Styles of Beer

The art of understanding beer isn’t easy if you do not know where to start. There are so many beer types, but they can fit into particular categories. This article describes each style of beer and the best foods pairings.

Dark Ales


Much of the flavour of Dark Ales (that include Brown and Mild Ales) comes from the malt used, meaning they can be nutty, caramel and sometimes roasted flavours. American Dark Ales have more hops in them, which give the drink a bitter taste. Great with barbecued or roast meats and with mushrooms or use Dark ales for a delicious red meat stew.

Pale Ale


Golden to copper in colour, bitter, and brewed using an ‘ale yeast’ Pale Ale includes Bitter, Extra Special Bitter (ESB), Golden Ale, Saison and India Pale Ale (IPA). American Pale Ales are good with hamburgers and Mexican food. British Pale Ales are good for fish and chips and roast beef. Belgian Pale Ale, like Saison, can partner everything from cheese to fried fish or spicy sausages.

Stout and Porter


The darkest beer of them all. The flavours are bold like espresso, chocolate and roasted. Stouts have long been considered a fine partner for oysters.

Wheat Beer


The two famous versions are Weissbier from Bavaria and Witbier from Belgium. There are other beers that use wheat for example Sour Beers like Berliner Weiss and Lambic. Weissbier is excellent with spicy food, including Indian (especially dishes with a yoghurt-based sauce), Mexican and Thai dishes. It’s also the best alcoholic accompaniment to eggs. Witbier also works with Mexican food and eggs and is ideal with salad or fish.

Strong Ales


The beer world’s heavyweights includes British styles like Barley Wine and Vintage Ale, plus the Belgian classics Trappist and Abbey Ales. With a range of strong flavors, strong ales are among the most revered beers. Barley Wines are perfect for cheese and good with richer meat like lamb, venison or wild boar. Lighter versions, such as Fuller’s Vintage Ale is excellent with duck.



The world’s favourite type of beer. All the biggest beer brands are lagers, from Budweiser to Carling to Pilsner, but also Bock, Dortmunder, Dunkel, Helles, Rauchbier, Vienna Lager and many more. There are Dark Lagers as well as Pale Lagers. With so many lagers, they are good with many different foods. Pils with shellfish or fried fish, a Czech Pilsner for meat dishes like pork. Pale Lagers work well with pizza and tandoori chicken, dark lager with most sausages and Rauchbier with smoked meat and fish.

Sour Beers


Sour beers include Gueuze, Kriek and Framboise from Belgium, and Berliner Weisse, originally from Germany. Lambic goes well with a pork terrine or moules frites. Berliner Weisse can work well with goat’s cheese.

Non-Alcoholic Beer

Available in varieties from lagers to pale ales to wheat beers. The Wheat Beers work well with spicy food and egg-based dishes. The pale Lagers work well with fried, battered fish