The What Beer Am I Drinking Blog Post

Ask amateur beer drinkers who have yet to drink “Real Beer” about different beer styles and what will they answer? Umm, Bud light, corona, pacifico and heineken…

Who knows, some think that beer from a keg is a different style, but that’s not you… at least not after you read this simple guide to knowing what the heck is making you feel so tipsy.

Start with Wheat Beers, since these are believed to be the original or amongst the first brewed beers. They used a combination of barley and wheat grains. They have very little or almost no hops. You know you are drinking a wheat beer if the name of the beer is a Hefeweizen, Wheat Beer, Wit beer Or Weissbier (White Beer).

From there there are two other main types of beers, Ales and Lagers.

Starting with Lagers, the yeast used to brew and the beer fermentation process sets apart this style from Ales. It may come to shock your common sense that Lager beers use Lager Yeast. This yeast ferments better under colder temperatures.

But before you think “… and that’s all she wrote”

Know that what makes Lager beers so clear and smooth is the conditioning phase of the fermentation process. In layman’s terms, after the main fermentation is done, the beer sits in a secondary fermenting container to condition and clear up. Lagers are conditioned longer and at lower temperatures than ales. And not to beat your common sense today, but this conditioning process is called lagering.

This is probably the most common beer along with Pilsner which is a subcategory of lagers. Yep, bud light would be a lager… light lager that is…

Next come the Ales. These have more varieties than you could shake a stick at, but it’s not hard to distinguish. Heck, just knowing the names will impress just about any college kid. But start with a Pale Ale. Not to insult your smarts, but suffice to say pale malt is used for these beers. These are your basic ales and are commonly known as light ales.

Scottish Ales differ since they have low hop levels which gives them a malty sweetness taste. These beers came about because hops didn’t grow easily in Scotland and were expensive to get… thus making brewers opt for low levels of hops.

On the other hand, India Pale Ales (IPAs) are distinguished because of their high levels of hops. I know of no other beer that has turned many beer drinkers, including myself,  into home brewers after tasting an IPA and wanting to clone it. These beers were being exported and brewers used hops as a preservative for the beer to survive long voyages. Since they were heavily hopped, we can conclude these beers are hoppy at time of ingestion…

The next two are Amber Or Red Ales and Brown Ales. What makes them different?

Ah, you guessed it… one uses caramel malt, and the other uses brown malt… Caramel malt gives red ales a copper slash reddish color and the brown malt… Do I really need to say it?

Last, we come to the dark beers, Porters and Stouts. Porters gained popularity in the London streets and river porters and were distinguished by the use of chocolate malt. These were usually low in alcohol volume, unless you asked for an extra porter or double extra porter, which later took the name of Stout Porter, and ultimately Stout. Stouts needed higher alcohol volume to prevent freezing during exports to the cold parts of Russia.

These aren’t exactly strong beers… at least not compared to Belgian Ales. These are strong beers and there’s two common types, Trappist and Abbey Ales. Trappist are only brewed by monks and Abbey Ales are the commercially available ones. They are dark and not to be taken lightly…

Now these are not the strongest beers either. There is yet another little known style of beer known as Doppelbocks or Double Bocks. These are known to knock down the weak beer drinkers and leave the Gunter Schlierkamps beer competition champs standing up.

You definitely know when you are drinking one of these or the two subcategories known as Hellesbock, and Maibock.

There are other specialty and season beers, but these are harder to distinguish. Winter ales for example are just known to be dark and well, brewed during winter time. Then there is Marzen beer, which is again brewed in winter time, but saved for spring and summer… starting in March, hence Marzen beer.

Well, that should be enough to drop the jaws of your buddies during beer talk and impress the ladies. If nothing else, it will serve as an excuse to having a beer belly… hey, you just had to try them all!

What’s Your Favorite Beer? Please answer by leaving a comment, and don’t forget to share with your twitter, facebook and bookmarking friends…

7 Comments

  • Ed

    Reply Reply March 23, 2010

    That was a good read. I didn’t know about all the different kinds of beers out there. Thank you for the info. However, I’m from the St. Louis area and have grown fond of the bud family of beers. So it’s understandable I’m not a fan of ales. I do have a question though… When I finally start brewing my pilsner type beer. Is there a way to make it taste a bit saltier within the creation of the beer or is it a matter of tapping the salt shaker after poured into my glass as I do with my Bud Light now. I haven’t started brewing or even collecting my brewing equipment yet. I’m waiting on funds for me to start this hobby. (she just won’t let me start yet. LOL)

    • Jorge

      Reply Reply March 23, 2010

      Ed,

      Pilsners are the most common beers and possibly the most liked beers in the world. When you brew your own Pilsner and compare it to Bud Light’s it will be like comparing a McDonald’s hamburger to just about anyone else’s hamburger. McDonald’s and Bud Light are in the business of turning beef and beer into cash, not into making the best possible products. We homebrewers, on the other hand, just want a great tasting beer.

      Now as far as your question….

      Using salt when brewing is complicated. It is normally used to make up for deficiencies or abundance of ions, controlling water’s pH and minerals, etc…. There is too much chemistry involved and unless you are at the point where you are doing all-grain brewing, I wouldn’t mess with it.

      Your best bet is probably to just add it after you’ve served yourself a nice cold one…

      Jorge

  • Ethos

    Reply Reply June 11, 2010

    I’m enjoying your insights to brewing bro. Thanks! I’ve made 4 batches of my own and believe the last one, brewed Sunday, is going to be the best one yet as we have finally worked all the kinks out of the process (we think). Watching and doing are very different. This last batch should mimic a Red Tail Ale with a booster so probably more like an Eye of the Hawk. The numbers say it’ll be 8% or close to it. My favorite beers are the black and nasty’s. Again, thanks for all your insights and info.

    • Jorge

      Reply Reply June 11, 2010

      8% is pretty good… I like strong beers too, but I can’t seem to settle on one specific beer I like most… IPA’s, perhaps? Hefeweizens?…

      Thanks for the comment and I hope I can help you brew better beer…

  • Tom

    Reply Reply June 11, 2010

    I brewed an English brown ale a few months ago and it is doing very well. Made some mistakes on the priming sugar but still good.
    My son has tried Hefeweizen and loves it. Would this be a tough beer to do next?

    • Jorge

      Reply Reply June 11, 2010

      Tom,

      I’ve had my share of mistakes with priming sugar…

      I think Hefeweizens are the most forgiving beers out there. You don’t have to worry as much about DMS or fruity and estery flavors since it is part of the beer. The hardest part about hefeweizens is maintaining a good fermenting temperature to get the aftertaste you are looking for depending on the yeast you use…

  • Pauly

    Reply Reply January 19, 2011

    Well i think these days its not just about the beer you drink, its how you drink it! wether it be with a funnel and a length of hose, laid back under a tap, on the crispy alps of austria, or from a polycarbanote glass in sydney……Its just great that we are drinking beer and loving it.
    I was particularly chuffed when my dentist told me that drinking beer was actually good for your teeth……..what a beautiful world we live in……

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