Photo: Quinn Dombrowski
It can be pretty overwhelming figuring out where it start when it comes to craft beer – the industry has exploded into life over the past decade and there now thousands of different varieties out there.
Here is a short and simple guide to 6 of the most popular craft styles around to help you figure out what the best beer is for you!
The godfather of modern craft beer, India Pale Ales (known as IPAs) have a long and distinguished history dating back to the 1800s, which we cover in this blog post. Heavily-hopped, with ABVs traditionally between 6-9%, and strong flavour bitterness make this a instantly recognizable beer style that has taken over the craft beer world.
Looking for an approachable, flavourful brew that won’t knock your socks off? A pale ale is definitely the best gateway beer as you enter the world of craft. With a typically lower ABV (around 4-6%), pale ales are often more refreshing and lighter than their big brother IPAs, with slightly less bitterness and hoppiness. They are perfect for hot afternoons and outdoor drinking – especially, if we do say so ourselves, this particular variety.
STOUT / PORTER
Stouts & Porters are the darkest styles on the spectrum of beers, and they share a common ancestry to the UK & Ireland. The main difference in modern craft terms is this: porters tend to rely on malted barley and Co2 for dispensing, whilst stouts use primarily unmalted barley and use nitrogen (made famous by Guiness) to dispense beer.
These dark beers are wonderfully diverse in terms of flavour, often possessing strong notes of coffee or nuttiness to complement their creamy mouthfeel. Perfect for cold climates due to their rich, heavy flavours, they were also the original export beer, able to last the long journey across the sea, and to this day remain popular in Southeast Asia.
New England IPAs have only recently come onto the scene, but have ignited around the world from humble beginnings in Northeast US (where they originated) and are one of the trendiest craft beers available. For good reason, too – their signature juiciness and wonderful straw colouring make them remarkably thirst-quenching, and often not lacking in punch (6-9% ABV) either. Loads of floral and fruity hops, coupled with tasty rolled oats or other high-protein grains, are what give NEIPAs their unique haziness and taste – certainly a beer style that is here to stay.
ENGLISH BITTER ALE
English bitters used to be considered an ‘old man drink’, or that strange beer that is served warm… but they have experienced a remarkable renaissance thanks to the craft boom. The original “session beer” alongside it’s cousin, an English Mild, bitters are typically only 3-4%ABV and were designed by brewers who knew significant volumes would be consumed in pubs and wanted to prevent drinkers from getting overly pissed. Bitters tend to be somewhat hoppy and very malty, giving them a wonderful biscuity and nutty taste with a dry finish. Cheers to old man beer!
Probably the best indication of how far our beer palettes have advanced, sour beers were once unthinkable for the majority of beer drinkers and are now all the rage. Ironically, sour beers are probably the oldest type of beer in existence, full of the wild microorganisms and yeast. ABV tends to be around 3-5%, and the taste profile is – you guessed it – sour, with a combination of earthiness and light-bodied tones. Some of the most famous are Belgian Sours or German Gose, and these European styles are known to age their beers in barrels (not too dissimilarly from wine-makers) giving them a fun, multi-layered flavour profile. An acquired taste, but one not to be missed.
Needless to say, there are plenty more varieties and styles to explore, so what are you waiting for? Switch away from the boring, bland commercial beers and expand your horizons by support local craft breweries!
Thanks for reading! Visit our shop if you’re feeling thirsty for Lion Brewery Co beer.