Know Your Beer: a Guide

By Nicolene Schwartz

Knowing a beer by style can help you identify aspects of the beer’s character and manner of production, shine some light on the beer’s historical context and, of course, guide the industrious beer enthusiast who may have found a favorite brew toward others of its kind. Here are a few classic styles to know: 

Daily draft list at Seventh Son Brewing Co. Photo by Catherine Murray

Daily draft list at Seventh Son Brewing Co. Photo by Catherine Murray

American Stout: This beer’s typically deep, roasted flavor (achieved through a longer roasting time for the grains) is often complimented with flavors such as coffee or chocolate.

IPA: India Pale Ale. Originally produced by England as an export to India, this beer’s traditional tangy bite comes from its high concentration of hops (flowers of the hop plant), which impart bitterness and act as a natural preservative—necessary in stabilizing the beer for its long trek.  

Saison: Originating in Southern Belgium, saisons were brewed in the winter for consumption in the summer. As in the case of IPAs, hops helped to preserve this style until it was ready for drinking. Their dry, spicy notes are underscored by the fact that fermentation traditionally comes from the wild yeast strains naturally occurring in the brewing environment, resulting in saisons’ characteristic complexity. 

Wheat Beer: As the name would suggest, these beers are characterized by the higher proportion of wheat used in brewing as compared to the typically barley-heavy grain profiles of other ales or lagers. Traditionally, botanicals such as orange peel and coriander impart a characteristic flavor profile.  

To learn more about Ohio Craft Brewer’s Association and our local breweries, visit ohiocrftabeer.org. And mark your calendar for Ohio Brew Week, July 11-16 in Athens, Ohio, where breweries from across the state come together to promote and celebrate craft brews. ohiobrewweek.com.