Lager originates from the German word lagern which means ‘to store’ – it refers to the method of storing it for several months in near-freezing temperatures (5°C–10°C ). Crisp and refreshing with a smooth finish from longer ageing, lagers are the world’s most popular beer (this includes pilseners).
A lager, which can range from sweet to bitter and pale to black, is usually used to describe bottom-fermented brews of Dutch, German, and Czech styles. Most, however, are a pale to medium colour, have high carbonation, and a medium to high hop flavour.
Brewed with top fermenting yeast at 18 to 25 °C, ales are fuller-bodied, with nuances of fruit or spice. Generally robust and complex with a variety of fruit and malt aromas, ales come in many varieties.
They could include Bitters, Milds, Abbey Ales, Pale Ales, IPAs, etc. Ales are often darker than lagers, ranging from rich gold to reddish amber. Top fermenting, and more hops in the wort gives most of these beers a distinctive fruitfulness, acidity and pleasantly bitter seasoning.
Ales have a more assertive, individual personality than lager, though their alcoholic strength is the same.
Spontaneous / Wild Beers
The often forgotten third type of beer which is pretty popular in certain regions of Belgium, the so called spontaneously fermented beers. For these beers, the fermenting vessel is left open over night so wild yeasts and bacteria from the surrounding area can hop in and do their work, compared to the Ales and Lagers where the brewer adds the yeast manually. Beers of this kind are mostly sour and have some really unique funky aromas, the best example are the Belgian lambic beers.
A very versatile beer, Amber beers are full bodied malt aromas with hints of caramel, these beers could be either lager or ale.
Blonde ales are very pale in colour and tend to be clear, crisp, and dry, with low-to-medium bitterness and aroma from hops and some sweetness from malt.
Dark amber or brown in colour, brown ale have evidence of caramel and chocolate flavours and may have a slight citrus accent or be strong, malty or nutty, depending on the area of brewing.
Porter is a dark, almost black, fruity-dry, top fermenting style. An ale, porter is brewed with a combination of roasted malt to impart flavour, colour and aroma. Stout is also a black, roast brew made by top fermentation.
Most fruit beers are ales however, they typically do not carry an ale character. In order to allow for the fruit flavour to come through nicely, the malt’s flavour is not dominant and there is a low bitterness level to the beer.
Dark ale is a British type beer, combining hops, yeast and a blend of malts. It’s a medium chestnut brown colour, with a delicate fruity smell and robust, malty character.
First developed in the UK, Golden ales are straw coloured with a slight hint of citrus and vanilla. The beer can sometimes contain spicier flavours.
Stout, not as sweet to the taste, features a rich, creamy head and is flavoured and coloured by barley. Stouts often use a portion of unmalted roasted barley to develop a dark, slightly astringent, coffee-like character.
Extremely light in colour and mild in flavour. Light beer has fewer calories and/or lower alcohol content.
Belgian beers come in several varieties. Most of them are ales and are malt and especially yeast forward beers, giving them spicy and sweet flavours. Colours also vary from golden to pitch black, with aromas ranging from caramel to dried dark fruit.
Pale ale has a fruity, copper-coloured styler. It originiated from England. Pale ales are robust beers that can be enjoyed with strongly spiced foods.
Made with neutral and hard water. Tend to be golden in colour with a dry, crisp, and somewhat bitter flavour. Pilsner stands out from other lagers due to its more distinctive hop taste.
Red ales can either be red or light brown in colour. They are moderate to heavy in flavour and contain hints of caramel that is offset by the predominant hop characteristic of the beer.
This is a broad grouping that can describe any beer over 7% ABV. Strong beers are typically dark in colour, some are almost black. Different styles can include old ales, double IPAs, and barleywines.
Sour beers can be produced using two different techniques. The faster ones are the so-called kettle or quick sours, they are produced by lowering the ph by adding Lactobacillus. These beers tend to have a simpler type of acidity. The slower produced wild beers are produced by letting them cool down in an open vessel overnight, where they get inoculated with wild yeasts and bacteria. These beers will have a layered and more complex type of acidity.
Light and easy to drink with very little aftertaste. Wheat provides a soft character to beer and is sometimes hazy or cloudy with a touch of spice notes.
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