Our go to drinks expert Josiah Kahiu gives us the breakdown to understanding the world of craft beers.
Do you fancy yourself a beer lover? I do, thanks to the world of craft beer! Gone are the days when our choice of beer was fairly limited, the world of beer has never been as vibrant as it is now. Craft beers are increasingly being produced with the flavours and aromas that one would normally associate with wine. So to help comprehend the craft beer world, here is a quick starter guide:
Pale Ales And Indian Pale Ales (IPA)
These are probably the most recognisable beers in the craft beer market. Beers in this category tend to be hop-forward. Pale ale can be viewed as an all encompassing term to describe beers that are generally light to copper in colour, and bitter. Pale ales have been produced since the 1700s in England, but modern day American versions have different flavour profiles compared to their earlier ancestors. English ales tend to have more herbal and spicy notes while American ales (which are more associated with the new breed of craft beers) are more aromatic and fruity. IPA’s are similar to pale ales but tend to have a higher alcohol and hops content making them slightly more bitter than pale ales. IPA is the most popular style of craft beer in the world today. Pale ales and IPA’s are great with a wide range of foods from hearty pies to the stronger spicy foods like curries.
Many of the beers you will drink in your lifetime are made from 100% malt but an increasing amount of craft beers are being made with wheat (generally about 40- 60% wheat). The result of using wheat is a crisp, clean beer with a lighter, brighter colour. Another consequence of using the lighter wheat instead of malt is that the main aromas generally come from the yeast or any spices added. The two main wheat beers to remember are the German weissbier (or hefeweizens) which have flavours of banana and cloves and the Belgian witbiers that have more coriander and orange aromas. Ideal food pairing for these are lighter foods such as salads and seafood.
“The Malts”: Ambers, Reds, Browns & Stouts
As the name suggests, malt is the predominant factor in this category. Reds and Ambers are an easy introduction into the craft beer world for the newcomer. The caramel and toffee flavours of the reds and ambers coupled with a slight sweetness create an approachable range of beers for easy drinking. The stouts on the other hand are more heavy bodied, deep brown in colour with heavy notes of coffee and cocoa. This range of beers are great for barbecued meats and spicy foods.
Pilsners & Lagers
Although they can be traditionally associated with more conventional mass brewing, craft versions generally use no corn and malted barley. Light in body, these beers are crisp, clean and do not linger on the palate often leaving you with a slight spice and floral aroma. Great with lighter foods such as chicken, these beers are a great way to get rid of that beer thirst.
There are many other styles of beer that have not been mentioned in this startup list but nonetheless a good way to start your exciting beer journey. The key thing to remember is that when you pour your first bottle of craft beer – drink it from a clear glass and enjoy the wide range of colours and aromas that make it so similar to another drink I adore, wine! If you’re looking to try craft beers, explore Bateleur Brewery, Sierra Lounge and Brew Bistro. They’re sure to give you a wide range to tickle and intrigue your tastebuds!