The ultimate guide: 5 common types of beer you must know

Picture this: you’re at a friend’s house and everyone’s getting their game on. The console is fired up but someone suddenly asks what type of beer you want. What do you ask for?

To figure that out, you’ll need to know what kind of beer you like. Pale lagers like Tiger Beer are usually a fan favourite, but there’s so much more to know and understand about beer!

From pale lagers to the deeper and darker varieties like stout, here’s the ultimate guide to the 5 common types of beer you must know!

1. Lager

Let’s start off with a fact: most of the beers you’ve drunk are either a lager or ale. The difference boils down (pun intended!) to their fermentation process and type of yeast used¹. Alcohol is produced when the yeast in the wort (the liquid from boiling malted grain) metabolises the sugar in grains like wheat and malted barley.

Lagers are bottom-fermented. This means that the wild yeast “Saccharomyces eubayanus” feasts at the bottom of the beer’s wort instead at a cooler temperature, and for a longer time². This produces a lighter-coloured and flavoured beer that’s more carbonated³ than an ale.

A Japanese rice lager like Asahi Dry Super Beer is a good option for beer beginners! It’s light, brisk and easy on the taste buds because of its less bitter flavour.

2. Pilsner

Pilsners are a type of lager that leans toward the spicier side because of a particular type of hops — Saaz hops! Hops are acids and oils from the cone-shaped flower of the female hops plant (“Hummulus lupulus”) that not only keeps beer fresher for longer, but also adds the “hoppy” aroma and flavour⁴. Brewed together with bottom-fermenting pilsner malt and lager yeast, the finished product is a beer that’s clean, simple and easy to drink⁵.

Prime yourself for the world of pilsners with San Miguel Light Beer! It has the same full flavour of San Miguel’s world-class brew, but with fewer calories.

Fun fact: Pilsners go by different names, depending on where the beer has been brewed!

Pilsner: Germany, United States of America and the rest of the world
Pils: Germany
Světlé Ležák: Czech Republic
Pilsener: Term for Czech brews

3. Ale

Well, shall we move on to ale?

Ales, on the other hand, are top-fermented. This means that the yeast “Saccharomyces cerevisiae” is applied to the top of the beer’s wort at room temperature. The result is a balanced flavour profile that’s round on the palate with a robust or fruity taste.

Jing-A Beer Bottle Worker’s Pale Ale, for example, boasts fresh notes of grapefruit and pine. Perfect with meats, curry, barbecued food or a burger!

Strong ales, on the other hand, possess qualities that their name suggests. They have less carbonation and the colour can range from dark amber to gold⁶.

Flavour profile: Warm
Food pairing recommendation: Lamb and strong cheeses

3. India Pale Ale (IPA)

A popular craft beer, the India Pale Ale (IPA) has a higher hop concentration that imparts uniquely aromatic flavours like citrus, spice, tropical fruits, pine and berries⁷. However, not all IPAs are the same! IPAs come in a range of styles — these are some of the more common ones you’ll find⁸:

  • West Coast or America: Hops are added during the hot side of the brewing process. The flavour profile is usually bitter.
  • New England-style IPA (NEIPA): Hops are used during fermentation, as opposed to in the boil. NEIPAs are unfiltered and often brewed with oats, wheat and sometimes even lactose and fruit purées! This gives them a somewhat hazy appearance and a “milkshake” taste.
  • Imperial or Double IPAs: The hop concentration and alcohol content (by volume) is usually higher in these beers!

4. Stout

Moving on the darker side, stout is a dark and bold ale⁹ with an equally bold colour that’s darker than most beers. Their flavour profile is sweet and full-bodied, with hints of coffee-and-cream or sweetened espresso¹⁰.

Boasting coffee notes and a unique blend of four malts, Connor’s Stout Porter Can Beer is a nitrogenated draught that delivers rich flavour! It pairs perfectly with smoked foods, rich stews and braised dishes.

