Beer 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Brews

By Alina Hansen

Here is a quick beer guide for those who are responsible and of drinking age (21+) who may desire to know some basics about beer. This guide includes beer ingredients, key terms, information on select beer styles, beer facts and varieties of Utah beers.

What is Beer?

Beer is made up of only a few ingredients: water, malt (or another grain), hops and yeast. These ingredients determine how a beer is created by its quantity, quality and usage. By manipulating these ingredients, brewers are able to create different styles of beer. All ingredients are crucial to the creation of different beers, but notable ingredients for most beers will be grain content and yeast, which determine style.

A Few Key Terms

ABV % (alcohol percent by volume): the amount of alcohol by percentage that is in a certain volume of beer. For instance, there can be a 12 oz. beer with a ABV of 3.2 percent or 9 percent.

Adjuncts: other ingredients that can be added to a beerís recipe to enhance or alter flavor such as fruit, sugars and syrups.

Color: a term used to help describe the appearance of beer. Colors range from light to dark with colors in between such as pale, gold, amber and light brown.

Flavor and aroma: descriptive details about a beerís taste and smell. Depending on the style of beer, flavors and aromas vary. A few examples would be fruity, spicy, woody, bready, caramel or smoky.

Carbonation: carbon dioxide naturally produced through the process of fermentation that a beer undergoes during brewing. Carbonation can also be injected into beers, a style often called nitro beer.

Head: the foam that results from the carbonation of a beer. Various styles of beer will have different sized heads.

Beer Facts

Beers have different glassware according to style.

Beers, like wines, are often paired with certain foods and meals.

Beers that are technically the same style can have a different ABV percent.

Styles of beers often come from particular countries and can have a long history of being brewed and cherished. For instance, Hefeweizens originated in Germany while Porters come from Britain.

There are gluten-free beers, reduced-calorie and non-alcoholic beers.

Craft beers are those that are made by private and independent breweries such as local microbreweries. Mainstream beers are those that are produced on an international scale and are typically found in every major city.

Beer Styles

Pilsener is a lager beer originally from the Czech Republic. A fresh Pilsener is 100 times better than a stale Pilsner, and some beer drinkers can tell the difference. Hops gives the floral aromas and a balanced bitter taste. ABV is 4-5 percent. This is a recommended beer for anyone who is a casual drinker or deciding where to begin when it comes to
trying beer.

American cream ale, a hybrid beer style, has a gold color and little hops. With little use of hops, an American cream ale is usually not too bitter and rarely tastes hoppy. ABV ranges anywhere from 4-5.7 percent. An American cream ale is a good beer for those who want something light and is perfect for going out on the town with friends.

American IPA is one of the most popular beer styles in America for its range of bitterness, its aroma and its hops flavor. American IPA is a version of an India pale ale and can range from 6-7.5 percent ABV. Hops is usually high, as is bitterness. This beer is ideal for those that want a little bit of a kick in their drink.

Hefeweizen is a wheat ale style beer and traditionally originates in Germany. Hefeweizen is refreshing, highly carbonated and foamy. Yeast, fermentation and hops are crucial factors in the making of a true Hefeweizen. A Hefeweizen can have fruity, spicy or clove flavors and aromas. It is not too bitter, and the ABV is often around 5 percent. This is an ideal beer for summer lovers who like to kick back and relax while having fun.

Porter is a style of beer that is often dark red or dark brown with a variety of flavor notes such as licorice, caramel or chocolate. Porters are known for their ability to be balanced and sometimes taste exceptionally bitter. ABV can be anywhere from 7-12 percent. A porter is for those that desire depth and edge to their beers. A porter is ideal for a rainy or snowy day.

Utah Beers

Utah has a vibrant and growing scene when it comes to local breweries and beers. Most Utah breweries have their own IPA. Since IPA is one of the most popular styles of beer in America, there are a quite few selections of local IPAs available. Other breweries may emphasize a particular style such as lagers and ales. Here are a few Utah beers:

Uinta Brewing, Free-Form Belgian-Style Blonde Ale: a gluten-free, amber-colored beer brewed with millet and buckwheat. Opal and sterling hops and a hint of coriander give this beer its unique and delicious taste. ABV is 4 percent.

Moab Brewery, Rocket Bike American Lager: brewed using methods from the 1800s. This is a 100 percent lager-style beer that has won multiple awards. Fruity with low to medium bitterness and a crisp taste. ABV is 4 percent.

Epic Brewing Company, Mid Mountain Mild Ale: a light hops ale with honey, vanilla, a little bit of nuttiness and malt that is delicately balanced. An award-winning ale with an ABV around 5 percent, making it a must try for any beer drinker.

Bohemian Brewery, 1842 Czech Pilsener Lager: a pilsener lager brewed using traditional Czech methods with Czech saaz hops and pilsener malt creates this famous style of beer. With a pale golden color, medium bitterness and an ABV of 4 percent, this Czech pilsener lager is a traditional beer of exceptional taste.

Squatters Craft Beers, Hop Rising Double-IPA: an extreme imperial IPA that has a dry and smooth intense hoppy taste with malt undertones. This IPA is tremendously bitter and has an ABV of 9 perecent. A serious beer for serious hops lovers.

These are a handful of select beers from brewers in Utah. There are countless breweries in Utah that are unique and worthy of a visit.


There are many elements that go into the making of a delicious beer. The heart and talent that goes into creating fantastic beers makes this beverage unique in itself. Experimentation and a love for exploring taste is an attribute of those that drink a wide range of beer styles, but there is nothing wrong with finding a few favorites and sticking to them.

This basic beer guide is solely informational and for readers of legal drinking age (21+). This article is not written to persuade or suggest the drinking of alcoholic beverages.

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