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Beer Styles

Although beers are brewed from similar materials, beers throughout the world have distinctive styles. Their uniqueness comes from the mineral content of the water used, the types of ingredients employed, and the difference in brewing methods. In a strict sense, there are two classical beer styles, ales and lagers. However, in addition to ales and lagers, there are other classical beer styles such as wheat beers, porters, stouts, and lambics – to name a few – that merit differentiation.

Lagers are probably the most common type of beer consumed. They are of Central European / German origin, taking their name from the German lagern ("to store"). Bottom-fermented, they were traditionally stored at a low temperature for weeks or months, clearing, acquiring mellowness, and becoming charged with carbon dioxide. These days, with improved fermentation control, most lager breweries use only short periods of cold storage (1 - 3 weeks).

Although many styles of lager exist, most of the lager produced is light in colour, high in carbonation with a mild hop flavour and an alcohol content of 3-6% by volume. Styles of lager include:

Dry beer
Märzen (only made for Bavarian Oktoberfest)

Top-fermented beers, particularly popular in Britain and Ireland, include mild, bitter, pale ale, porter, and stout. Top-fermented beers tend to be more flavoursome, including a variety of grain flavours and fermentation flavours; they have also lower carbonation and are fermented and ideally served at a higher temperature than lager. Stylistic differences among top-fermented beers are decidedly more varied than those found among bottom-fermented beers and many beer styles are difficult to categorize. California Common beer, for example, is produced using a lager yeast at ale temperatures. Wheat beers are often produced using an ale yeast and then lagered, sometimes with a lager yeast). Lambics employ wild yeasts and bacteria, naturally-occurring in the Payottenland region of Belgium. Other examples of ale include stock ale and old ale. Real ale is a term for beers produced using traditional methods, and without pasteurization.

Wheat beer, including hefeweizen
North American beers are listed below.

Beer and nationality

It is a common misconception that Australians drink Foster's Lager. This is untrue - it is a joke among Australians that Fosters was so bad that they decided to export that one and keep the rest. Australians are divided over their beer by their state; Queenslanders love their XXXX; South Australians drink Coopers; in New South Wales they drink Tooheys; Victorians prefer a VB; Western Australians drink Swan beer; and Tasmanians are further divided; those in the north drink Boags, and those in the south drink Cascade. Although it is generally quite difficult to tell an Australian that there is any other beer than his home state's beer, other popular brews are Hahn and Crown. Particularly in the trendier areas of the major cities, specialty brews, including a wide variety of ales, some by new divisions of the major brewers and some by new microbreweries, are beginning to become popular, as are some foreign beers.

Having said that, you can pretty much get most of these beers anywhere except the grubbiest most down-market pubs and clubs, which exclusively serve VB, the various varieties of Tooheys, and in NSW Resches.

Like other nationalities, Belgians pride themselves on their rich beer culture. There are over 1500 kinds of Belgian beer (including label beer) among which Stella Artois, Alken Maes, Jupiler, Delirium Tremens (brand), Duvel, Kwak, Leffe and Hoegaarden are some of the best known. It is often said (particularly by Belgians) that the Belgian beers are particularly excellent. Belgium is the only country that has Trappist beer.

Each variety of Belgian beer is served in a specific glass. The shape and size of the glass varies, and functions to enhance the flavor of the particular beer.

One common stereotype of the British (and indeed most residents of the British Isles) concerns their love of "warm beer". In fact, their beer is usually served around 12 degrees Celsius - not as cool as most cold drinks, but still cool enough to be refreshing. Modern-day pubs keep their beer constantly at this temperature, but originally beer would be served at the temperature of the cellar in which it was stored. Proponents of British beer say that it relies on subtler flavours than that of other nations, and these are brought out by serving it at a temperature that would make other beers seem harsh. Where harsher flavours do exist in beer (most notably in those brewed in Yorkshire), these are traditionally mitigated by serving the beer through a hand pump fitted with a sparkler, a device that mixes air with the beer, oxidising it slightly and softening the flavour. Nowadays, only real ale tends to be served via a hand pump, not a typical way for mass-produced beers to be served - it is common to find the latter sold in bottles or drawn from a carbon dioxide-driven tap. Real Ale is championed by the Campaign for Real Ale. With the growing of hops being characteristic of southern counties in particular Kent, traditional southern beers, such as London Pride, south of a line that can been drawn from the Bristol channel to the Wash (on the east coast of England) typically contain more hops than those found north of this line such as Boddingtons.

