Bottom-fermenting means that the fermentation process is carried out at a lower temperature (6-12 °C), and it lasts longer (2-3 weeks) than top-fermenting. The beer is also ready after a longer period of time (after 3-4 weeks). At the end of fermentation the yeast sinks to the bottom of the tank – this is how the so-called crude beer is made, with it being left to mature after the fermentation process in order to acquire a lager type beer as a result.
It is mostly barley malt that is used in the bottom-fermenting method. The most popular lagers are light and foamy pilsners and strong bocks. Most of the beers produced in Latvia are made with the bottom-fermenting method.
Lager or classic light beer is the most popular type of beer in the world. It is fermented for a long period of time at a lower temperature, thus acquiring a golden beer with a tender and refreshing taste. It is served cooled to 10 degrees.
When brewing classic lagers, region-specific raw materials are used at times, with the main ingredients – hops, malt, yeast, and water – being supplemented with specific spices or grain crops.
Amber lagers are made according to the classic lager brewing technology, however, there is also a small amount of roasted malt used in the brewing process, adding an amber shade and caramel flavour to the beer. When tasting the beer, one can feel roast, barley, and caramel, as well as notes of coffee. The taste of amber lager is more complete than that of a classic light lager. It goes great together with spicy foods.
A classic light beer with a smaller amount of calories and less alcohol than in other types of beer. In the US the term ‘light’ means that a beer has less calories. Whereas in Canada and Australia ‘light’ usually indicates that the beer has less alcohol in it.
Pilsener got its name from the city of Pilsen located in the west of the Czech Republic, where its production was started in 1840. There are Czech and German pilseners (usually labelled as ‘Pilsener’ and often referred to in abbreviated form as ‘Pils’). The alcohol concentration usually ranges between 4–5.5%.
Traditionally bocks are dark and strong beers, but pale versions of the beer are also brewed. The rich taste of pale bocks is formed by the aromatic and fruity notes characteristic to strong beers, as well as the freshness of hops. This type of beer is usually clear and pale and it has beautiful and consistent foam, as well as a rich taste and an aroma of stale bread.
A dark red-brown beer made with the bottom fermentation method, and it should be served at a temperature of 14–16 °C. In Latvia the most popular dark beer is porter.
This beer comes from the Baltic states and it is strong, a little sweet, and it has a dark brown shade. Historically, porters originated in England, where they were made with the top fermentation method. However, since it was more common to use the bottom fermentation method in continental Europe, the brewers of the Baltic states started to produce porter from local raw materials in accordance with local traditions, i.e. with the bottom fermentation method.
This beer has a reddish-brown tone, and its alcohol concentration is usually 4–6%. The beer is produced from special Munich malt that gives the beer a mild and rich taste. Usually Munich types of beer are slightly bitter, and they have a well-balanced level of sweetness. The foam has a slight caramel shade, whereas the beer’s aroma includes a hint of coffee, roasted malt and chocolate.
The beer variety and its name are both new. The uniqueness of slow-brewed beer is its long-term maturation process – it’s a process that starts after the fermentation. The maturation of the beer may last from a few weeks up to as much as several years depending on the recipe, as well as the desired nuances in taste and aroma. Such a variety of beer that is matured for a very long time is new to Latvia, therefore the first beer to be created in this category is the Cēsu Nefiltrētais Lēnalus. It is a beer that is matured for an especially long time – at least 60 days. It is the long maturation process that gives the beer its nuanced taste – it has a pronounced aroma of hops and barley malt, as well as a mature, well-rounded bouquet of various flavours. This beer becomes clear naturally during the long maturation process.
An old German type of beer that started to be produced in the 16th c. in Germany, in the Franconia region. In order to produce this type of beer, the malt is dried above an open fire, giving the beer a strong aroma of smoke that slightly resembles smoked meat. Usually the alcohol concentration of smoke beer ranges between 4–7%.
Top-fermenting is carried out at a higher temperature than bottom-fermenting. The heat, which usually ranges from 15 to 25 °C depending on the yeast variety, allows it to happen quickly and efficiently, and after fermentation the yeast rises to the top of the fermentation tank – that is how ales are produced.
The top-fermenting method has become especially popular in England and Belgium. Dark porters and stouts also belong to ale type beers. Top-fermenting is used to brew wheat beer, in the production of which wheat malt is used in addition to the barley malt.
Ale type of beer first appeared in England in the 17th century. Ales are brewed according to one of the oldest technologies – top fermentation, which gives the beer a strong taste and aroma, as well as a dark shade. Historically, light ale comes from the territories adjacent to English coal mines, where it was very popular among working-class people due to its low price.
A thick pale or slightly reddish beer with a low or medium alcohol content. Its taste includes hints of hops, as well as nuances of fruity and herbal aromas that form from fermentation at a higher temperature. The word “light” characterises the beer’s lower level of bitterness in comparison to the classical bitter ale.
