If you’ve never been into Ward’s Supermarket, you may not know that we offer a wide assortment of beers in addition to our impressive selection of meat, produce, and seafood. They say, “Friends bring you happiness but best friends bring you beer.” Read on to learn more about the most popular styles of ales and lagers so you can wow your friends with both your beer knowledge and good taste at your next gathering.
Love is “Ale” You Need
All beers start out as either ales or lagers. However, ales have been around the longest, since the Medieval Age. Ales or lagers become the specialties we know and love based on whether ale or lager yeast is added, dictating the fermentation temperature. Ales are fermented in warmer temperatures than lagers, which causes their yeast to float on the top.
India Pale Ales (IPAs)
The term “IPA” refers to the variety popular with craft beer enthusiasts. This style emerged when British expats in India wanted beer from back home, so they brought barrels with them but added tons of hops for preservation. The hops stayed in the beer so long it resulted in the distinctively bitter taste we typically associate with IPAs.
Stout in beer terms refers to a full-bodied dark variety made with roasted malt or barley. The term stout was first coined in 1721 to describe a strong porter, a combination of brown and mild ales, but today most breweries use these two terms interchangeably to indicate a dark brown beer. If stouts are said to have a coffee taste, porters have more of a chocolatey one.
Amber Ales style is named due to the addition of roasted malt and caramel that gives this beer its color range of golden to amber. Citrus, fruit, or pine are often added to American Amber Ales to offset the malt’s sweetness.
This beer style is the oldest ale and has a refreshing, light taste due to having little to no hops and a delicious mixture of barley and wheat grain with a cloudy appearance due to its suspended yeast and wheat proteins. Some wheats are considered Belgian-style brews due to their tanginess, while those in America have a light flavor reminiscent of bread. If you’re not bringing this beer variety home, wheat are you doing, man?
Lagers haven’t been around as long as ales, but it’s the classic case of the student who has become the master, and lagers are now widely the more popular of the two. They are fermented at colder temperatures for a longer period, causing their hybrid yeast to float to the beer’s bottom. The most popular style of lagers are pilsners, bocks, and dunkels.
No, this type of beer doesn’t refer to someone in the pharmacy field. Pilsners, which originated in 1842 in the Czech Republic, are pale lagers with a slightly hoppy taste. This beer variety is by far the most popular due to its light grain and hops bittering, resulting in a clean, uncomplicated taste. More than 50% of all beers sold are pilsners, and this variety is a great one to start with for those new to the beer scene.
If you’ve ever called beer “liquid bread,” that term was originally used to describe the bock variety of beer, popular with fasting Bavarian monks in the 14th century. This beer is dark, malty, and rich with mild hops and an occasional hint of caramel. It also has a high alcohol content, giving you more bang for your “bock.”
This beer variety’s mispronunciation may sound like a carnival game, but when said properly, it’s actually “doon-kul.” This style has a smooth, malty flavor – a tad nutty and sweet, with the teensiest taste of vanilla. It’s been around since the 15th century in Bavaria, where most of it is still sold today.
Don’t Worry, Be Hoppy at Ward’s
There are countless categories and subcategories of beer in addition to the ones listed here. Whatever you’re looking for, Ward’s Supermarket has many varieties, including ales, lagers, ciders, organic, and, if you’re feeling extra crafty, gose sours. Besides domestics and imports, we are also proud to offer beer from Gainesville’s local breweries, Swamp Head and First Magnitude. Until you next stop in to see us here at Ward’s, we’ll wish you were beer!