Navigate the Beer Landscape


Colour rangeThese are interesting and exciting times in the global beer world, but it is easy to get lost amongst the thousands of different beer varieties currently on offer. Ever been in a bar, out shopping or looking at a huge beer list not knowing what is what or what to ask for? Understanding beers and beer styles can be very complex and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. It actually can be as simple as understanding 7 different beer groups which cover the 14 key beer variants, which stood model for all the traditional and innovative varieties thereof. Knowing these will help you to navigate the beer landscape and guide to your beer of choice, whatever your taste is, mood, occasion or food pairing. This list covers beers which are commonly available and have become the staple of any good beer listing, so no rare or limited editions, short in supply or from a brewery no one ever has heard of, although you will see that most of these actually fit within these groups or are derived from it. Each of the listed beers come in different shapes and sizes, colors and flavors but share sensory characteristics with the other beers within that group. Once you have mastered these groups you can explore and discover the many great varieties of them and really become the master of your favorite drink:

  1. Lager beers
  • Pilsner

The original Lager style first brewed in 1842 in Pilzen, Czech Republic which are hop accentuated, with a crisp and refreshing bitter-sweet-dry taste profile available in the Bohemian and German style which differ in intensity

  • Helles

Available as a Munich Helles or Dortmunder Export-style these beers are more malt accentuated, with a smooth and quenching sweet-bitter-dry taste profile with varying intensity depending on the regional origin of the style

  • American

Although inspired by European brewing a traditional style in its own right which are more distinctive for their crisp dryness, which makes them very refreshing with still a good back bone of hops and malty fruity sweetness

  1. White Wheat Ale beers
  • Witbier

Belgian-style unfiltered and naturally cloudy wheat beers (un-malted wheat & barley malt) seasoned with coriander and Curacao bitter orange zest, delivering a fresh and thirst-quenching fruity-citrusy taste with a soft dry spicy finish

  • Hefe-Weissbier

German-style, unfiltered and naturally cloudy (Naturtrüb) wheat beers brewed according the Purity Law/Rheinheitsgebot with (min 50%) malted wheat & malted barley, water, yeast and hops delivering a smooth and creamy texture with fruity sweetness and soft, zesty spicy flavors, with a lingering dry finish

  1. Pale Ale beers
  • Pale Ales

Amber colored, fragrant and well balanced Ale beers, with distinct caramel sweetness and hoppy bitter-dryness followed by a lingering soft dry finish

  • IPA

The exotic and often stronger sister of the Pale Ale, which are more hop accentuated, but still with a good malt back bone resulting in balanced caramel fruity sweetness, but more intense hop flavors and more bitter-dryness prevalent in the finish

  1. Blond Ale beers
  • Blond Ales

Blond and aromatic, well rounded Ale beers with a smooth and silky texture, soothing honey sweetness with varying bitterness and a lingering dry finish

  • Triple Blond Ales

Stronger and more complex variations of the Blond Ale beers with crisp and full, yet well balanced fruity sweetness and bitter-dryness with a warming alcoholic everlasting finish

  1. Dark beers
  • Brown Ale beers

The medium rare steak of the Dark Ale beers with juicy, toffee-chocolaty sweetness offset by a soft, but not roasted bitterness and a dry finish

  • Stout Ale beers

Richer and full bodied Dark Ale beer with a blend of Irish cream sweetness, unique dry roasted coffee-like bitterness and rich molasses followed by a dry finish

  1. Sours
  • Lambiek beers

Open and spontaneous fermented Wild beers, with challenging, oaky sour tartness, with underlying soft, spicy fruity sweetness and a bone dry finish

  • Flemish Sours

Darker Ale beers with a mixed open or spontaneous fermentation delivering a unique Balsamic vinegar-like sourness combined with darker sweetness and a hint of Umami

  1. Flavored beers
  • Flavored beers

Many beer styles have been flavored by what was available in and around the brewery, ranging from fruit, herbs & spices, vegetables, oak … you name it to create new flavor experiences based on an existing beer, which often will fit within one of the groups above

Apologies to any major Beer Style I might have overlooked, I promise to cover you next time.

Bon Voyage!