Beer

What is beer? Delicious, obviously! Which is probably why it’s in the top 3 most popular overall drinks along with water and tea. 

Simply put, beer is a yeast-fermented beverage made with water, grain, and hops. The golden elixir traces its roots as far back as ancient Mesopotamia and Babylon, and even further back to nomadic tribes nearly 13,000 years ago. Of course if you tried that brew today it wouldn’t even be recognizable as beer, but it was in fact a fermented beer with the consistency of gruel (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beer). 

Just imagine a bunch of cavemen wandering into their favorite watering cave at the end of a long day filled with boar hunting and clubbing each other and ordering a round of their favorite gruel beer. I’m certainly glad that both humans and beer have evolved since then. 

There is an endless supply of styles, flavor profiles, and brewing details, but we’re going to keep it simple, hit the basics, and give you a good foundation on which to build your working beer knowledge. 

Different Types of Beer

Before we talk beer, let’s talk yeast.Yeast is at the foundation of all beer, so it’s a great place to start. There are two main types of yeast used in the fermentation process: Ale yeast, which is top-fermenting, and Lager yeast, which is bottom-fermenting. 

Ale yeast works at a higher temperature, and the yeast cells actually rise to the top, hence “top-fermenting.” Whereas lager yeast works at the bottom of the brewing liquid at a lower temperature. 

Now that you’re basically a yeast expert, let’s discuss types of beer. There are far too many types of beer to cover here, so we’re going to look at the big 4: Ale, Lager, Porter, and Stout.

-Ale-

Ale was historically brewed without hops, although now there are many styles that use hops as the bittering agent to balance the flavor profile. Ales are warm brewed using top-fermenting yeast and are known for their full-bodied and often sweet and fruity flavors. 

In Medieval times, ale was a primary source of nutrition for many people because of its caloric value and high water content. Imagine getting to drink beer in order to hydrate because your water is too contaminated. Pretty awesome, huh?

If you’re curious, here’s a list of the common ale varieties:                                       https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ale

Brown Ale - mild and nutty

Pale Ale - medium bodied, fruity, hoppy, floral, and citrus

India Pale Ale - hoppy, herbal, fruity, aromatic, bitter

Golden Ale - lightly aromatic, slightly bitter, lightly sweet with hints of fruitiness 

Scotch Ale - malty, smokey, and sweet

Barley Wine - caramel and toffee, often strong notes of fruit

Mild Ale - roasted malts, and slightly to very bitter

Burton Ale - dark, rich, matly, sweet, and bitter, with fruity notes

Old Ale - sweet and nutty with notes of dried fruit, molasses, toffee, and caramel 

Belgian Ale - slight hop bitterness, mostly caramel and tasted malts

Cask Ale - varies by each brewery


-Lager-

Lager is distinguished by its low-fermenting yeast. You may have heard the term “cold-brewed” in your favorite beer commercial. Well, that’s what they’re referring to. It is also the most consumed style of beer in the world and comes in beautiful pale, amber, and dark shades.

The color of your favorite lager comes from the material used in the fermenting process. The lighter lagers use barley that hasn’t been roasted, and sometimes use other light grains to create that light refreshing finish. 

Darker lagers use roasted grains and malts for those deep rich colors. The roasted grains and malts can also give the lager a burnt flavor. 

There are three types of lager under which many styles fall.

Pale Lager - most popular beer in the world, very light to golden in color, light and refreshing

Vienna Lager - amber to reddish, low to medium bitterness, malty and slightly sweet with notes of toasted malt

Dark Lager - deep amber to dark brown, hint of caramel sweetness

Some of the common lager styles: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lager

Helles - pale and malty

Pilsner - pale and hoppy

Marzen - amber with bready tasted malts, smooth and creamy

Bock - light copper to brown, rich toasted malts with a hint of caramel

Dunkel - dark with malty notes of bread, chocolate, and caramel

Schwarzbier - very dark, hints of malt, very little aromatic sweetness

America has become one of the largest consumers of beer, and most of that is in light lagers such as Bud Light, the highest selling beer in the USA.  Here is a breakdown of some of the other best selling beers. 

20 Best Selling Beer Brands in the USA in 2020


Brand

Country

Avg Price

Type

Rank

Dos Equis

Mexico

$9 - 6pk 12oz bottles

Pilsner

20

Blue Moon

USA

$8 - 6pk 12oz bottles

Witbier

19

Yuengling Lager

USA

$8 - 6pk 12oz bottles

Traditional Lager

18

Natural Ice

USA

$6 - 6pk 12oz cans

American Lager

17

Pabst Blue Ribbon

USA

$9 - 12pk 12oz cans

Pilsner

16

Bud Ice

USA

$10 - 12pk 12oz bottles

American Lager

15

Stella Artois

Belgium

$9 - 6pk 11oz bottles

Pilsner

14

Miller High Life

USA

$10 - 12pk 12oz bottles

American Lager

13

Keystone Light

USA

$14 - 24pk 12oz cans

American Lager

12

Busch Light

USA

$6 - 6pk 16oz cans

Pale Lager

11

Heineken

Netherlands

$9 - 6pk 12oz bottles

Pale Lager

10

Natural Light

USA

$6 - 6pk 16oz cans

American Lager

9

Busch

USA

$6 - 6pk 16oz cans

Pale Lager

8

White Claw

USA

$9 - 6pk 12 oz cans

Hard Seltzer

7

Miller Lite

USA

$7 - 6pk 12oz cans

Light Lager

6

Coors Light

USA

$7 - 6pk 12oz cans

Light Lager

5

Corona

Mexico

$10 - 6pk 12oz bottles

Pale Lager

4

Modelo Especial

Mexico

$10 - 6pk 12oz bottles

Pilsner

3

Michelob Ultra

USA

$8 - 6pk 12oz bottles

Light Lager

2

Bud Light

USA

$8 - 6pk 12oz bottles

Light Lager

1

There’s a distinction between “popular” beers and “best-selling” beers. Popular beer rankings are based on surveys of how people generally feel about the beer, whereas best-selling uses analytical data from beer sales. 

Just because someone buys a lot of Natural Light doesn’t mean that person prefers it. A lot of people simply drink what is more affordable. Think about how many broke college kids are out there throwing frat parties. Do you really think they’re going to drop top dollar for a keg of premium ale? Of course not! 

So let’s check out what beers people wish they were drinking according to YouGov’s most recent survey.

20 Most Popular Beer Brands in the USA in 2021

https://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2021/04/these-are-the-top-20-most-popular-beers-in-america-according-to-a-new-survey/

20. Michelob Ultra

19. Dos Equis

18. Pabst Blue Ribbon

17. Miller Genuine Draft

16. Bud Light

15. Coors Light

14. Corona Light 

13. Miller Lite

12. Stella Artois

11. Miller High Life

10. Modelo

  9. Corona Extra

  8. Miller

  7. Coors

  6. Blue Moon

  5. Budweiser

  4. Samuel Adams

  3. Corona

  2. Heineken

  1. Guinness