5 Beginner-Friendly Homebrew Styles

When first beginning your homebrewing journey it may be very tempting to rush your rise to brewing glory by jumping right into some impressive-sounding double IPA, Russian imperial stout or perhaps a barleywine. Well, not to discourage you, but brewing complex beers such as these can leave tons of opportunity for mistakes, which would ultimately ruin your investment.

Beginner-Friendly Homebrew Styles

Even worse, a lack of initial success could rub you the wrong way and even turn you off to homebrewing altogether, which would be the worst part of it all. Really, unless you have an experienced brewer providing close guidance, your best bet is to start out brewing a less complex and more forgiving recipe so you can lock the process in while learning the ins and outs of homebrewing to apply towards more involved styles in the future.

It’s advisable to stick to using ingredient kits of some kind whether extract or mini-mash so long as they incorporate malt extract. This way you can be sure that you’re getting the necessary sugars and base for the beer.

Here are five well-known styles that can be just as much fun to make and if don’t right are sure to please the palates of all your friends. Plus, these styles are very versatile and great for any time of year.
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Winter Warmers: A Beer Style Designed to Keep You Warm

Winter warmers are another wildly popular seasonal amongst beer geeks. As the name implies, this seasonal is only brewed in the winter and all have a slightly higher ABV to help “keep you warm” during the holiday season.

What is a Winter Warmer?

Winter Beer

For centuries now, beer with higher-than-usual amounts of alcohol has been brewed in the fall and winter months. Nobody is quite sure when the name “winter warmer” was applied to this style, but the name still rings true as this type of beer will definitely keep you warm on a chilly night.

The most notable feature of a winter warmer is the higher-than-average amount of alcohol that you will find within them. While there are no set guidelines of what ABV this style should have, you will generally find that they have an ABV of 5.25-8.0%. In some cases, you will find that this reaches up to 10%, but that is definitely not the norm for a winter beer.

Other than more alcohol, winter beers typically will have a large malty backbone with very little hoppy bitterness. Whatever hop flavor there is will be balanced, to not take away from the malty sweetness this style is known for. You will also notice that the flavor will be full and bold with a medium to heavy body. The color of a winter warmer will be darker, ranging from dark red to deep black.

Some brewers will toss in a few select spices to give their winter warmer a different kind of bite. While this isn’t necessary for this style, it is quite common nowadays. Winter beers from breweries in the United States are known to have an eclectic palate of spices, whereas those from England and other parts of the world are less likely to have these extra ingredients.
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The 3 Types of Beer You’ll Find at NFL Stadiums

Football & Beer

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of going to the Houston Texans game at Reliant stadium. It’s been awhile since I’ve been to a game in Reliant, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that they offered a wide range of beer that didn’t have the world “light” in it. Of course, they were all over-priced, which is the norm for all food and drinks in a sports stadium, but at least they had flavor.

This discovery got me thinking about what types of beer the average football fan will find at their teams stadium. It is no secret, however, that certain NFL stadiums have far better selections than others. I would imagine that the stadium’s location plays a large role in determining what types of beer are available at the games. No matter where it’s located or how terrible the team is playing that year, there are a few common themes that can be found in all NFL stadiums.

Cheap Beer

Pretty much every NFL stadium will have a few premium brews available, but for the most part, the overabundance of cheap light beers will be what you find at every concession stand. To the surprise of no one, these are standard at every professional sporting event nowadays. You will find these more popular, mainstream beers available on draft and, in some cases, cans and bottles. Although, it’s unlikely they’ll let you take the bottle back with you to your seat.
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6 Common Types of Pale Ale

Pale ale is one of the most popular styles of beer, not just to my taste buds, but all around the world. Made with a greater amount of pale malts, this style is typically lighter in color with a broad range of flavors, bitterness and strength.

This style is the brainchild of brewers who desired a purer product than the beer produced from overcooked hops. Through brewer experimentation with equipment, water and ingredients, different types of pale ale were developed and perfected over the years. We’re now left with a wide range of delicious pale ales that are growing in popularity.

Let’s take a look at the profiles and differences between the most popular types of pale ale.

American Pale Ale

American Pale Ale

This popular type of pale ale was developed here in America in the early ‘80s. American pale ales differ from British bitters in their flavor. They have a more pronounced hop flavor and, generally, higher alcohol content than their British counterparts. Because of these distinctive qualities, American pale ale is one of the most popular choices for home brewers. It is also an excellent commercial beer for people who want to enjoy a good domestic.

American Pale Ales will be dark gold, amber or copper in appearance. You will find a medium body that has an overall smooth and refreshing finish. The aroma will be low in malts, but moderately strong in fruity-esters and hops. This style of pale ale will have a somewhat strong hop flavor that showcases the piney or citrusy flavor often associated with American-grown hops. It may be somewhat bitter, but that should never linger for long.

