Ales are fuller-bodied, with a pleasantly hoppy finish. They're brewed with top fermenting yeast at cellar temperature. Generally robust and complex with a variety of fruit and malt aromas, ales come in many varieties; including Bitters, Milds, Abbey Ales, Pale Ales, etc... Ales are often darker than lagers, ranging from reddish amber to a rich gold. Top fermenting, and extra hops gives these beers a distinctive fruitfulness and pleasantly bitter seasoning. Ales have a more assertive personality than a lager, though their alcoholic strength is about the same.
Lager originates from the German word "lagern" that means 'to store'. Most are stored for several months in near-freezing temperatures. Lagers are the world's most popular beer, with a crisp, smooth finish from longer aging. Lagers can range from sweet to bitter - and pale to black - but it's usually known to describe bottom-fermented brews of German, Dutch and Czech styles. Lagers are a pale to medium color, have high carbonation, and a medium to high hop flavor.
There is little distinction between a Porter and a Stout, yet they are different. The Porter is a dark, almost black, fruity-dry, top fermenting style beer. Considered an ale, porter is brewed with a combination of roasted malt to extract flavor, color and aroma. The Stout is also a black, roast brew made by top fermentation, but the Stout is not as sweet to the taste. It features a rich, creamy head that is colored and flavored by barley. Stouts often use an un-malted roasted barley to develop a dark, lightly astringent, coffee-like character.
IPAs today are characterized by an abundance of hops. Several varieties may be used at different times throughout the brewing process. Hops affect flavor, aroma, and bitterness. IPAs often smell like citrus, pine, or flowers. There are three main styles: American-style, English-style, and Double or Imperial. There are also plenty of sub-styles, including Black, Hybrid, Wheat, and Belgian White IPAs. Each has its own characteristics.
Pale ale is an ale made with a predominantly pale malt. The higher proportion of pale malts results in a lighter color. The term "pale ale" first appeared around 1703 for beers made from malts dried with coke, which resulted in a lighter color than other beers popular at that time. American versions tend to be cleaner and hoppier.
In addition to the type of beer, a beer's character can be described by its style.
A very versatile beer, Amber beers are full bodied malt aromas with hints of caramel, these beers could be either lager or ale.
Blonde ales are very pale in color and tend to be clear, crisp, and dry, with low-to-medium bitterness and aroma from hops and some sweetness from malt.
Dark amber or brown in color, brown ale have evidence of caramel and chocolate, and may have a slight citrus accent or be strong, malty or nutty, depending on it's area of brewing.
A very mild, sweetish, golden style of ale.
Dark ale is a British type beer, combining hops, yeast and a blend of malts. It's a medium chestnut brown color, with a delicate fruity smell and robust, malty character.
Most fruit beers are ales, but they typically don't carry an ale character. To allow for the fruit flavor to come through nicely, the malt's flavor is not dominant which provides a low bitterness level.
First developed in the UK, Golden ales are straw colored with a slight hint of citrus and vanilla. It can sometimes contain spicier flavors.
A full-bodied beer with a creamy texture and copper color. Honey beers are slightly sweet with hints of caramel.
A hoppier version of pale ale, originally brewed in England with extra hops.
Lighter in color and mild in flavor. Light beer has fewer calories and/or lower alcohol content.
Pale ales has a has a fruity, copper-colored style that can be enjoyed with spicey foods.
Made with neutral and hard water. Tends to be golden in color with a dry, crisp, and somewhat bitter (hops) flavor.
Red ales can either be red or light brown. Their moderate to heavy flavor contains hints of caramel offset by the predominant hop characteristic of the beer.
This broad grouping can describe any beer over 7% ABV. Strong beers are typically dark in color, some almost black. Different styles can include old ales, double IPAs, and barley wines.
Light and easy to drink with very little after-taste. Wheat provides a soft color, and is sometimes hazy or cloudy.