Those who don’t have much experience in the wide world of beer may not know how many exciting new types of beer are out there.
The craft beer industry is growing quickly in the UK as the demand for new, diverse products rises.
As a result, companies are pumping out amazing new flavours and changing the brewing processes to create fascinating new takes on the classics.
Today we’re going to give you the lowdown on how certain types of beer are made, how they’re changing and why we think you should give them a go this summer.
Special Editions / Hybrids
Okay – so you’re not sure where to start, and you’re feeling a little bit worried about going outside your comfort zone.
Why not try a twist on what you already know? Lots of major beer companies are releasing new twists on their classics.
Scottish brewery Innis and Gunn recently released a limited edition Islay whisky cask red beer.
The beer is a collaboration with famed distillers Laphroaig and is made by slowly maturing Innis and Gunn beer in Laphroaig Quarter Casks to absorb the notes of woodsmoke, Pete, toffee and sea-salt from the oak casks over time.
The complex flavours in this beer, coupled with the base beer’s classic notes, make this special edition a perfect stepping stone to trying more adventurous beers.
If you’re a stout drinker, they also released a wild and wonderful Imperial stout matured in 15-year-old Speyside single malt whiskey casks for 365 days (over 8,000 hours!).
The ‘Indian Pale Ale’ was a happy accident. Originally discovered by Britons as they sailed to India, they would fill their beer casks with ‘hops’ (now a common ingredient in beer) as they realised it could work well as a preservative.
British IPA: The fruity flavour from the hops would eventually be transferred into the beer, leaving it with a bitter, malty taste.
This original concoction is now known as the ‘British IPA’ and is still a popular beer style today.
West Coast IPA: As time passed, people started experimenting more with hops, finding that different hops could create massive changes in flavour and bitterness.
Some more fruity hops have led to the creation of IPAs like the West Coast IPA – a clean, clear, crisp beer that’s big on tropical and fruity flavours.
New England IPA: The brewing process has also been played with to create exciting new versions of the IPA; for example, the New England IPA is unfiltered – giving it a signature hazy appearance and low bitterness.
There truly is an IPA out there for everyone. If you want bitterness, we’d recommend you start with the classic and try a British IPA.
If you’re looking for something on the sweeter side, try an unfiltered New England IPA.
Or, if you want to get crazy, try a ‘Milkshake IPA’ – a lactose heavy, low-carbonation IPA, often flavoured with vanilla or chocolate notes. These IPAs are almost like light stouts – sweet and velvety.
Sours are both one of the most exciting new beer areas and one of the oldest forms of beer.
All beers start sour before they are processed and pasteurised, and special yeast strains enhance the modern sour beer. They are tart, complex in flavour and usually extremely refreshing.
There are many different types of sours, offering a range of exciting flavours.
Lambic: Lambic may be the most famous type of sour. It’s a Belgian wheat beer that’s light to drink but has a distinct tartness.
It’s usually brewed in winter and aged for around a year, so you’ll often see these popping up around Christmas.
Flanders: Flanders is another iconic Belgian ale; it’s a red ale with sharp, fruity, sour flavours created by special yeast strains.
They’re super complex beers made by blending young and old beers and ageing the beer in oak casks.
Modern Sour Beer: There are very few rules to the modern sour beer (other than the obvious – it’s got to be sour).
Using a large brew of a ‘base’ beer, companies can separate it into smaller batches and use different types of flavours to experiment with anything from vanilla custard to apple crumble sours.
Other than the famous ‘Guinness’, people don’t know much about stouts.
Stouts are one of the most exciting underdogs in the beer world – most places you go will only have one or two on tap, but you can almost always guarantee that they’ll be something interesting to try.
Stouts are just a version of ale; they’re made with top-fermenting yeast too but are set apart by a small portion of roasted barley that gives them their dark colour.
Irish Stout: Irish stouts are the most well-known of the stout family, thanks to the popularisation of Guinness.
They’re dry and hoppy, with the benefit of not being too heavy, making them an ideal easy-drinking beer.
Milk Stout: A milk stout is a stout with added lactose. The milk sugar in lactose gives the stout a little extra body and sweetness without being too over the top.
These stouts tend to have a velvety texture and form a creamy head when poured.
Oatmeal Stout: Oatmeal stouts are exactly what they sound like – they’re stout with added oats.
The oats tend to cut through the bitterness and add a certain sweetness to the stout.
Coffee Stout: A coffee stout is much fun because the flavour can change dramatically depending on the type of coffee used when brewing it.
A lower strength coffee can give subtle notes of rich coffee flavouring, while a strong coffee can make it taste almost like a creamy alcoholic cold brew.