Different Types of Beer: A Comprehensive Guide

Abbey Miller
Published on
by Abbey Miller

 Beer is a staple drink for any occasion, and this beverage fits right in, from small family gatherings to parties and huge sporting events. It’s also widely available, making it easy to grab on the go.

With over ten different types of beer, there’s no reason to miss out on any! Ready your notes as we dive into beer styles and see which ones will be in your favorites list.

Different Types of Beer: A Comprehensive Guide


Different Types of Beer

  • Wheat Beers
  • India Pale Ale
  • Brown Ales
  • Belgian Beers
  • Pilsner
  • Stout
  • Sour Beer
  • Porter
  • Pale Ale
  • Tripel
  • Barrel-aged Beer
  • Blonde Ale
  • Chocolate Beer
  • Fruit and Vegetable Beer
  • Coffee Beer
  • Gluten-free Beer
  • Kolsche Beer

1. Wheat Beers

Wheat Beers

Beer enthusiasts consider wheat beer as the ideal choice during summer. It has a smooth texture with a lesser alcohol content that starts at 3% ABV compared to mainstream lager beers at 4 to 6%.

Wheat beers have a hazy body with a light gold to amber appearance. Many types have a vanilla aroma, though others exude a clove or banana scent. Its tangy flavors blend well with fruits, which is great if you’re into a zesty or citrusy taste.

We recommend serving cold wheat beers to heighten their fruity flavors. Food pairings to try out include seafood, smoked meat, soft cheese, and sour dishes.

2. India Pale Ale

India Pale Ale

India pale ale (IPA) is the perfect match if you’re into bitter-tasting beer style with high alcohol content. Its ABV of 5 to 10.5% may not be suitable for light drinkers. IPAs go big with hops in their brewing process, giving it their distinct bitter taste.

IPAs can appear in light gold to coppery brown. Depending on the hop style used in brewing, it can taste like citrus or pine with a nice malty sweetness. Some brands also add herbal and fruity flavors to this beer to counter the bitter taste.

For best-tasting IPAs, we recommend serving it at cellar temperatures (50 to 60 °F). Food picks that taste great with this beer style include fried foods, poultry, spicy sausages, and fish tacos.  

3. Brown Ales

Brown Ales

Brown ales have malty overtones with varied but distinct flavors depending on where they are brewed. It has two major types – American brown ale and English brown ale. Both style’s ABV ranges between 4 to 6%.

This dark beer comes in an amber-to-brown color with a distinct roasted flavor. Depending on its origin, it can also feature caramel, chocolate, nuts, and citrus notes. Its hop flavor is moderate, great for those wanting minimal bitter aftertaste.

Brown ales taste great with different food picks like barbeque, nutty cheese, beef stew, red meat, and gouda cheese. 

4. Belgian Beers

Belgian Beers

Variety and high alcohol content is a Belgian beer’s trademark, and we only recommend this for beer enthusiasts with strong alcohol tolerance. With an ABV between 4 and 14%, many casual drinkers may find the composition too much.

Depending on its type, a Belgian beer has three distinct color variations: pale, golden, and dark. It has spiced, fruity flavors and mild hop bitterness, perfect for drinkers looking to balance the tastes in their palate. Popular Belgian beers include Witbier, Dubbel, Lambic, and Gueuze. 

Pasta dishes, brie cheese, smoked meat, and tangy cheeses are delectable picks for food pairings.

5. Pilsner

Pilsner Urquell

Pilsner is a pale lager beer style with a light to moderate bitter taste and an ABV of 4.2 to 6%. It’s a medium-bodied and carbonated beer, perfect for anyone who wants something between light and full with decent alcohol concentration.

In terms of appearance, Pilsner has a classic clear gold. It has a spicy, malty aroma that complements its bitter notes. You’d also love Pilsner’s three beer types, catering to various tastes and alcohol level preferences. 

Serve this beer cold as a standalone or pair it with our top picks like salmon, tuna, spicy food, Mexican and Asian cuisines, and American cheese.

6. Stout


Java and chocolate fans will love this dark-colored beer, notable for its rich and complex flavor with hints of toasted, dark malt. With ten variations, you’ll have a great time experimenting with various textures and ABVs ranging from 4 to 9%.

