People are often afraid of change and leaving their comfort zone. Loyal beer lovers are seldom an exception. Don’t be afraid to try something new; embrace change and adventure to new places! And new beers. We’ve broken down a few common styles below with a bit of history and tasting notes. Enjoy!
IPAs are often characterized by their unique bitter taste and strong aroma driven by the relatively high use of hops in multiple phases of the brewing process. Hops have been used in brewing for thousands of years. As early as 1630, brewers in England were shipping beer to India where many soldiers and government employees were stationed. By this time, brewers knew that hops acted as a natural preservative, and thus, additional use of hops meant that the beer could easily make the six-month voyage to India. By the mid nineteenth century, pale and India Pale Ales had replaced porter as the fashionable beer in England.
Lagers first appeared in Bavaria in the 16th century. They are fermented with yeast at much lower temperatures than other styles and are often effervescent and light in color and body. Lagers can be pale, golden, amber, or dark. In the US brewing market today, Lagers are most dominant. When most people think of beer, they think of lagers like Miller, Coors or Bud Light. Only in England are lagers not the most popular beer; ales top the charts.
Perhaps the most recognizable stout is Guiness. In England during the 1920’s, marketers tried to prove the validity of the slogan, “Guinness is good for you” and showed that people felt better after a pint. It is hard to imagine, but according to their research, Guinness was recommended for post-operative patients, blood donors, pregnant women and nursing mothers to recover more quickly and improve their health.
There are a lot of great stouts. Explore a few. Each is often rich in character. Some of the stouts that you can try at The Ginger Man include: Guinness Stout, Sam Smith Oatmeal, Sam Smith Organic Chocolate, Victory Storm King, Young’s Double Chocolate.
Many believe porters started in London in the early 1700s, but depending on who you ask, the story may change; the style itself has evolved drastically since inception in early London. Porters are known for their strong flavor and their inability to spoil easily in comparison to other styles. Porters’ values increase with age and are often priced lower than other styles. The main difference between a porter and a stout is their roast-malted barley flavor. Porters are typically 4.0-6.5% ABV in strength. We recommend trying 512 Pecan Porter, a house favorite.
Ciders have gained recent recognition in the US as a gluten free alternative to beer. Ciders are made with fermented juices of various fruits, mostly apples. Ciders have more popularity around the world than here in the US; many attribute this disparity to prohibition when apple trees were actually cut down in an effort to stop production. As these trees need many years to bear fruit, the process was greatly delayed. Ciders can have a variety of different flavors and can be classified from dry to sweet. Their appearance varies from cloudy with sediment to completely clear. Colors range from almost clear to amber to brown. These differences depend on filtering between pressing and fermentation. ABVs vary on ciders, but most ciders are typically 5-8% ABV. Check out Austin East Ciders, a local delicious dry cider.
The origins of the saison style, like many others, depends on who you ask. Present day saisons are typically super dry, with a clean hoppy finish. Many saisons contain spices or Brettanomyces wild yeast, creating a unique drinking experience. One of the most interesting things about the style is the specific yeast strains used in the brew process, which many believe to be related to red-wine yeast. Saison strains are tolerant of very high fermentation temperatures, and produce a lot of peppery phenols, but not a lot of ester, which would certainly ruin the beer. Some of the saisons that you can find at The Ginger Man include: Boulevard Tank 7 and Saison Dupont.
3 Tips to Experiment with your Beer Style
Ask the server/bartender for assistance. The Ginger Man staff is very knowledgeable and is here to help guide your drinking experience. Don’t hesitate to use them as a resource during your visit. Whether you’re looking for a new brew to try, or just wanting to learn, strike up a conversation with a member of The Ginger Man family.
Drink what’s in season. A good way to explore different styles is to follow seasonal releases. Whether it’s a great wheat beer to beat the summer heat or a warming stout in the winter months, following the seasons will give you a great glimpse at several different styles. Check with your server on the current seasonal offerings.
Order half pints. By drinking less, you can try more! We always encourage guests to check out new beers and different styles. Your perception of a beer will change during the drinking experience; trying a sip of something will give you a different impression than multiple sips. With some of the high ABV beers around, half pints are often a good vehicle to try many new beers!