Beer 101: Your Basic Guide For Understanding The Basics Of Beer 

Beer has been a stable drink in everyones lives since its invention in 4,000 BCE. Did you know that one of the earliest findings of the proof of beer was a tablet found in Mesopotamia that depicted people surrounding a bowl of beer with straws. Jumping back to modern days, beer is becoming trendier and more popular every year.

Beer is a wonderful alcoholic beverage that can is not just consumed by drinking, but it also be used in cooking. This versatile drink can be used in many different ways and may seem a little complicated to beginners. This is why we have created this guide for beginners so you can learn about the basic styles of any type of beer you will come across.

Beer is usually divided into two main groups: lagers and ales. The original beer is the ale that consists of earthy flavors while lagers are usually lighter and drier to the taste due to the different brewing methods. Diving further into the different types of beer, you will see that there are more than just two groups. Most beers will fall under the categories of an ale or lager, but not all beers.

First, the biggest question you might want answered: What is in beer?

Most beers are made up of four basic ingredients:

1. Barley: This is processed into malt and than brewed
2. Hops: This is added during brewing to balance out the malt with more bitter flavors
3. Yeast: This adds the carbonation to the alcohol content during the fermentation
4. Water

Now that you understand what four ingredients are found in most beers, here is your guide to the different beer styles:


All beers will fall into the two main categories: ales and lagers. Lagers are full and rich, mostly pale, with the occasional dark color. Some styles you will see often are the American (light and crisp), European (more hops), and German (dry and bitter).


This popular brew is a particular style of lager. It will consist of a bitter and dry taste with a pale color. You will often see this style have a malt taste. Some will have a slight effervescence for texture.

Pale Ale

The Pale Ale looks just how it sounds. A pale amber in color. This type of beer is known for its strong flavors and bitter hops. American pale ales will usually have citrusy notes, while the India pale ales are drier, hoppier, and higher in alcohol than other countries versions.

Belgian Ale

This ale will give off a sweet taste due to yeasty beers tending to be more complex and unique. One popular brand of a Belgian ale is the rustic Saison; a strong farmhouse brew.

Brown & Amber Ale

True to their name, these amber ales are distinguished by their red look. Brown ales will usually have a malty, nutty, and slightly sweet flavor.


This dark-colored brew has malt characters and roasted flavors of coffee and nuts in its taste. This beer will be a much heavier brew compared to others.


This brew is considered dry, creamy, and bitter. Stouts are usually low in alcohol concentration with coffee-like flavors. Imperial stouts are notably robust, with higher alcohol levels that give off an intense dark and bitter flavor.


Just as its name suggests, a sour beer has an intentionally tart, acidic, or sour taste. The addition of yeast adds a note of earthy quality to the taste. Traditional sour beers include Belgian lambics, Flanders red ale, Berliner Weisse, and German gose.

Wheat Beer

Germany is very famous for its beers, but in particular, its wheat beers. This includes the popular Hefeweizen beer; a sweet, full-bodied beer with a note of spice. Belgian and American wheat beers are also pretty common. These beers are golden-hued and straightforward, while the German styles are fruity, a little spicy, and most importantly: refreshing.

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Stop on by your nearest Cox and Evergreen Liquors to pick up a beer you have been wanting to taste! We are here to help you with all of your beer questions and can point you in the right direction!