Lagers, pale ales, Belgian – there are many types of beers, but which one should I try? Here’s a list of the different styles and flavours of popular beers!
Oktoberfest is around the corner and while we can’t really celebrate as extravagantly as we might like to, it’s always a good time to celebrate the love of all things beer. Craft beer is fast growing in popularity in Singapore, with more bars and breweries popping up all over to keep up with the increasing number of hop heads in these parts.
If you’re keen to get started but not sure how to differentiate between the many, many choices on beer lists island-wide, use this article as a quick introduction to the world of craft beer.
Let’s start with the obvious question: how does craft beer differ from the typical, mass-produced stuff you’ll find in the supermarkets? While there are plenty of differences, the most important one you should know is in terms of flavour. Your Tigers and Carlsbergs are made to be consumed in greater quantities in a single sitting, so they’re often watered down – while this lets you drink more at one go, it does compromise the malty, hoppy flavours that craft beer lovers often go for.
You may be wondering if “malty, hoppy flavours” is just a pretentious way of saying “tastes like beer, just more expensive”, but hopefully our list of beer styles can change your mind! Within the realm of craft beer itself, there’s a whole range of styles that suit a variety of tastes. One thing’s for sure, there definitely is a beer for you!
1. Lagers: Crisp & Light That’s Easy to Drink
Most people’s entry point. These are typically easier to drink, less boozy than other beers you may find in a bar. It is said that this was because American breweries that survived after the Prohibition in USA wanted to create a beer that had the most wide-ranging appeal.
Mass market brews like Heineken and Tiger are mostly lagers, although you shouldn’t turn your nose up at all lagers if you don’t like the mainstream stuff! Try some craft options if you’re looking for something refreshing, crisp and light – lagers are almost always perfect accompaniments for Singapore’s weather, especially if drunk ice-cold.
2. Pale Ales: Floral & Citrus Aroma That’s Great For Beginners
The style that got people feeling hoppy. Hops are one of the four main ingredients of beer (the other three being malt, yeast, and water), and are conical-shaped flowers that are used during the brewing process to give beer its distinctive, yet palatable bitterness, as well as floral, citrusy aromas.
While the aforementioned lagers tend to hold back on the hoppiness, pale ales do no such thing and are usually hop-forward. This means that these types of beers tend to taste a lot more bitter, with fruity and malty notes to complement the bitterness. Pale Ales originate from the UK, where the market there was a lot more receptive to hop-heavy, bitter brews as compared to the milder lager-styles found elsewhere. Pale ales are a cornerstone of the growth of craft beer around the world, forming a foundation for tons of flavour profiles for craft breweries to experiment with.
You may have also heard of IPAs, which refer to India Pale Ales. Despite the name, these beers do not come from India. It’s believed that IPAs were created when barrels of Pale Ales needed to be shipped to British India troops. To ensure that the beer would last the long journey, huge amounts of hops were added to the barrels – giving the beers an even more robust, hoppy flavour.
IPAs are now the most popular style of craft beer around, so these may be what you want to start with if you’re just getting into craft brews. If you’re not sure about trying beers that are deemed to be much more bitter than what you’re used to, look out for a New England IPA, which while still loaded with hops, are packed with citrusy, almost juicy flavours and aromas that make them that much more refreshing, on top of being a solid brew on its own.
3. Stouts: Strong Coffee & Chocolate Flavours For A Rich Palate
So you’ve obviously heard of Guinness, and can probably recognise a pint of it on a night out. That dark liquid topped with a rich, creamy foam is distinctive anywhere. If you’ve ever been tempted, there’s a lot more to stouts than just Guinness.
Stouts are made with the same base ingredients as any other beer, but differs in that the malt grains used are roasted a lot longer and darker before brewing, giving rise to its characteristic dark appearance. Stouts, also popularised in the UK, are associated with strong coffee and chocolate flavours, although their heavy flavour profiles have also allowed breweries to complement them with almost dessert-like flavour profiles like peanut butter and berries.
There are therefore all sorts of stouts out there, from the relatively lighter dry Irish ones (Guinness-like), to the extremely strong, sippable Imperials. In general, the mouthfeel of stouts are much stronger on the palette than most other beers and with creamy textures, so if you’re planning on having a few types of beers for the night, you may want to consider saving stouts, especially the imperials, for last.
4. Belgian: Star Anise Flavour & Raisin Aroma For Spice Lovers
On to the more niche styles you may spot in a bar. Belgian brown ales have almost a cult-following, and for good reason. Characterised by flavours like star anise and aromas of raisin, you won’t mistake a Belgian ale for any other.
One of the most popular, and most widely acclaimed Belgian beers are Trappist ales, which are beers brewed by actual Trappist (a Catholic religious order) monks in monasteries! Only fourteen monasteries in the world brew these beers for sale, recognised by the International Trappist Association. There are four main types of trappist beers: enkels, dubbels, tripels, and quadrupels, in order of increasing strength.
What makes these beers so distinctive are the unique, spicy flavour profiles that are extremely prominent with each sip, and are definitely a must-try if you happen to spot a bottle here!
5. Sours: Intense & Tart Flavours That May Win or Lose You
A style that polarises even craft beer lovers. What make sours unique are also what make them a “love it or hate it” type of beer. Unlike other beers, as suggested by the name, sours have intense, tart flavours which also leave room for experimentation with additions of anything from salt to cherries.
While sours are considered to be part of the new wave of craft beer, it’s actually one of the oldest beer styles since these sort of sour notes were considered typical of most beers before proper pasteurisation techniques became commonplace.
Some subsets of the sour category include Lambic beers, which tend to be fruitier, and Gose, which lead towards having salty and herby notes to go along with the natural acidity of these beers.
Forget the age old debate of “which beer is the best?” because at the end of the day, the best beer is the one that you enjoy the most. 😜 Don’t be afraid to experiment and sample the huge, almost endless varieties of beer styles and flavours to try.
Of course, you can use your YouTrip card to take advantage of our Wholesale Exchange Rates for maximum cost savings whenever you’re shopping on overseas online stores for unique beers. You’d be surprised at how many things you can find for a cheaper price. Check out our guide to overseas online shopping to learn more!
If you still haven’t gotten your free YouTrip card yet, sign up with promo code <BLOG5> to receive a sweet S$5 in your account. 😎