Bulgaria, while being quite a small country in Eastern Europe, has quite a number of beer brands. The most popular breweries (both producing namesake lagers) are Zagorka (produced mainly in Stara Zagora) and Kamenitza. Other remarkable brands are Stolichno (bock beer produced by Zagorka), Shumensko (both lager and red ale, produced in the city of Shumen), Burgasko (produced in the city of Burgas), MM (produced in the city of Varna), Pirinsko (brewed in the city of Blagoevgrad), and Plevensko (produced in the city of Pleven). Most of the Bulgarian breweries are currently owned by foreign breweries, such as Heineken.

Canada has a long history of beer production as the cold winter climate provided ideal conditions for brewing before artificial refrigeration was invented. It is well known for its two large commercial breweries, Molson and Labatt, and also for its large number of smaller companies. In addition, the popular SCTV characters, Bob & Doug McKenzie, are famous Canadian characters who are as associated for their love of beer as Cheech and Chong are for marijuana. I Am Canadian is a beer commercial that became a source of national pride.

Czech Republic
The Pilsener style of beer originated in the town of Plzen in Bohemia, and the Czechs make many well known and well regarded beers of this style, including the original Budweiser. The Czechs consume the highest per capita amount of beer.

The local brand is called Stella, not to be confused with the Belgian Stella Artois. It is primarily sold to foreign, non-Muslim, tourists.

Estonia and Finland
Both of these countries are known for their traditional Sahti, which is a beer made from rye or oat malts that are filtered through straws and juniper twigs. According to beerhunter Michael Jackson, it is by far the oldest continuous living tradition of beer making, representing nothing less than a direct link with Babylonian beer-making methods.

Although the French market is dominated by industrial breweries, the Nord/Pas-de-Calais possesses strong brewing traditions and breweries (Pelforth, for example), which it shares with its Belgian neighbor across the border. Alsace, also has a strong tradition of brewing beer with bottom fermenting yeasts in the German style. Nowadays, there are more and more micro breweries that are producing "fashion beer", especially in the regions with a strong identity (Brewerie Lancelot in Bretagne, beer Pietra in Corsica,...)

With an extremely strong beer-oriented culture, the German market is a bit sheltered from the rest of the world beer market by the German brewers adherance to the Bavarian Reinheitsgebot (purity commandment) dating from 1516, according to which the only allowed ingredients of beer are "Wasser (water), Hopfen (hops) und (Gersten-)Malz (barley-malt)". Through this agreement (which was law up to 1988), beers from Germany tend to have a good reputation for their quality. The Germans are slightly behind the Czechs in their per capita consumption of beer. There are a variety of different styles of German beer, such as Helles (lager from Bavaria), Weizen (fermented wheat beer), Kölsch (top-fermented beer from the Cologne region), Alt (a dark beer drunk around Düsseldorf and Dortmund), Pilsner, Export (a milder version of Pilsner) and Bockbier (a dark strong beer).

While the beer market is more centralized in northern Germany (with the biggest brands Krombacher, Warsteiner and Bitburger each selling about 400 million liters), the south has lots of very small, local breweries which add up to a total of 1350 breweries in Germany producing over 5000 brands of beer. One of these breweries, the Benedictine abbey Weihenstephan (established in 725) is reputedly the oldest brewery in the world.

The alcohol content usually is between 4.7% and 5.4% for most traditional brews. Bockbier or Doppelbock (double Bockbier) however can have an alcohol content of up to 12%. Bockbier season is during June and July and a lot of local Bockbier festivals are typically held in the south of Germany.

The Munich Oktoberfest is well known for the millions of litres that are served every year (almost 6).

In various parts of north-eastern India, rice beer is quite popular. Several festivals feature this nutritious, quite intoxicating, drink as part of the celebrations. The rice is fermented in vats that are sometimes buried underground.

It is quite popular, and not only with humankind. Elephants are known to attack villages, with the primary agenda of raiding these vats and having a good time generally.

Ireland is best known for stout, of which Guinness is the largest selling and most widely distributed brand. Guinness also make the most widely distributed Irish lager - Harp. It is recommended that Guinness be served after being poured, waiting for three minutes and then topped-up. Along with Guinness there is also Murphy's, Caffrey's and Beamish.

Beer is the most favoured alcoholic drink in Japan. It was introduced in the early Meiji Era from Germany. Major makers are Asahi, Kirin, and Sapporo while small local breweries supply distinct tasting beers. Lager beers are most common but beers made with lower grain contents called "Happoushu" (sparkling alcoholic drink) have captured a large part of the market as tax is lower on these products. Drinking beer with salted boiled beans, edamame, is known as a favourite summer pastime for adults.

