Craft Beer for Beginners: A Guide to the Types and Styles of Craft Beer to Help You Choose the Right One for You

Heading to your local grocery store to grab some beer has become increasingly complicated. With the popularity of craft beer, you now have more options than ever. But choosing a beer you’ll love doesn’t have to induce panic. A little knowledge goes a long way. Here’s a guide to the different types of craft beer to help you choose the right one for you. 

What’s So Exciting About Craft Beer?

So many things! If you’re used to drinking beer produced by major breweries, it’s time to give craft beer a try. These brews are made by small local and independent brewers who work hard to create unique, rich flavors that are tough to achieve through traditional methods. 

Craft beer is known for its distinct taste. And there are many varieties, meaning there is probably something to suit just about anyone’s preferences. 

Different Styles of Craft Beer — A Beginner’s Guide

There are over 100 craft beer styles to choose from. While this isn’t a definitive list, these are the primary types of craft beers you’ll commonly find at your local grocers and corner bar. 

American IPA

This is a moderately strong brew with around 7.5% alcohol content. It begins with a fruity and citrusy flavor and has a dry finish. This type of craft beer is one of the most popular and pairs well with food like burgers and salsa. 

American Pale Ale

If you want something less potent and less bitter, the American Pale Ale is a great option. It is known for its floral hoppiness and lower alcohol content (around 6.2%). It also goes well with just about any type of food. 

India Pale Ale

India Pale Ale is a favorite craft brew of many due to its high hop content. This gives the brew hints of pine with a floral yet bitter flavor. 

Cream Ale

The cream ale has a slightly hoppy flavor with hints of sweetness. But it’s a lighter beer than many of the others and has a lower alcohol content (around 5.6%). The “cream” in the name is used to describe its texture, not denote the inclusion of any dairy products. 

Double IPA

If you want a more robust IPA, you may wish to try a Double IPA. True to its name, it has double everything — more fruitiness, maltiness, hoppiness, and alcohol content (about 10%). This beer pairs excellently with barbecue. 


Lagers are one of the most common craft beer styles. These are typically lighter in flavor and color, with a lower alcohol content (between 4-5%). These craft beers are made from a malt that is kilned at lower temperatures, providing a crisp taste without as much carbonation as other beers. 


Wheat beers are a type of ale. They are labeled as such because they are brewed almost entirely from wheat. These brews are generally light, citrusy, hazy, and easy to drink. 


Pilsners are pale lagers that are known for being extra “crisp.” These are well-balanced beers crafted from a light-colored local malt and bottom-fermenting yeast. 


Porters are darker beers that are brewed from malted barley. Some of these brews can have a bit of sweetness in their flavor, but watch out for the high alcohol content. 


Stouts are another very dark ale that came along when brewers began messing around with recipes for porters. Unlike porters, stouts are made using unmalted, roasted barley, so they are more full-bodied. Some have underlying coffee notes. 


Sour beers have become increasingly popular. They are characteristically tart, which comes from the use of wild yeast strains. Many of today’s craft beer sours have fruits added for extra flavor notes. 

Find the Perfect Craft Beer at Nick’s of Calvert

Now that you know a bit more about the different types of craft beer, you’re probably anxious to give some of these a try. We can help! Whether you want something local or seasonal, sour or hoppy, or anything in between, we can answer your questions and help you find the perfect complement to your next meal, barbecue, or event. We also have a growler filling station!

Nick’s of Calvert has one of the area’s largest selections of beer, wine, and spirits, all at some of the lowest prices. And, if you aren’t sure what you want or need help finding a particular label, just ask! Give us a call today at (410) 414-7105 or come by our location in Prince Frederick. 

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