When served or stored cold, you may notice a slight “chill haze”. American Pale Ales will typically have an alcohol content that ranges from 4.4–6.0%, while IBUs will range from 30-50. Whether it is because of its home brewer friendliness or its smooth, light taste, American pale ale is widely available both in home brew ingredient kits and supermarkets around the world.
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4 Types of Healthy Beer (And the Benefits of Drinking Them)

Healthy Beer

The average American male drinks approximately 23 gallons of beer per year, which creates a national demand of approximately 200 million barrels. Of course, since you’re on a beer blog right now reading this, it’s probably a safe bet that you drink a slightly higher than average amount of beer per year.

No matter how much you drink, there’s no denying that beer’s popularity continues to soar high. As such, so has the desire to drink a beer that won’t adversely affect your health. Past studies have suggested that the moderate consumption of beer can have some health benefits associated with it. While the term moderation may be defined differently by different people, the truth of the matter is that there are some beers out there that are “healthier” than others.

With the recent announcement that Australian scientists have created a beer with electrolytes, it got us thinking. What are the healthiest beers out there? After doing some digging around, here are four types of healthy beers and their alleged health benefits.

Heart-Friendly Beer

Beer has long been known to benefit heart health. In fact, a study from 2012 found that “moderate consumption of beer is associated with lower cardiovascular risk.” Researchers concluded that the natural antioxidants, known as phenols, found in many types of beer is behind the reason why heart function improved in the participants of the study.

The highest phenol concentrations are available in brews like Yuengling Light Lager, Abita Purple Haze and Left Hand Good Juju. Yuengling provides full flavor while staying light on calories. A typical glass of Yuengling Light Lager contains approximately 99 calories, and still contains those healthy phenol benefits.

Additionally, Abita includes real raspberries to its brew, which reduces the bitter taste of some ales. The berries also add extra antioxidants to your drink, which one would presume adds to the amount of heart health benefits. Left Hand Good Juju is made with fresh ginger – a superfood that is good for the heart. Good Juju is also light on calories, but doesn’t skimp on flavor.

Gluten-Free Beer

For many Americans, staying healthy means following a diet free from grains, commonly referred to as a gluten-free diet. This is especially important for the estimated two million Americans that suffer from Celiac disease. The easiest way to treat this devastating gastrointestinal disease is to avoid gluten at every turn.

The good news is that gluten-free beers have been steadily growing in popularity over the last few years. However, depending on where you live, gluten-free beer can be somewhat tricky to find. Call your local craft beer store and inquire about their selection of gluten-free beers. Depending on whether or not they have the beer you’re looking for, it’s possible that they can special order it for you.

One delicious example of a gluten-free beer is from Lakefront Brewery, which produces a popular pale gold beer called New Grist. This beer is brewed from rice and gluten-free yeast grown on molasses. It was also the first beer to have its label approved as gluten-free.

Dogfish Head also has a popular gluten-free beer called Tweason’ale. Instead of barley, Dogfish uses a sorghum syrup base with touches of strawberries, molasses and buckwheat honey. While it’s only a seasonal brew, it’s worth a try if you come across it. Another excellent gluten-free beer is Bard’s Original Sorghum Malt Beer. Created with sorghum syrup instead of grain syrup, this beer resembles a traditional wheat ale and rivals the originals in both taste and scent.

Brain-Healthy Beer

In a happy turn of events, researchers in Boston have discovered that drinking beer may actually boost your brain health. According to a study with 3,660 participants, those that were light to moderate drinkers — less than 14 drinks per week — tended to have fewer strokes than non-drinkers. Researchers believe that this is due to alcohol having the ability to thin your blood, thus helping prevent the formation of blood clots. While more research is needed to show the extent to which beer helps, researchers did state that excessive drinking may cause atrophy of the brain. As the saying goes, everything in moderation, no matter how tasty it may be.

In addition, light consumption of beer may also help improve your mental health as well. Drinking beer in moderation is believed to help decrease anxiety and depression. Look for beers that contain plenty of nutrients like protein, Vitamin B, iron, niacin, riboflavin and magnesium. Most beers already carry these powerful ingredients along with others that help to boost your emotional state.

Of course, other studies have shown that alcoholism and excessive drinking may actually lead to depression and other related mental-illnesses, so make sure you drink responsibly. Drink with a friend who can hold you accountable to the amount of drinks you consume and encourage you to make healthy choices.

Hangover-Free Beer

Technically, this type of beer isn’t out on the market yet, at least not that we know of. But, scientists in Australia recently announced that they have added electrolytes to beer in the quest to create a hangover free beer.

Researchers claim that by adding electrolytes and reducing the amount of alcohol in beer, it will help keep you hydrated, thus ensuring that you will not get a hangover the next day. In the study, researchers from Griffith University added electrolytes to two popular, but unnamed, beers. One of which was light (2.3% ABV), and the other is something they call “full” strength (4.8% ABV). They gave the augmented beer to participants that just had a rigorous exercise, in attempt to see which type of beer would help them recover their fluids. They found that the light beer with added electrolytes was found to be the “most effective at re-hydrating” participants.