New Zealand
The indigenous people of New Zealand (Maori) did not brew beer. The major ingredients of beer were not found or introduced to New Zealand until the arrival of Europeans in the mid 1800's. The late European history is characterised by the dominance of about three large breweries. The dominance of these breweries was helped by the buying of some of the small local breweries. From the mid 1980's small boutique or microbreweries started to emerge. Consequently, the range of beer styles increased. Some pubs operate their own small breweries, often housed within the pub itself. Wine and ready mixed alcoholic drink consumption is increasing and is lessening the quantity of beer being sold.

Beer has always been extremely important for Poles. One Polish ruler, encouraged by the Pope to take part in a crusade, refused because, as he wrote to the Pope, the holy land has no beer. Traditional Polish beer is usually pilsener, lager or porter. The most popular Polish brands are Zywiec, EB, Lech, Lezajsk, and Tyskie.

Romanian beer is known in Central and Eastern Europe for its taste and low price. Ursus is the king of the Romanian beer from 1879 (a brand of South African Breweries). Other traditional Romanian beer brands are Timisoreana, Bucegi and Neumarkt.

Slovak Republic
Slovaks, like their neighbours, like to drink beer. They have a wide spectrum of brands on the market suitable for everybody's taste. The most famous brands are ?ari?, Smädný mních (which translates to Thirsty Monk) , Radegast and many more.

United States
The USA has always been a beer-drinking nation. The diary of William Bradford records that the Mayflower made landfall at Plymouth Rock under duress: "We could not now take much time for further search...our victuals being much spent, especially our beer."

The brewing traditions of England and the Netherlands (as brought to New York) ensured that the colonies would be dominated by beer drinking and not the imbibing of wine. Up until the middle of the 19th century, ales dominated American brewing. This changed as the lager styles, brought by German immigrants, turned out to be more profitable for large-scale manufacturing and shipping. Names such as Miller, Pabst, and Schlitz became known through the breweries they founded or acquired, and many others followed. Czech immigrants also made their contributions to US beer.

The lager brewed by these companies was not the extremely weak and mild lager now associated with modern US megabreweries. This American pilsner was a significantly stronger beer, both in flavour and alcohol, that was designed to meet the appetites of both Native Americans and central European immigrants.

All of this came to a halt when Prohibition was imposed. Only a few of the largest breweries were able to stay in business -- by manufacturing near beer, malt syrup, or other non-alcohol grain products. Production and shipping of alcohol was largely confined to illegal operations, which could deliver potent liquors -- smuggled rum and domestic moonshine -- more efficiently and safely than bulkier products such as beer.

For more than fifty years after the end of Prohibition, the United States beer market was heavily dominated by large commercial breweries, producing beers more noted for their uniformity than for any particular flavour. Beers such as those made by Anheuser-Busch and Coors followed a restricted pilsner style, with large-scale industrial processes and the use of low-cost ingredients (such as rice and corn). The dominance of the so-called "macrobrew" led to an international stereotype of "American beer" as poor in quality and flavour.

However, since the resurgence of the commercial craft brewing industry in the 1980s, the United States now features many beers, offered by over 1500 brewpubs, microbreweries, and regional brewers such as Anchor (San Francisco) and Samuel Adams (Boston). In much of eastern Pennsylvania including Philadelphia, the word "lager" is synonymous with Yuengling Traditional Lager, a flavorful beer from a regional brewery in Pottsville founded in 1829, making it the oldest continuously operating brewery in America. While in volume, the macrobrews still dominate, smaller producers brew in a variety of styles influenced by local sources of hops and other ingredients as well as by various European traditions.

The Association of Brewers has identified the following styles of North American origin:

American-style pale ale
American-style strong pale ale
Imperial or double India pale ale
American-style amber/red ale
California Common beer
Imperial or double red ale
Golden or blonde ale
American-style brown ale
American lager
American-style light lager
American-style light amber lager
American-style pilsener
Dry lager
American ice lager
American malt liquor
American-style Märzen/Oktoberfest
American dark lager
The success of the commercial craft brewing industry has led the large breweries to invest in smaller breweries such as Widmer, and to develop more complex beers of their own.

Toon Ale Blonde
Toon Ale Blonde
Toon Ale Blonde 4.7 ABV Light and quenching with a somewhat bitter edge and a hoppy flourish.

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Toon Ale Brunette
Toon Ale Brunette
Toon Ale Brunette 4.8 ABV A complex natural rich old Brown Ale. Subtle hoppiness with a velvety smooth taste and subtle caramel note.

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Toon Ale Newcastle Beer

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