So you find yourself in the beer aisle of your local liquor store. As you start looking at the labels, you see phrases such as “chestnut aroma” and “floral notes” being used to describe beer. You have no idea what any of this means. To get you started, let’s begin with a crash course on the types of craft beer. Most beers are split into two categories: ale or lager, depending upon the kind of yeast used during fermentation. From there, the varieties are endless, but a few tried and true classics stock the craft brewery shelves. Read on to get a taste.
The first Oktoberfest celebration happened just outside Munich, Germany, in October 1810, the perfect time to tap into märzen, a beer brewed before the less-ideal fermentation conditions of summer. Oktoberfest is a similar seasonal lager with a clean, grainy taste.
Color: Light Red
If you’re looking for crisp, easy drinking, pale lagers hit the spot. Golden in color and low in alcohol content, pale lagers are well-balanced and bready in taste.
Color: Very Light
India Pale Ale (IPA)
Consistently the top-selling craft beer in supermarkets and convenience stores across the U.S., IPAs are known for their high hop content, making them a bitter but floral drink with notes of pine.
Traditionally lighter and less bitter than the more-popular IPA, pale ales were the poster beer for American craft brewing up until 2011, according to Paste Magazine. Pale ales tend to have lower alcohol content than IPAs and are generally considered easier to drink.
Brown ales are known for their chestnut color and roasted malt flavors, most often chocolate or coffee, and brewers consider them a good middle ground between pale ales and thicker, darker stouts.
Wheat beer is often the gateway beer for newbies to the craft-beer craze, as it has been a staple of brewpubs for decades. The drink is light and refreshing, which makes it a summertime favorite.
Often confused with stouts, porters are dark, robust beers that go down smooth and sweet. Those willing to test the darker side of beer without wanting to take the plunge into stouts might find porters a good place to start.
Local Brews: Broadway Porter, Logboat Dark Matter
Dark, silky and intense, stouts, unlike porters, are made with unmalted roasted barley, which can create a deeper coffee flavor. The name “stout” was orginally a descriptor for any beer rich in both flavor and alcohol content.
Color: Very Dark