There are more than 100 distinct varieties of beers, which is why we thought we’d break down the top types of beers in Australia. Starting as either an ale or lager, beers then fall into different family categories then more specific categories based on characteristics like taste, colour and aroma.
From its process to hops used, there are so many factors that change the characteristics of beer. With so many different beers, here are some of the most common in Australia…
Photo by Meritt Thomas on Unsplash.
How is Beer Categorised?
Beer is categorised initially by one of the two categories: ale or lager. This is decided by the type of yeast used when the beer is being fermented, which can be top or bottom-fermenting yeast. After a beer is claimed to be an ale or lager, it can then be narrowed down to more specific categories based on its taste, colour, smell and more.
Ale or lager?
Yeast ferments at the bottom or top of beer, changing the flavour depending on the yeast used. If a bottom fermenting yeast is used, it will be a lager, and top fermenting yeast is used to make ales. There is also spontaneous fermentation, which results in wild or sour ales.
Taste, smell and flavour.
A beer’s taste, smell and flavour better narrows down what family the beer falls under. Within family categories, there are then varieties which are decided by more specific characteristics.
Different Types of Beer in Australia
Ale is a top-fermented beer and is brewed with a warm fermentation process. This type of beer is normally amber, full-bodied and sweeter with notes of fruit and/or spice.
Popular ales in Australia:
- Stone & Wood
- Little Creatures
- Yak Ales
- James Squire
Pale ale is a popular beer in Australia, with its refreshing, summer taste. It’s an amber colour, full of flavour, and the gateway between light and dark beers. This type of beer is brewed with pale malt and ale yeast, giving it a well rounded flavour that is great for beer lovers and those trying to get on the beer train.
Popular ale characteristics: Fruity, fresh, citrus, floral, piney, caramel, medium-bodied, toasted maltiness.
India Pale Ale (IPA).
India Pale Ale, or an IPA, is a hoppy beer that can be more bitter with higher alcohol levels. However, like all beers, its taste and bitterness depends on the type of hops used.
Popular IPA characteristics: Hoppy, bitter, fruity, citrus, herbal.
A stout is a dark and full-bodied beer. If you’ve had Guinness before, then you know how stout beers taste. Although stout’s deep colour might scare you into thinking it’s hard to drink, I’ll have you believe otherwise. It may be full-bodied, but it has low-bitterness and carries a sweetness for a well-rounded balance.
Popular stout characteristics: full-bodied, dense, low-bitterness, coffee, sweet.
Wheat beers are typically ales, although they can be lagers too. The most well-known wheat beer is Hefeweizen, a refreshing internationally recognised German wheat beer. Another popular wheat beer is Belgium’s Hoegaarden, a fruity yet spicy full-bodied wheat beer. (Side note: Hoegaarden is my favourite wheat beer).
Popular wheat beer characteristics: Full-bodied, refreshing, citrusy, hazy.
Lagers are a lighter form of beer that have been around since the 1800s. Lagers are popular in Australia, complementing the warmer climate with their light and crisp taste.
This bottom-fermented beer is loved by many Aussies. From classics like VB and XXXX, to Corona Extra and Heineken, there are plenty of options available.
Popular lagers in Australia:
- Victoria Bitter
- Great Northern
- Corona Extra
Pilsners are a golden, pale lager with a crisp finish. The first Pilsner was created in Pilsen, Czech Republic, in 1842 and was, as you probably guessed, named after the city. Moreover, pilsners are the most widely consumed style of beer with their mellow but flavoursome taste and refreshing finish.
Popular Pilsner characteristics: Dry, noble hops, crisp, clean.
Bocks are an amber-coloured lager with minimal hoppiness and strong maltiness. This strong German lager has a smooth, rich taste with hints of caramel. Enjoyed by Germans, this drink might be harder for light and refreshing beer-loving-Aussies to drink.
Popular bock characteristics: Malt, light hoppiness, smooth.
Dunkel beer is a dark German beer, known best for its smooth, malty flavour and notes of chocolate and caramel. The word dunkel translates to dark, describing this dark beer for exactly what it is.
Popular Dunkel characteristics: Dark, smooth, malty, chocolate, caramel, bread crust.
Helles beers are light in colour and typically medium-bodied. This German word translates to light, once again describing the beer perfectly. Helles have notes of malt, floral hop, clean and mild bitterness.
Popular Helles characteristics: Light, golden, light-bitterness, mildly sweet, clean, floral hop.
Wanting to expand your beer knowledge? Find your local pub or bottle-o on localsearch.com.au.
Disclaimer: Please drink responsibly. We promote the responsible consumption of alcoholic beverages and do not condone underage, binge, excessive or other unsafe drinking behaviour. If you or someone you know needs help with unsafe drinking behaviour, please contact your local government helpline.