Beer Styles and Types 101

Sometimes, a beer menu can seem intimidating with all of its options. Choosing the right among many beer types can be complex and confusing if you don’t know the differences between lager vs. ale, IPA vs. pale ale, or even IPA vs. lager.   

Do these differences give you a headache, and all you want to do is drink good beer? If that’s the case, we’re here to help you. We’ll teach you how to read the beer menu like a pro. After reading this beer differences guide, you’ll be the one your friends ask for advice regarding choosing among various beer types.   

Different Types of Beer  

You’ve probably come across a lot of beer types when going through a beer menu, and you probably didn’t know what most of them are. The days when you only had one option, without any other types, are long gone. There are many types of beer with their sub-categories and complex notes.   

Different types of beer can be either an ale or a lager, depending on the fermentation process of the beer and the yeast used.   

The fermenting process of an ale beer is done at warmer temperatures, and yeast gets settled at the top of the bear. And with a lager beer, the fermentation process is done at cooler temperatures, and the yeast settles at the bottom of the beer.   

Ale types of beer are IPA, pale ale, porters, stouts, wheat, and Belgian beer style. After a lager or ale has been produced, they can have many different beer types due to their flavors. Some styles you may know, while others you probably don’t. And lager types of beer are Pilsner, German Helles, and dark American lagers.   

And what to choose; lager vs. ale, IPA vs. pale ale, or IPA vs. Lager? Don’t worry; we’re about to make your life way easier.

Most common types of beer:   

  • Lager  
  • Pilsner  
  • IPA   
  • Pale ale   
  • Stout beer   
  • Porter   
  • Wheat beer   
  • Sour beer  
  • Belgian beer  


Even if you don’t know what a lager is by definition, you’ll probably have it more than once in your life. Lager is a classic beer that’s light in taste and has a typical malty smell. If you like a classic that’s not too fancy, doesn’t have a complex flavor, and can go great with anything, you should choose a lager. And if by any chance you never had a beer before, it is also a good starting point.   


There’s a possibility that you’ll come across something that’s called a Pilsner. It’s one of the beer types that’s actually a lager, and it’s originally from the Czech Republic. Today a popular option of a pilsner is a German one. The Czech one is a bit more bitter and darker, while the German one has a crisp flavor and warmer tones. So, if you are thinking about lager vs. ale, and you don’t want to experiment, then a pilsner is a good choice.   


IPA stands for India Pale Ale, and it’s one of the ale beer types. However, there isn’t just one IPA beer available in the market; numerous ones can be different in flavor. The main characteristic of all IPA beers is the fruity and citrusy flavors. The intensity of the flavors varies, and they can be milder, bitter, spicy, or completely citrusy.   

The most common IPA styles are British IPA, New England Style IPA, and West Coast IPA. The British one is slightly bitter, while the New England one is milder and fruitier. West Coast IPA is the best option if you want a well-balanced beer because it’s not too bitter, not too citrusy, and not too light.   

But to know which one you’ll like the most, you’ll have to try every IPA-style beer and see it for yourself. At least now you can see the beer differences in an IPA vs. lager comparison.  

Pale ale   

And what about IPA vs. pale ale? What is the difference between these two styles? Pale ales are excellent for those seeking a beer with lower alcohol content. Often IPAs can carry a high alcohol content, but pale ales don’t. If you are looking for something easy to drink, perfect for when you go out, this medium-bodied beer style is for you. You can choose from English pale ale, American pale ale, American amber ale, and blonde ale.   

Stout beer  

Light beer is a standard, but what about dark beers? Have you ever tried one or seen one on a beer menu? If you haven’t, then you should try a stout beer. Stout beer is a dark beer with a slightly sweet flavor and low bitterness. This beer originated from Ireland and England, and you’ve probably heard about the world’s most famous stout beer. If Guinness came to your mind, you are right. The world-famous Guinness beer is stout.   

There aren’t many beers like stout beer, with its unique characteristics. This beer is, in fact, an ale beer that has a sweet flavor and creamy texture. You’ll get hints of a decadent dessert when drinking a stout beer or cup of intense espresso with cream.  

American stout beers are a bit different from the original ones, and they are a bit more bitter and have a highly roasted flavor. If you like strong beers with high malty aromas, you should try an American stout beer.   


Another dark beer is a porter, and its origins are also from the UK. But there are beer differences between the two types. A porter has an intense aroma of chocolate and a bit of roasted coffee. It’s creamy, sweet, and delicious, and you have to try it.  

Wheat beer 

Wheat beers are popular in Europe and are perfect for when you want to chill in the sun and hang out outside with your friends. The name says the main ingredient in these beers is wheat, which provides a light color and exciting texture. Depending on the style of a wheat beer, it can be extremely light and even resemble bread in flavor, or it can have a tangy and unique aroma.  

Sour beer  

Have you ever seen a sour beer on a beer menu? And how did you feel about it? If you didn’t like it first, we recommend you think twice. Sour beers are one of the most exciting types, and you should try one at least once. Yes, they are tart but so flavorful. They are fruity and can have various flavors. Some of the best sour beers have cherry, strawberry, raspberry, and peach flavors. There are also many more options, and if you want to try a unique beer, try a sour one. You’ll be able to find Belgian-styled ones, Flander ale, or Berliner Weisse as sour beers.  

Belgian beer 

And what about Belgian beer? Europe is known for its beer culture, and Belgium too. And one of the best beers in the world does come from this European country. You can come across Belgian-style pale ales, dark ales, fruity beers, and sour. The beers are unique, spicy, and with sweet and fruity aromas. Belgian-style beers are not bitter and have high alcohol content. 

The Best Beer Selection in Town 

Now that you know what’s available and how to distinguish the main differences, we believe that you finally have a clear picture of which beer you’d like to try next. And if you are guessing where to go, don’t hesitate and visit Public Square. Call to reserve your table and enjoy our prestigious beer selection.