The craft beer market is comprised of hundreds of documented beer varieties and a handful of organisations with their own unique classifications, but beers primarily fall into one of three types: bottom fermentation beers (lagers); top fermentation beers (ales); and spontaneous or wild fermentation beers.
Within each of these categories there are many sub-groups but the main styles available today are dark ales; pale ales; stouts; wheat beers; strong ales; lagers; sour beers; and non-alcoholic beers.
CATEGORIES: India Pale Ale, Bitter, ESB, Saison, Golden Ale ABV: 2.8% to 10% or more SERVE TEMPERATURE: 8-12°C TASTING NOTES: Tropical fruit and pine; hedgerow hops and biscuity malt; tangy; spicy
Loosely speaking, the term Pale Ale denotes a beer that is golden to copper in colour, bitter, and brewed using an 'ale yeast'.
Many of the world’s most popular Pale Ales are made in the United States or were inspired by the American craft beer movement and tend to have a bold hop character and subdued malt. They’ll have pine, citrus and tropical fruit flavours, and will be between 4.5 and 5.5% in alcoholic strength.
India Pale Ales, first developed during the 18th century in London for consumption by British colonialists in India, now have similar characteristics to American Pale Ales but are stronger and more aromatic. They can be quite bitter but also exhibit some sweetness due to the amount of malt used.
British Bitter – sometimes referred to as Pale Ale, especially in bottle - is more subtle with a more subdued hop aroma. There’s more balance between bitter hops and sweet, biscuity malt. The hops used are often English, giving the beer more hedgerow flavours rather than tropical fruit. It’s copper in colour and between 2.8 and 5% ABV.
Classic Bitters include Fuller’s London Pride and Fuller’s are also the inventors of ESB, a stronger form of Bitter that has spawned a whole host of imitators on the other side of the Atlantic. The beer is a fruity, heavy variety with a dry finish and about 5.5% ABV.
Golden Ales, similar in strength to Bitter, are usually heavily-hopped and have a bitter, aromatic flavour.
Saisons are Belgian-style beers and tend to be bitter, with a spicy, tangy yeast character. The classic example is Saison Dupont, but many British breweries also make this kind of beer.