Stouts are easy to classify with their trademark creamy top and dark body. Its taste is a fascinating mix of chocolate, licorice, molasses, caramel, or coffee with minimal to high-level hop flavors, depending on the style.

Because of its flavor variety, this dark ale is enjoyed with different types of meals and desserts. Our favorites include braised dishes, oysters, rich stew, chocolates, roasted and grilled foods. 

7. Sour Beer

Sour Beer

Do sweet and bitter-tasting beer styles sound overrated? Try a glass of sour beer on your next bar visit to experience its unique, crisp taste. Its low average ABV of 2 to 5% also makes it an excellent session drink after some lively refreshments.

Sour ales are deliberately brewed to achieve high acidity levels. Their sour or tart taste sets them apart from mainstream beer styles’ bitter variations. To tame its sour flavor, manufacturers add hints of raspberry, peach, or cherry, creating that refreshing sweet and sour tang.

One thing we love about sour ales is their compatibility with many food types. You can try having cheddar or gorgonzola cheese, deep-fried foods, cured meats, and spicy foods. 

8. Porter


If you’re looking for a full-flavored beer like stout but prefer a sweeter version, then Porter is a must-try. Like stout, this beer is dark brown to black, with an almost similar ABV range of 4 to 12%.

Unlike stout, which uses roasted barley, Porter does away with it or keeps it at a minimum. It uses sweetened flavors like sweet chocolate, caramel, toffee, and nuts as an alternative to achieve its creamy and silky texture.

Regarding food pairing, we especially love steak and grilled sausages. Sweet bread, peanut butter, and chocolate desserts are also great picks.

9. Pale Ale

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Pale ale is a mainstay on most beer menus for a reason. It’s a broad category with a variety that fits casual and regular beer drinkers’ palates. With an ABV range of 4 to 6%, it’s a light, classic drink anyone can enjoy for leisure.

Pale ale variations have gold to amber color with varying shades indicative of their brewing process. It can have an intense flavor profile balanced with moderate malt sweetness. Its variety uses different herbs that affect its taste, so you can’t expect each to have the same taste.

There’s a pale ale for any occasion, and to enjoy it best, we recommend you pair it with delectable food picks like pretzels, pizza, roasted duck, or fish and chips. 

10. Tripel


Any beer enthusiast looking for drinks with high alcohol concentration but wants that warm, refreshing taste typical of light-hearted beers will love Tripel. With an ABV range of 7.5 to 9.5%, it’s a strong drink that surprisingly has a pleasant mouthfeel compared to stronger types of beer like the Belgian Strong dark ale.

Tripel has a deep yellow to gold and copper shade. Its taste and aroma offer a complex experience. You’ll get that spicy, peppery smell or citrusy scent of oranges with a low-key floral whiff.

Its taste is even more interesting! There’s that lingering spice and fruitiness with a light honey tang on its finish. When pairing it with food, we find seared scallops and fruit tarts to work wonderfully with its powerful flavor.  

11. Barrel-aged Beer

Barrel-aged Beer

Barrel-aged drinks are specialty beers stored in wooden barrels to achieve a unique flavor profile you won’t find in most popular beer styles. Manufacturers select a barrel type (oak, hickory, alder, etc.) and a beer with high alcohol content, which is then stored in the container.

The effect is an increase in alcohol content and a unique tang of vanilla and charred oak as residual flavors of the barrel. The cost is higher than most beers because barrel aging takes time and space.

If you want to have a go at this unique-tasting beer, we suggest grabbing cheese, beef stew, chocolate-based desserts, or strawberry tart for food pairings.

12. Blonde Ale

Blonde Ale

The blonde ale is a pale ale variation that deserves a special spot for being a summer drink favorite. With an ABV of 4.1 to 5.1%, it’s a light drink you’d be happy to enjoy on the beach or during hot afternoons at home.

It’s a medium-bodied beer with a fruity aroma and a nice mix of malt and hop that don’t overwhelm your palate. Termed as ‘golden ale’ by beer enthusiasts, this drink has a beautiful gold or blonde hue, which looks excellent served in tulip glasses.

For food pairing, you can try spaghetti and meatballs, sugar cookies, pepper jack cheese, or spicy foods.

