Beer has been around for probably as long as human beings have been utilising agriculture to grow, process, and store plant materials. Practically every culture had some sort of fermented beverage that they drank. The definitions of beer in the past were pretty loose, and many cultures enjoyed beverages that could conceivably be called beer. These days, beer usually refers to a fermented drink made from barley and hops. Sometimes wheat is used exclusively or in conjunction with barley. Over the years, different brewers, monasteries, and artisans have created dozens of different kinds of beers. The most popular beers have vastly different properties that make them delicious.
Pale ales are made from pale barley. Barley has to be germinated before it can be fermented. Germination is when the taproot grows from the barley, which releases the sugars in the grain. Barley used for a pale ale is a lighter-coloured variety of barley; it’s also lighter in flavour. It is typically not roasted or roasted very slightly so that it retains its pale characteristics. The brewer will use hops to add bitterness to the inherent sweetness of the barley malt. The decision about which hops to add and when to add them determines how bitter the beer will be. Typically, pale ales are the most bitter beers. Pale ale is possibly the most popular full strength beer on the market. The strength of the alcohol in the beer adds a little extra bite along with the hops.
A stout is a beer that is a little more complex and much heavier than a pale ale. Stouts are made from dark barley that is roasted to release all of its smoky flavours. Typically, there is a hint of coffee taste in the roasted barley. Some stouts will add coffee at some point in the brewing process or to finish the beer after it’s brewed. These are known as coffee stouts. Others will feature milk or invoke milk flavours; these are known as breakfast stouts. Hops are added to stouts as bittering agents but they’re not the predominant flavour. The heavy barley flavour tends to shine through.
Lagers tend to be lighter beers with a cleaner, crisper finish. The word lager comes from the word meaning “to store.” Lagers were originally stored in caves and underground caverns where they were kept cold. Lager yeast must be kept cold to prevent off-flavours from developing. The cold brewing and cold storage create a bright flavour that is very balanced. Typically, a lager has a balance of hop bitterness and barley sweetness. They are often enjoyed during the hotter months of the year because they are lighter and more refreshing. Lagers are some of the most popular beers around the world because they’re so easy to drink.
Whichever kind of beer you prefer, you should pick quality brands from quality retailers. Ordering beer online allows you to find a great selection of beers from around the world at a great price. You don’t have to be beholden to your local pub or grocery store for great beer.