But what is beer actually?
Far more than "...let's have a few pints…!" or "...I'll just have beer with the meal..."
Beer is the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage and is made from an apparently simple recipe with most basic of ingredients: water, malt, hops, yeast. But the end result is amazingly diverse and deliciously multi-flavoured, thanks to the fascinating brewing process. You could say that the yeast is what makes the beer. Over time every brewery’s yeast strain takes on its own particular character and forms a “family” of yeasts that make their home right there on the premises.
In principle, there are three fermenting processes which decide which main type of beer comes out at the end: bottom-fermented Lager, top-fermented Ale and wild yeast Lambic. Malt is the backbone of beer, carbon dioxide gives it its bubbly spirit, while its character is formed by the full spectrum of aromas from the hops.
From this basic formula: 4 ingredients times 3 fermenting methods, brewers throughout the world have, over the millennia, developed today’s many dozens of beer types and thousands of beer variants and beer flavours. New varieties and combinations appear all the time.
Beer styles and Stallhagen's beers
Our presentation here is a simplified summary of lager and ale with their sub-categories, with special beers and lambics as their own separate style category. In the wast beer literature there are innumerable ways of grouping and describing beer styles. Beer enthusiasts could list many more sub-types and variants.
- Lager is a bottom-fermented beer which is fresh, balanced and easy to drink. 95% of the world’s beer today is lager. Lager comes in three variants:
- Pale lager such as Stallhagen Honey Beer, Stallhagen III and Stallhagen Helles Märzen (in production 2012) is a fresh and lightly malty beer with aromatic hop character.
- Dark lager such as Stallhagen Delikat, Stallhagen Skördefest (Harvest festival) and Stallhagen Celebration (in production 2011), is smooth, with easy-to-drink qualities and an aromatic sweetness.
- Strong lager such as Stallhagen Julbock, Stallhagen Dunkles (in production up to 2011) and Black Vanilla Cinnamon, is strong and slightly sweet with a rounded character and generous malt.
- Ale is a group of top-fermented beers with a complex mix of many different aromas. Ales are fruity and nuanced. The hop bitterness varies from aromatic to intensely floral, depending on the type of ale. Stallhagen’s popular ale range includes Stallhagen Blueberry Ale, Stallhagen Brown Ale, Stallhagen US Red Ale, Stallhagen Pale Ale, Stallhagen India Pale Ale IPA (in production up to 2012) and Stallhagen IPA2.
- Porter and Stout are robust, characterful top-fermented beers, apart from the Baltic variant, which is bottom-fermented. Porters get their colour and strength of flavour from dark malt varieties, and offer roasted tones of coffee, bread and chocolate. Stallhagen’s highly prized Baltic Porter is part of this group, as is Stallhagen Irish Cream Stout (in production 2013)
- Wheat beers are light and fruity top-fermented beers with an aroma of summer fruits. Wheat beers offer a wide spectrum of varieties from light and clear to dark and cloudy. There are perceptible tones of vanilla, citrus fruits and spices. Stallhagen’s Kristal Weisse was a wheat beer in production in summer 2011.
- Pilsner/Pils is a fresh and crisp type of bottom-fermented beer which is tasty, aromatic and very dry. It typically has a clear hop bitterness, which contributes to the herby and floral nuances. One of the most well known beers in the world. Examples are Stallhagen Pilsner, Stallhagen Organic President Pils and Stallhagen Pilsner Christmas Edition (in production up to December 2012).
- Special beers are usually generous and original and difficult to categorise according to the accepted beer styles. The group includes top-fermented, bottom-fermented and spontaneous yeast beers. Stallhagen Red Swissqon Ale, Coach Ice Beer, Stallhagen Green Beer, Stallhagen ESB are examples of our most recent special beers.
You can find more about the characteristics of beer, what to drink with what and recommendations on these web pages.