The Cheat Sheet to Beer: Part 2
Beer, huh, yeah. What is it good for? Absolutely everything.
Welcome to Part 2 of our Cheat Sheet to Beer, designed to let you know a little bit more about the different types of beer out there. Learn the difference between a Stout and a Porter, why Brown Ales taste great with red meat, and what goes well with a Pilsner. Hint: It’s everything. Everything goes well with a Pilsner. Especially another Pilsner.
Made with a darker roast of malt, some of the sugars in the malt caramelize and give a lingering sweetness and caramel taste to most brown ales. Easy to drink and full-flavored, these beers pair very well with beef and other red meats. You can also try it as an accompaniment to barbecue. Mmm… barbecue.
One of the more popular beers out there, the India Pale Ale (IPA), as its name suggests, has its origins in India, when English breweries sent their Pale Ales to India via sea routes. The IPA is a very hoppy, bitter beer with a stronger malt taste and higher alcohol content than your standard Pale Ale. The IPA goes well with spicy food such as curries.
Fermented in a unique manner, a proper Lambic beer is brewed only in a small area in Belgium, southwest of Brussels. Unlike other beers which are brewed with carefully selected yeasts, the Lambic style uses wild yeast for natural spontaneous fermentation. Nothing says fun like a bit of spontaneity. Cherries and other fruits are often added to Lambics, giving each one a different taste. Lambics go great with strong cheeses, so ditch the wine the next time you have a cheese tasting session.
Besides having an awesome rhyme in its name, Pale Ales are one of the most ubiquitous beers out there. Almost every country with a brewing tradition has its own Pale Ale. Brewed with ale yeast and lightly-roasted malts, Pale Ales are generally more lightly hopped than other beer styles. They will normally be a light golden in colour. These beers go well with mild tasting food which will not overwhelm the beers’ more delicate taste.
Pilsner (or Lager)
Pilsners and Lagers are essentially the same things. All Pilsners are made in a style hailing from Pilsner Urquell, from the Czech Republic. Pilsners are brewed in cool temperatures with lager yeast, which is a bottom-fermenting yeast. This means that the yeast can consume more of the sugars to turn them into alcohol. The flavour profile of a Pilsner is very crisp and clean with a hoppy bitterness and very little residual malt sweetness. Pilsners go with almost everything. Have one with a sandwich. Or a salad. Even chicken rice. Maybe a fruit platter. Whatever you’re eating, a Pilsner will pair well with it.
Porters and Stouts
Porters and Stouts are often thought of as the same thing, but they are not. While they are both dark in colour and share similarities in taste, they are different alcoholic beverages. The biggest difference between Stouts and Porters is the kind of malt used during brewing. While Porters use malted barley, Stouts primarily use unmalted roasted barley. It’s this ingredient that gives Stouts their signature coffee-like flavour. Porters also tend to be slightly lighter and less full-bodied than stouts. Both of these dark beers are great companions to desserts.
Hailing from France and Belgium, these rustic farmhouse ales are largely self-defining. They tend to be dry and thirst-quenching with explosive carbonation. Sort of like a grenade filled with glorious, glorious alcohol.
Wheat beers (also called Wit, Witbier, Witte, or Hefeweizen, depending on the country of origin) are, as the name implies, made with a high proportion of wheat. Brewed with a top-fermenting ale yeast, there tends to be a lot of residual sugar providing a delicate sweetness. Many breweries add orange peel or spices to their wittes lending another component to the flavour. The delicate flavour of these beers make them great to sip on a hot summer day, possibly being used to chase down a light salad.