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Beer Type and Styles

Beer Types:

Ales, Porters, Stouts, Lagers, Bocks, Malts

Ale: Ales are the oldest of beers dating back over 5000 years and are brewed with top-fermenting yeasts (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). They are often brewed with roasted malt, are full bodied, more bitter, with a fruity taste, and with a strong hops flavor. Ale is roughly translated as “love child beer.” Ale beers need a higher temperature fermentation compared to lagers. The Ale yeast thrives in the mid-range room temperatures of 60° and 75° Fahrenheit process where the yeast floats on top, is pearl in color, and has an alcohol content of around 4.5%. They are mostly produced in the United Kingdom, however are seeing a resurgence in the US. Modern Ales use calcium sulfate-rich water, causing the fermenting yeast to have higher alcohol content, reaching in the ranges of 5% alcohol content for colored ales and 6.5% for the dark wheat ales.

Porter (Special Run Dark Beer): In the top-fermenting family. Porter is a dark beer that was named due to it being a working class drink. Porter is an English beer style that has become very popular in the US. It is rich, concentrated and with more foam, contains hops and is sweeter than an Ale, however not as strong as a Stout. It is still fruity like a dry wine with around 4.5% alcohol content.

Stout: In the top-fermenting family. Stout is dark brown to black in color with a thick creamy tan/brown head. It has a malt flavor, is sweeter than an Ale, yet less sweet than a Porter. It contains more hops, therefore a very strong hops flavor which some people say it is slightly astringent and reminds them of coffee. Alcohol content of 3% to 7.5%, and has a tonic effect. Ireland and the United Kingdom are the main producing countries, including Ireland’s famous and most known Guinness Stout.

Lager: Lagers are made with bottom-fermenting yeast (Saccharomyces uvarum) that thrives best at cooler temperatures, between 35° and 55° Fahrenheit. The main raw material remained malt and is sometimes combined with corn or rice. It is made after aging and after precipitation, and then after the charring process is complete. Beer quality is light and full of bubbles, because of the use of temperature at the end of fermentation. The beer is often stored in a cold cellar for aging also known as lagers.

Bock Beer (Buckwheat Beer): In some areas it is known as Polk beer, named because the initial lead in the Emibock region of Germany. It is a dark beer made of Buckwheat. It has a thick quality, and is usually black and sweeter than the average beer, with an above average alcohol content. The most recognized trademark for beer kegs is a goat (Bock) standing on one end.

Malt Liquor: Malt Liquor encompasses both Lagers and Ales. It typically is straw to pale amber in color and often includes any alcoholic beverage with 5% or more alcohol by volume made with malted barley. There are many brands, and its main feature is the high alcohol content generally above 6%.

Beer Types:

Ambers, Blondes, Goldens, Creams, Wheats, Pale Ales, India Pale Ales, Browns, Reds, Darks, Fruits, Honeys, Pilsners, Lights, Strongs, Nears

Ambers: Popular in the US, Amber beers come in both Lagers and Ales. They are a very balanced full bodied malt beer and feature hints of caramel.

Blondes: Blondes are Ales with roots to the German style Kölsch and have been a times called Lager like. They are a good balanced beer and range in color from very pale to a deep golden (called a Golden). They have low to medium hop bitterness while containing some sweetness from the malt and tend to be clear, crisp, and refreshing.

Goldens: Goldens are a subset of Blonde beers. Many times you will find Goldens with a slight citrus or vanilla taste.

Creams: Creams are another subset of Blondes and Goldens with the main difference that Creams tend to be very mild and sweet compared to the Blondes and Goldens.

Wheats (Weiss): Wheats are Ales that are characterized as having very little aftertaste due to the relative amounts of wheat to malted barley used.

Pale Ales: Pale Ales are Ales which tend to be pale in color and made with predominantly pale barley malt. They are not as dark as a Porter, but not as bright as a Blonde or Golden, they fall in-between. They tend to be balanced with a fruity to fresh citrus aroma.

India Pale Ales (IPA): India Pale Ales are hoppier (relatively bitter with a bite) and stronger version of a Pale Ales.

Browns: Browns tend to be dark amber or brown in color. The coloring tends to be due to the caramel and chocolate ingredients used. They can range from a slight citrus taste to a strong malty or nutty flavor depending on what was added in the brewing process.

Reds: Reds are Lagers and Ales that can range between red or light brown in color. They tend to be medium to high in flavor. They contain hints of toasted caramel and many times fruit esters. They are full-bodied beers.

Darks: Darks are Ales very popular in the UK. They are medium brown to almost black color. They tend to have a very malty taste many times offset with a fruity tang.

Fruits and Sweets: Most fruity beers are Ales. The Belgians are credited with first adding fruits to the beers. Sweet Beer has added juices and many times higher alcoholic content.

Honeys: Honeys come in both Lagers and Ales. Honey beers tend to be sweet from both the honey and the caramels that go into them. Most honeys have an amber color to a slight copper tone. They range from a full-bodied to medium-bodied beer.

Pilsners: Pilsners are named after the city of Pilsen in Bohemia. They are Pale to Golden Lagers and tend to be dry, crisp, slightly bitter and hoppy.

