Clearly speaking, there are only two actual categories of beer. Everything else kind of falls under one or the other, and is known as a style of beer. Not to take away from the individuality and personal zing of the wide array of beers available in the world or anything, but that's how beer is arranged. The names of our favourite libation usually get confusing as hell, and the tastes even more so.
To help you on your way to becoming a beer taster extraordinaire, here are some explanations of the different kinds of popular beer around.
Ale refers to the kind of beer brewed using a warm fermentation method. These beers usually have a fruity and more full-bodied taste. Hops act as the bittering agent. Ales are usually darker than lagers and have several sub-categories under them.
You may recognize some of the famous kinds of ales below.
One words - Guinness. Stout is a dark beer made using roasted malt or roasted barley, hops, water and yeast, and is commonly known as Porter as well, with there being a very slight distinction between.
B. Wheat Beer
They're a mixture of barley and wheat grains and usually have a cloudy appearance. They are light in flavour but have a prominent yeast taste. Hoegaarden is one of the famous ones.
C. India Pale Ale
In the 1700s, the English brewers would put extra hops in the beer before sending it out to English troops in India, so as to prevent it from spoiling. The taste picked up in popularity and became a regular in the beer scene.
Lagers refer to the kinds of beers that are made by storing for several months in near-freezing temperatures before it is ready for consumption. Lagers can range from sweet to bitter and pale to black, and it is the world's most popular beer. Most of the common beers we drink, such as Budweiser and Corona, are all lagers.
There are several lagers that people may confuse with ales, such as the ones below.
This is a strong version of lager. It was originally a dark beer, but in modern forms the colour can range from light copper to brown. It also features a more robust malt character.
B. Pale Lager
Pale lagers are dry, clean tasting and crisp. They usually have a pale golden hue and subtle flavour. This is the most common form of beer consumed today.
Dunkel is the German word for 'dark', and is used to refer to several kinds of dark German lager. They have a clean lager taste without any fruitiness and are characterized by their smooth malty flavour.
3. Craft Beer
Beers that are made in microbreweries are known as craft beers, and they can be ales or lagers. These are independently owned and are much smaller than large-scale corporate breweries. For example, Bira 91 Blonde is an extra hoppy craft lager made in India.