Some say the world is getting smaller, but when it comes to beer, nothing could be further from the truth. Thanks in large part to the craft beer movement and increased awareness of (and appreciation for) beers from other countries, you now have more choice than ever before. What a time to be alive.
Looking for a new fave or just looking to play the field? Here’s a primer on what’s on tap.
People have been brewing and imbibing ale for centuries. (You might even say it’s the OG of beers.) Ales are made with top-fermenting yeasts, which do best in warmer temperatures and tend to have complex aromas and flavors that can be described as fruity, flowery, earthy or even buttery. Ales are meant to be served cool, but not ice-cold.
Some of the most popular types of ale include:
Pale ale. Though some offer a good balance between malt and hop, fans of this family usually like their India pale ales, English pale ales and regular ol’ pale ales to lean more toward the latter. Samuel Adams’ Rebel IPA is a prime pale ale example.
Porter and stout. Welcome to the dark side. These beers tend to taste rich and roasty and feature a dark — sometimes almost black — color. Want to give it a try? Look no further than Ireland’s best-known import, Guinness.
Belgian ale. These are known for being spicy and deliciously complex. Try Belgium’s Duvel and you’ll see what we mean. Some of the most well-known Belgian ale subcategories include goldens, dubbels and saisons.
Wheat beer. If you drink wheat beers regularly, you’re familiar with the interesting juxtaposition of light body and spicy aroma. The two most common wheat beers are Belgian wits and hefeweizens. We’re especially fond of Hoegaarden.
The other major beer type is lager, which has only been around since the early 19th century. Lagers are brewed with bottom-fermenting yeasts, which prefer the colder temps that give the beer a clean, crisp flavor. Lagers are at their best when served as cold as possible.
Pale lagers. Clean and crisp are the key words for this beer family, which includes Czech pilsners, German pilsners and American lagers. American-made favorites like Budweiser, Miller and Pabst Blue Ribbon are well-known examples, but for something different, try Peroni from Rome. (You can thank us later.)
Amber lager. These malty, copper-hued brews include Oktoberfests and Vienna styles. Sam Adams is a great intro to this beer type.
Bock. These bad boys boast a higher alcohol content and a bit of sweetness thanks to a low hop content. Subcategories include pale bocks and doppelbocks.
As the name implies, hybrids combine elements of both ales and lagers. They might brew top-fermenting yeasts at cooler temps or bottom-fermenting yeasts at warmer temps. Hybrids tend to be light and refreshing.
Kolsch. This bright yellow German beer gets a bitter, slightly fruity flavor from a special ale yeast. Serve extra-cold.
Head online and find out what your local Brick House has on tap. Which kind of beer will you be ordering up tonight?