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 If you would’ve asked someone fifteen years ago what their favorite beer style was, they most likely would have given you the name of a big brand. Or that they’re sophisticated people not indulging in lowly pleasures. The same question today would cause a whole storm of IPAs, Porters, Belgian Ales and Saisons.

A pint of beer is far from being (only) the symbol of the working class. And as craft, artisanal, small batch (or whatever you may call them) beers, the disputes has also multiplied. The question of beer styles is one of these controversial topics.

As with all things in life people love categorizing beers, labeling and classifying them. These categories are not as distinct as they might appear.

It’s not its style that determines a beer but the one who drinks it.

As we say we only know two kinds of beers: the one we enjoy and the one we don’t. Great wisdom aside, let’s see what they say about the different beer styles!

The most popular beer styles
and how we see them

Lager – what they called beer 20 years ago

Lager is like the Toyota of beers: there’s one on every corner, and for a good reason. Their mass production has been perfected throughout the centuries, and despite several craft beer purists’ contempt, it can’t be said that lagers are the beers of mass producers. Several microbreweries make their own lagers and we always have at least one on tap.

When do we like them best:

when they are simple, light and refreshing

IPA – the grandmother
of craft beer

The good, old Indian Pale Ale. For many, they are synonymous with craft beers. As a testament to their popularity, many consider them one of the oldest beer styles and aside from the impressive (and not proven) stories about them being brewed with high amount of hops to endure the long journey towards India, IPAs are the perfect material for experimental breweries.

No wonder they launched the American craft beer revolution in the early 2000s. While making an IPA one doesn’t need to abide by strict rules. A few boxes of pineapple or mango ended up in the cauldron? Or you’re thinking about mixing your morning cereals with your afternoon beer? All of this fits into an IPA quite nicely. (we’re serious!)

When do we like them best:

when they like to take chances (but doesn’t run headfirst into a wall)

APA – a less overused name for the IPA (just kidding)

But really, if we had to taste blindfolded, we often couldn’t be able to tell the difference between some IPAs and APAs. And here is where blurred lines come into play. They say APAs (American Pale Ales) are the less hoppy and less alcoholic brother of IPAs but when you peek behind the curtains, it’s far from being this simple. And that’s one of the best things about craft beer, right? The breweries can decide what they put on their labels and we get to say, no, I think it’s not that!

When do we like them best:

 when we can tell the difference from an IPA (not as strong, but at least as tasty)

Wheat beer – lunch replacement

A yellow ring, sweet flavors, heavy taste, and a beautiful, golden hue: no you’re not in heaven, that’s just a tall glass of wheat beer. Its most popular type is the German Hefeweizen but the Belgian Weissbier can also be found among the selection of many Hungarian breweries. If you really want, you can have one as a full meal in itself, but they also pair well with salad, seafood and basically anything that goes with white wine.

When do we like them best:

When its rich in wheat and rich in taste

Pilsner – if you’d start light

…but with something more than a simple lager. The Czech Pilsner is an auld favorite (with us since the mid-1800s) and in recent years craft breweries have also embraced them. Their great advantage is that they are not as heavy as most on this list. Rich in hops and has a long-lasting crown is what they say about Pilsners, which is either true for the particular beer or not. Nevertheless, you’ll just need to see it for yourselves!

How do we like them best:

When it sticks to traditions but isn’t afraid to add a little originality

Stout – black as night

The big boy beer, as they say not too correctly (we know several big gals who also love this blackest of beers). Stouts show up in the selection of almost all breweries and you’ll always be able to meet a few on our taps as well. People tend to compare their taste to coffee and as most classic craft beer styles stouts have their own selection of variations from milk stouts to imperial stouts. But what is even more important is that they are real, no-nonsense, roll-up-your-sleeves beers: More than to into an uninitiated stomach can lead to serious side effects.

When do we like them best:

When they are crazy strong but just as flavorful

Porter – another dark beer

It’s much more than that of course, but just as with the APA-IPA siblings, porters and stouts are so close to each other it can be hard to tell them apart sometimes. But they say porters are more fruity and chocolaty than their brother. Who knows? One thing is for sure, they were named after the dock workers of London. After a day of hauling, what could feel better than a good, 10% strong brew?

When do we like them best:

After a long day of working on the docks. And when it tastes like chocolate but not because they put cocoa in the brew…