Beer, glorious beer. Books can, and have, been written about you. So to try and understand everything there is to know about beer in a single blog post is a tall order. And we’re not going to do it. What we can do, however, is give you the basics so you can understand what makes the experience of ales different from lagers and stouts different from IPAs.
TWO KINDS OF BEER
Here’s a fun trivia fact that not every beer drinker knows: All beer is either an ale or a lager. It comes down to how they are brewed. Yeast is a key ingredient that ferments beer and ales use top-fermented yeast while lagers use bottom-fermenting strains. Also, ales are fermented in warmer temperature, usually around 68 to 72 °F, and lagers ferment in a chillier 45 to 55°F. The difference between the two change the look and taste of the resulting beer giving ales a fruitier or even nuttier taste than lagers.
SEVEN KINDS OF FLAVORS
Now, there will be some differences of opinion on how to classify differing tastes of beer. For our money, this list from Splendid Table does as good a job as anyone breaking down beer into seven flavor categories.
ALL ABOUT IBU (International Bitterness Units)
The measurement of bitter hop acids present in a beer is its IBU. For instance, a Cream Ale may have around a 15-18 IBU rating (low) while a German Pilsner may have a 30-35 (medium). American India Pale Ales may see ratings in the 60s while Imperial Pale Ales are often in the 90s. Many consumers tend to build up tolerance the hop acids, so for those new-to-brewers, it is a good idea to keep the IBUs low.
There you have it, the quick and easy Big Red Guide to Beer. It’s not complete, but it’s a start. If you have more questions about beer styles or beer pairings, stop into one of our many locations and ask one of our in-store experts. They’ll help you find a great deal on the perfect beer for you and your friends.