Beer has been around for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The definition of beer has changed and been refined over the years, but it has always consisted of grain that is fermented in water. That is about all that makes something a beer. However, in Bavaria, rules were set that have been generally followed by most companies ever since. A beer consists of three ingredients: hops, barley, and water. The Bavarian rules indicate that these are the only ingredients a beer may contain; while some brewers adhere to that restriction, many have become innovative and begun using the different ingredients. Also, many companies have developed different types of hops and barley to develop their own unique flavours. Here are a few examples of different kinds of beer that are popular around the world.
A pale ale is a type of beer that is made from very lightly coloured ingredients. It is an ale because it is fermented using an ale yeast and kept at a slightly warmer temperature. The other alternative is a lager, which is fermented with lager yeast at a colder temperature. In the past, some lagers were created from lager yeast at a warm temperature; they were called steam beers. If you find one of those, you are tasting a piece of American history. A few companies still make them, but they’re not very popular. Pale ales have taken their place because they are strong and flavourful without the off-flavours of a warm-brewed lager.
A pale ale is made because barley is allowed to germinate, which means that the root comes out of the barley seed. That releases the barley’s sugar. The barley is then roasted to bring out its full flavour. If it is only slightly roasted, it will take on the golden colour of a pale ale. Pale ales tend to have a lighter barley taste since roasting brings out more and more flavour. That means the hops are brought forward and that is why pale ales are light but flavourful. An international beer shop should have a great selection of pale ales.
Lagers differ from ales in that they are brewed with a different type of yeast that needs to be kept cold. This process is why many beer companies will advertise that they brew, store, and ship their beers at a cold temperature. They do this because it would develop off-flavours if they did not. An amber lager differs from many other kinds of lagers because of the barley used. As mentioned earlier, barley is germinated and then roasted before it is fermented in water. If the barley is roasted longer than you would roast it for a pale ale, but not as long as you would for a chocolate stout, you end up with an amber. The amber colour of roasted barley is the middle road between light and dark beers. It captures many flavours of a dark beer but does not overshadow the flavour of the hops. Many people enjoy these because they are light and refreshing but also flavourful. Furthermore, since they are lagers, they are very good when you drink them cold.