Lights: Light beer is a Pilsner Lager that was invented in 1967 by American biochemist Joseph Owades with fewer calories and many times a lower alcohol content. The color content is very light and clear with a mild flavor. Miller Lite, which started out as Meister Brau “Lite”, is credited with being the first mainstream light beer.

Strongs: Strongs are any beer over 7% Alcohol By Volume (ABV).

Nears and NA: Near Beer and Non-Alcoholic Beer make up the Low-alcohol beer segment. They contain both Ales and Lagers and typically contain less than 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV).

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Beer Production Process

Most beer is made from the four basic ingredients of grains, water, hops, and yeast. The premise is to extract the sugars from the grains so that the yeast can turn it into alcohol by the process of fermentation.

The beer you drink has to go through many different steps and processes before it is bottled, canned, or kegged and enjoyed. This is all accomplished by ingredients selection, malting, mashing, lautering, boiling, wort/hop separation and cooling, fermentation, maturation and conditioning, filtration, carbonation, and bottling.

Most beer is made from the four basic ingredients of grains, water, hops, and yeast. The premise is to extract the sugars from the grains so that the yeast can turn it into alcohol by the process of fermentation.

The beer you drink has to go through many different steps and processes before it is bottled, canned, or kegged and enjoyed. This is all accomplished by ingredients selection, malting, mashing, lautering, boiling, wort/hop separation and cooling, fermentation, maturation and conditioning, filtration, carbonation, and bottling.

Wow, that is a lot of work, science, and craftsmanship, but it is so worth it when you want to sit back and enjoy a cold one. So let’s look at the process in a little bit of detail from let’s say a 10,000 feet view.

Ingredients Selection:

The brewing process begins with the selection of ingredients like wheat, rye, barley, water, and hops.

Wait… WATER????

Yes Water, H20, or if you’re a chemist “Dihydrogen Monoxide” (DHMO)!

Much thought, selection, testing, and processing goes into what type of water (hard, soft, alkaline, etc.) and where did the water come from. The water is purified and checked for the proper calcium and acidic content to maximize and ensure the isolated enzymes in the mashing process can be obtained. If not, the water is brought up to the suitable needs to obtain this.

The selection of high-quality grains such as barley, wheat, or rye is made depending on the type and taste of beer desired.

The selection of hops is also made which helps determine if a beer is bitter and gives it aroma.

Once the selection of ingredients process has taken place, the brewer has to decide if they will be doing their own barley malting. Malting is the milling or crushing of the grains. Some small brewers purchase malt, while the majority of them make their own.

Malting (milling):

The selection of high-quality grain is sorted according to the particle size, cleaned, then soaked in the bath three days, and finally send to the germination chamber.

In the chamber, the grain is allowed to germinate in the cool, damp air for one week. This germination process creates enzymes that will help convert the grain’s starch into sugar in the Mash Conversion step.

Then the now green malt is placed in a kiln and has hot air introduced to roast them and air-dry them for 24 hours. The drying stops the enzymes from breaking down into sugars. The duration of the roasting process affects the color and flavor of the beer. The final malted/milled product is called grist.


The grist (dried malt) is heated, not boiled, with water in a mash tun for about an hour. This activates natural enzymes in the grains that cause it to break down into starches and release its sugars. If the grist were allowed to boil, it would kill the process of the natural enzymes changing the malt’s starch down into sugars. The grist, water, sugar, and grain leftovers are called mash (pulp) while in this process.

The leftover mash is pumped into a lauter tun. The mash is separated into three items. The excess water is separated and drained from the mash and saved. The sugary, sticky, dense liquid called wort or maltose produce juice is separated via the lauter tun’s false bottom from the grain husks into a brew kettle. The excess water is sprayed through the grain husks to extract as much wort as possible. The leftover grain husks are dried and sold as cattle feed.

The Boiling Process:

The brew kettle containing the wort is carefully allowed to boil one to two hours under strict controlled conditions so it doesn’t burn or caramelize. This process also sterilizes the brew and acts as a natural preservative. During this time hops and other spices are added. This will allow for control of taste, to either balance out the sweetness of the sugar in the wort or provide flavor depending on the timing of the hops being added to the brew. Adding in the hops early releases bitterness into the beer, whereas adding the hops in later affects the flavor and aroma.

Wort/Hop Separation and Cooling:

Once the boiling process has finished and the wort has taken on the desired effect of the hops and spices, the wort is transferred into a whirlpool to separate the wort from the malt and hops. The separated liquid is pumped into a hot wort tun. The hot wort tun is then cooled using a plate cooler. The plate cooler has coolant that flows around the hot wort tun that drops the temperature from the boiling point (212°F) to 41°F/5℃ to 60°F/16℃ in a few seconds.


Once the wort has cooled, it is strained and filtered. The wort and yeast are pumped into a fermentation tank (fermentor) for about seven to ten days. Yeast converts the sugary wort into beer by producing alcohol and decomposition of carbon dioxide (CO2). The yeast multiplies until a creamy, frothy head appears on top of the brew. Any excess CO2 is captured and placed in a tank for later use.

