If you’re raising a glass at Saturday’s World of Beer festival, think about what you’re drinking.
This is a beginner’s guide to the main styles of ales and lagers, and is not meant to be the definitive beer bible. Specialty, hybrids, cream, smoked and steamed beers are not shown. Some Belgian beers have been included under the main styles.
What is in beer?
The three main ingredients are water, malt (barley grain that has been kiln dried) and hops (a cone-like fruit grown on vines). From the combination of these ingredients and the fermenting yeast used during brewing come the many colors, flavors and aromas of beer.
The most common beer styles are ales and lagers. When other ingredients are used to enhance the flavor such as wheat, pumpkin, honey, spices, fruit, smoked malt or chile peppers, the beer is known as a specialty beer.
The alcohol content of beer is measured in percent by volume (ABV). The low end is around 2 percent, rising up to a sky-high 25 percent. Most beers have an ABV of 4 to 6 percent.
Ales are made with a top-fermenting yeast (yeast that gathers at the surface at the start of the brewing) at temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees for two to three weeks. Top-fermenting yeasts produce phenols, which impart spicy undertones, and esters, which provide fruity flavors and aromas. Ales are usually higher in alcohol than lagers. The ale family includes pale, amber/red, strong and dark.
Lagers are made with a bottom-fermenting yeast (the yeast gathers and sinks to the bottom during brewing) at cooler temperatures, between 45 and 55 degrees for four to six weeks and then stored cold at temperatures between 30 and 40 degrees. Cold storage keeps acids and other by-products from forming, producing a clean and crisp taste. The lager family includes light, pilsner, amber, bock and dark. Most lagers are less alcoholic than ales.
What country is the world’s No. 1 beer producer?China. The U.S. is second followed by Russia and Brazil, out of the 169 countries around the world brewing beer today.
The 6th Annual World Beer Festival
Two sessions (noon-4 p.m. and 6-10 p.m.) Saturday at Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.
Tickets are $40 for general admission (includes tasting glass and unlimited 2 ounce tastings from over 150 craft beers and access to the Art of Beer Experience for food and beer pairings, seminars and more) or $85 for VIP (includes tasting glass and unlimited 2 ounce tastings, a bonus selection of beers, commemorative gift, private hospitality and bathroom area, food buffet and access to the Art of Beer Experience for food and beer pairings, seminars and more). Tickets available online at allaboutbeer.com or at World of Beer, Green’s Beverages and Morganellli’s Party Shop.