As mentioned last month, popular ales include pale ales, india pale ales, brown ales, porters, stouts, Hefeweizens, Kolschs, Goses, sours and barley wines. IPAs and pale ales are two of the most popular craft beer styles in the United States.
IPAs and pale ales are hoppy and bitter with higher ABVs (alcohol by volume) and IBUs (international bitter units). Depending upon the hops used, they can taste floral or piney. They tend to be lighter in color due to the fact that most are brewed with less malty grains. IPAs and pale ales pair well with spicy food, including pizza. The higher acidity of IPAs cleanses the palate and aids in breaking down fats during digestion.
As popular as IPAs and pale ales are with craft beer drinkers, their bitterness can be polarizing for those that have historically only drank light beers. Be sure that your waitstaff asks good questions when customers ask for recommendations. It’s helpful to find out if they like hoppy or bitter beers up front before bringing them out a super-dank IPA.
Porters, stouts and brown ales are also extremely popular ale styles, especially during the colder weather months. They tend to be extremely “malty” and “filling” with amazing flavor profiles that come forward while being enjoyed. Brewers love getting creative when brewing darker ales by adding coffee, cocoa, specific brand chocolates, vanilla and more. To make them even better, porters, stouts and brown ales are some of the most popular styles being barrel aged. When barrel aged, they pick up additional ABV and flavors from the used barrels. Porters, stouts and brown ales range in ABV from six percent to upwards of 20 percent and are generally higher in calories. A pint of a typical imperial stout may have more than 600 calories! If you want to blow your customers’ minds, offer “Dirty Milkshakes” on your menu made with a Porter or Stout and your favorite flavored liqueurs.
Sours and Goses have climbed in popularity over the past few years, even though they have been around for centuries. They offer your customers a wide variety of flavors that range from being tangy to tart. Sours get their “sourness” from either bacteria (Lactobacillus or Pediococcus) or wild yeast, such as Brettanomyces, that are added during the fermentation processes. Goses are a style of sour beer typically made with wheat, barley, coriander and salt. Fruit flavors are often added to Goses and complement their spices and salty taste. Sours and Goses are lower in ABV and are refreshing during the heat of summer.
Pilsner, Märzen, Dortmunder, Bock, Dopplebock and light lagers are all popular lager styles. “The King of Beer” and virtually all of the popular Mexican beers are adjunct lagers and are some of the most popular beers on the market. Light lagers and pilsners are the highest selling beers on the market and you are probably already selling them at your restaurant. Light lager and pilsner fans like them for their light, crisp taste and the fact that they can enjoy several of them without feeling bloated. Märzen is the most popular Oktoberfest style and is the original “seasonally” brewed beer, hitting taps and shelves in late August. Märzens are malty and sweeter tasting and are perfect for cooler fall evenings. Lagers have historically been lower in ABV and lower in IBUs. This isn’t always the case now, as some brewers are testing style boundaries by dumping hops in almost every style imaginable. Don’t be surprised when a customer asks for an India pale lager.
Craft beer brewers are experimenting with a virtually endless number of new styles. Try one for yourself and enjoy a couple for me!
KEITH COFFMAN is the owner and operator of Lost River Pizza Company.