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The Many Types of Beer to Choose From

Aug 17, 2007
So what do the pharaohs of ancient Egypt and modern-day fanatical football fans have in common? Why, they all love to drink beer of course!

Beer is the oldest recorded alcoholic beverage in history, with origins dating back to ancient times, even as far back as ancient Egypt. Beer has been the drink of choice of many people, for a very long time.

So what exactly is beer and how is it made? Beer is basically an alcoholic beverage made from fermented starches. It main ingredients consist of water, malted barley (or other starch sources like wheat, cassava, etc.), hops, and yeast. They are then fermented through a process called brewing. After brewing the beer is ready to be consumed, though further processes like aging and carbonation can be practiced to improve the taste and quality.

Throughout the years, many different types of beer have been created around the world. These types of beers can vary in things like flavor, color and aroma. Various different cultures have invented their own distinct take on this famous beverage.

Beer is generally classified into two types or styles based on the yeast used for fermentation. These two types are ales, which uses top-fermenting yeast, and lagers which are brewed with bottom-fermenting yeast. These yeast give the beer their own unique characteristics, which can affect how the beer looks and tastes.

Ales along with using top-fermenting yeast, are fermented at a warmer temperature than lagers. They're fermented at about 15 to 23C, 60 to 75F and usually take a shorter amount of time to ferment. Ales tend to have a stronger more pronounced taste as well as a fuller body. Ales can also have a somewhat nutty or fruity taste that are the result of the warmer fermentation temperatures.

Some common varieties of ales include:

Pale ale - Pales ales are ales that use pale malts, usually barley. They all tend to have similar characteristics, such as a strong hop taste and low to medium malt levels, though many countries have their own versions of pale ale like the English Bitter, Saison, and India Pale Ale each with their own slight variations.

Porter- A porter is a dark ale ranging from dark brown to black in color. It was originally created in the 1700's in Britain. A combination of three different kinds of ale, it was very popular among the porters of old London, hence the name. It was made from roasted malt barley giving it a rich aroma and full body.

Stout- Stout is a dark ale derived from porter. Like a porter it has a very dark coloring. This results from roasting the malted barley, used for brewing, until black. Irish dry stout like Guinness or Murphy's are known for their bitter, roasted taste. The ale's black color topped with distinctive creamy head gives it it's nickname the "priest's collar" and goes well with oysters.

The other type of beer are lagers. The word lager is derived from a German word "lagern". "Lagern" translated means "to store" and alludes to a time when brewers used to store beer in caves to ferment in cooler temperature.

Lagers are made with bottom-fermenting yeast at temperatures ranging from 8 to15 degrees C or 46 to 59 degrees F. At these cooler temperatures, the beer will generally take a longer time to ferment. Lagers are known generally be lighter in color than ales. They also have a distinctively clean and crisp taste that makes them very popular to the masses. They also tend to have a lower alcohol content than ales and are best served cold.

Some beers categorized as lagers are:

Pilsner- Considered the most popular type of beer in the world. Pilsners are generally light yellow to golden in color and usually well balanced in flavor, with a clean, crisp taste.

American style lagers- The common, mass produced type of beer in America is a type of pilsen. Light in color and flavor, it is also high in carbonation.

Bock- Bock is a dark lager originating from Germany. It's high in alcohol and malt making it a strong, full-bodied beer.

There are many more kinds of beers, each with their own distinct style and taste. There are enough choices to satisfy just about anyone's taste.

Beer has been around since even before people could write! With so many kinds of beer to choice from, and even more being invented all the time, there is no doubt that beer will be here to stay.
About the Author
Lee Dobbins writes for http://beer-making.leisure-webzone.com where you can learn more about beer making procedures and supplies.
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