Alas – it’s finally the weekend and you’re taking the time to enjoy a cold one. Or maybe it’s a Thursday night and you’re out at dinner with some friends and decide to reward yourself on a busy week. Whatever the situation, the beer you’re drinking should be perfect for making the occasion even better. Thankfully, you don’t need to be a “master brewer” to know which beer is right for you.
The first thing you need to take into consideration is the difference between lagers and ales, the two major families of beer. Lagers will traditionally have a lighter taste, while ales are usually bold, and feature an almost fruity taste. If you prefer something light, and don’t need a high alcohol content, an American Lager or Pilsner will do just the trick. For those who enjoy the taste of beer, and want something that has more of a bite, opt for a IPA (Indian Pale Ale). If you want something lighter without sacrificing the bold taste of an IPA, you can go for Pale Ale which won’t be as bitter. Porters are typically reserved for individuals who enjoy a deep flavored, dark beer.
The type of food you’re eating also plays a factor in which beer you should be drinking. The easiest way to figure out which beer you should pair with your meal involves determining if you are eating a light or heavy meal. A light meal that consists of seafood or grilled chicken, for example, will pair best with a lighter beer like a Pilsner. Heavy meals that contain red meat, stews, and BBQ dishes will go better with ales like a Porter, or an IPA. Spicy foods go great with Amber Ales, or a Bock, depending on the size of the dish. Beers with strong flavor, Barley Wines and Stouts, pair well with foods that also have strong flavors, like sharp cheeses or heavy chocolate desserts. You will find that, when in doubt, lagers are your go-to beer for meals since they pair well with a wide variety of cuisine.
For many people living in areas with strong seasonal changes, their selection of beer will also change with the climate. While a Pilsner like Natty Boh is the beer of choice for a Marylander eating crabs on a summer afternoon, that same person may opt for a Pale Ale during the cold winter months. Our palates respond to a variety of different elements, which naturally changes our preference when drinking beer.
Personal preference is the name of the game. It’s important to figure out which beer is right for you, rather than settling for anything that gives a buzz. Focus instead on what will provide an enjoyable drinking experience. A good beer is what creates that experience for us.