Craft Beer 101: A Beginner's Guide to Beer Styles

Craft Beer 101: A Beginner's Guide to Beer Styles
Posted on January 2, 2024

If you're new to the world of craft beer, you might feel a bit overwhelmed by the sheer variety of beer styles available. From hoppy IPAs to rich stouts, there's a beer style for every palate. In this beginner's guide, we'll walk you through some of the most popular craft beer styles, so you can confidently navigate the world of craft beer and discover your new favorites.

IPA (India Pale Ale)

IPA is perhaps the most iconic craft beer style. Known for their bold hop flavors and aromas, IPAs can range from moderately bitter to intensely hoppy. The beauty of IPAs lies in their versatility. American IPAs often feature citrusy and piney notes, offering a burst of refreshing, zesty goodness. On the other hand, New England IPAs (NEIPAs) tend to be hazy and juicy, with a mouthfeel that's almost like sipping on fruit juice. If you enjoy a beer that packs a punch of hoppy goodness and an array of flavors, IPAs are an excellent starting point for your craft beer journey.


Stouts are celebrated for their deep, dark, and roasted malt flavors. These beers often have distinct notes of coffee, dark chocolate, and hints of caramel. If you're someone who prefers a beer with a rich and full-bodied taste, stouts should be at the top of your list. Some stouts take things a step further by being aged in bourbon barrels, which imparts a unique complexity and depth to their flavor profile. Sipping on a stout is like enjoying a robust cup of coffee and dessert all at once.


Pilsners, the crisp and refreshing lagers, have a timeless appeal. They are characterized by their clean, malty sweetness and a balanced hop bitterness. The hallmark of a good Pilsner is its ability to quench your thirst while offering a satisfying flavor profile. Whether you're lounging by the pool on a scorching summer day or just seeking a beer that's easy-drinking and approachable, reaching for a Pilsner is always a great choice.

Sour Ale

Sour ales are intentionally designed to be tart and acidic, providing a unique and adventurous drinking experience. Within the sour ale category, you'll find various substyles, such as Berliner Weisse, Gose, and Lambic, each with its own distinct characteristics. These beers often boast fruity and funky flavors that can range from sour cherries to tropical fruit notes. If you're a beer explorer looking for something outside the ordinary, sour ales are a fascinating and palate-awakening choice.

Pale Ale

Pale ales, sometimes called the gateway to hoppy beers, strike a perfect balance between malt sweetness and hop bitterness. They offer a delightful introduction to the world of hoppy flavors without overwhelming your taste buds like some more aggressive IPAs. The hop character in pale ales tends to be moderate, allowing the malt sweetness to shine through. If you're new to the craft beer scene or simply appreciate a well-rounded beer, start your journey with a refreshing pale ale.

Wheat Beer

Wheat beers are known for their light and refreshing nature. Their characteristic cloudiness is a result of using wheat malt in the brewing process. One popular wheat beer style, Hefeweizen, is particularly beloved for its banana and clove notes, adding a fruity twist to your beer experience. Wheat beers are perfect for warm days when you crave a crisp, thirst-quenching beverage with a touch of complexity.


Porters, akin to stouts, offer a dark beer experience but with a lighter body and flavor profile. You can expect to encounter roasted malt notes, hints of chocolate, and subtle caramel undertones in these brews. Porters are a fantastic choice if you desire the essence of a dark beer without the heaviness often associated with stouts. They strike a harmonious balance between rich flavors and easy-drinking qualities.

Amber Ale

Amber ales are characterized by their moderate malt sweetness and a well-balanced hop character. These beers often exhibit an inviting amber to reddish-brown hue, which adds to their aesthetic appeal. If you're in search of a beer that doesn't lean too heavily on hops or malts, amber ales are a reliable choice. They provide a well-rounded flavor profile that's approachable yet satisfying.

Belgian Dubbel

Belgian Dubbels are a delightful deviation from the norm, offering strong ales with a rich and malty sweetness. These beers often feature hints of dark fruit, such as raisins and plums, along with a subtle spiciness. Belgian Dubbels are a fantastic entry point into the world of Belgian beer, celebrated for their complexity and craftsmanship. If you're intrigued by a beer that combines sweetness, fruity notes, and a touch of spice, look no further.


Barleywines are the heavyweight champions of the beer world. These high-alcohol ales boast a robust malt character that can be intensely sweet and fruity. Flavors often resemble toffee, caramel, and dried fruits, creating a rich and decadent experience. Barleywines are best enjoyed in small sips due to their strength, making them an excellent choice for savoring on special occasions. If you're seeking a beer that's more like a fine wine, barleywines will surely captivate your palate.

As you embark on your craft beer journey, keep in mind that the best beer is the one you enjoy. Don't hesitate to experiment and try new styles. At Pour House at Grand Central, we take pride in offering a diverse selection of craft beers to cater to every palate. Whether you're intrigued by hoppy IPAs, indulgent stouts, or refreshing wheat beers, our microbrewery in Tampa has something for everyone.

For a hands-on experience, join us during our Happy Hour and explore our rotating taps. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of our beer-wine bar while enjoying live entertainment. Have questions or want personalized recommendations? Reach out to us at (813) 402-2923 or drop us an email at [email protected]. We're here to make your craft beer journey a memorable one. Cheers to discovering the world of craft beer at Pour House at Grand Central! 

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