By James Madeiros
The answer to your first question is yes, there are 10 types of beer. In fact, there are many more than that, which is how we can arrive at a Top 10 in the first place.
Speaking of first place, this list is in no particular order. Tastes vary, after all, and these beers are rated based on taste, complexity, alcohol content and popularity. If you have any additions of your own, let us know in the comments!
Note: Thanks to a reader for writing who clarified that “ales and lagers are the two main categories of beer; all other types are subcategories of either ale or lager. The distinction is the strain of yeast used – ale and lager yeast are different species.”
So, without further ado …
Perhaps the best-known type of beer, ales are brewed from malted barley and come in many different varieties (pale, brown, cream, etc.) and flavors. Examples include Newcastle Brown Ale, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Bass Ale, Red Tail Amber Ale, etc…
Lagers trend a little on the lighter side in terms of both flavor and color. They are noticeably more carbonated, which often gives them an effervescent quality. Examples: Corona, Foster’s, Sapporo, Perroni, Stella Artois, Budweiser, and Negra Model (dark lager).
A light and refreshing hallmark of the beer family, pilsners are identified by their crisp body, lightness of color and superb drinkability on hot summer days. Examples include Becks, Prima Pils, Harpoon Pilsner, Bitburger, St. Pauli Girl, and Spaten Pils.
Like the name, stouts are thick, dark and rich, although not necessarily possessed of high alcohol content. Examples: Guinness, Old Rasputin Imperial Stout, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, and Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout.
Similar to stouts, porters can also be like drinking a (albeit delicious) loaf of bread, but often pack more of a punch than their heady cousins. Examples: Fuller’s London Porter, Duck-Rabbit Porter, People’s Porter, Founders Porter, Deschutes Black Butte Porter, and Mayflower Porter.
Bocks, of which there are many, reside in the lager family but are often stronger and sweeter. Lightly hopped, the modern derivation is a lighter spinoff of its darker ancestral cousin. Examples: Sam Adams Winter Lager, Anchor Bock Beer, Great Lakes Rockefeller Bock, Einbecker Ur-Bock Dunkel, and St. Nikolaus Bock Bier.
Weissbier, particularly hefeweizens, are popular white beers brewed in the Bavarian style and renowned for their sweetness. This is accomplished by using malted wheat instead of barley and can result in a very strong beer. Examples: Blue Moon, Hoegaarden, Shock Top, Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat, and Paulaner Hefe-Weissbier Naturtrub.
Although comparatively unknown, lambics do enjoy an audience among connoisseurs due to its unique spontaneous fermentation method used by Belgians that gives it a dry, cider-like taste and strong punch. Examples: Lindemans Framboise, Cantillon Rosé De Gambrinus, and Drie Fonteinen Schaerbeekse Kriek.
Kölsch stands alone as a beer type if only because its brewing methods are strictly defined and regulated (warm fermented and aged at cold temperatures), although it arguably falls within the lager family. Kölsch is pale, clear and hoppy, and is most appreciated among German beer purists. Originally only brewed in Köln (Cologne), Germany, a few American breweries and brewpubs have started creating their own varieties. Examples: Sunner Kölsch, Gaffel Kölsch, Harpoon Summer Beer, and Alaskan Summer Ale,
10. Malt Liquor
Malt liquor may seem like a dubious entry, but it earns its place due to its improbable popularity and the fact that it is not liquor at all but a type of lager … even if barely so. Examples: Steel Reserve, Olde English, Country Club, Mickey’s, Colt 45, St. Ides, and King Cobra. Yum, yum, yum!
Of course, I should remind everyone that our blog entries are for your information only and are not intended as medical advice. Because everyone is different, you should work with your medical professional to determine what’s best for you. If you’re going to drink, do it legally and responsibly; don’t be stupid =).