All about Beers, Ales & Lagers
The most common method of categorizing beer is by the behavior of the yeast used in the fermentation process. In this method of categorizing, beers using a fast-acting yeast which leaves behind residual sugars are termed "ales", while beers using a slower-acting yeast, fermented at lower temperatures, which removes most of the sugars, leaving a clean, dry beer, are termed "lagers". Lager production results in a cleaner-tasting, drier and lighter beer than ale.
Lager: Lager is the English name for cool fermenting beers of Central European origin (fermented between 7°C and 12°C). Pale lagers are the most commonly consumed beers in the world. Any beer made by bottom-fermentation. In Britain, lagers are usually golden in colour, but in continental Europe they can also be dark. In the German-speaking world and The Netherlands, the term may be used to indicate the most basic beer of the house, the biere ordinaire.
Porter: A London style that became extinct, though it has recently been revived. It was a lighter-bodied companion to stout, and the most accurate revivals are probably the porters made by American micro-brewers like Sierra Nevada. Around 5 percent by volume. In some countries, the porter tradition remains in roasty-tasting dark brews that are bottom-fermented, and often of a greater strength.
Ale: Ales are normally brewed with top-fermenting yeasts. The important distinction for ales is that they are fermented at higher temperatures and thus ferment more quickly than lagers (between 15°C and 24°C). The English-language term for a brew made with a top-fermenting yeast, which should impart to it a distinctive fruitiness. Ales are produced to a wide variety of colours, palates and strengths (see also Bitter, Brown Ale, India Pale Ale, Light Ale, Mild, Old Ale, Scotch Ale, etc). Only in some American states is the term determined by law (wrongly) to indicate a brew of more than 4 percent weight (5 by volume).
India Pale Ale (IPA) British pale ales for the Indian Empire were made to a higher than normal strength, and given more hops, to protect them on the journey. Today, the hoppiest examples of this style are made by the new generation of American brewers. 5.0-plus, sometimes far higher.
Barley Wine An English term for an extra-strong ale (implied to be as potent as wine). Usually more than 6 percent by volume and classically closer to 11. Most often bottled. Both pale and dark versions can be found.
There are various colours of ale (light, brown, etc). The color of a beer is determined by the malt. The most common color is a pale amber produced from using pale malts. Dark beers are usually brewed from a pale malt or lager malt base with a small proportion of darker malt added to achieve the desired shade. Other colorants - such as caramel - are also widely used to darken beers. Very dark beers, such as stout, use dark or patent malts that have been roasted longer. Guinness and similar beers include roasted unmalted barley.
Bitter: Hops contribute a bitterness that balances the sweetness of the malt; the longer the hops are boiled, the more bitterness they contribute, but less of the hop flavour and aroma remains in the beer. Bitter
English term for a well-hopped ale, most often on draught. Although examples vary widely, the name implies a depth of hop bitterness. There is usually some acidity in the finish and colour vanes from bronze to deep copper. Basic bitters usually have an alcohol content of around 3.75-4 percent by volume, "Best" or "Special" bitters come in at 4.4 - 7.5, the odd "Extra Special" at about 5.5.
Stout: Stout and porter are dark beers made using roasted malts or roast barley. There are a number of variations including Baltic porter, dry stout, and Imperial stout.