The weather is finally getting hot, and there’s no better way to cool down than with an alcoholic beverage, especially because the number of types of beers out there seems to multiply every season.
Yes, it may not seem likely that we can guarantee a beer that would be best for you because you are only reading this, but even if you have more of a sweet tooth than you’d like to admit… there’s a beer for that.
So purists, band-wagoners, and people adding ice cubes to their lager to keep it cold as they nurse it all afternoon…it’s time to unite and agree that cocktails are so last year and that we should raise a glass to the many variations that water, yeast, hops and barley can offer.
Before you can know the right beer for you, you need to know the basic types of beers that are out there, and here they are from the lightest to the heaviest. The most popular beers in the world are the easiest to drink with the simplest flavours.
That’s what the masses are looking for, and that’s what the manufacturers will happily give them (and it has earned them more money than the straight or trans sugar baby industry could ever hope to make). For many people, the easiest drinking beer out there is a Corona (an unfortunate name choice due to recent events), and it’s no coincidence that they included a slice of lemon to freshen up the taste a bit.
Corona is a lager style beer, which is the lightest tasting, so it’s no surprise that Budweiser and Labatt’s Blue are also made in this style.
Pilsners are slightly heavier, but it’s the next grouping – ales – where things can get wild. There are many sub-groups here, so you’ll find blonde, red, pale, golden, brown, all meant to give an indication of its colour and therefore its heaviness.
After ales come the two heaviest beers, stouts and porters. The former is best known for Guinness, and while still easy-drinking its colour and flavour is unmistakable. Certain porters can have very high alcohol percentages and rich sweetness, making it an excellent dessert beer. It should come as little surprise that stouts and porters are not particularly popular in the summer months, as they don’t go hand in hand with the idea of ‘refreshing’.
This type is a great summer beer choice because it’s a mix of lager and ale flavours. Kolsch beers are very easy drinking, but because you get some lager-heaviness mingled in there, it’s got a bit more oomph and flavour than something like a Budweiser.
It should come as little surprise that this style of beer was developed in Cologne, Germany, but it is interesting to note that this type of experimentation started centuries ago. There are actually strict rules in Europe for using the word Kolsch, where only breweries within a fifty-kilometre radius of the city can print it on the label (with Fruh and Gaffel some of the best-known brands).
For the rest of the world, beer makers large and small can use the term however they like when they are crossbreeding lagers and ales. While the results will not be particularly wild and shocking, they are certainly easy-drinking and delicious. Finding Kolsch beers has become very easy thanks to the internet (and finding local breweries that offer it is a fun activity when you’re tired of social media or that one squirt gay site).
To be clear, these are not the beers that are suddenly all the rage that have artificial fruit flavours added in (but we’ll get to those). Real fruit beers use real fruit (surprise) in the brewing and fermenting process, making the final flavour very distinctive.
These beers were developed in Belgium centuries ago in monasteries, with monks experimenting with cherries, raspberries, and plenty of other fruits to give the beer a sweetness to it that is obviously related to the crop being used. For many people who find beer too malty, too hoppy, or even too dull, fruits beers of this sort can be a delicious eye-opener. They can also be rather strong in alcohol percentage, so keep that in mind on a hot summer’s day when having plenty of Group Fun.
Just like how scotch drinkers insist that the more the whisky takes like a boot the better it is, for many people who consider themselves beer connoisseurs, the hoppier (or in tasting terms, bitter)…the better.
Obviously, the not-so-secret ingredient is an overload of hops, and this is because when this beer was made, adding a lot of this ingredient kept the beer fresh longer, so it was very popular with sailors on long sea voyages where you had to make sure that all your supplies wouldn’t go bad. Many of these ships were headed to India to trade goods, which is why IPA stands for ‘India Pale Ale’.
The ‘Hard Seltzer’ Beers
The newest summer craze is challenging the idea of how much you can change a beer before it’s no longer a beer. Even the experts in the industry are still debating what to call it. What is absolutely true is that these flavoured beers are racking up amazing sales because what customers want is variety, and being able to offer lime, cherry and other flavours with a lot fewer calories than the average bottle of lager is very appealing.
Whether or not this will be your summer beer of choice can depend on your personal history with the beverage up to this point. If you’ve been happy with traditional lagers, a ‘hard seltzer’ might be a welcome change, but if you are an IPA person, you might decry this latest ‘fad’.