Which types of beer exist, what is the difference between top-fermented and bottom-fermented beers, what are the different kinds of beer and what are the differences? We explain important general knowledge about beer in a simple and understandable way.
The division into beer types is made on the basis of yeast. A distinction is made between two types of beer, top fermented and bottom fermented beers. The assignment depends on the particular yeast used.
Top fermented Beers (also called "ales")
The term "ale" or “top fermented beer” is based on the fact that the yeast rises to the surface during fermentation in the brewing process. Top fermenting yeasts require a higher fermentation temperature (15 - 30° C), which leads to an increased formation of fruit esters and higher alcohols. These often give the beers a fruity aroma.
Top fermented beers:
- Berliner Weisse
- Oats beer
- Rye beer
- Spelt beer
- Wheat beer
Bottom fermented Beers (also called "lager")
These beers are called bottom fermented beers since the yeast sinks to the bottom of the fermentation tank at the end of the fermentation process. Bottom fermented yeasts require a fermentation temperature of less than 12 °C. This has only been possible all year- round since the invention of the refrigerator. Therefore, the Märzen beer could formerly only be brewed until March which is why it is called Märzen ("März" means March in the German language).
Bottom fermented beers:
- Münchner Dunkel (Munich dark beer)
- Red beer
- Black lager
The division into beer categories is based on the °Plato.
The °Plato is the share of dissolved substances from the malt before fermentation, mainly the malt sugar. The amount of °Plato is largely responsible for the subsequent alcohol content. Beer categories are the valid tax subdivision used in Germany.
- Beer from 1.5 to 6.9 °Plato
- Beer from 7.0 to 10.9 °Plato
- Beer from 11.0 to 15.9 °Plato
- Beer from 16.0 °Plato
Beer mixes are beers with additions of soft drinks or fruit juices as well as exotic additions such as tequila aroma or energy drinks.
How do you taste beer correctly? Beer is tasted in three steps: at first the appearance is rated, secondly the smell of the beer and finally the taste. These aspects are often referred to as sensory evaluation of beer.
Appearance of the Beer
The decisive factors are color and foam of the beer. The appearance of the beer provides valuable clues to its character. Certain conclusions about the malts used can be drawn from the color. In order to assess the beer, hold the glass up against the light.
Smell of the Beer
A great part of the taste is actually smell impressions. It is best to smell immediately after pouring in an odor – neutral environment. There are many different smell classes such as fruity, floral or spicy.
Taste of the Beer
Taste of the beer You take a sip and keep it in the mouth at first. In the beginning you recognize the mouthfeel (slim, full-bodied) and the Rezenz (freshness). Afterwards you swallow the beer while paying attention to the decaying taste. In the finish you notice subtle nuances.
In order to really enjoy beer you should consider the following tips on storage, drinking temperature and glass care.
Storage of Beer
Beer is sensitive to light, temperature, motion and oxygen. Therefore, it should be stored in a cool and dark place at a constant room temperature of 6 - 8 °C.
Optimal Drinking Temperature
The drinking temperature is crucial for the enjoyment of the beer. The ideal temperature is 8 - 10 °C (normal refrigerator setting). You can drink strong beers and oak aged beers a little warmer. Thus, the recommended drinking temperature varies slightly. Beer should never be quickly cooled in the freezer.
Glass Cleaning at Home
The gentlest care for the glass is hand washing. The glasses should be cleaned with warm water (as little detergent as possible). A special glass detergent is recommended. Afterwards you should rinse the glasses with cold, clear water and allow the water to drain instead of drying the glasses.
We answer frequently asked questions about beer and clear up persistent myths about beer. You also have the opportunity to ask further questions. We strive to answer all open questions with regard to beer and brewing.