Lager is the most common, base level of beer against which all other brews are judged. Characterized by a smooth but crisp bite, it's brewed over a four- to 12-week period in very cool temperatures using a yeast that ferments at the top of the barrel.
The most popular style of lager, this beer has a clean, subtle, mild hops flavor and is very densely carbonated.
Examples: Stella Artois, Budweiser, Carlsberg.
Although the color is more intense—thanks to added caramel syrup—dark lager is actually the middle ground of lagers, with a medium level of hops intensity and bitterness.
Examples: Michelob Dark, St. Pauli Girl Dark.
With a transparent golden color, pilsner is the oldest type of lager and has the most extreme bitter hops taste.
Examples: Dos Equis, Pilsner Urquell.
Unlike lager, ale ferments at warmer temperatures over shorter periods of time. This creates a quicker-to-process brew with a fruitier, less sharp taste.
Often bronze- or copper-colored, pale ale has a distinctive high level of hops bitterness.
Examples: Michelob Pale Ale, Burton, Royal Oak.
This supersmooth option gains its popularity—and easy drinkability—from a unique combination of nutty sweetness, subtle hops, and a low alcohol content.
Examples: Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale, Newcastle Brown Ale.
The lighter-bodied companion to stout, porter has an old-school, dark-roasted taste and higher-than-average alcohol content.
Examples: Sierra Nevada Porter, Fuller's London Porter.
Made with highly roasted malts, barley, or oatmeal, this is a rich, extra-dark, top-fermenting brew. Stout is either strong and dry or sweet, and it sports a creamy head.
Examples: Guinness Extra Stout, Beamish Stout.