Craft Beer 101: Light Ales

This week we're back to going over some of the more common styles in the beer lexicon and this week we're starting, what I'm sure will be several weeks, on ales. There's a lot of confusion when people use the word Ale. About once a week someone asks me if I have any "ales on draft", which is a little like going to a wine bar and asking if I have any reds. Of course I do, I have dozens. Ales are an enormous family of beers, which like lagers, goes from light to dark, but have significantly more variance in flavor profiles. Ale yeast likes it warm, which means they're going to release more aromatic and flavorful compounds. The ones were going to to talk about today though are on the lighter side.

Blonde Ales

Without a doubt the most popular style at Deacon Baldy's, Blonde ales are light and ultra-approachable. They don't have a large hop or malt profile. Sometimes you see them with fruit or spices added, and sometimes even lager yeast... which is confusing when it's still called an ale. Looking to branch out from the normal American domestic light beers, this is the one you want to try,

  • Malt: Light Malt flavor like bread, toast, or biscuits
  • Hops: Low to medium hop flavors and aroma but it's becoming more common to dry hop this style.
  • ABV: 4.1-5.1%
  • Pair With: Spaghetti, Sugar Cookies, Pepper Jack Cheese

Kolsch

The Kolsch is a beer that hails from Cologne, and in fact, in Europe, in order to legally be called a Kolsch it has to be made within 50km of Cologne. The style was derived from the hefeweisen style but never quite got as popular. These beers can be subtly complex... if that's even a sentence that makes sense. They can have fruity, almost wine like flavors when made well, and drank fresh. They're dry, crisp, and great on a hot day.

  • Malt: Very low with a little sweetness
  • Hops: Low Noble Hops
  • ABV: 4.8-5.3%
  • Pair With: Bratwurst, Nutty Cheese, or double fist with a nice Reisling if you're feeling aggressive. 

Cream Ale

So this beer is kind of a hybrid between Lager and Ale. They spawned from American Light Beer but they're brewed like an Ale and can be finished with lager yeast. Heavily carbonated, very light, and refreshing. 

  • Malt: Low, will often have corn or rice added to lighten the body
  • Hops: Low to non-existent
  • ABV: 4.3-5.7%
  • Pair With: Salads, Oaxaca Cheese, Lemon Cream Pie

Hefeweisen

Hefeweisen came from southern Germany and have at least 50% wheat. Most of the flavor comes from the wheat and hefeweisen yeast which throws a lot of banana and clove flavor. There are several different styles of this beer in fact. If they're filtered, they're known as Krystal Weisse, darker they're known as Dunkels. Also, if you find yourself in a part of the country and can't seem to find one, look for Weissebier. Same style, the name just changes regionally. 

  • Malt: Wheaty with low malt profile and sweetness
  • Hops: Low to non-existent
  • ABV: 4.9-5.6%
  • Pair With: Seafood, Chevre, Key Lime Pie

Coming Next Week... Pale Ales and IPA's, where nobody has any hard opinions right? Right?