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Beer Styles Explained

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June 21, 2018

Globally there are over 100 styles of beer, each with their own distinctive characteristics, brewing style and flavours, and some even have their own glassware to enhance certain features like its aroma. It’s safe to say the world of beer can be a confusing one so here at Butcombe we wanted to lay it out in a simple fashion – the most common beer types, what their characteristics are and what they should look like, so you’re that bit more knowledgeable when it comes to choosing your pint at the bar.

All beers fall into two categories depending on the type of yeast that is used in brewing – Ales and Lagers. With Ales the yeast gathers at the top of the fermenting vessel, whilst lagers are ‘bottom-fermented’ which means (you guessed it) that the yeast sinks to the bottom, and whilst ales ferment at a high temperature the lagers ferment at a much lower centigrade. The end result is the well known rich ale and the mild, crisper lager. If you want to find out more about how beer is made you can check our blog piece on it a little while back on our blog.

Now onto the specific types of beer, we’re going to start with Ales as Butcombe Original is the first beer we brewed here at Butcombe and it is an ale after all…

Pale Ale – Whether American or English, Pale Ales are gold or copper in colour and dry with a crisp hop flavour. Rare Breed is a stunning example of an English Pale Ale (if we do say so ourselves!)

IPA or Indian Pale Ale – A pale ale that has an intense hop flavour and aroma. It tends to have a higher alcohol content than its good friend the Pale Ale. Goram is our IPA, or Avon Pale Ale as we like to call it. If you haven’t tried it yet, it’s a must.

Stout – One of the most distinctive beer types, opaque black in colour, thick and rich with its flavour and colour coming from the roasted barley that is used in it’s brewing. They have little to no hop aromas or flavours and a taste of malt and caramel that some may compare to coffee. We brewed Emerald Stout earlier this year for St. Patricks Day!

Porter – A close rival to Stout, porters are made largely from unroasted barley (unlike the roasted used in Stouts) which gives the beer a dark brown colour and tasting notes of sweet chocolate with the occasional sharp bitterness.

Golden ale – Relatively new to the brewing mix are Golden Ales – typically made with pale hops.  In our range we have Gold, best served cold.

Wheat Beer – Let’s not forget wheat ales too which must be made with at least 50% wheat malt. Our El Toro is perfect example of a wheat beer – available for limited time only.


Mastered the Ales? Grand! It’s the Lagers turn to show off…

Amber/Red Lagers – Dark amber/copper colours the flavour profile of these lagers can vary quite dramatically. Often made with significantly more malt than other beers it is the most common style of lager. Safe to say if you saw a bottle with not much other description than the word ‘lager’ it’s an Amber or Red Lager.

Bock – Coming from Germany, Bocks are traditionally brewed in Autumn and enjoyed in Winter or Spring. Dark amber/brown in colour they’re brewed heavily with malt producing a medium to full bodied, lightly hopped beer.

Pilsner – Czechoslovakian in origin Pilsners are the worlds most popular beer style. Pale/straw coloured with a crisp, medium body. Brewed with more hops than traditional lagers which produces a smooth and clean taste. If you’d like to try a Pilsner, our Bohemia is a great starting point.


There you have it folks, the most common types of beer explained by colour, flavour and characteristics, now all that’s left for you do to is find your new favourite beer!

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