5. Porter

Like stout, porters also have a darker colour due to the common ingredients they share like coffee and chocolate. Porters, however, have less coffee and more notes of chocolate¹¹. They’re top-fermented with dark malted barley to produce a dark, medium-bodied beer that’s sweet with a hint of bitter hoppiness¹²!

Porters can also take on a more brownish colour, and this English-style brew from Holgate is one of them! Infused with rich Dutch cocoa and whole vanilla beans, the complex flavour profile is an alluring choice for a pint.

Fun fact: If you have a stout or porter beer freshly poured from a tap instead, you’ll notice a lot more foam compared to lighter-coloured beers like an ale¹³!

BONUS: Cider!

We’re cheating a little here, but we love cider as much as beer! However, cider is not beer — the latter is mainly made with apples and the latter with grains like barley and hops¹⁴. However, a pint of cider is usually what many have to ease themselves into drinking beer!

Also known as hard cider, this beverage is produced when cider yeasts are allowed to grow and thrive in apple juice. This fermentation produces alcohol (ethanol) that’s  usually well-balanced with the tartness and acidity of the apples¹⁵. Like beers, you will find hard ciders in a variety of colours from dark to pale brown or golden.

For a cider that packs a zesty punch, look no further than the Brothers Cloudy Lemon Cider! With crisp lemon notes, this fan favourite is the ultimate thirst-quencher when served over ice on a sizzling sunny day! Ciders should always be served chilled for maximum enjoyment.

Fun fact: Cider can also be made from other fruits such as pears!

Here’s a comparison summarising the differences between the two ancestors of all beers: ales and lagers. It also includes the types of beers that fall under each category!

Lager  Ale 
Fermentation  Bottom-fermented Top-fermented
Length of fermentation Longer fermentation Quicker fermentation
Temperature of fermentation   Cool fermentation Room-temperature fermentation
Flavour profile  Clean and crisp taste Round on the palate with

a robust or fruity taste

Examples  Pilsner India Pale Ale (IPA)
Stout
Porter

We hope that this article has been a beer-y informative read! From light to dark-coloured beers and cider, browse for your next pint and shop for all the best deals here.

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References:

¹ Strong, R 2021, 10 common beer styles all drinkers should try, from pilsners to porters, Insider, viewed 1 February 2022
² VinePair Staff 2014 – 2022, Ale vs. lager (the role of yeast in beer), VinePair, viewed 1 February 2022
³ Tan, A 2021, Guide to drinking: 10 types of beer you need to know (and love!), Uncover Asia, viewed 1 February 2022
⁴ Allagash Brewing Company 2022, Beer fundamentals – what are hops?, viewed 2 February 2022
⁵ Eddings, B 2020, What is pilsner beer?, The Spruce Eats, viewed 2 February 2022
⁶ The Beer Community 2016, What is a strong ale, JustBeer, viewed 2 February 2022
⁷ VinePair Staff 2014 – 2022, The role of hops in beer, VinePair, viewed 2 February 2022
⁸ Delaney, A 2018, What is an IPA? A complete guide to the India Pale Ale, BON APPÉTIT, viewed 2 February 2022
⁹ Evans, P 2021, 8 types of stout you must know, The Manual, viewed 2 February 2022
¹⁰ Gajanan, M 2018, How to talk about beer like a pro, Time, viewed 2 February 2022
¹¹ Karl, S 2021, Porter vs. stout: are these two ales as different as they say?, Homebrew Academy, viewed 2 February 2022
¹² Christensen, E 2019, Porter vs. stout: what’s the difference? Beer sessions, Kitchn, viewed 2 February 2022
¹³ Buehler, E 2021, Is there a real difference between stouts and porters?, Mashed, viewed 3 February 2022
¹⁴ Cornish Bottled Beer & Cider 2015, The tough choice: beer vs cider, viewed 8 February 2022
¹⁵ Food Crumbles 2021, How alcoholic apple cider is made, viewed 8 February 2022

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