The variety of beers available today can be overwhelming. Beer coolers are filled with a lot of dark beers, countless ales, and far more light beers than ever before. It can be too much and it's hard to decide which to bring home. In these moments, it's often best to go back to the basics!
Whether you are just beginning to explore the world of beer or are already a seasoned beer snob, these are brews that you should know. In no particular order, this list is comprised of beers that:
- Are solid representatives of their respective styles
- Seem to have a decent market saturation so you will have a chance of finding them
- Covers a spectrum of beer styles
Once you get a taste of these brews, you can use the experience to guide you to the styles you like best. Since they are considered the best—or most popular, at least—of their respective categories, they offer a good idea of what you can expect from similar beers.
01 of 10
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Pale ales are among the most popular beers on the market today. You will find a nearly endless list of beers to explore in this style and they're all very approachable for any type of beer drinker.
Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale is a great example of the American interpretation of this classic English brew. It is amber colored, has a nice balanced flavor, and is hopped with the distinctive Cascade hops.
02 of 10
When you're ready to explore the huge family of bitters, Fuller’s ESB is the best place to start. The name stands for Extra Special Bitter and this highly rated, award-winning brew is one you won't want to miss.
This dark beer has an inviting copper tone that alludes to its rich malt flavoring. Light hops and low alcohol make this a good choice for a session beer, too.
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Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter
Porters are among the darkest beers you will find. These beers generally have a roasted flavor with notes of chocolate and toffee, they're quite delicious and lack the bitterness found in stouts.
Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter might be as close to the original porter that you can get in the beer world. Taddy has a rich dark color and a medium body that is a fabulous companion to any meal.
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Pilsner Urquell Bohemian Pilsner
Pilsner is the most popular beer style in the world. If you've been enjoying German and American Pils, it's time for a taste of the original!
Bohemian Pilsner can only really be represented by one beer: Pilsner Urquell. Despite changes in brewing and lagering methods over the years, this is more or less the same beer that came out of the Plzen casks on October 5, 1842. It's release harkened a new era in brewing that led to much of what you're drinking today.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
Warsteiner Brauerei German Pilsener
German Pils offer pronounced hops and a lighter malt profile than Bohemian Pilsner. This light beer style will be very familiar to anyone who normally drinks mega brewery beers like Coors or Bud.
For a taste of a true German Pils from a German brewery, a great bet is Warsteiner Brauerei (Warsteiner Premium Beer in the U.S.). The Pilsener is refreshing, clean, and mildly hoppy. The golden color looks like many other beers, but this one offers so much more than you're used to.
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Guinness Dry Stout
Guinness is perhaps one of the best-known beers in the world. With a small dose of beer soured by lactic acid bacteria in each batch, Guinness might not be the prototypical dry stout. However, it is so ubiquitous that it is hard to deny it a spot on this list.
Other—perhaps more correct—choices for this style would be Murphy’s or Beamish Stout. It's certainly interesting to taste how they compare to Guinness if that's the only stout you've had before.
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The best representation of hefeweizen comes from Paulaner and it's easily found almost anywhere. Chill a bottle and pour it in a glass, making sure to get all of that yeast out of the bottom of the bottle.
Many fans of this style like to squeeze a lemon into their glass. That’s fine but save that for the second one. For your first taste, simply enjoy this hallmark of Bavarian brewmasters’ craft all on its own.
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India pale ale is a brew whose history is as interesting as the beer itself. It has become a favorite of the American drinkers affectionately nicknamed hop-heads.
Brewed by Pyramid, Thunderhead is an excellent version of the American interpretation of this style. The brewery has found an ideal balance between the hoppiness IPAs are known for and rich, satisfying malts. It's one that will please any palate and is surprisingly refreshing.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
Hoegaarden Belguim White
The beauty of this beer is that it combines coriander and orange peel, leaving a sweet and sour flavor. It has just a hint of hops and is anything but bitter. While it's often imitated, few Belgium white brews can stand up to what this one offers. It can be difficult to find but is worth the hunt.
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Chimay Trappist Ales
Brewed by monks and subject to the International Trappist Association, Trappist ales are a most interesting style of beer. Their excellent craftsmanship is apparent in every sip and, though the list of breweries is small, you'll be delighted with an exploration of these beers.
Chimay is a great place to begin. There's a rich malty flavor in every bottle and it's a fabulous example of this style. You will find a few varieties from the brewery and any of them will do nicely. These ales were made to be enjoyed with fine cheeses, another specialty of the Trappists.