Bier Blog #7 - Beer Styles
My first taste of a beer was in high school. My brother handed me a stolen Busch-Light from our parent’s fridge and said, “Just chug it, it’ll start to taste like a pop.” I accepted the chug challenge and… it was nothing like a pop.
Beer styles have grown in popularity quite a bit since then. Beer has been around for centuries. In case you’re wondering, historians have examined artifacts from Babylon dating back to 4300 BC that contained recipes for beer. It wasn’t until the end of the 20th century that beer began to totally transform into the craft beer scene that we all see today across the United States. The greats like John McDonald (Boulevard Brewing), Sam Caligione (Dogfish Head) and Jim Koch (Boston Beer Company) cultivated a category all it’s own. And with the birth of craft beer, numerous beer styles were created and adapted. There are many beer styles and categories to explain. Here, we aim to highlight some of our favorites.
IPA (India Pale Ale)
Back when England used to rule the world, literally, they traveled back and forth to India. Which at that time was a very long voyage. The soldiers stationed in India wanted beer from home. The problem was the beer would show up spoiled. So, the brewers had to come up with a solution. The fix was adding more hops and brewing to create a higher ABV, both natural preservatives. The beer grew in popularity as the soldiers would come back in town and request the “India Pale Ale.” Thus a new style – and new beer drinker – was born. Now there are several variations of IPA’s from session IPA’s (low ABV) to Double/Imperial IPA’s (High ABV).
Russian Imperial Stout
We all need to thank the Russians. No, not for the outcome of the Trump election. Obviously. It was the Russians who loved the stout style so much that they needed it back home. Again, due to a long voyage, brewers had to up the hops, the amount of the grain and add more yeast. That sparked a new style of stout. The Imperial Stout (Imperial Czarists, are you making the connection yet?).
A sour beer is an intentionally acidic, tart or sour tasting beer. That being said, a “sour” is such a broad, wide-casting net. Typically, these are Belgian style beers (lambics, gueuze, or Flanders red ales). At one point in time, virtually every beer had a bit of sourness to it. This is largely due to the fact that brewers hadn’t had the opportunity to pasteurize the beer. The sour and funky style beers are one of the fastest growing beer categories right now. Demand is at an all-time high and will be an interesting style to keep on your radar as it changes over time.
Wheat beers originated in Germany and were typically unfiltered (yeast is prominent and makes the beer look hazy). You’ve probably seen wheat beers by their German name, Hefeweizen. Broken down it translates to, hefe (yeast) weizen (wheat). This style is obviously wheat dominant in the grain bill. This style is low in hops and is generally seen as a good introductory beer into the craft world. So, if you have a friend who is hard to break from the standard light beer, give them a wheat and see how that shakes out.