Basic Beer Styles

Pale Ale

The pale ale is more or less responsible for inspiring the entire American craft beer movement. American Pale ales are golden to deep amber in color, medium-bodied, and have a moderate-to-high hop flavor. Some favorites include Sierra Nevada or Dale’s Pale Ale from Oskar Blues. If there were ever a style most representative of classic American craft beer — this would be it. It’s one of the most food-friendly beers.

India Pale Ale

IPAs are the youngest style of the bunch, but probably the most popular in the US today. India Pale Ales are of a color similar (or slightly darker) to that of pale ales, but they have much more concentrated hop aroma and flavor. The style was originally created to survive transport from England to India (hence the name), so additional hops were introduced as a preservative — the oils help keep beer fresh for longer.


The darkest of beers are stouts, which came about in the early 18th century to describe strong (or “stout”) porters. Stout variations include dry stouts (such as Guinness), sweet or milk stouts (made with lactose), oatmeal stouts (made with oatmeal), or American stouts (which taste hoppier than the rest). What unites them all is that they are made with deeply roasted malt, resulting in a dark brown to jet black color, with espresso, unsweetened chocolate, or burnt bread flavors.

Wheat Beer

On the completely opposite end of the stout spectrum are wheat beers, which also come in a variety of sub-styles. You’re likely most familiar with Belgian wheat beers, or “witbiers,” which encompass favorites like Blue Moon, Hoegaarden or Stock Top. Belgian wheat beers have a zesty, orange-citrusy flavor accented by coriander and other spices, as well as a bright golden color.



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