Craft Beer Explorer 101 - Begin your craft beer journey
Navigating all of these terms and styles in the world of craft beer can be confusing and off-putting. So we put together a little guide to help you through the basics!
Feel free to use this page as a little background. As you go through the beers, try to think about the appearance, aroma, taste and how it feels in your mouth. Chuck in a little bit of knowledge, you’ll be chatting like a pro at the bar in no time.
First up is 'Springwell Pilsner' - a 4.5% lager. Pale in colour and light in taste, a good start to exploring craft beers, or just sipping on a hot afternoon.
Lager means ‘storage’ in German, which gives us a hint to the production process. It is also one of the oldest styles of beer, with medieval brewers using the cool temperature in caves to ferment the beer.
Today there are a few different types of lager, but a Pilsner, originally from the Czech town of Pilsen, is one of the most common. They have a touch of floral hoppiness, a pale colour and a crisp bitter finish.
Pale Ale is a broad style, different brewing methods result in a range of flavours and appearances. The fashion right now is to have more hop forward and hazy pales which have a tropical or juicy flavour. Pales are great for drinking sessions or when you just want a light refreshment.
'Hoop' 5.5% American Pale Ale is a classic style of the craft beer movement, which was set in motion when home brewing was legalised in the US in the 1980s.
Home brewers used plenty of American hop varieties, showing off the citrus and piney hop varieties and paired them with pale malts. The classic features of an APA are an ABV of around 5%, a clear but slightly dark colour, light mouthfeel, crisp but full of flavour.
West Coast IPA
To put it simply, India Pale Ales are a stronger variant of a Pale Ale, which in the 18th century were very lightly hopped. Legend has it that British breweries beefed up the alcoholic strength to survive the trip to India. Exactly where the origins lie is a point of debate but what is true is that IPA was a very successful British export.
West Coast IPAs like 'Sun Medallion' 6.8% by Pomona Island are the result of the same craft beer revolution in the US. Home brewers tried to recreate older styles. WC IPAs have a low malt content, a bold aroma of American hops and a bitter, resinous or piney flavour by the time it hits your mouth!
Hazy or New England IPA
The hazier sibling of the West Coast IPA is one of the most common styles you see in craft beer today. The New England IPA or Hazy IPA, exploded in popularity in the 2010s due to its low bitterness and juicy or tropical flavours. They often have a murky unfiltered appearance, strong aroma and a creamier, thicker feel in the mouth. 'Back At The House' 6.5% by Left Hand Giant is a classic example of a Hazy IPA.
All of this is achieved by a combination of brewing techniques; the timing/quantity of when hops are added, yeast strains that are used, water type and even adding oats, fruits, lactose and more! They are extremely drinkable and can range from straight up refreshing to a slow sipper.
Sour beers come in many forms. Traditional styles use wild or lactic acid bacteria to give sweet, fruity and 'funky' notes. These processes are definitely one of the more magic things in the beer world, being left in open vessels or placed in wooden barrels for natural yeasts to spontaneously ferment. Once bottled they can still ferment and have incredibly long shelf lives, so change over time. This is 'Where's The Ground' 5% by LHG.
More modern fruited sours will use a mix different yeasts, real fruit or puree. Check our Vault City range, gaining international fame for amazing modern sour beers. Great for the Singapore climate due to their refreshing nature, and for people who might not enjoy other beer styles.
Double IPAs (DIPA) and Triple IPAs (TIPA) are basically pumped up evolutions of the IPA. Basically the booziness, flavour, aroma, thickness and basically everything else is intensified to the max.
It's definitely one to sip not smash whilst you enjoy and pick out the well balanced characteristics of 'Psychedelic Views' 10% by Left Hand Giant.
These guys work well with a sharing and pairing session, maybe some cheese and cold meats, perhaps a nice Wagyu tomahawk. Push the boat out! Just don't have too many or it's an early night...
Stouts and Porters
We finish the journey on a darker beer style, stout. One of the oldest and arguably most famous styles of beer, stouts (and porters) date back to around 1600. Using roasted malts and little hops to get a more robust, roasty, coffee and chocolate flavour. The benefit of these dark beers was that they were cheaper, took longer the spoil and not easily affected by heat.
But forget Guiness or ABC at the hawker. 'Shadow of Memory' 7% by North Brewing Co. is a take on a more classic roasty stout recipe. We find stouts are always a good end to the night or as a replacement for dessert! They also paid well with smoked, braised or BBQ meats. Liquid lunch anyone...
Imperial Stouts and Porters
Imperial is a relatively new term in the craft beer world, just take it as 'stronger'. Modern stouts have many crazy additions and processes involved as craft breweries experiment more to push the boundaries of a big, bold beers!
Many add coffee, chocolate, cream, oats, marshmallow, chilli and other crazy ingredients. You can often find stouts barrel aged in old wine, port or spirit barrels. They can also reach some crazy ABVs. We've selected 'Dradis' 12% by Brew York, due to its heavy, strong flavour and booziness. Enjoy this over time. **FYI - Stouts and Porters are best drank at 10-12 Celsius so let it sit out of the fridge a bit before that first sip!**
Become a Craft Beer Explorer today
That's it for now! We hoped you learned a little, but just enjoy the beers at the end of the day! Craft beer can seem daunting with so many names and acronyms but everyone explores at their own pace.
If you need somewhere to start, why not grab this 8 pack with all of the beers mentioned above, and head off on your own craft beer exploration today. Give us a shout with any questions... and most importantly, enjoy.