Last week we took a brief look at a number of styles of Ale available here in the Kingdom. To recap, Ales are a type of beer that is brewed using a yeast that causes fermentation to happen at the top of the fermentation tank. They tend to be stronger in flavor than Lagers, and normally are brewed at warmer temperatures. The first four styles of Ale we looked at were:
- Bitter Ales – Beers that mostly come from the UK and usually have a slightly fruity yet bitter taste. Fuller’s ESB would be a classic example of a great bitter beer.
- Pale Ales – Beers that are lighter in color than most other Ales and are usually balanced in flavor with some hoppy bitterness, or dryness. Yo-Ho Brewing’s Yona Yona Ale would be a great example of a Pale Ale.
- Brown Ales – Beers that are darker in color and that tend to be on the sweeter side with light hops, finishing with an almost nutty taste. While Newcastle Brown is probably the most popular, or well known brown Ale, you can’t get it here in Thailand, so try Rogue’s Hazelnut Brown.
- India Pale Ales – The beer that enabled the British Empire. This beer is actually a Pale Ale, but it’s one of the most popular styles of Ale out there. Essentially a Pale Ale, but with a lot more hops, this beer is perfect for the climate in Thailand. Give Brewdog’s Punk IPA a try to see what we mean.
This week’s article will take a look at the four other major styles of Ale available here in Thailand.
Despite what the name says, Scotch Ale is not a beer that has a dram of Scotland’s finest added into it. It’s actually a style of Ale that originally came from Edinburgh. This beer is strong in flavor, often bittersweet with a slight metallic taste and is generally darker in color. Scotch Ale is actually a term applied to almost any Ale that comes from Scotland.
There are three main types of Scotch ale: Light, Heavy and Export, these beers are also labeled with Shilling categories with Light being 60/-, Heavy being 70/- and Export being 80/-. This method dates back to the 19th century where the beer was sold by its alcoholic strength. If you are looking to try this distinct beer, give Belhaven 80 Shilling a go – it will put some hair on your chest.
There is debate among beer geeks about whether stout is an Ale or not. Stout is actually a dark Ale that is made by roasting the grains or malt, this results in a dark red to black color, and a beer that is robust, and strong in flavor. Stout is actually a strong form of Porter, a dark beer which originated in England (shhh, don’t tell the Irish). Throughout history, Stout and Porter have been used interchangeably, with stout usually being the darker and stronger (alcohol wise) of the two.
There are numerous types of Stout or Porter available worldwide, the most popular being Irish Stout which is dry. You will also see Imperial Stouts or Russian Imperial Stouts which are high alcohol versions of their Porter cousins – often reaching as high as 14%. There is also Oatmeal Stout (which is made with oats being added to the grain) and even Coffee or Chocolate Stout (they don’t actually have coffee or chocolate in them, rather the malt is kilned/dried in a way that will impart coffee or chocolate flavors into the finished product).
Stout is definitely the more popular name, largely because of Guinness. A pint of the black stuff is readily available in almost every country in the world. If you are looking to try a Porter, why not give Rogue’s Mocha Porter a sip, it really is like drinking a strong cup of coffee – taste wise.
You probably know that almost all beer is brewed using barley as the main grain. There are some Ales out there however that are brewed using wheat. These beers are popular in Germany, where they are required by law to be top fermented (therefore Ales). By adding wheat to the brewing process, the finished product is usually lighter in color, similar to most Lagers.
The majority of wheat beers come in two different styles:
- Weissbeir – German beer that is made with 50% or more wheat, that is often low in bitterness but high in carbonation and tastes a bit like cloves. You will see two popular versions of Weissbier: Hefeweizen which is unfiltered and Kristallweizen which is the same beer, only filtered. Paulaner Hefe-Weissbier is probably the most popular Hefeweizen available.
- Witbier – Belgian beer that is made with wheat and brewed largely in Belgium and the Netherlands. This beer is normally cloudy due to suspended particles and is often flavored with a mixture of spices including orange, coriander, and sometimes hops. The most common type of Witbier in Thailand is the popular Hoegaarden.
We’ve saved the best for last. Belgium, though small in size, produces some of the greatest beer in the world. Their Ales are so popular, they have been divided into about 19 different categories. We will cover Belgian Ales in greater depth in upcoming articles, so for now let’s look at the four most common types of Ale found in Belgian.
- Blonde – A variation of Pale Ale that is generally crisp and dry with mild bitterness and some sweetness. Many find the taste of Belgian Blonde Ales to be similar to Pilsners, because the same style of malt is used during the brewing process. The most popular Blonde is Duvel.
- Dubbel – Brown beers that are medium to strong with a noticeable fruity flavor and tend to be around 6-8% alcohol. The first Dubbel brewed is Westmalle Dubbel, Maredsous 8 is also a noteworthy Dubbel.
- Tripel – Is a strong Pale Ale that is often slightly bitter while being fruity at the same time. Chimay Tripple (commonly called White Cap) is a common, and popular tripple that is a must try.
- Lambic – Bitter beer usually made with wheat that is spontaneously fermented. This means that the yeast is naturally found in the air. The beer is aged from six months to two years and beyond, and is usually strong, dry and sour. Many Lambics have fruit like cherry added (this is called Kriek) to enhance the sourness. To try a true Lambic, you will have to travel to Brussels, but you can get Kriek here in Bangkok – give St Louis Premium Kriek a try.
Now, some of you will likely be asking, “Why not talk about Abbey and Trappist?” That is because they aren’t styles of Ale. Fear not however, as we will have an article specifically about these beers in the near future, so stay tuned.
Now that we have covered the more common types of Ale, why not let us know your favorite.
Wish of the week
Deschutes Black Butte Porter
Hey Guinness fans, your beer has been one-upped. Deschutes Black Butte Porter has a whole hell of a lot going for it. It pours a dark black and smells like a very lightly roasted coffee with a hint of dark chocolate. When you sip it, it’s like someone is pouring a decadent coffee that is mellow, smooth and just a little bit dry down your throat. You will finish this before you know it.