What beer should I choose?

With so many beers and beer styles to choose from it can be a little confusing at first. Let Craft Lah help you choose the best beer for you.

At its core, beer is a basic drink. It consists of 4 main ingredients:

Water

Malt

Hops

Yeast

That is it.

There is a great deal of complexity within each of those ingredients that means a small change in one can lead to a whole different type of beer - but lets keep it simple.

Water :

Seems simple but it is very technical. The chemistry of water can have a huge effect on the beer for the brewer.

Malt:

Usually germinated barley. It is roasted like coffee to go from pale and sweet to dark and bitter. Can change the colour, flavour and mouthfeel of the beer.

Hops:

Flower of the hop plant. Provides bitterness and flavours. Huge number of varieties and can have flavours from citrus / tropical fruits to floral to pine.

Yeast:

Basically used to consume the sugar in the malt and produce alcohol. Many different types that can provide flavours to the beer. Lagers / pilsners and ales/ IPAs /Stouts use different yeasts. Sour beers traditionally use wild yeast.

So you can see that each ingredient can change the character of the beer completely. Brewers can also add other ingredients to their beers to make them unique. Often this is herbs / spices, coffee, chocolate, chilli and other fruits.

So that is the basic ingredients now we need to look at the usual styles of beers and what they taste like to help decide what is best for you.

There are many different styles of beers. Traditionally, many countries would produce a different style of beer - usually depending on the local ingredients and even within a country, many regions would produce different styles. There are too many to go into for simple guide like this but we will look at the most common styles brewed in Hong Kong.

Lagers

Pale and clear in colour without strong flavours. Usually highly carbonated. Flavours are mild but can be bready / cracker like or hint of corn. Generally not very bitter and may be a slight sweetness. Quite a neutral taste.

Commercial examples: Tsing Tao, Asahi.

Try: H.K. Lovecraft Helles / Vienna Lager or Double Haven The Lager.

Pilsners

Also pale in colour and crisp, clean and refreshing. The main difference between Pilsner and Lager is that Pilsner has a slightly stronger flavour and bitterness. More toasted bread / cracker notes and a more bitterness from the hops with a slight but noticeable hop flavour.

Commercial examples: Pilsner Urquell

Try: Deadman 5000 years Pilsner

Pale Ales

Usually pale gold in colour this  style of beer has more of a hop character than pilsners and lagers but not as stong as IPA's. Hop characters dominate in flavour and aroma (floral, pine, citrus, tropical fruit etc - depending on hops used) but balanced by slight malt notes. Bitterness from the hops are distinctive and usually linger. Should be a easier introduction to hoppy / bitter beers than IPA's. Alcohol content should be lower than IPA's.

Commercial examples: Sierra Nevada Pale ale, Stones Pale Ale, Young Masters Pale Ale

Try: Deadman Dirty Pale Ale, Double Haven Weekender Pale Ale

IPA

Generally refers to the American IPA. This style of beer is golden to amber in colour.  Heavily hopped with aromas and flavours from hops (floral, pine, citrus, tropical fruit - depending on hops used). Generally very low malt sweetness. High bitterness that lingers in the after taste. May have a slight warming sensation from the alcohol but this shouldn't be harsh.

Double IPA is similar to an IPA but with higher alcohol content of around 8% ABV

Commercial Examples: Sierra Nevada IPA, Stone's IPA

Try: Double Haven Adventurer IPA, Carbon Brews Crazy Rich Lupulins (Double IPA)

Sours

Traditionally a European style of beer, as the name suggests it these are beers with a characteristic sour flavour. Traditionally the beers would have been left to spontaneously ferment, that is without the addition of yeasts or other microbes. Sour beers covers many styles of beer rather than one specific style. Generally the beers are noticeably sour, refreshing, carbonated, have low bitterness, low or no hop flavour and can be flavoured with barrel aging or fruit / spice additions. Most modern sours are not spontaneously fermented but are innoculated with a specific microbe to promote souring.

Commercial Examples: Lindemans, Young Masters Cha Chaan Teng Sour

Try:

Saisons (also known as Farmhouse style beers)

Wheat beers

Stouts

Porters

Speciality Beers