In the past, few beverages had a reputation as boorish as beer. Those days are long gone. The humble brew has developed a tasting culture similar to that of wine, thanks to myriad styles being developed and perfected in thousands of breweries around the world. For the budding connoisseur, here are five of the most popular varieties—and our recommendations for each:
Also known as Grand Cru in a number of Belgian breweries,
Some of the best
Stouts are known for their characteristic almost pitch-black darkness, which comes from heavily roasted barley and malt. The roasting results in a deep sweetness, with hints of chocolate and burnt sugar. The carbonation, on the other hand, lends a creamy quality to the beer’s
Guinness and Murphy’s are the go-to names for
Saisons, or farmhouse ales, used to be overlooked by most beer drinkers. The massively underrated style, however, is seeing a revival among connoisseurs, due to its complex profile, featuring fruity, earthy, and sour tones, along with hints of brown sugar.
The U.S., in particular, has been a large proponent of bringing
The style has limited exposure in the local markets, though bottles of the serviceable Saison de Silly have been spotted on store shelves, and work well as an introduction to
Indian Pale Ale
Indian Pale Ale (IPA) is a popular variety in North America, though it can be rather
For IPAs, you can’t go wrong with the Russian River Brewing Company’s Pliny the Elder, or with Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute IPA. If you want something with the same bite, but with a local
Lambics are often recommended for people who “don’t like beer,” and for good reason: these spontaneously fermented beers are light-bodied and crisp, giving them a soda- or cider-like mouthfeel. Many lambics are brewed with fruit
Belgium’s Cantillon Lambic is one of the best examples of an unblended lambic—the beer, with its tartness and woodiness, speaks for itself.