If you’ve just picked up your first beer brewing kit, it goes without saying that you’re a beer enthusiast; however, you can definitely be a beer lover without being a beer expert. If you’re new to beer brewing and aren’t quite sure what types of beer you should start out with for your home brewing, keep reading for a crash course in some of the most popular styles of beer.
The majority of the beers which you’ll find on the market fall into the category of ales or lagers. So what’s the difference between the two? There are a few important distinctions here, both in the way that they’re brewed and the characteristics which are typical of these two styles of beer so you can determine which type you like best.
Lagers are generally made using bottom-fermenting yeasts and brewed in a slightly longer process and at a lower temperature than are ales. However, it should be noted that not all lagers are bottom-fermented (in the case of German beers, the term may simply denote that the beer has been at a cool temperature, usually in a cellar).
Bock, porter, Pilsener and Marzbier are all styles of beer which fall under the category of lagers. Lagers are generally, but not always, characterized by having a less hoppy flavor than ales.
Ales, by contrast, are made in a quicker brewing process using top-fermenting yeasts. The quicker brewing of these beers imparts them with a fuller body, a hint of fruitiness and usually a more assertive hop flavor. Ale is usually hopped more heavily as well, both for the sake of flavor as well as for the natural preservative properties of this vital beer ingredient. Like lager, ales are also easy to make at home with a beer brewing kit.
Beers that fall into this category include pale ales, brown ales, aggressively malty scotch ales and the vast majority of the Belgian beers on the market. Most of the famous Trappist beers are ales and have the assertively fruity flavors typical of this type of beer.
You can brew nearly endless variations of both lagers and ales at home easily with nothing more than beer brewing kit ingredients. It’s easy to get started and the rewards are incredible for any beer lover.