13. Chocolate Beer

Chocolate Beer

We all love our dose of chocolate, but did you know there’s a beer type for this staple sweet snack? Chocolate beers are craft beers that feature actual dark chocolate or cocoa as a primary ingredient. While most brands have a low ABV below 5%, there are a few that reach an impressive 13%!

Despite being a chocolate-based beverage, its taste and appearance vary greatly. It can appear pale and dark, depending on the manufacturer. Some have hints of chocolate milkshake, while others feature a rich Java flavor. Hop aroma is minimal to none, and you can expect medium to high levels of malt sweetness matching the cocoa taste.

We think most desserts will do great for food pairing, but if you haven’t tried this brew yet, we recommend drinking this as a standalone.

14. Fruit and Vegetable Beer

Fruit and Vegetable Beer

If a sweet-tasting beverage is your ideal choice of drink, then these fruit and vegetable specialty beers are must-try. With an ABV of 2.5 to 12%, you’ll have lots of room to experiment and discover which brand has the alcohol level that fits your preference.

The fruity flavor is the dominant taste in these types of beer, so expect it to be sweeter than the mainstream brands you’ve tried. Hop bitterness is also minimal, as with the malt level. Craft beer manufacturers are now becoming more creative in adding fruity variety to their beers, but the most common flavors you’ll experience include raspberry, apricot, ginger, nutmeg, cherry, and peach.

We found that the best way to enjoy this beer is to preserve its fruity element, and one way to do that is to pair it with the right snacks. Try creamy cheese or fruit salad, for starters. Vanilla ice cream’s also incredible.

15. Coffee Beer

Coffee Beer

Looking for an after-work drink that won’t leave you too jittery but still keep you awake? Coffee beer is the answer. Many brands formulate this drink with 50 mg of caffeine at 4.5% ABV, which is fair enough to unwind.

As for the flavor, expect an authentic caffeine taste. It’s far from the roast, coffee-like spike you have on porters and stout, and the bitter flavor you’ll get is something from caffeine rather than hops.

There’s a lot to experiment regarding food pairing with this beer type, but chocolate brownies, hard cheese, and meaty stew are great complements for starters.  

16. Gluten-free Beer

Gluten-free Beer

With all the rave about gluten-free diets, it’s only a matter of time before the beer industry catches up. This beer type is a result of that demand. Household brands and craft beer companies ferment their goods at cooler temperatures and often use rice instead of wheat and barley, which are the primary ingredients of most beer products.

Taste also varies greatly, depending on each manufacturer’s ingredients and brewing process. Some take on the bitter taste of IPAs, while others have a lemony or fruity flavor. Appearance also varies, with some taking brown ale hues or dark beers.

Food pairing depends on you, and if you’re on a full-on gluten-free diet, starting with apples, bananas, yogurt, and avocado recipes is a good starting point.

17. Kolsch Beer 

Kolsch Beer

Kolsche is an ale often compared to Pilsner because of its synonymous appearance. Its ABV of 4.5 to 5.5% is also close to the other, which makes this an easy alternative and vice versa.

Kolsche has a subtle malt and fruit taste but a crispier finish, thanks to its top-fermenting yeast brewed in higher temperatures. Some Kolsch manufacturers add their twist to the beer using pepper and herbal notes.

Many food types pair well with this beer, but if you want to ensure you don’t overpower its taste, we recommend starting with German sausage, nutty cheese, light salad, fish, and light fruit-based desserts.  



Beer is a staple drink in pubs and restaurants, and it’s a favorite go-to drink for any social occasion. With new styles in the fermentation process, we’ll likely see more blends and techniques in the coming years.

Go for wheat beer if you’re after a classic summer drink to enjoy with friends or family on a barbecue. If you want a kick on your first sip, Belgian beer won’t disappoint.

How many on our list have you tried drinking? Is there anything you want to recommend?

Remember, there’s a beer for any occasion, so the next time you hang out or unwind, set aside your usual favorite and try something new!

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Abbey Miller
Abbey Miller
Abbey grew up in a family with an appreciation for great beers, fine wines, and nuanced Scotch whiskeys. It's no surprise that she studied Hospitality Management and is now a professional working on the world-famous Las Vegas Strip.
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