Types of Craft Beer and Their Role in a Restaurant’s Menu

Nick Mirev
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    Nowadays, there are numerous types of businesses in the beer industry. Pubs, brewhouses, and independent breweries are just some of them. But some companies offer beer delivery subscription boxes, beer eCommerce websites, trainings, and craft beer tasting experiences. That is made possible by the so-called craft beer revolution. In the past decades, more and more people have preferred different types of craft beers made by independent breweries. One of the reasons for that trend is the fact that craft breweries are experimenting and producing different products constantly. This is part of their beer marketing strategy and is something many beer enthusiasts are looking for - trying new beer styles. In the following article, we’ll take a look at the popular types of craft beer and what is their role in a restaurant’s beer menu.

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    What Are the Main Types of Craft Beer?

    There are two major categories of beer types: lager and ale. The main difference between them is the fermentation process. Lager fermentation is slower and at a lower temperature. It takes between several weeks and a couple of months. Ale fermentation is faster and is done at warmer temperatures. It could take just a few days. 

    Another difference between lager and ale is their taste. Lagers are known for their smooth clean taste, light body, and balanced flavors. Ales, on the other hand, have a wide range of tastes. The spectrum goes from bitter types of craft beers, through fresh and fruity ones, all the way to sweet beers with hazelnut, caramel, or chocolate notes.

    Main Types of Lager Beers

    • Pilsner. This pale lager originated in the Czech Republic. Its golden color and balance between malt sweetness and hop bitterness make it one of the most popular styles of beer in the world.
    • Helles. This is one of the traditional German beers. Like Pilsner, it has a clean golden color. Its flavor is not as bitter, and there are stronger malty notes. 
    • Märzen. This type of lager beer is also referred to as the Oktoberfest beer. Its color is not as bright and golden. Instead, this Oktoberfest beer has some caramel notes and a slightly amber color. 
    • Bock. Strong and malty lager. It originates from Germany and its color range is from amber to dark brown. Bock’s notes are sweet and robust.

    Main Types of Ale Beers

    • Pale ale. This is probably the most consumed type of craft beer around the world. There are numerous subcategories of pale ales. Some of them have become major types as well. The best example in that regard is Indian pale ales (IPA). Pale ales have a golden to slightly amber color. They are balanced between hop bitterness and malt sweetness. Usually, they have floral or fruity notes. Almost all beginner brewers start with pale ale as their first type of craft beer before starting a brewery.
    • Indian pale ale (IPA). This type of craft beer is known for its bitterness. They usually have higher alcohol content compared to traditional pale ale. Their flavor range is wide. American IPAs have citrus and pine notes. On the other hand, English IPAs have herbal and earthy hop profiles.
    • Stout. This dark and full-bodied type of craft beer is known for its rich taste. Flavors include chocolate, coffee, and roasted malt. Some of the sub-styles in this category include imperial stout, dry stout, and milk stout. Guinness is probably the most popular brand of stout beer.
    • Porter. Similar to stouts, but with a lighter body, this type of craft beer is dark and has flavors of coffee and chocolate. 
    • Wheat beer. It’s made with wheat malt. This gives the beverage a refreshing character. The wheat also adds a specific taste and makes this type of beer more cloudy. 
    • Belgian ale. Multiple styles of craft beer fall under the Belgian ale category. Their styles and hop profiles range widely. However, most are with higher alcohol content.
    • Amber ale. The iconic rusty red color of amber beers cannot be mistaken. They have a medium body and a good balance between hop bitterness and malt sweetness. Among the typical flavors of amber ales are caramel and lightly toasted malts.
    Key takeaway: There are more than 100 types of craft beers. The most popular ones are pale ale and IPA. The craft beer industry is constantly growing in the past decades and is expected to continue its growth.
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    Beers to Include in a Restaurant’s Menu & Beer Pairing Ideas

    Restaurants can benefit greatly from offering various craft beer and food pairings. As the craft beer market grows, more and more beer enthusiasts are choosing different types of local beer on tap rather than popular beer brands. Additionally, craft beers traditionally have a better price margin compared to mass-produced ones. Thus, consider buying wholesale craft beer. Let’s dive deeper into the main types of beer a venue can include in its menu.

    1. Pale ale. A must-include item in the beer list. In fact, it’s recommended to include various types of pale ales in the menu. As a balanced beer, it pairs well with most dishes. Waiters can recommend it to customers ordering salads, seafood, and others.
    2. Indian pale ale. IPA beers have become one of the most preferred types of craft beer. That’s why restaurants should consider them for their summer seasonal menu and their regular one. You can pair IPAs with spicy foods and other bold dishes such as buffalo wings. The bitterness of the beer complements those meals very well.
    3. Lager. These widely popular beers have a clean taste and are a smooth pairing for any type of meal. Lagers pair especially well with salads, seafood, and appetizers.
    4. Stout and Porter. Adding rich dark beers to the menu is also important. Contrary to popular belief, they are consumed all year round. Naturally, they are more popular in the winter months. The richness of these beer styles can be combined with roasted meats, burgers, stews, and even beer and chocolate pairings.
    5. Cider. Even though they aren’t beers, per se, ciders are usually included in the restaurant’s beer menu. They can be a refreshing additional alternative to beers. The traditional cider has an apple flavor. However, many craft ciders and ciders made from other fruits have become popular lately. They match well with fruit-based desserts, creamy cheeses, and pork dishes.
    6. Local beers. Venues might consider highlighting local breweries in their menu. A lot of customers prefer to help the local community even if these beers are at a slightly higher price. So, make sure to ask your beer distributor what local breweries are offering.
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    Frequently Asked Questions about Different Types of Craft Beer

    Even though there are many types of craft beers, new ones emerge constantly. If you have additional questions about the different styles, you can find answers to some of them below.

    How Many Styles of Craft Beer Exist?

    It is believed that more than 100 types of craft beer exist. That’s including all sub-styles of the major types listed above. However, since the craft beer industry is known for its experimentation and rapid development, new styles of craft beer emerge regularly. Still, the most popular ones remain pale ale, IPA, stout, and lager.

    What Is the Most Popular Style of Craft Beer?

    According to consumer data, IPA is the most popular type of craft beer in the US. One of the reasons for that is the fact that this style consists of many sub-styles. Among the well-known ones are West Coast, New England, and Double IPA. During the winter, stouts and porters gain popularity and momentum. Their dark color and rich texture make them an excellent choice for cold winter nights.

    How Big Is the US Craft Beer Market?

    In 2021, the sales of craft beer were around 26.8 billion dollars. That’s roughly 27% of the $100 billion US beer market. In terms of volume, 13.1% of beers consumed in the US were different types of craft beers. The craft beer market is growing because there are many websites shipping beer and home brew kits to enthusiasts.

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