A Cheat Sheet For The Casual Beer Drinker

A Cheat Sheet For The Casual Beer Drinker

If you’re a beer connoisseur, a well thought out beer menu is cause for excitement. But if you’re someone who enjoys a beer every once in awhile but would by no means call yourself an expert, that same menu can be overwhelming. You’ll probably scan the list for something you recognize and order that, or ask the bartender for some recommendations only to hear phrases like “light lager” or “hoppy IPA”. If the extent of your beer knowledge is the difference between Budweiser and Bud Light in a bottle, can, or pint, that kind of beer-specific advice isn’t going to be much help.

Obviously, the best way to figure out what you like is to go out and start drinking some beer. But it’s always nice to know a little bit about what you’re getting yourself into. With this cheat sheet, you’ll know exactly what to order next time you’re at a place that doesn’t really have a Budweiser vibe.

Lager, which is German for storeroom or warehouse, uses a process of cool fermentation followed by maturation in cold storage. It is distinguished by the use of a particular yeast called Saccharomyces pastorianus and is considered the most widely consumed and commercial available style of beer. It can come in pale, golden, amber or dark, but pale is the most common and most popular.

Order this: Corona, Stella Artois, Tsingtao, Heineken

A porter is a dark beer that is originally from London. It’s a well-hopped beer made from brown malt, which means it usually has a pretty distinctive flavour. Although it used to be considered a stronger beer, these days it’s considered no different than others in alcohol content. Many breweries make seasonal porters adding flavours like pumpkin, honey, vanilla, plum, and more.

Order this: Fuller’s London Porter, Millstreet’s Coffee Porter, Millstreet’s Vanilla Porter

Sour beers are becoming more popular lately with their intentional acidic or tart flavours. The most common sour beers are Belgian, and usually wild yeast is introduced into the brew to give it that fermented flavour. Another method is to add fruit during the aging process to encourage a secondary fermentation. It takes a long time to mature, so sour beers can be risky for breweries to undertake—but their rarity is what makes them more in demand.

Order this: Stillwater Insetto Sour Ale, Dues Brut Des Flanders, Blood Brothers Paradise Lost Dark & Sour

Cider comes in a number of styles ranging from very dry and tart to super sweet. It’s made from the fermented juice of apples so it has a distinctive apple flavour that beer doesn’t have. It’s most popular in the UK, but brands like Somersby have made the fruity beer alternative a hit in North America too. There are also pear and peach options and obviously, there is a lot more sugar in a cider than there is in most beers.

Order this: Magner’s Irish Cider, Blackthorn Dry, Brickworks Stadium Island Peach Cider

If you like a beer that has a strong flavour and after taste, an IPA is the way to go. An India Pale Ale, starts as an ale and gets its bitter flavour from the addition of hops. It can range in flavour depending on how long it is aged and the types of hops added and when, so there are really no two IPAs that are exactly the same. A couple must-try styles include a New England IPA and a British IPA.

Order this: Amsterdam Boneshaker IPA, Flying Monkeys Smashbomb Atomic IPA, Bellwoods Witchshark Imperial IPA

‘Stout’ literally means ‘strong’ so the term was originally used for the strongest beers, mostly porters. Later, stout became another word for a dark beer, so a stout is now consider a “strong, dark beer”. Made using roasted malt or barley, hops, water and yeast, there are a number of variations available including a milk stout, imperial stout, or Irish stout.

Order this: Millstreet Oatmeal Stout, Guinness Draught, Muskoka Winter Beard Double Chocolate Cranberry Stout

Wheat beers, which are popular in Germany and Belgium, are usually top-fermented which mean they are brewed with a large proportion of wheat relative to the amount of malted barley. The common “white beers” are generally light in colour and often flavoured with citrus and coriander and often served with an orange wedge.

Order this: Blanche de Chambly, Side Launch Wheat, Forked River Mojo Rhubarb Wheat Ale, Belgian Moon

A saison is a type of pale ale that is highly carbonated often with fruity or spicy undertones. Most brewers see a saison as a chance to get creative with ingredients and try something new, so it’s not usually a brew that’s available all year-round or even more than once. That’s why beer lovers always jump at the chance to try a saison that’s on tap at a brewery—it might not be there the next time the stop in.

Order this: Whatever is on tap

Tags: beer, casual beer drinker, Craft Beer

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