Beer is brewed in all over the world and there is something for each palate and every occasion. It made just with four main ingredients which are water, malt, hops and yeast. The result of this alchemy might be a mix between the mystical, the culture, the process, the location, the ingredient properties and so on. But, how we differentiate beers?
There are two major classifications of beer which are named ale and lager. Here are some basic facts about these classifications:
Ales are named top fermenting (the yeasts float on top of the beer during fermentation), while lagers are named bottom fermenting (the yeasts sink to the bottom of the beer during fermentation).
- Ales are fermented at relatively warm temperatures for short periods of time (for about six days at 16ºC), while lagers are cold fermented for longer periods of time (for about three weeks at 10ºC).
Elements of beer style
Beers can be categorized according to a number of factors. In the following list there are some of these factors:
- Alcohol concentration, the modern classification of alcohol in alcoholic beverages has regulatory and tax purposes according to the percentage of alcohol by volume.
- Appearance, the visual aspects that may be observed in a beer are colour, clarity, and the head. Colour is usually given by the grain and malts used, other ingredients may contribute to the colour of some styles such as fruit beers.
- Aroma, there are several factors that may affect the aroma in a beer such as malt, type of hops, the alcohol, esters, and multiple other aromatic components.
- Flavour, the taste characteristics of a beer may come from the type and amount of malt used, as also are imparted by yeast.
- Grains, most beers use barley malt as their primary source of fermentable sugars, and some styles use one or more other grains as a key ingredient in the style, like wheat beer, rye beer or oatmeal. The inclusion of some grains such as corn and rice is often viewed as making less of a flavour contribution and more of an added source of fermentable sugars.
- Hops, contribute bitterness, flavour and aroma to a beer in different ways depending on when they are added during the brewing process. How much hop bitterness and aroma is appropriate varies between beer styles. There are many varieties of hops, some of which are associated with beers from specific regions.
- Mouthfeel, the feel of a beer in the mouth, the level of carbonation varies from one beer style to another. The thickness of the liquid may also be considered as part of a beer’s style.
- Other ingredients, in occasions fruits and spices are key ingredients in some beer styles. These are used to contribute to the flavour and aroma profile of other styles. Sometimes vegetables have been used in beers furthermore honey, molasses or other fermentable sugars which impart their distinct flavours to a beer.
- Yeast, different strains impart peculiar flavours and aroma characteristics and may change in which complex sugars they can ferment and how high their alcohol tolerance it. Additionally, depends on the environment where the yeast is doing the fermentation.
Nowadays you are able to find a lot of information about beer, for example, The Brewers Association, Beer Judge Certification Program, Beer Advocate, Craft Beer, Rate Beer and Untappd which provide you beer information including beer styles, consumer ratings and reviews.