Understanding what a beer might taste like or what type of beer you have chosen just from its name alone can be a little daunting. Despite the craft beer community’s welcoming nature, it is easy to see why newcomers might feel lost when looking at a beer menu. Wheat, Weizen, and wit are each different styles with specific histories and characteristics, but all are fairly similar in composition. So naturally it can be confusing.
While some beer styles require a bit of background to understand, one can often make reasonable assumptions about a beer’s character with a small amount of information. For example, there are ales which are the most common style of craft beer. Some ales are pale to medium in color, such as a blonde, amber, or red or brown. Ales have a medium maltiness and a medium hop character. They tend to have a bit more of a caramel flavor and body, and less hoppy aroma. Ales are usually flavorful, yet light. Another type of ale is the India pale ale. These ales may have a light golden color, but they pack a punch flavor-wise. Most commonly known as IPA’s, they are very hoppy or bitter and, in addition, can have piney, citrus, fruity, or floral flavor accents. Lastly, there are lagers. Lagers have a range in a color similar to ales but have a bit more maltiness and body. Lagers are smooth and usually have a toasty caramel flavor and mild-medium hops. They are brewed at a lower temperature for a longer time, giving them that extra malt flavor and body.
As a food and beverage expert, Gerald Simonelli is a craft beer hobbyist and works as an event coordinator at a local restaurant. He enjoys making recommendations to customers on fine wines and craft beers and has a thorough knowledge of the beverage industry.