Usually abbreviated as IPA. An ale type beer with a golden or reddish shade that is rich with hops and is partially mineralised. It possesses a light aroma of malt and hops, thick malt, and a light grapefruit flavour. When tasting the beer, hops can be felt first, with a rhubarb flavour following them. Its name comes from the time when English brewers had to produce a beer that could withstand the long voyages to India, where the colonial troops were stationed. For this reason the beer was made to be stronger than usual, and, in order for it not to go bad, a great quantity of hops was added to it. Although, history holds that the officers used to weaken the beer of the privates with water, and drank the stronger version themselves.
This beer is also often referred to by its abbreviation, i.e. APA. This is a type of beer that originally comes from Great Britain but is popular all over the world nowadays, and it is brewed by using local raw materials, which is why it differs from region to region. In comparison to the British ale-type beer, the American pale ale is clearer and has more hops. Its flavour consists of a light hint of fruits, caramel malt, pine-tree bark, a pinch of spices, and it is also a little bit bitter.
The taste of Belgian ales consists of a lot of hops and fruit flavours. Its aroma is formed by an intense bouquet of caramel and dark fruits, as well as a pinch of spices. The aftertaste is slightly bitter. It’s a fairly strong beer with an alcohol concentration of 6-9%. Trappist is a Belgian type beer, with its name originating from an order with the same name, and it used to be brewed in monastery breweries as long ago as in the 17th century. Today there are only eight breweries preserved that can produce authentic trappist type ale (six in Belgium, one in the Netherlands, and one in Austria). The Belgian ale’s names Dubbel, Tripel and Quadrupel indicate the amount of hops in the beer. For example, tripel beer has as much as three times the amount of hops that regular beers have. The amount of hops in quadrupels is four times greater, making it the strongest one of them with an alcohol concentration of up to 13%.
This type of beer is a mixture of American ale and lager beer, and it is made with the top fermentation method just like an ale, however, later on bottom-fermenting lager yeast is added or the ale is mixed with lager. In order to make the taste even a little lighter, corn or rice is added. It has a light straw-yellow to golden shade. The beer has a light, creamy structure, a small amount of hops and a relatively strong mineral content. Its foam is high and firm. The flavour includes a light taste of malt, aroma of hop flowers and a gentle scent of citrus.
This beer is brewed mostly by using pale malt. One of the peculiarities of the beer is that hard water is used when making it, and this highlights the bitterness of the hops. Colour palette – from a golden and reddish shade to an amber colour. The foam is usually very thick and firm. It has an iris, tea, light caramel and bread crust aroma. The taste is slightly spicy and earthy. The alcohol concentration ranges between 3.8-6%.
Porter originated in England and it became a popular drink among port workers, which is where the name of the beer derived from. Porters are traditionally dark beers, and their colour may vary from brown to black. It is possible to feel a light bitterness of hops, and its taste is very rich – it possesses an aroma of caramel, coffee, and burnt chocolate.
A beer that belongs to the group of ale beers and has more malt than bitter ales, which is why it tastes sweeter. Its colour varies from a reddish-brown to a dark brown shade. The taste is dominated by bread malt and brown sugar. There are also certain varieties that have a light taste of fruits, as well as drier varieties with a taste of nuts. However, the most common thing about brown ale is the small amount of hops in it, which is why the beer is less bitter. Alcohol content of 4-7%.
A beer that is thick and quite sweet, and has a strong taste of malt; it is usually matured for a period of time from a few months to a few years – hence its name. Since this type of light beer turns sour when kept for a long time, old ales are usually strong and have an alcohol concentration of 6-12%. Its colour may vary from a dark amber one to a completely dark, almost black-brown colour. In its flavour one can taste fruits, sourness and alcohol, as well as raisins and blackcurrant. The strongest varieties resemble a light port wine.
One of the characteristics of Scotch ales is their long boiling time, during which a caramel mass is produced. Therefore it has a brown or dark-copper colour. Its taste is caramel sweet and saturated with an aroma of roasted malt; there is a small amount of hops. Some varieties have the bitter taste of black tea.
Although this variety of beer is named bitter, it is not a bitter beer – its taste rather resembles the bitterness of black tea. The colour ranges from a dark golden one to the colour of copper. With a small or medium level of carbon, the taste highlights the roasted malt and a light flavour of fruits. Aroma – a light scent of caramel, citrus fruits and apples. It is also possible to single out dark bitters, which are stronger than the usual bitters and have more alcohol and malt.
There are no significant differences in the technology of making porters and stouts, it is more of a historical distinction. Porter was originally a dark London beer. In the 18th century, the strongest beers were named stouts, whereas the strongest porters were named stout porters, with their name being shortened to stout over time. Nowadays it depends more on the breweries and whether they call their beer porter or stout, as strong porters are produced, as well as stouts with quite a small alcohol concentration. However, there is one difference that has not been given enough attention: porters get their dark colour mostly from dark roasted barley malt, whereas stouts get it from roasted, non-malted barley.
The word stout refers to something strong and thick. Sweet stout beer comes from England. Lactose or milk sugar is added, which does not take part in the fermentation process. It gives the beer its characteristic sweetness, creating a pleasant balance with the reserved bitter taste of hops. The aroma of roasted malt is not as strong as it is in other types of stout.
