Guide to Beer

Guide to Beer

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Beer in pint glasses

The history of beer includes many beer styles that originated in old Europe and are still brewed today, including English ales such as Pale Ale, ESB, India Pale Ale (IPA), Brown, Porter, Stout and Barleywine; German ales such as Hefeweizen, Altbier and Kölsch, and lagers such as German Pilsner, Doppelbock, Oktoberfest and Schwarzbier; Irish stouts; Scottish ales; Czech Pilsner; and Belgian/French ales such as Witbier, Dubbel, Tripel, Quadrupel, Lambic and Saison. These and others comprise a host of classic Old World beer styles that we know and enjoy today, and they have provided the basis and inspiration for many New World American craft brewers to ply their trade.

Today's American craft brewing industry is experiencing huge growth. The origins of modern craft brewing in America can be traced to an Act passed in 1978 that effectively ended a legal ban on home brewing and winemaking that had remained in effect since the repeal of prohibition in 1933. Combine American ingenuity with the legal freedom to brew small experimental batches of beer, and the artisanal beer making scene was effectively reborn in the United States.

Both the 1980s and '90s saw a surge in popularity of local brew pubs. During this time a few pioneering independent craft breweries entered the landscape, including Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Chico, California, Boston Beer Company (brewers of Samuel Adams) in Boston, and Dogfish Head, which began as a small pub on the coast of Delaware with a kitchen brew kettle and has since grown into a world-class craft brewery. The early 21st century has been a period of explosive growth in the American craft brewing scene, with brewers adding an American flair to Old World beer styles and often pushing the envelope of these classic styles, thus creating new, uniquely American beer styles in the process.

Today many American craft beers are in demand across the globe, and new breweries have opened in countries such as Japan and Scotland that are taking their inspiration from American craft brewers by brewing New World, American-style beers such as big, hoppy IPAs and whiskey barrel-aged beers. It is a great time in history to be drinking beer! With the breadth of beer styles available today, there is virtually a beer for everyone's taste, from light to dark in color, sweet to bitter in flavor, crisp to complex in character. If you are not yet partaking in modern beer history by tasting this liquid honed from thousands of years of development, you are invited to get started now.

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