WHAT IS CRAFT BEER?

A breakdown of the craft and culture of quality brewing.

Intro

 Crafting a quality beer demands personal attention to every detail in every bottle. It’s an art form, and we’re living in the renaissance.

Every day, craft brewers across the country are pushing the boundaries and exploring uncharted territory. They’re dedicated to driving this movement through innovation, and we all taste the benefit of their hard work.

Types of Beer

Ales vs. Lagers

Even with all the different varieties out there, every single beer in the world boils down to 2 different categories: ales and lagers. The key difference is in their unique brewing techniques, and the tastes that result.

Ales

Ales are typically described as full-bodied, lively and fruity. The yeast in ales ferments on top of the batch, which allows for a much quicker brewing process at warmer temperatures. If you’re going out to dinner, ales pair best with red meats and heavier foods. Some popular styles of ales are IPA’s, porters, stouts, and wheat beers.

Lagers

People usually refer to lagers as smooth, easy-drinking and refreshing. The yeast in lagers ferments on the bottom of the batch, which means they must be brewed for longer and at colder temperatures. Lagers pair best with fish, chicken or other lighter foods. Popular types of lagers are pilsners, bocks, and Oktoberfests.

Ingredients

Malt & Hops

There are two key ingredients that go into any craft beer: malt and hops.

Malt

Malted grain is the foundation of all beers, and hold sugars that ferment with the yeast to create alcohol and carbon dioxide. The way the malt is brewed will distinguish how sweet the beer will ultimately become. Because of this, malt is primarily responsible for giving each beer its distinct color, taste, and mouthfeel. Grains typically used in brewing craft beers are barley, wheat, rye and oats.

Hops

Hops give each beer a distinct amount of bitterness, earthiness, and spice. You can best explore how hops influence a beer by smelling the aroma that comes from the foamy head after pouring a fresh glass. Hops grown in different parts of the country have different characteristics that reflect their climate and environment – otherwise known as their terroir.

By the Numbers

IBU’s & ABV

Every beer has two numbers that go along with it to help you understand more about it.

IBU’s

Also known as International Bitterness Units, this is a scale that lets brewers quantify how bitter their beers are. IBU’s are measured in parts-per-million of isohumulone in a certain volume of beer. The scale doesn’t have a defined maximum, but most beers usually fall between 0 and 120 IBU’s. Just because a beer has a high IBU ranking doesn’t always mean it will be more bitter. Beers are made up of many ingredients, and sometimes these will counterbalance each other.

ABV

Alcohol by Volume. Just as the phrase suggests, this is a percentage that let’s you know how much alcohol is in a given volume of beer. This number is pretty crucial to knowing what you’re drinking and how much you can handle before you get the spins. 

Craft Beer Styles

Explore 6 popular styles of craft beer below.

IPA

ABV 5-7% | IBU 35-63

Most traditional interpretations of India Pale Ales are characterized by medium-high bitterness. These pale gold to deep copper-colored ales have a flowery hop aroma and may have a medium to strong hop flavor (in addition to the hop bitterness).

CraftHounds’ Top Pick:

Ballast Point Big Eye IPA

$21.84 View Product

Amber

ABV 4.5-6% | IBU 30-40

Amber Ales range from light copper to light brown in color.  They have medium to high maltiness with medium to low caramel character. Sometimes they incorporate a fruity, crisp flavor.

CraftHounds’ Top Pick:

Bell’s Amber Ale

$9.19 View Product

Blonde

ABV 4-5% | IBU 15-25

Golden or Blonde ales are straw to golden blonde in color. They have a crisp, dry palate, light to medium body, and light malt sweetness. Low to medium hop aroma may be present but isn’t overbearing. Bitterness is low to medium.

CraftHounds’ Top Pick:

Kona Big Wave Golden Ale

$12.64 View Product

Wheat

ABV 5-7% | IBU 35-63

Belgian White or Wheat Ales are very pale in color and are spiced with coriander and orange peel. Coriander and light orange peel aroma are usually tasted as such or as an unidentified spiciness. The style is further characterized by the low hop bitterness and little to no apparent hop flavor.

CraftHounds’ Top Pick:

Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat

$9.99 View Product

Stout

ABV 5-8.8% | IBU 35-60

Initial low to medium malt sweetness with a degree of caramel, chocolate and/or roasted coffee flavor with a distinctive dry-roasted bitterness in the finish. Coffee-like roasted barley and roasted malt aromas are very prominent. Hop aroma and flavor is moderate to high, often with American citrus-type and/or resiny hop character.

CraftHounds’ Top Pick:

Deschutes Obsidian Stout

$11.49 View Product

Porter

ABV 5-9.5% | IBU 35-50

American-style imperial porters are black in color. No roast barley or strong burnt/astringent black malt character should be perceived. Medium malt, caramel and cocoa-like sweetness. Hop bitterness is perceived at a medium level. This is a full bodied beer.

CraftHounds’ Top Pick:

Founders Porter

$13.79 View Product