Understand and love your beach beer

While we are sometimes tricked into thinking that summer beers have to be light, watery and tasteless, this is not necessarily true.

Certainly, nobody wants to drink a thick syrupy dark beer when hitting the beach, but there are many types of beer that have the right attributes to be enjoyed in hot weather.

All beers rely on the same four basic ingredients: water, malted barley, hops and yeast.

What develops the different styles of beer are the type and amount of malt and hops, the strain of yeast used to ferment the beer and the fermentation process.

You can also find beers that have gone beyond the basic beer making ingredients and have added specialty grains or spices. For the beer drinker these types of beers have extended the range of beers suitable for hot weather even further.

Here’s the Top 5:

1) Hefeweizen
In contrast to most beers that are brewed from fermented barley malt, Hefeweizen (eg Paulaner) is made to a large extent from wheat and malted barley.

The beer, which originates in Southern Germany, is hazy and unfiltered. The wheat yeast (‘Hefe’ is the German word for yeast) used gives the beer a slightly tart, fruity taste, which combined with spicy flavours and high carbonation, necessary to balance the sweetness of the hop, makes it the ideal thirst quencher for a hot summer day. A clear filtered version of weizen is known as ‘Kristallweizen’ (crystal).

2) Pilsener
Pilsener is a pale lager type of beer that derives its name from the city of Pilsen in the Czech Republic.

The brewers in Pilsen developed a beer on the basis of only the best ingredients, ie Saaz hops and paler malts, combined with a new technique of storage (‘Lager’ is the German word for storage) in cool caves using bottom-fermenting yeasts giving the beer a distinct clarity, flavour and longevity.

Pilseners or lagers have a distinct hoppy aroma and can range from a crisp light taste (Caybrew, Corona) to slightly bitter (Becks), earthy (Red Stripe) and sweet (Heineken, Stella Artois, Staropramen).

3) Pale ale
All beers are either lager or ale beers. Ale is fermented faster at higher temperatures than lager, giving it a sweeter, stronger flavour.

Pale ale was developed by Britsh brewers in the 17th century as a lighter alternative for the summer days to the typical dark heavy ales.

Pale ale uses top fermenting yeast and pale, less roasted malts, which gives the beer its lighter colour.

Originally the malt for pale ales was dried with coke. The term bitter, indicating the bitter, hoppy aroma compared to stout and others beers, has been widely used synonymously for pale ales.

4) India pale ale
Originally designed for export to India, India pale ales or IPA’s had to be high in alcohol content and heavily hopped to preserve the beer on the long sea journey.

Most modern IPA’s are not as strong. They have a medium-high alcohol content (4-5 per cent) and hoppy, malty and bitter flavours.

5) Witbier
Witbier or white beer is a smooth Belgian variety of beer that adds wheat to the mash in the brewing process.

The cousin of the Hefeweizen creates its complex spicy, citrus and sweet aroma from the addition of spices such as coriander, orange peel and others.

While it is sometimes served with a lemon, the subtle spices are best detected without the added fruit. Traditionally witbier was very sour, but nowadays (eg Hoegaarden) the slightly tart and dry finish is ideal in the heat.