Blinded by the Light (Beer)

Categories: Beer BasicsPublished On: January 3rd, 20212 min read

So far we’ve learned about beer vehicles, but we haven’t really had the opportunity to talk about the beer itself. When I was a fresh 21 and started drinking beer I knew I only needed to say 4 words to get something that was pretty safe in my eyes: “light but not hoppy.” I’ve been able to rely on my tried and true beer phrase for years whenever I’m in need of an easygoing porch sipper.

Cue quarantine 2020. In an effort to support local businesses, I frequented breweries around town where I’d often utter my favorite 21-year-old-Natalie phrase. I was met with kolsches, pilsners, blondes, and MORE. It took isolation to ask the tough question – what the heck is the difference between each of these light beer variations? I teamed up with Brandi and Tyler from Landlocked Ales to learn what every porch sipper should know about light beers.

The basics:

Beer in general can be segmented into two major groups: ales and lagers. Lagers undergo cold fermentation (known as lagering… perhaps where they got the name) over a longer period of time. Ales, on the other hand, are created with warmer temperatures and can be brewed much more quickly. What dictates the style of fermentation you may ask? THE YEAST! Lagers tend to be described as crisp and clean while ales typically have more fruity esters in the flavor.

Easy enough so far, right? As you can imagine, there are infinite ways to describe and segment light beers as there are so many different interpretations and evolutions of recipes. For your convenience, here’s the guide Tyler and Brandi provided for 6 of the most popular “light but not hoppy” varieties of beer:

Pilsner:

  • Lager
  • Delicate with clean bitterness
  • Clear
  • BONUS FACT: A good pilsner is a sign of a strong brewer. With such straightforward flavors there is very little to hide behind and all mistakes show.

Kolsch:

  • Ale
  • Sweet like a green apple, white grape, or Pinot Grigio
  • Clear

Blonde:

  • Ale
  • A great base beer that’s often flavored with other ingredients
  • Without any extra flavors added, this tastes the most like your general light beer with a little more body

Saison:

  • Ale
  • Spicy (like spices, not like heat)
  • BONUS FACT: Saison is French for ‘season’. This style of beer was brewed in the winter and drank in the summer to keep workers “hydrated” in areas where the water was not safe to drink (it seems to us that backyards meet those specs).

Witbeer:

  • Ale
  • Notes of coriander and orange
  • Cloudy

Hefeweizen

  • Banana and clove
  • Cloudy
  • ^ You only need to try these one time to know exactly what this means

With all of this newfound, beerventure knowledge I think the only logical thing to do next is to put my palate to the test. Stay tuned for a blind taste test video!

Of these six varieties, what’s your favorite? Did we leave any other easy drinkers out?

Ready for more? Check out our Event Schedule to see all upcoming workshops

About the Author: natalieraejones

Natalie started her beer-loving journey as an intern for Rocky Mountain Brew Runs in 2013. She took over the business in January 2020 and brought her own unique spin to the event series with bold themes and big personalities. In the 2020 quarantine she started Beer Feelings to expand the brew empire beyond only 5k running events. Her mission is to help others make unique memories and navigate the craft beer space.

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