POPSUGAR Celebrity

A Primer on Beer

Apr 7 2014 - 12:28pm

Perhaps you've been known to enjoy a pint or two, but 'fess up: between all that Guinness and red ale, do you know what you're really imbibing? It's true that unless you're a science fiend, home brewer, or craft-beer aficionado, it can be confusing to wrap your head around the different varieties — especially since they're all made from water, malted barley, yeast, and hops. But for the most part, beer can be broken down into two major categories.

Most beers are either ales or lagers. Ales [1], which originated in England, are made by brewing a top-fermenting yeast (a fungus that grows at the top of the fermentation vessel) at room temperature. They have lots of hops and malt, which give them a characteristically bitterer taste and darker color. Varieties of ale include the following:

Unlike ales, lagers [2], which originated in central Europe, are created when bottom-fermenting yeast is cold-brewed at low temperatures (between 45°F and 57°F) for long periods of time. They tend to be lighter in color and mild- and fruit-flavored. Varieties of lager include the following:


To learn more about the difference as well as some of our favorite bottles, watch this video on different beer styles [3].

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