The Beginner's Guide to Craft Beer
If you’re new to craft beer, you may be overwhelmed by all the different beer choices you’ll find at any local brewery. Don’t worry – we’re here to help! To get you started on your craft beer journey, here’s a quick guide to the flavours of a few common craft beer styles.
Of all beer types, ale is probably the most recognizable style. Most craft beers are often some category of ale, and it’s a popular one worldwide. Ales are known for their fruity flavour and scent, though flavour strength can vary depending on the length of time the malted barley was roasted.
Niagara Ale Trail Ales to Try:
Merchant Ale House’s Old Time Hockey Ale
Lock Street Brewery’s Jealous Mistress
Oast House Brewing’s Barnraiser Country Ale
Niagara Brewing Company’s Amber Eh!
IPAs (India Pale Ales)/ Pale Ales
A type of ale so popular, it requires its own section! Pale ales are generally made with pale hops, and have a milder malt taste that allows the hops to take centre stage.
Known for their stronger flavour, IPAs are a hoppier version of the pale ale that also boast a higher alcohol content. Though IPAs originated in London, they’re now are a staple in North American craft breweries, including those on the Niagara Ale Trail.
Niagara Ale Trail Pale Ales to Try:
The Exchange Brewery’s White IPA
Breakwall Brewing’s 9 O’clock Whistle IPA
Brimstone Brewing’s Sinister Minister IPA
Bench Brewing’s Ball’s Falls IPA
Kame & Kettle’s Gedit D’Fakenya
Lagers & Pilsners:
Lagers are known to be light, crisp, and clean in flavour – as are pilsners, though they do tend to be slightly hoppier. These two types of beer are often thought to be separate, but the pilsner is actually a type of lager (there’s some beer trivia for you!).
Niagara Ale Trail Lagers to Try:
Lock Street Brewery’s Port Side Pilsner
Silversmith Brewing’s Black Lager
Brimstone Brewing’s Punk Rock Pilsner
Taps Brewery’s Charleston Lager
Porters & Stouts:
We’ve put porters and stouts together, as they are very similar. In fact, stouts were originally called “stout porters”, then shortened to simply “stouts”. Over the years, recipes for both have changed so much it’s hard to tell the difference between the two. So, for the sake of simplicity, we’ll keep them together in this beginner’s guide.
Porters and stouts are darker beers with a high malt flavour, often boasting notes of coffee.
Niagara Ale Trail Porters/ Stouts to Try:
Merchant Ale House’s Drunken Monkey Oatmeal Stout
Oast House Brewer’s Pitchfork Porter
The Exchange Brewery’s Foreign Exchange Stout
Niagara Brewing Company’s Chocolate Stout
There are so many types of wheat beer, it would take multiple posts to list them all. In general, wheat beers are – as the name would suggest – brewed with a high proportion of wheat. Made popular in Germany and Belgium (with their Weißbier and witbier, respectively), wheat beer is now brewed all over North America in traditional and new styles.
Niagara Ale Trail Wheat Beers to Try:
Merchant Ale House’s Blueberry Wheat
Silversmith Brewing’s Bavarian Breakfast Wheat
Taps Brewing’s Belgian Wit
Niagara College Teaching Brewery’s Wheat 101
Quickly becoming one of the most popular craft beer styles, sour beers are brewed to feature a tart, sour taste. To achieve this, certain types of bacteria and yeasts are used in the brewing process, in addition to more traditional brewer’s yeasts. Often, fruit is added to the aging process to add different flavours and secondary fermentation.
Niagara Ale Trail Sour Beers to Try:
Breakwall Brewing’s Nickel Beach Sour Peach
Bench Brewing’s Citra Grove