Of all the alcoholic drinks available, a majority of Americans still prefer one classic choice: ice-cold beer. In fact, according to a recent Gallup poll, 35% of U.S. drinkers would choose beer over any other hard beverage, including wine or liquor.
Whether you’re a craft beer enthusiast or you just stick to your favorite grocery store six-pack, there’s a whole world of brews out there for you to discover and enjoy. Today, we’re taking a look at all of the different types of beer so you can find your new favorite pour!
Pilsners and Pale Ales
Let’s start this list of beer options off with some perennial favorites! Pilsners and pale ales are golden in color and normally contain a lower alcohol by volume (ABV) content than other types of beer.
Some of the most common types include:
- American lagers
- German pilsners
- German helles
- Bohemian or Czech pilsners
Here’s a quick breakdown:
When you think about cracking a cold one and putting it into a coolie from Coolie Nation, do you picture a frosty can of Budweiser, Coors, or Pabst Blue Ribbon in your hand? If so, you’re definitely a fan of American lagers. These super drinkable beers are light on color and flavor, and that’s why most people can consume them in larger quantities.
These lagers pair especially well with spicy, salty, and saucy food. That’s exactly why they taste so good with a burger and fries!
Love a pale ale but want something a little heavier? If so, a German pilsner might be right up your alley. Containing more ABV than American lagers, these pilsners are darker in color, with a hue that’s closer to gold than light yellow.
The taste of a German pilsner is usually described as fairly bitter, though it’s balanced by a slight, malty sweetness. There’s excellent head retention on the pour and a distinct floral hop aroma. These beers go great with traditional German fare, as well as spicy, nutty cheeses and poultry.
Beer drinkers who love the hint of malt in a German pilsner will truly appreciate the heavy maltiness of a German Helles. With a name that literally translates to “pale in color”, you’d expect this beer to be muted. However, most Helles beers tend to have a bright yellow tone that makes them beautiful to pour and enjoy.
The flavor profile on a Helles tends to be rounder and more full-bodied than one on a light lager. It’s even more robust than an all-malt pilsner. While German pilsners tend to overwhelm with the taste of hops, a Helles is softer and more mellow thanks to the malt.
In terms of food pairings, German Helles beers go well with creamy, slightly fatty dishes such as brie cheese and pork. They also complement the rich flavors of most German cuisine.
Bohemian or Czech Pilsners
Looking for a bitter, strong hop-forward beer? A Bohemian or Czech pilsner will likely fit the bill. This is a lightly-colored beer that can sometimes teeter on being totally clear.
In addition to forward hop aromas, you’ll also discover floral, spicy, and even earthy flavors and scents when you drink a glass. Serve this beer alongside pungent, sharp flavors such as cheddar cheese or spicy Asian food. The depth of the pilsner will balance the tanginess of the food to create a well-balanced feast.
As their name implies, wheat beers use wheat in place of traditional malt. These beers are usually lighter in color and contain less alcohol than other kinds.
Some of the most common types include:
- Berliner Weisse
- American Pale Wheat
- Belgian Witbier
If you enjoy beers that more closely resemble full meals, then dark lagers might be best for you. These are heavier, maltier beers with smooth, toasted flavors.
Popular options include:
- German Schwarzbier
- Amber American Lagers
- Vienna Lager
Despite their richness, dark lagers aren’t as bitter as you might expect. They pair deliciously with most types of cuisine, from American diner classics to German meats and roasted vegetables.
Most brown ales share the same toasty flavors that people love about dark lagers. In terms of alcohol content, they fall in the mid-range, and their malty sweetness is counteracted by a hoppy bitterness in most varieties.
While American Brown Ales are among the most prominent, you may also want to check out English Brown Ales. A little heavier on the nuttiness, these beers make ideal companions to red meat and rich cheeses.
India Pale Ales (IPAs)
An IPA will be naturally super hoppy, which can give it a strong, bitter flavor. In most of these beers, you’ll also find hints of pine and even floral to help balance the tones. Compared to American Pale Ales, IPAs usually have a higher ABV content.
Common examples include:
- Imperial or Double IPA
- American IPA
- English IPA
Stouts are closely related to porters, but their flavors are stronger and more roasted. For this reason, they’re more commonly linked to coffee than any other beer.
You can find stouts in mid-to-high alcohol levels, with types that include:
- American Imperial Stouts
- American Stouts
- Milk Stouts
- Oatmeal Stouts
Like a dark lager, porters can almost serve as a substitute for dessert! These are dark and rich in color, with flavors that resemble coffee, toffee, and caramel. You’ll also find lots of varieties that feature chocolate undertones.
Types to browse include:
- English Brown Porters
- American Imperial Porters
- Robust Porters
Try These Different Types of Beer
While this list is long, it’s far from exhaustive. There are lots of different types of beer, so why not get out and try a new favorite today?
It’s one thing to read all about the features of your favorite brew, but few experiences can top trying it out for yourself. When you find a type you enjoy, you’ll always know what to order when you go out with your friends.
Looking for more ways to bring pleasure and fun into the everyday? Check out our Lifestyle section for other related guides!