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How to Distinguish Different Types Of Beer

Beer has so many traits and flavors that you might have to taste a lot of it to see what you like. Oh darn.


  • : Don't drink unless you're of legal age. Drink responsibly, and never drink and drive.
  • Step 1: Consider the many varieties of beer. These include lagers, ales, stouts, porters and wheat beers, each having many sub-categories and variations within variations.
  • Step 2: Serve lager at cold temperatures – about 40-45 degrees, Ales, porters and stouts should be served at a temperature between 50 and 55 degrees, and wheat beer at around 48 degrees.
  • TIP: Serve beer at the same temperature that it ferments.
  • Step 3: Note the different colors for different styles of beer. Lagers are typically light in color and have more carbonation. Ales range from red to amber to brown to almost black. Porter and stout are heavy, dark beers, and wheat beer is a light amber-orange in color.
  • Step 4: Smell your beer. Lager should smell yeasty with slight floral notes. Ales typically have a hoppy, fruity aroma, and stout smells slightly sweet, with notes of malt, coffee, and even toffee and chocolate. Wheat beer smells like citrus with hints of banana and cloves.
  • Step 5: Take a sip of your beer and note the light crispness of pale lager, the medium body of brown or red ales, the richness of stout or porter, and the dense carbonation of wheat beer. Porter will be more bitter than stout.
  • TIP: When tasting a variety of beers, clean your palate with crackers or bread to clarify each drink and get the full effect.
  • Step 6: Consider the sweetness of a lager compared to the bitterness of strong ale. Stout has hints of coffee, while porter suggests chocolate. Wheat beers generally taste sweet and fruity.
  • Step 7: Evaluate the finish by taking in the lingering sensation of the beer, which varies within styles, leaving a bitter or sweet aftertaste or disappearing completely, what’s known as a clean finish.
  • FACT: "Porters" were named in eighteenth-century England because the dark strong beer was the favorite of men who worked as porters.

You Will Need

  • A variety of beer
  • Crackers or bread

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