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If you’re an adult man over the legal drinking age, knowing your beers is one of those things that can score you some major social brownie points. There are dozens of beer varieties and recipes, but we’re going to stick with the most popular groups you should know. Read up on this list of essential types of beer so you can impress your friends with some knowledge next time you gather for drinks!
Lagers are the most common type of beer, consumed by loud frat brothers and grumpy older men alike. Miller High Lifes, Coors and Budweisers are all lagers that have fueled many festivities. The flavor is light and malty, making it a good starting point for new beer drinkers to explore their pallets.
The “light” versions of lagers – Miller Lite, Coors Light, Bud Light – have lower calories and thus a less potent flavor, but they do the job all the same.
India Pale Ales (IPAs) have become popular in recent years due to their wide variety of flavors and alcohol levels. An IPA’s flavor depends on the hops used during the brewing process.
Some IPAs taste fruity, and others are bitter. Some hover around 5% alcohol content, while others reach above 12%. No matter your preferences or experience with beer, the IPA for you is out there somewhere, waiting to be enjoyed.
3. Pale Ales
Pale Ales have a similar texture to IPAs, but they’re normally lower in alcohol content, hence the name.
A quick history lesson on ale: ale is a subcategory of beer that our ancestors originally brewed without hops, making it lighter than regular beer. Today’s ales do have hops, but a warm fermented brewing process gives it a similar light, sweet taste.
4. Malt Liquors
The “liquor” name might deceive you, but malt liquors have more than earned their place among the best types of beer. The name comes from their high alcohol content and its special ingredient: a ton of malted barley.
You can easily spot malt liquors by the size of the bottle, as they often come in substantial 40-ounce bottles at a low price. They have a distinct taste and don’t go down as easily as other beers, but they’ll have you feeling buzzed in no time.
Pilsners are a specific type of lager, first made as a bitter drink in the Czech Republic and popularized throughout Europe. As the beer spread, different countries began to make them with different colors and flavors.
For example, Germany tends to brew their pilsners to have a pale golden hue and refreshing flavor. American pilsners have a similar texture, such as Leinenkugels and Dogfish’s Heads.
Porters are the English working man’s beer, named after day laborers and porters of 18th Century London. They had a similar character to their namesakes: dark, bitter and strong. However, they have undergone some changes throughout the years.
Today’s Porters are lighter and lower in alcohol content, resembling a traditional English brown ale, but they still have a sweet, chocolatey taste.
Stouts are the next evolutionary stage of Porters: dark beers with a sweet coffee-like taste along with high alcohol content. The most well-known stout is the famous Guinness brand. Don’t let the dark coloring fool you, though: Guinness goes down easier than most of the other beers on this list.
American stouts, on the other hand, have the usual bitter taste that you can expect from dark beers. Think of Guinness as regular milk chocolate, and American stout beers as dark chocolate. They may look similar, but they have distinct tastes.
8. Belgian Beer
The Belgian Beer gets its own spot on this list because of the country’s exceptional beer history. While it comes in many forms, the flavor is unmistakable: spicy, with a sweet aftertaste. The high alcohol content makes Belgian beers a popular choice as well.
If you go out to drink, you’ve probably seen some Trappists floating around. Similar to the English Abbeys, Trappists are beers that have been brewed under the supervision of monks. Does it get any cooler than that?
9. Wheat Beer
Wheat beers are a summer drink: light in coloring, taste and alcohol levels. Blue Moons and Sam Adams Summer Ales are two popular wheat beers in the United States. They’re best enjoyed with a slice of orange or lemon to complement the tangy flavors.
Wheat beer gets some flack for its low alcohol content, but if you’re just dipping your toes into the world of beer, it’s a fine starter. Most other types of beer don’t go down as easily.
10. Sour Beer
Sour beer, on the other hand, is something you want to try after you’ve explored other kinds of beers. As the name suggests, sour beer is tart, tangy and more than strong enough for veteran beer drinkers.
While fruit slices add a nice tough to wheat beers, they’re almost a necessity for some sour beers to offset the bitterness.
Try Something New
Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with this list of essential types of beer, choose one that caught your eye. Maybe you gravitate towards light-colored IPAs, or you want to challenge yourself with a strong American stout. Whatever you choose, make a point to try it on your next drinking occasion.
Remember: beer is meant to be savored, not chugged. No matter your choice of malt beverage, drink responsibly!