In the modern day world of craft beer there are literally hundreds of different beer styles and still further unique classifications continue to appear. It’s been a challenge but we have made our best efforts to restrict our classification of beer types to those listed below to help your shopping experience. We hope you enjoy this brief introduction to beer types and our recommendations for the best brews to taste in Vietnam!
The first step to understanding craft beer is that all beer falls into two distinct styles – ales and lagers – completely borne from the use of a different yeast. In lagers, a relatively newer type of beer, the yeast (saccharomyces pastorianus) gathers at the bottom of the tank during fermentation, a process which takes place at lower temperatures and over a longer period of time. As a result lagers are usually crisp, clean and refreshing. With ales, the yeast (saccharomyces cerevisiae) gathers toward the top and ales age for just a few weeks at a relatively higher temperature, making these beers aromatic and often fruity. It is the fermentation process which turns what would otherwise be a barley and malt tea into a boozy beverage.
Now, let’s break things down a little further, bearing in mind we have grouped some beer types together and left out others completely in an attempt to smooth your journey into the world of craft.
An ancient style of beer that’s exploded in popularity in recent years. “Sour beer”, in which the introduction of a wild yeast or inoculation with bacteria adds acidic, tart flavours, can actually describe a number of craft beer varieties. If the beer is soured in stainless steel instead of wooden barrels, it’s usually called a kettle sour. These beers are known for a tart tang that pairs well with tropical fruit and spices. Sours may be blended with fruits like cherry, raspberry or peach, to add a balance of sweetness, thus marrying sweet and sour to make beer flavours completely unlike the lagers and IPAs of yore.
Our Choice: see “GOSE” below
First things first, this rich, boozy and complex brew is a beer, not a wine! They can be sweet and fruity, often with flavours of toffee, caramel and dried fruit, but are always very strong (around 8-15% ABV). To get the alcohol so high, brewers use a lot of malts, giving the beer a thick texture and a dark colour. Many barley wines are barrel-aged to temper the intense flavours, and they are one of the few beer styles that may benefit from cellaring to soften the flavours and ramp up the experience.