The Different Categories of Craft Beer

Written by
Vintage Cellars
September 4, 2017
Share Share to Instagram

Picking up a pack of beer might seem a simple task, but the proliferation of craft beer means that there’s now much more variety than there once was. This may seem daunting, but really the multitude of different styles on offer means that there’s now a brew for every palate or occasion.

If you’re unfamiliar with the nuances of beer, it can sometimes feel like there are only two choices: light and dark. But really there are many more categories than that (and mini-categories within the light and dark categories themselves). Once you have the shorthand for the different terms associated with craft beer, you can be more confident in choosing something similar to your usual favourites.

To help you during your next trip to the beer aisle, we’ve drawn up a handy guide to demystify beer labels and hopefully, to introduce you to some new staples.

Light and refreshing

,p>Some of the most popular beers are those easy-to-drink ales that you can imagine enjoying at BBQs, Christmas lunches or sitting on the back porch with family and friends in the sun. These groups of beers are often a safe choice when entertaining because they’re light on the palate and have a refreshing quality that makes them an irresistible summer drink.

However, that’s not to say that this group of craft beers are light on flavour. Local breweries like Little Creatures are well known for making pale ale that is bursting with fresh citrus flavours, combined with bitter hops.

Look on the label for: summer ale, session IPAs (India Pale Ale), lagers, sour beers, wheat beers, pale ales.

Rich and malty

Some beer lovers are looking for something a little more substantial than a light and airy brew. If you like a beer with a little more body, rich and malty is the craft beer category for you.

These beers are less about the bitterness and more about that creamy malt flavour. These smooth beers are best when paired with classic pub fare.

Look on the label for: golden ale, amber ale, red ale, copper ale.

Hoppy and bitter

Hops are one of the most common ingredients in beer brewing, containing an essential oil with a very bite-y flavour. Not only does hops balance out the sweetness of malt, but it also acts as a preservative in beer. When brewers alter the ratio of hops in their beers, that’s when its characteristic bitterness can be more pronounced.

While sipping a bitter brew doesn’t necessarily sound appetising, these craft beers are actually very satisfying, with hoppier brews also showing notes of tart citrus and tropical fruits.

Look on the label for: American pale ale, IPA, XPA (Extra Pale Ale).

Dark and Roasted

For those who have travelled through the U.K, you have probably enjoyed your fair share of dark beers. It makes perfect sense why people in that part of the word adore them – dark and roasted craft beers are best enjoyed in gatherings in front of an open fire, snow swirling outside the frosty window.

As winter winds down, why not try some new dark beers and enjoy their rich coffee and cocoa notes? A change is as good as a holiday.

Look on the label for: porter, stout, dark ale