Beer Styles Guide
What is the difference between Lager and Ale?
The major difference between styles of beer comes down to the type of yeast used to ferment it. A beer can qualify as either ale or lager depending on the fermentation process.
Ale is a general category of beers that are brewed using a warm fermentation method resulting in a sweet, full-bodied, and fruity taste. This is the oldest beer category. Ale was originally bittered with gruit, a mixture of herbs or spices boiled in the wort before fermentation. Later, hops replaced gruit as a bittering agent.
Lagers are fermented for a long time at low temperatures and they rely on bottom-fermenting yeasts which sink to the bottom of the fermenting tank to do their magic. Lagers are clean, crisp, and easy going beers.
Between these two categories, there is a vast number of styles, including pale ales, IPAs, stouts, and more. Let's take a closer look at the styles of beer.
Dark Lagers are malty and smooth, with toasted caramel flavours. These beers tend to have mid-range alcohol content and lower bitterness profile. The flavors include nuts, bread, coffee, and chocolate. Expect nice lager crispness and delicate hoppy hints. The alcohol content and bitterness are relatively low.
Dark Lagers to try:
Small Beer Dark Lager — a smooth beer, coffee and toast forward, with a hint of dark chocolate on the finish.
Fungtn Chaga Lager — non-alcoholic dark lager brewed with functional mushrooms. Malted, chocolate nose with a full rounded body.
Porters are all dark malt ales. They have a deep dark colour and feature flavours reminiscent of chocolate, coffee, and caramel, also, porters can be flavored with cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg that bring a nice spicy kick. Porters tend to be more chocolatey than brown ales and less coffee-like than stouts.
Porters to try:
Wild Spice Porter — a spicy porter-style beer, bursting with cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg aromas.
Like porters, stouts are dark roasted ales. Stouts taste less sweet than porters and often feature a bitter coffee taste which comes from unmalted roasted barley. They are characterized by a thick creamy body.
Stouts to try:
Wild Wood Stout — a velvety chocolaty stout made with added black cherries to add a sweet, juicy edge.Wild Stallion Stout — a smooth beer with a slight bitterness and lots of coffee, chocolate and barley flavours.
Pale ales are generally hoppy beers but lower in alcohol content than IPAs. These are typically light, drinkable beers. They are full of flavor, but not too heavy with a malty flavor, a golden to amber color, and moderate strength. Brewed with pale malt and ale yeast, pale ales bridge the gap between dark stouts and light lagers.
Pale ales to try:
Paper White Extra Pale Ale — perfect summer brew crafted at McColl's Brewery. Enjoy a soft bready body, and hints of lemongrass, elderflower, and gooseberry delivered by the hops.
Small Beer Session Pale — a refreshing and flavour-packed bomb. Expect the delicious tropical fruit and balanced hop finish.
Wild Summer — another refreshing pale ale bursting with malty flavours, citrus notes, and a delicate touch of vanilla.
India Pale Ale
India Pale Ale is basically a British pale ale brewed with extra hops. Hops is a bittering agent and high levels of it were added to make the beer stable enough to survive the long boat trip to India without spoiling.
The extra dose of hops gives IPA its bitter taste, and depending on the variety of hops used, IPAs may have fruit-forward, citrus, or pine flavour profile.
IPAs to try:
SUMA IPA is a hoppy pleasure crafted by guys from McColl's Distillery. Expect juicy and sweet malty notes that balance big bitterness, piney hues, and seductive aromas of citrus and grapefruit.
Small Beer Organic IPA — floral and crispy IPA made with all British ingredients. Nice, refreshing, with a pleasant marmalade bitterness on the finish.