Our previous blog discussed the most important ingredients needed for brewing beer at home; now it is time to define the different types of beer you can make with your home beer brewing kit.
Ale is the oldest type of beer made and is brewed from malted barley using a warm fermentation with a strain of brewers’ yeast. The yeast will ferment the beer quickly, giving it a sweet, full bodied and fruity taste. Most ales contain hops, which help preserve the beer and impart a bitter herbal flavor that balances the sweetness of the malt nicely. Varieties of ales include brown, pale, scotch and mild.
Brown ales tend to be lightly hopped, and fairly mildly flavored, often with a nutty taste. Brown ales first appeared in the early 1900’s, with Newcastle Brown being a top example of what brown ale is. Brown ales became the most popular beer to home-brewers in North America in the early 1980’s.
Pale ale was a term used for beers made from malt dried with coke. Coke had been first used for roasting malt in 1642, but it wasn’t until the early 1700’s that the term pale ale was first used. Pale ale is a beer, light in color, which uses a warm fermentation and predominantly pale malt. The pale ale is one of the world’s most popular beer styles. Different brewing practices and hop levels have resulted in a range of taste and strength within the pale ale family.
Stout is a dark beer made from using roasted malt or barley, hops, water and yeast and sometimes bitter in taste. Stout is traditionally the generic term for the strongest or stoutest porters. Other types of stouts are made with oatmeal, which usually produces a sweeter beer. Like ales, they come in many variations including dry or Irish stout, imperial stouts, porters, chocolate stouts, and oatmeal Stouts.
Oatmeal Stouts are probably one of the most popular stout versions. The oatmeal stout is a stout with a proportion of oats, normally about 30%, added during the brewing process. Oatmeal stouts usually do not specifically taste like oats but the smoothness of oatmeal stouts comes from the high content of proteins, lipids, and gums imparted by the use of oats. The gums increase the viscosity and body adding to the sense of smoothness.
In the early 1900’s when oatmeal stouts were being predominately made outside of the United States, Samuel Smith commissioned Charles Finkel to make its own version. Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout has become a template for other breweries’ versions of the oatmeal stout.
Lagers are a type of beer that is fermented and conditioned at low temperatures. In certain countries lagers contain or often feature large proportions of adjuncts, usually rice or maize. These were added as a means of thinning out the body of American beers, balancing the large quantities of protein being introduced by high amounts of barley.
There are two main types of lager: pale lager and dark lager. Pale Lager is a very pale to golden colored lager with a well-attenuated body and noble hop bitterness. The brewing process for the pale lager was quickly picked up by breweries around the world and has become one of the most popular beer types to drink. It was until the 1840’s that lagers in general would typically be darker in color. They typically ranged in color from amber to reddish brown, and could have been termed dunkel, schwarzbier, or Baltic porter depending on the region or brewing method.
Now you know the main types of beer you can make it’s time to get together your beer making equipment and ingredients and brew away!