Every other day there seems to be a new type of beer, be it a IPA, DIPA or chocolate stout, and it can all get very confusing! So in this week’s blog we are going to help demystify these terms, give you some examples and help you explore new beer styles.
Perhaps the most widely known beer style worldwide, it can come in a wide variety of styles from dark to pale but we shall concentrate on the pale variety here as it is the most widely drunk. These beers tend to be light in style with a very pale/golden colour. They are hopped with the noble varieties which are aromatic but not very bitter giving it an easy drinking style and a good gateway to the world of beer.
Pilsner is another variety, again pale in style but with the addition of Saaz hops gives it a more complex intense flavour. The lager market is dominated by the larger brands and can be pretty boring and uncomplicated, craft breweries are now taking this style and developing it further to create complex and delicious flavours. Great examples are Green Duck Brewery’s Pacific Pils and Stirchley Lager by Birmingham Brewing Company.
As well ease our way into fuller styles of beer we encounter the blonde/golden ale. These tend to be very approachable and easy drinking with very little dominating hop and malt characteristics. This quintessential British summertime beer is wonderfully rounded and smooth with low levels of bitterness and an ABV of 4-5%. If this tickles your fancy then go for Backyard Brewhouse Blonde or Gold Brummie by Birmingham Brewing Company.
The pale ale, light in colour but not in taste! These tend to be hop forward with a delightful maltyness, gold to amber in colour with a moderate ABV. These beers are not too heavy but bridge the gap between lighter styles like lager and blonde beers and are very approachable. There are a range of subcategories within the pale ale range that include saisons, IPAs, which we will come on to next and also bitters.
Bitters are a traditional style of beer originating in the UK, It is a malty beer with bitter hop elements. The USA has really pushed the development of the pale ale, during the 1980s brewers started using a lot more hops in the production of their beers, including dry hopping to produce flavour packed beers. We have a great selection of pale ales including the beautifully balanced Magus from Durham Brewery, Bitter Brummie by Birmingham Brewing Company and Attic Brew’s Intuition Pale Ale from last week’s blog.
India Pale Ale otherwise known as the IPA is hence the name also a pale ale. It can range in colour from golden to amber and even black to confuse matters even more! We have given this its own section because of how this style is changing and developing, as is the terminology.
The origins of the IPA come from the export of pale ales to India during the 1800s. These beers had higher ABVs to pale ales and contained a higher amount of hops to fortify the beers for the journey. This style continued and is now one of the most widely drunk. Full of hops and well balanced bitterness the English style IPA is a complex beer. St Cuthbert by Durham Brewery is a fantastic example.
The craft beer revolution has really pushed the development of the IPA with the Americans increasing the amount of hops and ABVs to create regional and different varieties. Session beers are the first style we encounter, still well hopped and with a lower ABV it is a great beer for when you are enjoying multiple pints with friends. So why not pick up a couple of Attic Brew’s Never too Much.
The first style we are going to look at is the double IPA (DIPA), you may have seen this in the shop and online. To create a DIPA the brewers add even more hops and up the ABV to 7.5%, these are full bodied beers and are packed with tropical aromas and flavours from the American hops like New Invention Brewery’s Touch Of Sunshine.
New England IPA (NEIPA) is a very interesting style of beer as it is served hazy. It has a smooth consistency and mouthfeel due to the brewing method, timing of dry hopping (the addition of hops later in the brewing process) and certain yeast strains. This style of beer is packed with juicy citrus fruit and floral flavours from the hops - it’s a must try! Being big fans we have a wide selection from local breweries including Trinity Brew’s Slice of Fried Gold.
Although there are a few styles that bridge the gap between the IPA and a stout, such as red ales like Backyard Brewhouse’s Jigger Red and Green Duck’s Amaretti Mild we move on to stouts. Usually associated with one well known brand there are other outstanding examples out there. These rich and delicious beers with dark roasted malts are synonymous with winter drinking but are always a decadent treat.
There are a wide range of styles available and it would be easy to write a book on them. There are straight up stouts like Birmingham Brewing Company’s Stout Brummie, chocolaty beers like Sweet Like.... by Attic Brew and Durham Brewery Imperious, an 11.8% imperial stout perfect for pairing with a juicy steak!
This is just a glimpse of the world of beer but hopefully it helps you understand the different styles on offer. All of these are available online with a greater range in store. If you pop in to see us we can help you more with your choice making sure you leave with some smashing beers!