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How to Drink Beer

There are many common misconceptions as to how beer should be stored, poured and enjoyed. We’ll start out with how to find the right beer, the right glass, and the right food pairing. Then we’ll get into pouring, storing, and enjoying. Beer 101? Check.

Getting the Best Taste

Choose the right beer. Gone are the days when you thought beer only came out of a keg and into a red plastic cup. There are an infinite amount of varieties out there, meaning there’s a beer out there that matches your ideal taste. Here’s a brief and not-at-all comprehensive rundown (that would take ages):[1]

  • Ales. These ferment quickly and are generally a bit sweeter, fuller-bodied, and have a fruity flavor. Indian Pale Ales (IPAs) have more hops and are generally bitter. This category includes pale ales, wheat beers, bitters, porters, stouts, barley wines, brown ales and tripels. Watch out for tripels – they’ve been fermented several times and can knock you off your feet.
  • Lagers. These ferment slowly and tend to have a “crisper” flavor than ales and are, in general, less “hoppy.” Think of Heineken, Bud Light, Natural Light, Harp, Corona, Miller Genuine Draft – these are all light lagers.[2] This category also includes pilsners, Vienna lagers, bocks and martens.
  • Stouts. These really fall under the “ale” umbrella, but they are their own beast. A stout is dark and often creamy, with tastes of chocolate and coffee undertones. There are also oatmeal and oyster stouts, too. For these, think Guinness, Beamish, and Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stouts.
  • Bitters. These are English ales that have a deep bronze look and a well-hopped flavor (in other words, bitter). In general, they have greater depth than IPAs. It’s hard to qualify their taste beyond that as there are several categories: session or ordinary bitter, best or regular bitter, and premium or strong bitter (often called Extra Special Bitters (ESB)).
  • Wheat Beer (or Hefeweizen). This is an ale with a light yet hazy appearance. It often has a slight banana or clove flavor. Sometimes it’s spicy or apple-y, too. It’s not bitter and it’s often served with a wedge of lemon.

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