types of beer you can typically find at a craft brewery. We will explore the details of the traditional flavors and notable characteristics of the beer style. I encourage you to get out into your neighborhood and explore your local craft beer scene. There has been an explosion of unique and robust flavors from craft brewers.
The Breakdown of the Beers:
Craft beers are broken down into two categories. Ales and Lagers. Beneath these two categories are a multitude of different beer styles.
The difference between these two beer types are the temperatures in they are fermented. An Ale is fermented at a warmer temperature around 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit and a Lager is fermented at a cooler temperature of 46 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Another differentiator between an Ale and Lager is the type of yeast used during the fermentation process. Each particular yeast has characteristics which are unique to the particular type of beer.
The third and less popular type of beer is called a Lambic. This particular type of beer is only brewed in Belgium and is fairly obscure. They use a wild yeast during the fermentation process.
Ale Style Beers
The most popular styles of Ale’s brews are:
Pale Ale - a light colored ale
Amber Ale - named after their amber color
Brown Ale - named after the darker brown color
Stout - made from roasted barley with minimal hops and Malt free
India Pale Ale (IPA) - is a pale ale with added hops
Porter - falls between a dark ale and a stout
Wheat - made from wheat and barley - Hefeweizen is a wheat beer
Lager Style Beers
The most popular styles of Lager brews are:
Pilsner - known as a pale lager with crips flavors and low in alcohol
Light Lager - light in flavor and in color; american light lagers are low-calorie beers
Dark Lager - full bodied, flavorful beers made with roasted hops and barley
Bock - a sweet malt brew with high levels of alcohol; often infused with chocolate flavors
Octoberfest - full bodied dark beer with roots from Munich, Germany
There are many, many different styles of beers. This blog only reaches the surface of craft beers. Crafter brewers are experimenting with many different flavors and spices to find their unique spin to their brand. Seasonal drafts are always changing and using the elements of the season to hone in on the earth’s flavors. Beer drinking has never been more exciting!
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