Beer, an age-old beverage loved globally, is much more than just a casual drink. It’s an amalgamation of art, science, culture, and history, varying widely in taste, aroma, and appearance. This variation is predominantly due to the myriad types of beer available today. From light lagers to dark stouts, hoppy IPAs to fruity sours, each style of beer offers a unique experience, crafted meticulously over centuries. 

This guide will take you on a journey through the different types of beer, helping you understand their distinct characteristics, brewing process, and the rich histories behind them. So, whether you’re a seasoned beer enthusiast or a budding connoisseur, there’s always something new to learn and appreciate in the world of beer.

Beer Types

Amber Ale

ABV: 4.5-6.2%, IBU: 25-40, Color: Amber to deep red. Amber ales are balanced with a clear malt body and mild hop bitterness. They often present with toffee or caramel notes and an easy-drinking character. A famous example is New Belgium’s Fat Tire. Food Pairing: grilled meats, Mexican dishes, spicy foods, and cheddar cheese.

American Pale Ale (APA)

ABV: 4.5-6.2%, IBU: 30-50, Color: Golden to amber. APAs are defined by floral, fruity, citrus-like American-variety hops used to produce high hop bitterness, flavor, and aroma. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is a classic example of this style. Food Pairing: burgers, fried food, spicy dishes, and Monterey or Pepper Jack cheese.

Belgian Dubbel

ABV: 6-7.6%, IBU: 15-25, Color: Dark amber to copper. Dubbels are rich and malty, with a hint of spiciness and a touch of mild hop bitterness. A well-known example would be Westmalle Dubbel. Food Pairing: roasted meats, smoked meats, and rich, aged cheeses.


ABV: 4.9-5.6%, IBU: 10-15, Color: Straw to amber. Hefeweizens are known for their signature yeast, which produces flavors of banana and cloves with often a spicy finish. A renowned example is Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier. Food Pairing: seafood, sushi, salad, and soft, young cheese.

India Pale Ale (IPA)

ABV: 5.5-7.5%, IBU: 40-70, Color: Golden to amber. IPAs are hoppy beers, characterized by strong, often citrusy bitterness. A famous example is Dogfish Head’s 60 Minute IPA. Food Pairing: spicy food, burgers, and blue cheese.


ABV: 4.5-5%, IBU: 25-45, Color: Pale gold. Pilsners are crisp, clean beers with a hint of hop bitterness. Pilsner Urquell is a globally recognized example. Food Pairing: fish, chicken, salads, and Swiss cheese. This is also a great option for making beer cheese.


ABV: 4.5-6%, IBU: 20-40, Color: Dark brown to black. Porters are dark, well-roasted beers that offer a balance of bitter and sweet. Fuller’s London Porter is a fine example. Food Pairing: seafood, smoked meats, barbecue, and aged cheddar cheese.


ABV: 5-10%, IBU: 20-50, Color: Very dark to black. Stouts are characterized by rich and roasted malt flavors, often with chocolate, coffee, or caramel undertones. A notable example is Guinness Draught. Food Pairing: oysters, chocolate desserts, and strong cheeses.


ABV: 4.8-5.6%, IBU: 10-20, Color: Pale straw to light gold. Witbiers are light, often citrusy, and slightly tart wheat beers that commonly feature coriander and orange peel. Hoegaarden is a well-known example of this style. Food Pairing: seafood, poultry, cream sauces, and soft cheeses.

American Lager

ABV: 4-5.6%, IBU: 8-20, Color: Pale straw to gold. American lagers are highly carbonated, very light bodied, and quite mild in flavor. They’re designed for easy drinking, often displaying a balance of sweet malt and a bit of graininess. Budweiser is a famous example of this style. Food Pairing: burgers, chicken, mild cheese, and light salads.


ABV: 8-12%, IBU: 50-120, Color: Amber to dark brown. Barleywines are typically rich, powerful brews, heavy on malt and often showcasing dark fruit flavors. They’re usually quite complex and are often cellared like wine. An example would be Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot. Food Pairing: rich, heavy foods, like venison, duck, or strong cheeses.

Irish Red Ale

ABV: 4-6%, IBU: 18-28, Color: Amber to deep reddish-brown. Irish red ales are balanced beers, with subtle caramel and toasted malt flavors. They’re often very smooth and easy-drinking. A well-known example is Smithwick’s Irish Ale. Food Pairing: roast pork, lamb, mild cheddar, and apple desserts.


ABV: 5.8-6.3%, IBU: 20-28, Color: Golden to reddish-brown. Märzen/Oktoberfest beers are traditionally brewed in March (Märzen in German) and saved for Oktoberfest celebrations. These lagers are typically malty, full-bodied, and have a toasty quality. Paulaner Oktoberfest Märzen is a classic example. Food Pairing: German sausages, pretzels, and mild to medium cheddar.

Saison/Farmhouse Ale

ABV: 5-8%, IBU: 20-35, Color: Pale to light amber. Saisons were originally brewed in the cooler months in Belgian farmhouses and meant to refresh farm workers in the summer. They’re known for their complex fruity and spicy notes, often with a dry finish. Saison Dupont is a highly regarded example. Food Pairing: seafood, poultry, rich cheeses, and spicy foods.

Related Articles