Types of beer

There are two main types of beer according to their level of fermentation:

  • Ale (high fermentation).
  • Lager (low fermentation).

There are also other classifications that take care of the brewing ingredients or some particular characteristic of the process, such as hybrid beers.

On the other hand, the types of craft beer also respond to the previous classifications. What varies in this case is that since it is not an industrial process, the quantities of available drink are more limited compared to the large commercial brands. Also, the organoleptic characteristics of beer may be slightly different as there is room for experimentation.

The name beer comes from the Latin cervêsïa , which apparently comes from Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture. However, there is much controversy about it, since for some philologists the term does not come from the Romans, but from the Celts.

Types of beers according to their fermentationTypes of specialty beersTypes of beers according to their color
Ale (top fermentation) :

  • Ipa
  • Pale Ale
  • Salt
  • Porter

Lager (low fermentation) :

  • Pilsen
  • Marzen
  • Bock

Hybrid beers :

  • Smoked beer
  • Steinbier
  • Steam beer
  • Blonde
  • Roja
  • Black

Types of beer according to its fermentation

Depending on whether the fermentation is low or high, beers are classified into:

Ale Beers

The term Ale is used for the family of beers that are subjected to high temperature fermentation, a process that can last from three days to two weeks, depending on the manufacturer. After fermentation, it follows a process that can be cold or hot maturation, or a second fermentation.

Some varieties of Ale beer are:

  • Ipa : it is characterized by its coppery color and its high hop content that give it a characteristic flavor. It has notes of fruits.
  • Pale Ale : lager, hops flavored with spices and notes of nuts.
  • Stout : dark beer with malty notes and a high alcohol content.
  • Porter : dark beer with notes of chocolate and toasted cereals.

Lager Beers

Lager beers are characterized by having a fermentation at low temperatures and a maturation process at zero degrees that can last weeks or months. The longer the cold maturing time, the more character the final product will have.

The cold fermentation and maturation technique was already applied in some areas of Europe during the Middle Ages. Back then, beer was stored in high and cold places like mountain caves, to prevent the high summer temperatures from damaging the product.

Subsequently, the advances made in the mid-nineteenth century by the hand of Louis Pasteur in his research on yeasts, and the creation of the first refrigeration systems resulted in a progressive industrialization in the world of beers.

Some varieties of Lager beer are:

  • Pilsen : it is the most popular type of beer in the world. It is golden, light and has a maturation of two months.
  • Marzen : is the beer that is traditionally served at Oktoberfest, in Germany. It is coppery in color and has a strong flavor.
  • Bock : It is thedarkest and strongest Lager . In many places in Germany it is drunk during winter.

Special beers

In addition to the Ale and Lager categories , there are other varieties of beers that, although they are not as well known by the mass public, are highly valued among connoisseurs due to their characteristic ingredients or processes. Some of them are:


They are beers to which yeast is not added, but are left to ferment with the yeasts from the environment. This implies that the process is more difficult to control, since the times of production can be variable and last months or years.

The spontaneously fermented beers are known as Lambic , and they owe their name to the Lambeek region, in Brussels, where they are brewed. They are characterized by the use of old hops, which lack bitterness, and various fruits are added. In addition, they are made with malted barley and raw wheat.

All these unusual processes result in an exotic beer, which in turn is used as a base for re-fermentation or for brewing other beers. To be considered a young Lambic , the beer must be at least six months old.

Hybrid beers

Hybrid beers are those that combine techniques, processes or ingredients in their production. Generally, they are made in particular geographic areas.

Among the special beers, stand out

  • Rauchbier : the beer is fermented with the heat of the beech wood embers. It is made in Bavaria, Germany.
  • Steinbier : the must extracted from the malt is poured over hot stones that give it a smoky flavor. It is produced in Bavaria.
  • Steam beer : it is an American beer that combines the yeasts of a Lager with the high temperatures of an Ale .

Blonde, red and black beers

Although it is a popular classification, the categorization of beers according to their color has no other component beyond the chromatic criteria, since there are no particular parameters for them to be of one color or another.

An Ale can be blonde, red or black, in the same way that it can be light or full-bodied and with a bitter or slightly sweet taste. The same goes for Lagers . It is the ingredients and processes that influence the categorization and final product.

See also Types of tea .

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