A Beginners Guide to Craft Beer - The Varieties and Styles You Need to Taste

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What is Craft Beer?

Craft beer is a style of beer that is produced in small batches, and typically made by independent breweries.  However in recent years, it has become a huge trend and now even the commercial brands are buying them up and producing them.  The experience of walking into these 'open to the public' micro-breweries and experiencing their brewing process can be very exciting.  Often they are set up specifically to cater for a crowd looking for a day/night out and even tourists.  The experience is immersive, unique and made to feel like you are right inside their operation.  With paddle tasting boards and sometimes even a full dine-in menu with a gastro-pub vibe, it is hard to resist to try a beer (even if you're not a beer drinker!).

At the same time walking a craft brewing company's establishment can be overwhelming.  They have all their taps laid out with every type of beer imaginable to choose.  Wheat beers, sour beer, fruit beers, American lagers, German beers, Dark Malts, Pale Malts, Sweet Stout, Brown Porter - it's enough to hurt your head.  In fact, there are over 75 different craft beer styles out there.  So we don't blame anyone for being overwhelmed and confused about how to choose which one to drink. 

To make it easier to understand, we narrowed down the list of craft beers to common styles.  Generally variants of styles will come from these.  We've put together a short and sweet tasting guide to the different styles of beer out there.


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Short and sweet: The different styles of Craft Beer

Pale Ale

Lightly roasted. Lightly hopped. Not bitter

Amber Ale

Not dark.  Not light. Caramel toffee flavour

IPA (India Pale Ale)

Stronger flavour. Very hoppy flavour. Higher alcohol content.

Brown Ale

Rich nutty flavour.

Wheat Ale

Light coloured. Cloudy appearance.  Mild tartness taste.


Rich flavours such as chocolate, nut, caramel and sometimes, soft smokiness.Stout - An extra strong dark beer.


Dryer. Hoppy scents


A more extensive guide to Craft Beer

Thirsting for more after reading our above short and sweet tasting guide?  Now you know what the common types of craft beer are, let's get into more detail about how to get more enjoyment out of this foamy treat.

How to enjoy Craft Beer

We all know that there is are tried and true method of tasting and analysing wine and whiskey.  So, naturally there is a way to get better enjoyment out of your craft beer by going through a similar tasting method.  Being a Craft Beer connoisseur, doesn't mean you have to be sophisticated in your analysis either (although you can if you want).  So here are three things to look out for when tasting your beer:

Breathe it in!!

Hops provide the flavour profile in beer.  It is the first thing any drinker will smell as soon as you pick up a glass of beer.  Start to breathe in the hops that come from the foam of the beer.  You will start to notice some characteristics on the nose.  Is it a rich aroma? earthy aroma?  Or does it have a fruity aroma or even a floral aroma?

Pay attention to the malt flavours

Hops have a usually have high alpha acid levels which means they are bitter.  The sweetness of malt helps to balance out the bitter taste of the hops. As the malt gets cooked, it also changes, affecting the flavour profile of the beer.  The more it is cooked, the more caramelised it becomes.  What do you notice about the malt in your beer? Chocolate? Roast? Caramel?

The Aftertaste

Beer is a great palate cleanser, due to the carbonation in the beer.  But it also has an after taste because of carbonation.  What final impressions do you have as the beer leaves in your mouth? Take note of the feeling and how it coats your mouth.  Do you notice any changes in the flavour in your mouth, the more time passes?


Common tasting questions

Do I Taste Beer Like Wine?

In wine tasting you swirl it, smell it, swish it around your mouth and then spit it out.  With beer it is exactly the same but instead of spitting it out, you must swallow it.   This is because the hops and malt leaves lingering flavours (aftertaste).  Combined with the CO2 of the carbonation, consuming beer causes the rising bubbles to travel from your throat into your nasal passage, creating the overall flavour of the beer.

Why Is Craft Beer Better than Normal Beer?

The answer is simple!  It has a better, more refined taste, as more effort and thought goes into each batch.  There are more varieties of craft beer than your standard beer offerings.  There is usually more alcohol content (at least 5 - 10% and even up to 20%).  But remember to drink responsibly!!  Of course being smaller batches, means using better quality and fresher ingredients.  Usually craft breweries usually produce their product with eco-friendly practices in mind.  Finally you will be supporting local business (buy from independent breweries rather than the ones bought out from the giants!).

How Do I know If My Craft Beer Is a True Craft Beer?

As larger companies are buying up craft beer breweries more and more, it is difficult to know what you are buying is truly a Craft Beer by definition: Small batches and Independent.  Whilst nothing wrong with these companies having "craft beer divisions", it all comes down to preference and where you want your money to end up.  But, if you want a true Craft Beer experience, then stick with independent breweries.  That way you are guaranteed that they are producing methods remain traditional and more care goes into each batch.  With a simple search engine query you can find out whether or not your favourite Craft Beer is owned by the big guys.

I Want To Be A Craft Beer Expert.  How?

https://www.craftbeer.com/ is your one stop shop with a full comprehensive guide to the different types of Beer including educational videos and a glossary!


May the craft be with you!

Whether it is a hot summer day, and you're wanting to cool down or you simply want to enjoy a glass of over a meal, we hope that this guide was helpful to assist you on your journey to Craft Beer appreciation.  Now go forth enjoy your craft beer!

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