BENGALURU: Whether you are a beer connoisseur or just starting out on your discovery of beer, it always helps to know what to look for. The first step is to understand what beer is made of. Basically, beer comes in two varieties, lagers and ales. While lagers have a lighter colour and taste and are the most common, ales are darker, more robust, and have a stronger, fruitier taste. The fundamental ingredients of beer are barley, hops, yeast, and water and other ingredients are added to give each beer its unique characteristics.
When trying out a new beer, use the same basic principles used to appreciate wine. Look for colour, body, smell and taste. Beers can be amber, red, brown or black. If the head leaves trails on the edge of the glass, it usually means it’s a higher quality beer. Try to pick out different smells - just like wine, beer has a bouquet. Does the beer have a light or a full body? Take time to taste it. Good beer is complex and has a wide range of flavours in each sip. Finding a beer you love, not just one you tolerate, is well worth the effort.
Popular types of beer include:
The oldest type of beer, ale is a general category of beer which includes brown, blonde, and pale ales, and is a warm-temperature fermentation for a relatively short period of time.
Lagers are a newer style of beer with two key differences from ales. Lagers ferment for a long time at a low temperature, and they rely on bottom-fermenting yeasts.
A type of ale, porter beers are known for their dark black colour and roasted malt aroma and notes.
Like porters, stouts are dark, roasted ales.
India Pale Ale
Originally, IPA was a British pale ale brewed with extra hops to make the beer stable enough to survive the long boat trip to India without getting spoilt.
An easy-drinking, light style of beer, wheat beers are known for a soft, smooth flavor.
A subspecies of lager, Pilsners are among the hoppiest, and generally have a dry, slightly bitter flavor.
An ancient style of beer that’s taken off in popularity, sour ales are crafted from wild yeasts, like sourdough bread. Remember, there is no such thing as a bad beer. It’s just that some taste better than others.
(The author is the brewmaster at URU Brewpark)