Beer for beginners

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Every year, the first Friday of August is celebrated as international beer day.

Beer, stereotypically iconic for macho men and masculinity, is proudly the official drink of men everywhere. And while beer sits atop the throne of alcoholic beverages, the vast amount of different types and flavors can have even the best of us flustered and confused. So how can one tell what type of beer guy he is and what to order at the local pub?

In short, you can group together the various types of beer into two categories, based on the type of yeast used to make them, lager and ale.

But before we get to these groups, a quick lesson on key terms in the world of brewery. First, the key ingredients – barley, hops and yeast. Barley is the grain that once malted, allows for the brewing process to begin. Hops are a bitter preservative used to balance out the sugar from the barley and to preserve the beer’s flavor and aroma. Yeast, the fungus that determines the outcome of any and every beer. While consuming sugar, yeast produces carbonation and alcohol, in effect becoming the driving factor of texture, taste and alcohol levels.

Back to our two groups – lager and ale.

Lager
The yeast in lager beers need colder temperatures and a slower process in order to produce the desired beer. This slower and colder process usually creates a mild and crisp beer, softening the texture and flavors. There are many different types of beers that fall into the lager category, but the most notable are: American lagers such as Budweiser, bock, red lager and pilsner. The Czechoslovakian produced pilsner is considered the most popular style of beer in the world, with a crisp taste and an inviting gold color – you can’t say no to a pilsner!

Ale
The ale yeast process is much quicker than that of lager, and occurs at a higher temperature. Therefore, ales are traditionally richer in flavor and aroma, with a more complex and noticeable texture. The different types of beers that belong to this category vary, but that are all unique in their own right. Pale ale is very crisp in both taste and texture, with a bright gold color to it. To differ, brown ale – mostly from northern England – is both sweet and lighter in texture. Stout, such as Guinness, is famous for it’s dark, almost black color with a hint of caramel aftertaste. Another large part of the ale family is wheat beer. Wheat beer, namely Hoegaarden and Paulener are extremely popular and are among the top sellers of the brewing industry. These beers are generally lighter in color and rich with strong yeast flavors.

In addition to these two categories, a new trend is gaining traction in the world of beer – fruit flavored beer. This style is becoming very popular among women and men who are looking to enjoy a cold one without the bitterness of hops or the heavy barley texture. The most popular flavors include berries, apple and cherry.

So now that you know what your options are, all that’s left to do is to go out and celebrate beer day – the more you try the more you’ll know! And remember, you don’t choose the beer, the beer chooses you…

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