As promising as this all sounds, it must be noted that only seven people participated in this study. And those seven people were only tested on four separate occasions. Despite the obvious limitations of this research, it’s also the first study of its kind. There’s no denying that far more research is needed to confirm whether electrolytes in your beer will prevent a hangover or not.

Healthy Beer and You

It’s important to remember that despite any potential health benefits your beer may offer, there are healthier things you can put into your body. If you’re looking to lose weight, beer may not be the best thing to consume. If you just took medicine, beer may not be the best thing to consume. Despite what we want to believe, beer is not a superfood and should not be treated as such.

While all beers tend to contain at least some health benefits, some styles will provide more benefits than others. If I had to choose the healthiest type of beer, I would lean towards gluten-free. But I’m not a doctor, and this the above list of healthy beer is not a substitute for medical advice. The key thing to remember when it comes to beer, or any type of alcohol, is to drink in moderation and do so responsibly.

Have you tried any of the “health beers” we listed above? Let us know your thoughts on them in the comments below.

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An Introduction to the Confusing World of Beer Styles

A “beer style” or “style of beer” is typically a term used to categorize beers by considering a variety of factors. Common factors include the appearance, flavor, ingredients, origin, history, and production method. One of the first official styling structures was created by Michael Jackson, the writer not the pop star, in his 1977 book The World Guide to Beer. His work was advanced by Fred Eckhardt in 1989 with the publication of The Essentials of Beer Style.

Types of Beer

Unfortunately, there is no universally agreed-upon list of beer styles which can make it difficult to unequivocally identify certain types of beer. Along with the popular publications of Jackson and Eckhardt, other commonly used style guidelines are based upon popular beer competitions. They include the World Beer Cup, CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale), BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program), and the Brewing Industry International Awards.

Styling by Location

The first way to determine the style of the beer is by looking at its origin. The geographic origin of a beer plays a significant role in determining what ingredients are used, what the original flavor profile is, and may affect the brewing process. For example, there is a noticeable difference between an American, English, and Belgian IPA. The same is true for all types of beers.

Styling By Ingredients & Brewing Process

Another popular way to determine the style of a beer is by focusing on the ingredients and the brewing process. Any number of ingredient combinations can churn out a different beer based upon the brewing process. Similar to styling by location, styling by ingredients in the brewing process can be difficult as well. It has become even more complicated with the introduction of hybrid beers.

A Breakdown of Common Beer Styles

With all this in mind, there are still a handful of different types of beer which are readily agreed upon. Here is a quick look at the most common styles found in the United States (from light to dark)

1. Pilsner

The pilsner is not only the most popular styles of beer in the world, it’s also the youngest. It is a light, clean and simple pale lager. Usually a light to golden yellow, the pilsner features a strong hoppy flavor that is both fragrant and slightly bitter.

2. Wheat Beer

Wheat beers are actually similar to some of the first brewed beers. They are a mixture of barley and wheat grains and have very little hops presence. They are typically cloudy in appearance and the range of flavors is significant depending on the type of wheat used. Traditionally, this style of beer accounts for many popular summer and spring seasonal brews.

3. Brown Ale

The brown ale typically has a dark brown or amber color. Historically, it is an extremely old style of beer whose history can be traced back to un-hot ales. They typically have a higher malt level which gives them an earthier and less bitter flavor. Brown ales may also have a slightly sweet flavor.

4. Pale Ale

The pale ale is one of the most popular beer styles in the world. Made by a warm fermentation method and pale malt, this style has a wide range of flavor and strength. In the UK, a pale ale has a strong malty flavor whereas in the United States it has more hops.

5. India Pale Ale

The India Pale Ale, also commonly referred to as an IPA, comes from the 1700’s when English troops lived in India. Additional hops were added to their typical beer to keep it from spoiling before their ship reached Indian shores. This style is known to have a strong hoppy flavor with a slightly bitter taste. The color of an IPA can range from a light golden yellow to a darker red amber.

6. Bocks

A bock beer is stronger than your average beer. This popular beer style has a robust malt flavor. The bock originates from German monasteries where it was used as sustenance during Lenten fasts, but is now commonly brewed all around the world.

7. Porter

Orginally brewed in London in the 18th century, the porter is a very dark style of beer. A porter includes roasted malts or roasted barley, and are typically mild beers with hints of chocolate and toffee.

8. Stouts

Stouts are always 100% opaque and are consistently the darkest beers. The head of a stout beer is extremely thick and usually brown. They have a controversial history, however it is widely believed that the stout style originally derived from porters. They feature a heavily roasted flavor and often contain hints of chocolate, licorice, molasses, or coffee.

What’s your favorite type of beer? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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