Deciding what beer to buy can be a tall order considering the many different styles floating around the marketplace. Salt Lake Community College students have many options when it comes to local microbreweries, and knowing the difference between a bock and an Indian pale ale is the first step to embracing the exciting world of beerdom.
Essentially there are two types of beer: lagers and ales. The difference is in the yeast. Ales use “top-fermenting yeast” which is a yeast that rises to the surface during fermentation, while lagers use “bottom-fermenting yeast,” which settle near the bottom.
Ales are brewed at a much higher temperature, and generally over a shorter period of time. Ales are one of the oldest styles of beer, dating back to ancient times and are famously produced in England. While styles vary, ales are known for being full-bodied, sweet and heavy. Many common ales are: wheat ales, amber ales, pale ales, India pale ales, porters and stouts.
Lagers are brewed at low temperatures and usually for longer periods of time. The yeast used in lager-style beer ferments at a lower temperature, which leads to a clean, crisp taste. Lagers are known for their smooth taste, and are the most popular style of beer in the United States. Common lagers include: American style pale lagers, pilsners and bocks.
Come back for a taste of Local Brew Review as Clinton Baker reviews Moab Brewery in our next issue out on stands June 19.
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Comprehensive Beer Guide:
Wheat Ale – This style of beer is known for flavors of wheat, yeast and often fruit. A common form of wheat ale is hefeweizen. Typically light and refreshing, wheat ales have low amounts of hops and high amounts of carbonation. A popular local wheat beer is Uinta’s Golden Spike Hefeweizen.
Amber Ale – Amber ales have more malt than average beer and are known for a sweeter flavor. Amber ales have low amounts of hops and are more earthy than bitter. Popular brands are New Belgium’s Fat Tire and Squatters’ Organic Amber Ale.
India Pale Ale (IPA) – India pale ale was invented in the 1700s when troops from England were sent to India. Common beer would spoil before it reached the troops in India, and therefore, they ramped up the amount of hops to prolong the beer’s shelf life. This beer can be distinguished by its strong flavor of hops and bitter aftertaste. There are also double IPAs, which contain even more hops than traditional IPAs. Uinta Brewing Company offers a strong IPA in their Trader IPA, and for those trying IPAs for the first time, try Johnny’s American IPA.
Porter – Porters are very dark ales made from roasted malt. Despite the relatively heavy feel of the body, porters can often finish crisp. Flavors range from sweet to hoppy, and often, porters contain flavors of chocolate or toffee. A popular porter in Salt Lake City is Wasatch’s Polygamy Porter.
Stout – Stouts are derived from unmalted barley and contain a very low amount of hops. They are generally sweet, containing flavors of chocolate, caramel and licorice. Stouts vary in taste, some are creamy, some contain oatmeal, and some have a more apparent flavor of hops. Popular stouts include Guinness and Uinta’s Captain Bastard’s Oatmeal Stout.
Pale Lagers – American style lagers, or pale lagers, are the most common style of beer in America. Budweiser, Coors, Miller High Life, Pabst Blue Ribbon and even imported beer such as Corona Extra and Stella Artois can all be considered pale lagers. Pale lagers are distinctive for having a smooth flavor and crisp feel. The level of hops varies from mild to medium depending on the specific beer. Pale lagers generally have a low alcohol content, and are usually highly carbonated.
Pilsner – Pilsners are a form of pale lager with a few distinctive qualities. Pilsners usually have greater amounts of hops than traditional pale lagers, and are known for a bitter taste. Pilsners are a fragrant beer with a very low malt profile. The name of pilsners comes from the town of Pilzen in the Czech Republic where they were first brewed. Bohemian Brewery’s Czech Pilsner is a noteworthy beer in this category.
Bock – Bock beer is a dark colored lager known for a strong flavor of malt. Bocks are rich lagers that have flavors that vary from rich to hoppy depending on the brew. A common characteristic of bocks is sweetness; however, occasionally bocks have bitter finishes due to hops.