According to the American Home Brewers Association there are more than 70 different styles of beers, other sources say that there are more than one hundred different kinds. However, all of these can be broken down into three basic styles: Ales, Lagers and Mixed styles.
Ales: Ales are produced from top fermented yeast, and are generally fermented at warm temperatures, between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit and generally for a short period of time, between two and three weeks. Below are some examples of different Ales:
Amber Ales: Made with lightly caramelized malts, that imparts these ales’ amber color. Amber Ales are considered the main American contribution to the brewer’s art. In fact these are sometimes called American-style ales.
Brown Ales: Originating in England and made with more darkly toasted malts than the light Amber Ales. These ales have colors from tan to deep brown and a generally malty taste with caramel highlights.
Stouts: Invented by the Guinness Company in Ireland in the 1820’s, this is the darkest of the ales. Stout is considered a ‘winter’ beer for its rich and hearty flavor.
Lagers: Lagers are made from bottom fermented yeast and are generally produced at cool temperatures, between 40 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit and also fermented for a long time between four and six weeks. Below are some examples of different lagers:
Amber Lagers: First brewed in Austria in the mid 1800s. These light colored lagers are made with lightly caramelized malts and have a light, sweet taste.
Dark Lagers: Originating in Bavaria. These beers range in color from Ranging from dark red to deep black in color. The color depends on how darkly roasted the barley malt is.
Bocks: Invented in Germany in the 1400’s. This dark hearty beer is the darkest of the lagers but still has the typical lager’s clean finish.
Mixed: These beers are better delineated by some trait added during the brewing. For example the addition of fruits or spices will have more influence on the taste and color than the yeast used, time fermented or temperature brewed at. Below are some examples of different mixed beers:
Fruit Beers: Fruit beers are as old as brewing itself. Used to flavor beers and balance out the natural bitterness of some brews, grapes and figs were the original fruits added to beers.
Spiced Beers: These beers are distinctive because spices, such as cinnamon or grains of paradise are added during brewing process to produce a taste far different than would have been if the beers had be left to ferment naturally.