So, I went to The Gap the other day and was staring at their jean wall and it made me start to think about beer. Why, you might ask? Well there were some jeans that were boot cut in style, there were some jeans that were flared or straight cut style. There were jeans that were high-waisted, low-waisted, ULTRA low-waisted. There were jeans that were dark, light, distressed, and ripped. There were jeans that were adorned with extra rivets and stitching. The fact remained that all of these pants were jeans. They all had common jean qualities. But they were all different STYLES of jeans. And that's a lot like beer.
What's a beer style? Well, according to BeerAdvocate.com, "a beer style is simply a label given to a beer that describes its overall character and often times its origin. It's a name badge that has been achieved over many centuries of brewing, trial and error, marketing, and consumer acceptance."
Here are three popular beer styles and flavor descriptions to get you started in the right direction:
American Pale Ale:
Characterized by a copper color and medium maltiness, don't expect pale ales to all be "pale" in color. Pale in this instance is a style title, not a color descriptor. In fact, expect a beer that can be "pale" but can also extend to deep amber and to copper. These beers offer medium hop flavor and aroma and are fruity and estery. Expect low to medium maltiness and high hop bitterness. Medium bodied.
Some good American Pale Ales: Stone Pale Ale, Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Anchor Liberty Ale, Three Floyds Brewring Co. Alpha King Pale Ale.
White Ale or Witbier:
This style comes from the Brabant town of Hoegaarden, which is known for its wheat based beers. An unfiltered Belgian style ale that is very pale and cloudy, White Ale is known to include "unbeerlike" ingredients such as orange rind, coriander and "other spices and herbs." Expect a Witbier to be twangy and dry with relatively light bodied. Mild, sweet malt and spicy character.
Some good White Ale or Witbier styles: Craftsman Biere de Blanco, Lost Coast Great White Ale, Hoegaarden Original White Ale, Allagash Brewing Company Allagash White, Unibroue Blanche de Chambly, Ommegang Witte.
English Brown Ale:
A "milder ale," According to Beeradvocate.com, "Brown Ales tend to be maltier and sweeter on the palate, with a fuller body. Color can range from reddish brown to dark brown. Some versions will lean towards fruity esters, while others tend to be drier with nutty characters. All seem to have a low hop aroma and bitterness."
Some of my favorite English style Brown Ales are: Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale, Lost Coast Downtown Brown, Abita Turbo Dog, Troegs Rugged Trail Nut Brown Ale.