Years ago, I helped write and edit a book called Beer for Dummies. I learned a lot about beer. Since that book was published, in 1996, craft brewing in America has grown exponentially. We have more and better access to great beer than ever. For example, Utah now has the upcoming City Weekly Utah Beer Festival, a bevy of local brewpubs, and beer-specialty bars like The Bayou (aka "Beervana") and the Beerhive Pub.
And yet, there are plenty of this country's citizens who have never ventured beyond American lagers such as Budweiser and Coors. If you're one of those, or if you could use a beer primer on the most basic and most popular beer styles, this is for you: a few of the most popular lagers and ales, as well as some of my local favorites:
A mild, pale lager first created in the city of Pilsen in the Czech Republic. Typically bottom-fermented (as are most lagers) and made with Saaz noble hops and pale malts. Classic: Pilsner Urquell; Local: Bohemian Brewery 1842 Czech Style Pilsener
American Pale Ale
The quintessential American beer, made with American hops such as Cascade, and hoppier than British ales. It's easy-drinking and refreshing. Classic: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale; Local: Uinta Brewing Cutthroat Pale Ale
A golden-yellow wheat beer (weißbier) from south Germany, originally. The yeast produces classic phenolic flavors of banana and cloves. It has a cloudy appearance, and is usually served with a lemon wedge. Classic: Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier; Local: Epic Brewing Intermountain Wheat Beer
India Pale Ale
Wildly popular today, this aggressively hopped pale ale was originally created in England by the Bow Brewery as an export beer for India. It has a higher alcohol content than most ales, and is both crisp and bitter. Classic: Samuel Smith's India Ale; Local: Squatters IPA
A dark, easy-to-drink ale with light malt flavors and some chocolaty sweetness. This drink is sometimes aged in bourbon barrels. Classic: Fuller's London Porter; Local: Wasatch Polygamy Porter
A dark ale made with roasted malts or barley. Of many variations, dry stout (Guinness) is the most common. It's similar to porter, but is brewed at a higher gravity (relative density). Classic: Guinness Draught; Local: Desert Edge Latter Day Stout
Since this primer only scratches the surface, go discover your favorite beer style at the Utah Beer Festival!