Amber Ale. Amber ales are similar to pale ales but slightly sweeter, from the excess malt. They are also darker in color; hence the name “amber” in place of “pale.” Fat Tire Amber Ale from New Belgium Brewing Inc, and Budweiser American Ale are popular varieties of amber ales.
Recommended Glassware: The traditional pub glass is ideal for serving an amber ale, which is a popular, easy sipping brew.
Bitter. One of the most popular ales in England, bitter contains hops but more for a pleasant aroma than for bitterness. Bitter can have flavors reminiscent of fruits and caramel, depending on the yeast and grain type. Typically it is a light, drinkable beer, but it can be strong and heavy-bodied; then it is called an extra special bitter, or ESB. Bitters range from golden to dark red in color. A more common bitter is Foster’s Special Bitter from the Foster’s Group Limited Brewery.
Recommended Glassware: Just like the amber ale, the bitter is best served in a traditional pub glass.
Pale Ale. Pale ale is light-colored beer that is both malty and hoppy. Pale ales from England are often hoppier and even spicy, whereas American pale ales are a little lighter, sometimes with fruity aromas. A well-known example of a pale ale is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale from the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.
Recommended Glassware: The pale ale is often served in a traditional pub glass, but can also be served in a brandy snifter, which has a wide bowl and narrow top. This shape is ideal for capturing the ale’s aroma and presents a stronger bouquet.
India Pale Ale (IPA). India Pale Ale, known to many as simple IPA, is an English ale that dates back to the 1800s, when British brewers produced beers with strong amounts of hops in order to help preserve the beer during long shipping times overseas. At the time, much of this beer was destined for India, hence the name. These beers are typically golden or amber in color, and are known for their bitter aroma and flavor. Shipyard Brewing Company’s IPA is a favorite for those who enjoy this hoppy flavor.
Recommended Glassware: The full variety of IPA’s can be served in a choice of three glasses: beer glasses, snifter glasses and beer mugs. The choice simply lies in what the beer drinker prefers, a strong aroma or greater volume of beverage per order.
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Irish Ale. Ireland has a long tradition of brewing ales, which tend to be deep red in color with a malty or sweet flavor profile. These beers are not aggressively hopped. A popular Irish Ale is Killian’s Irish Red.
Recommended Glassware: An Irish ale is ideally served in a pub glass and beer mug. This is a drinkable beer due to the sweet, malty flavor.
Stout. Stouts are distinguished by the use of unmalted, dark-roasted barley, low amount of hops, and often sweet, carmel or chocolate aromas. There are several styles, including dry stouts, cream stouts and oatmeal stouts. The most famous dry stout is Guinness, and it is termed a “dry” stout because most of the sugars are eaten up during fermentation, leaving the stout with a crisp, minimally sweet flavor. Dry stouts are also slightly more hoppy, or bitter, than other stouts.
Recommended Glassware: Irish stouts are best served in either a pub glass or beer mug. These beers are considered very drinkable due to their smooth creaminess. Because of this, heftier glasses are appropriate.
Porter. A porter is a very dark ale, made from heavy roasted malt. Porters can taste sweet or very hoppy, since the amount of malt and hops is variable. Typically this type of ale is medium bodied with a crisp finish. There are many porters, and Black Jack Porter from Left Hand Brewing Company is one of the more well-known varieties.
Recommended Glassware: Enjoy a porter from a beer mug, also known as a stein. These glasses are easy to drink from and usually hold a generous amount of beer.
Wheat Beer. Wheat beers are found under many different names, such as weissbier or hefeweizen, but always have wheat included in their grain profile. These beers are refreshing, pale in color, sometimes cloudy and unfiltered, and highly carbonated. Fruity flavors are common. A well-known wheat beer is the In-Heat Wheat, from Flying Dog Brewery.