42 Different Types of Beer – How Well Do You Know Your Beer Options?

Group of people drinking beer in a pub

Beer is one of the oldest drinks that is still being drunk today and is more popular than ever before. The popularity is evident through the number of beer brands that exist and the different variations they offer. It is one of the most common drinks being consumed in most cultures and is typically identified as a celebratory alcoholic drink as well as a drink of the working class in the west.

According to “A History of Beer in Ancient Europe” by Max Nelson, it’s the third most popular drink in the world after water and tea. While the brewing technique and the ingredients differ widely depending on the region of the world and the preferences of the local population, the basic definition of the drink remains the same. It is a fermented beverage with a high concentration of complex sugars and ethanol.

Beer Types Chart

Types of beer chart

Cool chart, right?

Now here’s the full list.

Ale
Ale with froth on top

Ale is a beer that is brewed using a warm fermented method. This results in a very sweet and full-bodied beverage with a fruity taste. While it was referred to a beer that was brewed without hops, certain types of ale now contain hops, replacing gruit as the bittering agents. Most ale has bittering agents which can balance out the malt and act as a preservative.

Wheat Beer
Beer made with wheat

Wheat beer is usually top fermented. It’s named so because it substitutes wheat with the more common grain, barley. The main varieties of Wheat Beer include Weissbier and Witbier.

Pale Ale
Concentrated Pale ale in a glass

Pale ale is predominantly a pale malt. It is made with the highest proportion of pale malts that result in a lighter color. The term came in to use during the early 18th century for beers that were made from malts and dried with coke. The coke brought about the lighter color.

India Pale Ale

When pale ale came to India, it quickly became the go to choice for officers and traders in the East India Trading Company. The brewers were originally located near the East India Docks and so the demand rose. The beer was well hopped and much different from the non hopped pale ale beer popular in the United Kingdom at the time.

Bitter Beer
Bitter Beer Glass

Bitter is British-style pale ale that varies in color from light gold to a dark amber color. The concentration of alcohol varies from 3% to 7% by volume in any variation of Bitter. The pale ale earned its name during the mid 19th century when customers would ask for it in pubs to differentiate from mild ale.

Amber Ale
Amber Ale frothing at the top

This is a popular, emerging drink in Australia, France, and North America. The ales are brewed with a proportion of amber malt and at times, crystal malt. This produces the amber color that the ale is so famous for.

Irish Red Ale
Irish Red Ale

The earliest mention of the Irish Red Ale was in a 9th century Irish poem. However, there have been sporadic mentions ever since and the Irish Red that is served today is very different from that mentioned in the poem. The modern version finds its roots in the English Bitter beer and the Pale Ale. The beer is deep reddish in color, resembling copper.

Barley Wine
Barley wine spilling over

The concentration of alcohol in barley wine can range between 6% – 11% or 8% – 12%. At times the wine is named barleywine as one word. It has its roots in ancient Armenia, where a fermented grain beverage was called barley wine by the historian Xenophon. Their mention predates the use of hops, so they’re much different to today’s wines.

Brown Ale
Brown Ale spilling over

Mild ale started to be known as brown ale in the late 17th century. This is ale is not produced the same way it was in the past as the earlier productions were brewed from 100% brown malt and lightly hopped.  The practice of using brown malt as a base was stopped in the 19th century and brewers moved to pale malt instead.

Mild Ale
Lots of Mild Ale

Mild ale was used to describe sweeter, much more sugary ale in the early 18th and 19th centuries as opposed to bitter beer. It is often interpreted as ale that is lightly hopped and has an alcohol concentration of 3% – 3.6%. It isn’t served as widely as it once was, and darker colored beers labeled as mild have become less common throughout the world.

Stout Ale
Stout ale being served in a wine glass

This is a dark beer that includes Baltic Porter, Milk Stout, and Imperial Stout. Its first official mention describes it as a beer made with roasted malts. Strong beers at the time with 7% – 8% concentration of alcohol were called “Stout Porters”.

Porter
Porter ale

This is a dark beer that was once developed in London from hopped beers. These were made from brown malt and named Porter due to its popularity among street porters and river porters. Stout porters were strong beers with higher concentrations of alcohol.

Scotch Ale

This was a strong form of pale ale served in Edinburgh, Scotland in the 19th century. It was brewed with moderate hopping and pale barley malt without any wheat. The Scotch Ale name stuck due to the regionalization of the ale in Scotland.

Old Ale
Wine Glasses and Beer Glasses with Old Ale

This term is used for dark colored beers with malty interiors in Britain. It has a concentration greater than 5% and is common to the regions of Australia and the United Kingdom. It was often served as a complementary drink to mild ales in the past.

Belgian Ale
Belgian Ale beer

Beglian Ale refers to the beers that usually have less than 7% concentration of alcohol by volume. They range from light and golden colored versions to dark and deep red versions. Their body is light to medium, with a wide range of levels for hops and malts.

Blonde Ale

Often called Golden Ale, Blond Ale is named aptly because of its straw blonde to medium blonde color. It has medium bitterness levels and is related to the traditional mass market lagers. It originated in North America, with medium hop bitterness and a slightly fruity flavor.

Saison

Pronounced “Season”, the Saison is a French beer that is highly carbonated. It’s fruity and spicy and bottle conditioned. It was once brewed with low alcohol levels, but the more modern ones have higher levels of alcohol.

Dubbel

This is a Belgian variety of beer that was brewed during the mid 19th century. It was first brewed in Westmalle Abbey, but the original recipe has been changed many times. It contains 6% – 8% alcohol by volume and is colored brown with an understated bitterness.

