American Microbrew Beer Styles

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A List of Craft Beer Types and Their Attributes

The U.S. currently has more breweries than another other country in the world. For years Germany held that distinction, but that all changed with the explosion of microbrews in recent years in America.

Brief History of Beer in the U.S.

Brewing beer in America goes as far back as the 1500’s. In 1620 it’s been known that the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock because the Mayflower was low on beer. Fast forward to the early 1900’s. Before prohibition there were literally thousands of breweries in the United States. During prohibition, some breweries stayed in business by producing near beer and other related products. After prohibition, the few breweries that were left brewed weak flavored lager style beers.

By the end of the 70’s there were less than 50 breweries in the U.S. The next decade saw the emergence of some smaller hand crafted breweries. By the mid 1990’s there were over a thousand craft breweries in the U.S. According to Wikipedia, as of 2007 there were 1,406 craft breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs in the United States.

American Pale Ales

clear drinking glass with brown liquid

Pale Ales are typically bitter with a hoppy aroma. Ale’s are fermented using top-fermenting yeast as opposed to Lagers, which are bottom fermented. Pale Ale is an American term for Ales; other countries use different names for Ales. For example England calls them Bitters, Germany Altbier and so on. Although Pale Ales are generally medium bodied with a light golden to light copper color, India Pale Ale, Amber Ale, and Red Ale fall into the Pale Ale category.

India Pale Ales (IPA) is a type of pale ale that generally has a hoppier flavor then the standard pale ale. Because of the extra hops, an IPA tends to have a much bitter taste than a typical pale ale. IPA’s are generally medium to full bodied with a golden to copper color. They are generally higher in alcohol content than the average pale ale.

India Pale Ale got its name for beer that was shipped to British troops on duty in India. The British developed IPA because in India it was difficult to keep beer at a cool temperature and they needed a beer that would taste good without refrigeration. The extra hops in an IPA helps to preserve the beer.

Red ale and amber ale is usually a brownish or amber color with a hint of red. Red ales are normally brewed using a small amount of roasted barley that adds to the red hue. Red ales usually focus on the malt flavors, but some brewers in the U.S. like to balance the malt flavor with extra hops.

American Lagers

Lagers mainly differ from ales because lagers are bottom fermented. Lagers differ widely in character than ales and can be low in alcohol content or very high in alcohol content. The vast majority of beers massed produced in the U.S. are lager style beers. Even though there is hand crafted lager beers, the majority of microbrews in the U.S. are of the pale ale variety.

American Stouts and Porters

Stouts and Porters are generally very malty because they are made using roasted malts and barley. There are also other ingredients that are used like oatmeal, coffee, chocolate and milk. They are usually heavy bodied

American Hefeweizen

Hefeweizen or wheat beer is brewed with a significant amount of wheat and is usually top fermented. Hefeweizen is generally light to dark golden in color. Flavor can very widely. Hefeweizen is often enjoyed with a slice of orange in the U.S.

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