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Breaking Down Beer Styles: A Guide to Understanding Craft Beer

Beer is one of the oldest drinks in human history, and for good reason. There’s something about the perfect pint of beer that has the power to unite people across cultures and borders. Over time, different beer styles have emerged that are known for their unique taste and brewing processes. In recent years, craft beer has taken the world by storm, and its popularity has led to a plethora of styles to choose from. But how do you know what sets craft beer apart from mass-produced options? In this blog post, we’ll explore different beer styles, their unique characteristics, and what sets craft beers apart from the rest.

Ale vs. Lager

The two most common beer categories are ale and lager. Ales are brewed at warmer temperatures, which allows yeast to ferment more quickly, resulting in a fruity and robust flavor. Lagers, on the other hand, are brewed at cooler temperatures, which results in a cleaner, crisper taste. Lagers also take longer to ferment and age, which is why they are often associated with mass-produced options. Craft beer, on the other hand, tends to focus on ales, which allows for more creativity and experimentation in flavor and aroma.


IPAs, or India Pale Ales, are known for their hoppy bitterness and high alcohol content. However, there are several subcategories of IPAs, including American, English, and Belgian styles. American IPAs tend to be more aggressive in terms of hops and bitterness, while English styles tend to have a more balanced flavor profile. Belgian IPAs often include a variety of spices and fruit flavors.

Stouts and Porters

Stouts and porters are known for their dark color and rich, complex flavors. Stouts tend to be stronger, with a thick, creamy texture and deep chocolate or coffee notes. Porters are a bit lighter and have more subtle flavors, often with hints of caramel or toffee. These beer styles are often associated with cold weather and are perfect for sipping by a cozy fire.

Belgian Beers

Belgian-style beers are known for their unique and complex flavor profiles. These beers often include a variety of spices, herbs, and fruits, and are fermented at higher temperatures than other beers. Belgian style beers are often referred to as Trappist beers, named after the monasteries where they were traditionally brewed. These beers have become increasingly popular in the craft beer world, with American-made Belgian-style beers receiving international recognition for their quality and innovation.

Sour Beers

Finally, sour beers, once considered niche drinks, have exploded in popularity in recent years. These beers are known for their tart, acidic flavor profile, thanks to the use of bacteria and wild yeast in the fermentation process. Sour beers are often aged in oak barrels, which adds complexity and depth to their flavor. These beers can be polarizing, but they are a perfect example of the creativity and experimentation that sets craft beer apart from mass-produced options.

Craft beer is all about creativity and innovation when it comes to crafting different beer styles with unique characteristics. Discovering each type’s distinct flavor characteristics requires a bit of experimentation, but with a little knowledge, you can better understand the brewing processes involved and identify the styles you like best. It’s always satisfying to sip on a beer that has taken so much time and effort to produce and that shines through in the final product. So, the next time you’re in a bar or a brewery, don’t hesitate to try something new and see what the craft beer world has to offer! Or, stop by Payless Liquors and grab some new beer to-go!