Tripel Beer
Tripel Beer in a glass

This is a beer that is primarly drunk in the Lowlands region of the Netherlands. It is strong pale ale, the origin of which still remains unknown. It is presumed to indicate strong beer. The drink has now spread to the US and other countries.

Lager
Lager beer

Lager is a beer that is prepared at low temperatures and ranges from pale or amber to very dark colors. It is the most widely consumed type of beer on the planet.

Pale Lager

Pale lager has a very pale golden color but can be found with a slightly deep red color in some circumstances. The beer’s brewing process originated during the 19th century in Germany. It became

popular with the local population and over the years spread to other regions such as Austria, Hungary, and gradually the rest of the world.

Light Lager
Golden lager

Light Lager beer has its origins in America. It is a light version of the premium lager that is commonly known around the world. It is brewed with a high amount of cereals like rice or corn. It is low in malt flavor.

Pilsner Beer

Taking its name from the Czech city of Pilsen, it was first produced there in 1842. It was the first blonde lager ever, and is still produced in its original form today.

Dortmunder

This is a pale lager that was once brewed in Germany in the late 19th century. It was influenced by the Pilsner Lager. It constitutes as 10% of the beer sold in German shops.

Munich HellesMunich Helles Lager

This beer is mostly found in Bavaria. Helles means blonde or light in german, and here it denotes the color of the beer. It is very easily discerned from Pilsner and has a muted hop character. It has a soft malty accent and has a relatively short history, being synthesized in the 19th century.

Amber LagerMunich Helles Lager

It is a widely available beer that contains both malt and hops. It is a medium bodied lager and has a toasty caramel like malt character. Its bitterness ranges from low to medium high.

Vienna Lager

It is named for the city that it was made in and brewed with the three step decoction process. The Munich, Pilsner, Vienna and Dextrin malts are used in it along with wheat malt. Subtle flavors of noble hops are used as well to give it a unique flavor profile.

Oktoberfest LagerOktoberfest lager

This is any type of beer that is served at the March festival of Oktoberfest in Germany. The most common is Marzen or Marzenbier, which is German for March Beer. It ranges from amber to dark brown, and was synthesized in Bavaria.

Rauchbier

Smoked beer is a type of beer with a smoky flavor. The flavor is imparted to the beer by using malted barley, which is dried over an open flame. It’s the best known variant is the Schlenkerla beer that is sold in Bamberg, Germany.

BockBock Lager

Bock is a bottom fermenting beverage that takes a long time to brew, often several months. It is kept in cold storage often in order to smoothen out the strong brew. The Bock beer is stronger than the typical lager in most cases.

Traditional BockTraditional bock beer

This beer was first synthesized in Eisbeck, Germany during the 14th century. It was brewed with a blend of herbs and spices for preservation purposes. It was one of the first beers to use hops as a bittering agent.

Maibock

This one is a strong lager with 6.3% to 7.2% alcohol by volume. In some cases the concentration can go as high as 12%. It became popular in Bavaria after it was first brewed in the 13th century and was nicknamed Ein Bock, which means Billy Goat. Hence brands selling this variation often have goats on their label.

DoppelbockDoppelbock beer

Doppelbock or Double Bock is a stronger version of the traditional bock that is brewed in Germany. The doppelbock was originally very high in sugar content and was thought of as liquid bread for Friars during times of fasting. It has very strong flavors and alcoholic content today, ranging from 7% to 12% alcohol by volume.

EisbockStacked Eisbock beer

Called the summit of Bock Beers, the Eisbock beer is possibly the strongest of the bock beers. It is made stronger than other beers by freezing and has a whole legendary story about its discovery.

Dark LagerDark Lager wine glasses

Dark Lagers are called so because of their deep, dark colors. Dark Lagers are generally very bitter, but there are sweet variants that don’t taste like stouts or porters.

Schwarzbier

Schwarzbier, or black beer, is a dark lager that finds its origin in Germany. Though not an especially bitter beer, with an alcohol concentration of 5%, the lager is exceptionally dark, since it’s made from roasted malt. It’s made using cool fermentation and dark malts. It is called Malta in Chile.

Munich Dunkel

Dunkels originally began being served in the villages of Bavaria. They had a mild alcohol concentration of 5.5% even now hold to the same. They have a dark color and a malty flavor. The beer is brewed using larger yeasts than other beers.

Lambic

Lambic is a beer that is brewed in the Pajottenland region of Belgium. The Lambic Beers include those fermented through exposure to wild yeasts and bacteria that are native to the Zenne valley. This process allows the beer to get a very distinctive flavor. It is dry, vinous, and cider heavy. It also has a sour after taste.

FaroFaro Lambic

Faro is a low concentration alcohol beer that is light and has large quantities of brown sugar added to it. It can also be prepared with herbs and sugar, which is usually added before serving. There was originally no carbonation added to it, but that has changed over time. It is pasteurized to prevent re-fermentation.

Kriek Lambic

This is a Belgian style beer that is made with sour Morello cherries. They are called the Schaarbeekse krieken. Some brewers have now replaced them with other varieties of cherries.

Gueuzetray of Gueuze mugs

This is a type of Lambic which is made with blending young and old lambics which can be one to three years old, respectively. The mixture is then bottled for a second fermentation. The blended beers contain enough sugar to be fermented a second time.

Fruit LambicFruit lambic in a glass

Fruit Lambic is called Cassis, Framboise, Peche etc. It takes the color and flavor of the fruit that is used to make it and can be dry or sweet, clear, or cloudy, depending on the ingredients used.

There are a myriad of tasty and delicious beers around the world. You can take your pick of taste and the type of fruit or grain that they are made from. The long history behind fermenting these nectars of the gods is rich and old, hence they aren’t just a cultural symbol of the region they are served in, they are a huge part of human history.




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