With Oktoberfest well underway, the season of beer is very much here. But if you’re new to the space, the sheer number of different varieties can seem overwhelming. The good news is that there’s always something for everyone and a flavour to match your palate. Overall, there are just 2 major categories of beer. Ale and lager, and then the different distinctive flavours evolve from there. Under ales, there are pale ales, India pale ales (IPA), cream ales, wheat, amber and Belgian styles. Lagers encompass a wide range of styles, including the pale Pilsners, German Helles, amber lagers, and darker American lagers. Let’s break it down further and make everyone a beer-ordering pro.

One of the most popular styles of beer in the world, this beer is golden and copper with a distinct taste of hops. Brewed with pale malt and ale yeast, pale ales tend to be hoppy and feature lighter flavours which give the drink a bitter aftertaste. They generally have low alcohol content and are easy to drink.

India Pale Ale

Also known as IPAs they usually have a deep golden or amber colour. Thanks to the brewing process, IPAs tend to be a little more bitter than other beers but brewers temper that flavour with citrus or herbal notes which balance it out. 

Pilsners

A product of Pilsen, Czech Republic, these light gold beers are typically made with malts, hops, plus neutral or hard water. Pilsners are noticeable different from other lagers because they have a dry, slightly bitter taste. This beverage is extremely popular during the summertime because it’s easy to drink and has low alcohol content.

Stout

Thick and rich, stouts are best known for their dark colour and thick, creamy head. They feature a heavily roasted flavour that comes from unmalted roasted barley that is added to the wort. Stouts often contain hints of coffee, chocolate, liquorice, or molasses which makes this beer unique and great to pair with desserts.

Porter

Dating back to 18th century London these beers have a strong toasty aroma and distinct roasted flavours. Made with roasted brown malts or barley, they often have strong notes of chocolate, toffee, coffee, and caramel. Although porters have a similar colour to stouts, porters have a crisper taste.

Brown Ale

Brown ales range in colour from amber to brown and are mellow but flavorful. The majority of brown ales feature chocolate, caramel, citrus, or nut notes. However, depending on where the beer was brewed, it’ll likely have a different flavour. The English version of the brown ale is usually dry and nutty, while the American version tends to be hoppier.

Wheat Beer

With wheat as its malt, this beer has a smooth texture and hazy body. This beer has very little hops presence and its flavour depends on the type of wheat used. Wheat beers tend to have citrusy and tangy flavours that make them a great beverage for a sunny day.