Microbreweries – Beer Types

Types of Beer

Maine Microbreweries and Brewpubs

Beer has been present throughout history and is documented to be one of the oldest beverages produced, dating back to ancient Egypt. It is said the European monks were responsible for perfecting the art of the process, and the introduction of precise measuring equipment made it possible to control the flavor and outcome more consistently. Throughout the ages cultures from all over the globe have brewed their own version of beer. While no two are alike there are categories for the varying types. This ranges from pale to black and sweet to bitter. It is also defined in part by if the yeast is top or bottom fermenting and the types of hops, barley , and other seasonings that are put into it. Below is a comprehensive list of the range of beer types.

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Beer Types

Ale Ale is an ancient word for a fermented alcoholic beverage obtained mostly from malted barley. Prior to the Netherlands introducing hops to England in the 15th Century the term ale was used to refer to unhopped fermented drinks. The term beer was used to describe a brew that had used hops. Generally speaking this distinction is no longer used. Ale is different from other brews because it is a top fermenting ale so the yeast tends to ferment quicker, convert less sugar to alcohol, and produce more esters than the lager yeasts. This is what causes them to have their sweeter and fruitier taste. Their are several different kinds of ale such as Old Ale, India Pale Ale, Mild Ale, Bitter Ale, Pale Ale, Brown Ale, Scotch Ale and Belgian Ale, Porter and Stout.

German word for “old”. Altbier usually means a copper-colored, clean-tasting German Ale of the style especially associated with the German city of Dusseldorf. A smooth all malt beer with a well rounded hop character. For sociable drinking, or with appetizers of strong cheese of coarse sausage. The German glass used is similar to that used for a highball. Ideal serving temperature is just under 50F (10C).

Belgian Ale
Similar to an English pale ale, but with more malt and yeast character. This style includes Flemish brown ale, Belgian red, Saison, Belgian golden ale, Trappist.

Strong Lager served as a warming beer in late winter, early spring, or autumn, depending upon the part of the world. Color varies. Classically served at not less than 48F; 9C, from a stoneware mug. In Germany, sometimes served with the seasoned veal sausage Weisswurst.

Brown Ale
In Britain, there are styles of varying degrees of sweetness. Initially brewed to compete with the pale ales. These go well with desserts or nuts. Belgium has a sweet-sour type made around the town of Oudenaarde. This type is more often served as an aperitif. Both are served at 55F ;13C.

Cream Ale
A very mild, sweetish, pale-golden to golden beer with a hint of fruitiness, fermented at warm temperatures with either “true” ale yeast or hybrid/lager yeast. Made in the North America as a response to the public’s increasing desire for lager. A sociable brew. Serve at 45-50F; 7-10C.

India Pale Ale
Fruity, hoppy, super-premium Pale Ale. serve at 55F; 13C. Good with red meat, Cheddar cheese.

Lager originates from the German word lagern which means “to store” and refers to the method of storing it for several months in near-freezing temperatures. A lager is usually used to describe bottom-fermented brews of Dutch, German, and Czech styles. Lagers can range from sweet to bitter and pale to black. However, most are a pale to medium color, have high carbonation, and have a medium to high hop flavor. There are several strains of lager one of the more well-known is the pilsner or pilsener.

Light Ale
In England, an alternative term for a bottled Bitter. In Scotland, a dark Ale of low gravity. Not intended to imply a low-calorie brew. For sociable drinking.

Light Beer
American low calorie beer. A somewhat “lighter” version of the Pilsner style. Serve at 45F; 7C.

Oatmeal Stout
Once vanished now revived, this beer has a firm body that is smooth and silky. It has a chocolate-coffee flavor with a hint of nuttiness. Most are slightly sweeter than dry, but all fall in-between.

Pilsner or Pilsener
The pilsner style of beer was developed in Plzen (Pilsen in English), a city in what is now the Czech Republic. It is made with neutral and hard water and tend to golden in color and having a dry, crisp, and somewhat bitter flavor. Pilsner stands out from the other lagers due to its more distinctive hop taste.

Porter is a style of ale which has a malty aroma, hop bitterness, and a bittersweet chocolate flavor. It is generally strong and dark and brewed with soft rather than hard water.

Munich Dark/Pale
The Munich brewers traditionally produce dark Lagers, with a spicy malt-coffeeish palate. The term “Munchener” is generally taken to mean this type of beer, which can go well chicken or pasta dishes. Today, the city also extensively produces pale Lagers, but with a distinctively malty accent. Sociable beers. Serve at 48F; 9C.

Stout is a dark beer made using roasted malts or roast barley. It is generally darker, fuller bodied, maltier, and hoppier than other ales. Stout Ale originated in Ireland as a variant of porter beer.

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