21 & Over: Your beer guide

Kate Larson

We’ve all been there. You’re staring at the tap along the bar, wondering what in the world you’re looking at. Your choice of beer matters because you are a college student, and getting a beer normally means spending money. Although hundreds of different brews exist, according to Primer Magazine’s Jonathan Froehlich the two main types of beer are ales and lagers. The difference between an ale and a lager is the way in which the ingredients in beer (hops, barley, yeast, and water) ferment. Here is your straightforward guide to beer.


Ale is made more quickly and at higher temperatures than lagers. In ales, yeast sticks to the top and ferments. For this reason, ales get more of their flavor from yeast. Here are a few of the most common ales according to Primer Magazine:

Pale Ale

Pale Ales have a hoppy flavor and tend to be lighter in color.

India Pale Ale (IPA)

IPA’s also have a hop flavor, but more concentrated than Pale Ales. IPAs also tend to have a higher alcohol content than Pale Ales.


Stouts are darker in color and get their flavor from barley. They can taste malty, or even like coffee.


Porters are dark like a Stout, but have a sweeter flavor, sometimes paired with a bitter aftertaste due to unroasted barley.


Lagers take longer to make, and allow the yeast to sink and ferment in a colder temperature. Lagers tend to taste more mild and clear than ales. Here are a few common types of lager.

American Lager

This brew was created when the main American brewing companies like Budweiser, Miller, and Pabst started brewing. These are thinner, light, crisp beers; more commonly known in America.

Amber, or Red Lager

These lagers are a darker red-brown in color; sometimes taste of malt and can vary in flavor depending on the brew.


This type of beer has a strong, heavy malt flavor. They take a long time to make and also tend to be darker in color.


Pilsners are very light in color and flavor. They have the most hop flavor of any lager but remain light and smooth.


An Oktoberfest has a sweeter malt flavor and are darker in color. Oktoberfest beers are most commonly consumed in the fall.