Fermentation is where the brewmaster decides whether or not they will be brewing Ale or Lager beer.

If Ale beer is desired the tank temperature is raised between 60°F to 75°F which is where top-fermenting yeasts (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) thrive.

If Lager beer is desired the tank temperature is maintained between 35°F to 55°F where bottom-fermenting yeast (Saccharomyces uvarum) thrive.

Maturation and Conditioning:

After the fermentation process, the young “green” beer is sulfur tasting at this point and needs to be matured. Maturity happens naturally where the yeast absorbs the sulfur flavors and the beer is allowed time to develop its flavors and a smooth finish.

When the fermentation is over, the yeast settles to the bottom and is removed.

Filtration, Carbonation, Pasteurizing, Bottling

The beer finishes the conditioning process by being stored cold and then filtered once or twice more. Then the beer has carbon dioxide injections and goes off to be pasteurized which makes sure any leftover yeast stops its actions while sterilizing the bottle or can.

The beer is then placed into bottles, cans, or kegs and off to packaging where it goes through inspection, labeling, packaging, and marketing.

Next, it makes its way to the distributor who brings it back to their warehouse until it is ordered by the store or bar, at which time it will be delivered so you may drink and enjoy it.

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The main ingredients in beer

Water, Grains, Hops, and Yeast

What is beer?

Merriam-Webster defines beer as: “An alcoholic beverage usually made from malted cereal grain (as barley), flavored with hops, and brewed by slow fermentation.”

For those of us who enjoy drinking beer, we really don’t think too much about the ingredients that go into our beers, we just know which beers we like, the ones we don’t, our favorite, and our preferred go to in case our top pick is not available.

Beer is one of those things in life that is greater than the sum of the parts. There are many different styles, types, flavors, and aromas. It has both Old World roots and New World connections.

Beer is something so simple yet complex.

It takes a lot of work, science, and craftsmanship to brew a great-tasting, long-lasting beer.

Beer is made from four primary ingredients: Water, Grains, Hops, and Yeast.

Let’s look at what some would call the “Reader’s Digest” of the ingredients that go into making beer. Let’s make this lite and fun just like drinking a fine Pilsner Miller Lite instead of a science project. Life is complicated enough, time to just get the cliff-notes and have time to enjoy a good cold one.


In many modern brews, water makes up 90 to 95% of the content by volume in beer. That number can go higher if the beer you are drinking is a Near Beer or Non-alcoholic brew or as low as 33% as is the case with the current world’s strongest beer, Brewmeister’s Snake Venom, which comes in with a whopping 67% ABV (alcohol by volume). How “Snake Venom” gets there is all that science stuff.

Much thought, selection, testing, and processing goes into what type of water (hard, soft, alkaline, etc.) and where did the water come from. The water is purified and checked for the proper calcium and acidic content to maximize the starch to sugar conversion and fermentation processes. If not, the water is brought up to the suitable needs to obtain this.

Hey, that was a little sciencey!

I kept it lite! I could have thrown in the “Dihydrogen Monoxide” (DHMO) to describe water and the Saccharification Rest aka the starch to sugar conversion for all the chemists reading this.


After water, the grains are the next main ingredient in the production of beer. For the grains, barley is by far the number one choice followed by wheat and then rye. The grain is responsible for helping produce the fermentable sugars needed for yeast to produce alcohol.


Hops are flowers that come from a vining plant. There are over 50 types of hops and beer is brewed only with the female flowers. Hops are what gives beer that special flavor and refreshing bitterness, distinctive aroma, and balance to the sweetness of the fermentation sugars while giving beer increased durability and stability of the foam.


Yeast is a fungus that eats the sugar in beer and expels alcohol and carbon dioxide in the process. Without yeast, we would not have beer. For beer brewing purposes, there are two types of yeast. Ale yeast is top-fermenting and Lager yeast which is a bottom-fermenting yeast.

There you have it, the four primary ingredients in the beer-making process.

See we kept it lite with very little science and hey no pop quizzes.

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The proper way to pour beer

Properly pouring beer is a skill, an art, and a science all in one. It makes for better enjoyable and much tastier beer. Drinking beer out of a glass is soooo much better than drinking out of a plastic cup. I do know Toby Keith’s “Red Solo Cup” is a good drinking song but trust me if you want to enjoy the beer nothing beats a glass with the perfect head on it.

  1. Make sure the glass is clean and then rinse it with cold water. Not only is a dirty glass disgusting and unhealthy, it can change not only the flavor but prevent the head from forming by disruption of the cohesive process and CO2 release. The rinsing provides less friction allowing for a more fragrant head. Best with a clean ice-frosted glass.
  2. Hold your glass about one inch from the can, bottle or tapper at a 45° angle for the first half of the pour.
  3. While pouring the beer, target the middle of the side of the glass.
  4. For the 2nd half of the pour bring the glass back to a 90° angle and continue to pour in the center of the glass while increasing the distance of the pour. This is where the head is formed. A perfect head should be 1″ to 1-1/2″.