A World of Flavours: Beer Styles Guide

Andrew Revell

There’s always a good excuse to crack open a beer and celebrate if you look hard enough! It’s the perfect ‘go to’ beverage for a wide range of occasions. Whether you’re after a thirst quenching refresher, or a more rich and complex drink to be sipped slowly, there’s a beer for that.

With a huge range of varying beer styles to choose from, there really is something for everyone. For a beverage containing just four ingredients, beer is amazingly versatile and there’s a broad spectrum of tastes and aromas to enjoy. With a little know how, you too can replicate a number of beer styles from around the world.

BrüBox allows you to brew a huge selection of different types of beers, guiding you through varying techniques employed by brewhouses around the world, such as dry hopping. You’ll learn how to create a stunning range of styles in no time! A little knowledge goes a long way, so let’s take a look at some iconic beer styles from around the world.

Lagers and Pilsners (GER/CZ)

Probably the most mass-produced types of beer in the world. For many of us, our first ever taste of beer was most likely a macro Lager or Pilsner. However, there are many smaller breweries now also making craft variants of these classic styles.

Lagers originate from Germany, while slightly more malty, hoppy Pilsners were first brewed in Czechia. They differ from ales in that they ferment at lower temperatures and use a different, bottom fermenting yeast strain. They also require an extended maturation period at low temperatures to drive away any off flavours and create a crisp, clean taste.

The word Lager is derived from the German Lagern, which means ‘to store’. Lagering is a term still used by brewers today, and refers to the extended maturation process. The name Pilsner comes from Plzen, the Czech town in which the first ever Pilsner was produced. The water here is remarkably soft and as such is ideal for this smooth style.

  • Typical ABV = 4 - 5.5%
  • Typical colour = pale/straw yellow
  • Variants = dark & amber, Indian Pale Lager (IPL)

Pale Ale (UK)

More subtle than its potent older brother - IPA - Pale Ales are typically hoppy, light and refreshing with a smooth bitterness. Traditionally brewed with a simple malt base, most of the flavour comes from hops. Bittering hops are added early on in the boil to impart a refreshing bitterness, while large amounts of aroma hops balance things out.

Renowned for a lip smacking dryness, the mineral makeup of the water used for Pale Ales is pretty important. The hard water found at Burton on Trent is ideal for this style, and the town became a global brewing hub throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Many brewers still Burtonize - i.e. add minerals - their brewing water in order to replicate this classic style.

  • Typical ABV = 4 - 6%
  • Typical colour = pale yellow
  • Variants = American Pale Ale (APA)

IPA (USA)

Pungent hop aroma, medium malt character and very bitter, IPA is one of the most popular craft beer styles in the world. Flavours can range from fruity and citrusy, to dank and piney depending on the hops used.

IPA is an acronym for India Pale Ale. First brewed in 18th century England, it was brewed extra strong, with additional hops in order to survive the journey by ship to India. Nowadays, IPAs are brewed around the world - however the style has exploded in recent years in the US, with a number of sub styles.

A hefty hop aroma is achieved through various late hop additions, including whirlpool additions, and dry hopping. Dry hopping involves adding aroma hops to the fermented beer for a few days. First practiced by British brewers in their cask ales, the technique has become increasingly popular over the last few years. As a result, ever more hoppy, aromatic beers have been produced.

  • Typical ABV = 5 - 7.5%
  • Typical colour = Orange
  • Variants = West coast IPA, NE IPA, Imperial/Double IPA

Stout (IRE)

Rich, dark and creamy, Stouts are made using highly roasted malts. They have a roasty flavour, reminiscent of black coffee and dark chocolate, and very little hop character. The ideal cold weather beverage, stouts are robust and complex.

First brewed in London, their popularity soon spread and nowadays Stouts are brewed all over the world. Ireland is particularly famous for its Dry Stouts, which aren’t as sweet as traditional London variants.

They’re also a great beer style to experiment with, and many subcategories have been created in recent years. Popular adjuncts include cold pressed coffee, vanilla, berries, chili peppers and coconut.

  • Typical ABV = 4 - 7%
  • Typical colour = Black
  • Variants = Oatmeal Stout, Milk Stout, Imperial Stouts, Barrel Aged Stouts

Wheat Beer (GER)

Famous for a cloudy appearance and a big, white head, wheat beers offer some spectacular flavours, mostly provided by the special yeast strains used. Banana, clove and even bubble gum flavours are typical.

Originating in Germany and Belgium, this classic style comes in many variants, including dark and dry hopped versions among many others. In Belgium, coriander seeds and curacao peels are added to give a unique flavour. By dry hopping wheat beers, modern brewers have dragged this ancient style into the 21st century.

  • Typical ABV = 4 - 7%
  • Typical colour = Yellow or Orange
  • Variants = American Wheat Ale, German Hefeweizen, Belgian Witbier, Dunkelweizen

Sour/Lambic (BE)

While they take some getting used to initially, sour beers are fast becoming one of the most popular craft beer styles in the world. Traditionally these sharp, tangy beers were only produced in Belgium, though the practice has spread in recent years.

Rather than pitching yeast and sealing the precious beer up, Belgian Lambics are brewed in ancient, rickety old brew houses and are left open to wild fermentation from the yeast in the air. After a long period of maturation, commonly in wooden casks, a sharp, complex beer is produced.

  • Typical ABV = 4 - 7%
  • Typical colour = Pale yellow - brown
  • Variants = Gueze, Berliner Weisse, Gose

This brief rundown of some of the beer styles from around the world is really just the tip of the iceberg, but it’s a great starting point for new brewers and beer enthusiasts. As you delve deeper into the world of beer, you’ll discover ever more types of beer, and a whole spectrum of sub categories.

For now however, get out there and try them all, and let us know your favourite style in the comments below!