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No More “Beersplaining”: A Simple Guide to Beer

No More “Beersplaining”: A Simple Guide to Beer

group of friends clinking glasses of beer

The summer heat has been stifling, and crowds are flocking to bars and breweries for a refreshing, cold pint. But increased beer consumption comes with a caveat: to help sort through the overwhelming catalog of beer options on a menu or on tap, you may ask someone the difference between a lager and an IPA. Next thing you know, you have prompted a long-winded reply with unidentifiable lingo and excessive details that manage to overwhelm you even more — otherwise known as “beersplaining”.

For some reason, subjects like football or cryptocurrency trigger mansplaining, garnering less interest from female-identifying individuals in particular. A recent study conducted by Gallup News confirms demographic discrepancies in alcohol preferences, too. Men are more than twice as likely as women to say that they most frequently drink beer versus other options (53% to 22%). Unfortunately, beer has become another unapproachable and stigmatized concept for women.

The world of beer is vast and intricate, so there is plenty of room to plunge into its intricacies. On the other hand, this also means that there are many different options to cater to everyone’s tastes and preferences. People might not think they like beer, but they also might not know that there is more out there than Natural Light.

That’s why we’ve put together a simple guide to all things beer. It’s not for the experts; it’s for those who simply want to feel comfortable at a bar and possess enough basic beer knowledge to ensure a positive, non-traumatic experience when ordering a pint. And do not worry — you will be spared the extraneous details of the barrel’s size and the exact grain in Idaho from which they were derived.

The Basics

Beer is made of four basic ingredients: grains, hops, yeast, and water. Hops are a token vocabulary word to understand beer. Hop leaves serve as the bittering agent. Another helpful vocabulary word is malt, which refers to a toasty caramel flavor. There are also two measures of unit: ABV or alcohol by volume, ranging from 4%-7% in beer,  and IBU, short for international bitterness unit, ranging from 0 to 100 IBUs. These terms will be found on labels and will give you an idea of the overall taste before you commit to a beer.

There are primarily two types of beer: a lager and an ale. They can be brewed in many different styles, which is why the list of beers is ever-growing. Nevertheless, we will review the most notable types. When you’re browsing a menu or the numerous shelves of the liquor store, no matter the origin or brand name, they will still fall under these subcategories.

Ales

Ales tend to have more fruity or spicy flavors, which somewhat balance out the malt and hops. Under the umbrella of ales are wheat beers, pale ales, porters, and stouts.

Guinness beer pint.


Wheat Beers

Wheat beers, as you suspect, are wheaty, making them cloudier, fruity, and light on the hops. Allagash White has become a household name, though Samuel Adams is a popular and affordable alternative.

Pale Ales

Pale ales have a medium-level hoppiness, ranging from gold to brown in color, and carry notes of citrus and florals. IPA (India Pale Ale), in particular, is a trendy brew that is highly marketed at the moment. It has a distinct flavor for its hoppiness. If you want to try the flavor at its strongest, try a double imperial IPA like Voodoo Ranger Imperial IPA, which is rich and piney. For a lighter and fruitier experience, a hazy IPA like Sierra Nevada’s Hazy Little Thing IPA Beer does just the trick.

Porters

Porters are dark brown in color with notes of chocolate or caramel, somewhat bitter, and maltier than others. Deschutes Black Butte Porter is an iconic Porter option.

Stouts

Stouts are dark and malty, identifiable as being the darkest beer and having the lowest ABV. The most famous and reliably delicious stout beer is the Irish phenomenon, Guinness.

Lagers

A lager beer being poured on draft.


Lagers are ‘cleaner’, meaning the hops and malt are more noticeable. Subcategories include pale lagers, pilsners, Dunkels, and bocks. 

Pale lagers

Pale lagers are classically American. They’re light and refreshing and perfect to drink on a sunny day on a boat (or while imagining one). As an affordable introductory beer, you can’t go wrong with a Corona paired with fresh lime.

See Also

Pilsners

Pilsners are hoppy and sweet. This balance has made it one of the world’s most popular types, like Stella Artois.

Dunkels

Dunkels, German for dark, are reddish brown. They are not the most popular beer in the USA, but they are a fun choice for someone who enjoys a malty, chocolatey beer like a Warsteiner Dunkel. Extra points for the fun pronunciation.

Bocks

Bocks are dark brown and malty with fewer hops, meaning they are a bit sweeter and lighter, yet they have a higher ABV. An affordable option is a Shiner Bock or an Ayinger Celebrator, a popular beer worldwide.

Some other hybrids of ales and lagers include Kolsch beer, which is technically an ale but brewed like a lager. An entry Kolsch, like Boulevard Beer American Kolsch, is light gold, fruity, and crisp. Lastly, an Amber beer can be brewed as an ale like Fat Tire Ale or a lager like Brooklyn Lager.

Ultimately, the best way to learn what you like is to taste and experiment. Coming in with some basic knowledge will likely save you from a ‘beersplaining’ experience. Ask your bartender to try a fruity pale lager or a malty stout they recommend. In many cases, curiosity and a friendly smile will land you a free beer on the house. ‘Beersplaining’ is out. A simple, cold beer is in. And if a tatted and/or bearded individual inquires about your taste in IPAs, approach at your own risk.

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