This dry version of stout comes from Ireland, therefore it is also known as Irish stout. The brewing process is characterised by the use of non-malted roasted barley, which gives the beer its specific velvety taste. This beer is also characterised by a strong roasted malt flavour that includes slight hints of coffee. The colour of the beer is almost completely non-transparent, whereas the light brown foam of the beer is creamy, thick and very firm, just like that of a draught Guiness.
Imperial stout was first made in English breweries in the 18th century with the aim of exporting it to the courts of the Russian Tsar. In 1912, Olvi Group’s company A. Le Coq was crowned as the official supplier of the Russian Tsar’s palace, and the Imperial Extra Double Stout brewed in Tartu started to be sold all over the empire. The imperial stout has a strong taste of malt, as well as a taste of dark fruits, and its mineralisation level is low. In order for the beer not to go bad during its transportation to Russia, it was made especially strong (7-10%) and rich in hops.
A separate class is formed by the Belgian and Dutch wheat beer, which is an unfiltered beer with coriander or orange rind added to it. This beer is called witbier (wit – white in Dutch), because the yeast that is inside of it makes the beer white-yellow and cloudy. This type of beer is made using an old medieval brewing method, where spices and herbs are used in the brewing process instead of hops, which is why hops cannot be felt as much in this beer. The lactic acid present in witbier makes its taste slightly sour. The alcohol content varies from 4% to 7%. This beer is often served with slices of lemon.
A dark wheat beer (dunkel weizen) brewed from dark, malted wheat and barley, which has a rich reddish-brown colour and an elegant spicy malt taste. Since it is an unfiltered beer, slight yeast sediments can be seen in it. Depending on the beer variety, the taste of clove, fruits, and sometimes even bananas can be felt. Alcohol content of 4-7%.
Wheat beer does not only include barley but also up to 50% wheat. Wheat beer can be both dark and light, and it can also possess different names depending on its region. In order to distinguish wheat beer, one should know that wheat beer in Western and Northern Germany is known as Weizen (wheat beer), whereas in Bavaria it is known as Weissbier (white beer) or Weisse; dark beer is called Dunkelweizen. Wheat beer is most often cloudy and you will find the name Hefeweizen written on its label, whereas filtered and clear wheat beers will be labelled as Kristallweizen. Wheat beer is also unique due to the fact that its final maturing phase takes place in the bottle. It means that before the fermented beer is filled into bottles or barrels fresh, non-fermented beer is added. Due to this reason the yeast cells that are inside of the fermented beer start a new fermentation process, during which the sugar inside of the new beer is turned into alcohol and carbon dioxide by the yeast. Since such fermentation takes place in a hermetically sealed environment (in a bottle or barrel), the carbon dioxide stays in the beer and makes it sparkling, as well as ensures beautiful and thick foam.
Beers that are fermented with wild yeast are called lambic. This is a type of beer with a strong, sour taste and a small amount of hops, which is brewed by using barley malt and non-malted wheat. During the production process the so-called spontaneous fermentation takes place under the influence of the microorganisms existing in the air. Lambic beers may mature for up to three years, during which their golden colour turns dark.
A lightly cloudy amber-coloured dry beer with a very sour taste and a citrus flavour, an aroma with nuances of vinegar and fruits, and a slightly bitter aftertaste. Gueuze is made by blending old and young lambics: two parts of the old and one part of the young lambic.
A gold-shaded beer produced in Belgium by using wild yeast for fermentation (lambic). It has brown sugar added to it, in order to balance the sourness and make the beer lighter and sweeter. Various spices, e.g. pepper, orange zest or coriander, are often added to the beer. The taste is slightly sweet but bitter, and the flavour of cherries and red grapefruit can be slightly felt. Its aroma is sweet-and-sour. Faro is made by blending old and young lambics: one part of the old and two parts of the young lambic.
It’s a quite sour, cherry-flavoured beer that usually does not have a lot of alcohol (3–5%) and is traditionally brewed in Belgium. Krieks were traditionally made by adding sour cherries to lambics, however, nowadays cherry juice is also often used in order to speed up the production process. After adding the cherries a new fermentation process begins, during which the berries dissolve and the sugar that is in the cherries produces alcohol and carbon dioxide. After that the remaining cherry pits and rinds are removed from the beer mixture. Since there is no more sugar in the drink, it possess a fruity taste that is not sweet. There are also krieks that are sweetened with sugar or syrup. Nowadays many fruit-flavoured krieks can be found all over the world, e.g. kriek varieties with forest berries, bananas, raspberries etc.
Framboise is a typical Belgian fruit beer with a low concentration of alcohol that is made out of lambic beer and raspberries. The beer has a bright red colour with a beautiful pink foam and many bubbles. Its aroma can be compared to one of a raspberry cake. The taste is light and sour with a hint of sweetness. A beautiful and light drink that is perfectly suited for festive events if you wish to replace the usual champagne or wine.