Know Your Beer Before You Head To Buffalo On Tap
Buffalo On Tap, the largest Beer Festival in Western New York, is coming up on January 11th and there will be hundreds of choices, so here is a simple guide to know your Beer.
According to Pourmybeer.com, there are different beers for every season.
Winter Style Beers
- Stouts and Porters — These two styles have a lot in common. Dark as night with a roasty flavor, they’re the heaviest of beers and leave you with a warm fullness that is perfect for hibernation. Plus, they come complete in a lot of different variations, so you can search for the best stout or porter for your particular tastes.
- Imperial — Among brewers, imperial is shorthand for extra boozy. Unsurprisingly, most people can’t have too many imperial beers in one night, meaning they are usually a bad idea if you plan on starting your drinking around noon. But in the winter, when there aren’t any cookouts or long vacation days to worry about, imperial beers become a lot more appealing. Plus, the extra alcohol content provides a pleasant warmth, helping make the cold nights more bearable.
- Bourbon — Another popular technique for winter brewers is barrel aging. This involves letting the beer age in a used liquor barrel for months at a time. As a result, the oaky flavor of the liquor is imparted upon the beer. This technique works best on heavy, high-alcohol beers, so they are especially well-suited for the colder months.
- Chocolate and Coffee — Stouts and porters already have subtle coffee and chocolate notes. Many brewers play on these subtle flavors by actually adding chocolate and coffee to their brews. These heavy, dark flavors are perfect for the kind of dessert beers that scream winter.
Spring Beer Styles
- Dry — Winter beers are sweet and heavy. Spring beers are the opposite. Although they aren’t as light as summer beers, they tend to be dryer, meaning more of the sugars have been fermented. This means the beer will be crisper and less cloying than typical winter styles.
- Saisons — Saisons are a Belgian style of beer fermented with wild yeast. They are often referred to as “funky” because of the complex flavor of the yeasts involved. Full of sour notes and typically low in alcohol, they are a great way to celebrate emerging from hibernation.
- Common — Don’t be confused. “Common” refers to a style of beer, not its interest level. This distinctly American style is made using lager yeast, which typically ferments at colder temperatures. However, unlike most lagers, common beers are fermented at the typical warmer ale temperature. The result is a wonderful hybrid of both styles. Known to be eminently drinkable, these are great beers for your first weekend spent outside.
- Bocks — Just because winter is ending doesn’t mean you want to totally rid yourself of darker malts. That’s why darker German bock beers are a great option in the spring. They’re not nearly as dark as stouts and porters, but they aren’t pale ales either. They are malty and sweet, but not too much for your taste buds to handle. A bock can be a great transitional beer as you get ready for spring.
Summer Beer Styles
- Fruit — Summer is a great time for fruit beers, especially ones that are lighter, crisp beers. Fruit is refreshing and sweet, making it go down easy. Shandy is a particular style of beer that is popular in summer. Shandy is an even mix of lemonade and beer, resulting in an easy drinking brew that is also typically low in alcohol. Many brewers are also experimenting with shandies made with fruits other than lemons, adding more variety to an already diverse offering.
- Wheat — Wheat beer and fruit go hand in hand. Wheat beers, such as Belgian wits and hefeweizens, have a hazy spiciness that is full of flavor but never heavy. Plus, they are often served with a slice of citrus, adding another refreshing taste. Needless to say, wheat beers go down easy on a hot summer day.
- Pale and Hoppy — If you’re a hop head, you’ll want to make sure you choose a hoppy beer that is also pale with a light malt body. Pale ales and their hoppier cousins, India Pale Ales (IPAs), come in a lot of different varieties, not all of which are the perfect pairing for summer. Luckily, as more breweries are trying to cater their special releases to specific seasons, they are making sure to include summer pale ales when the warmer months roll around.
- Classic Pilsner — In many ways, the classic pilsner beers your grandfather loves are great in the summer. They’re light, not overly hoppy, and very refreshing. However, if you’re an adventurous beer drinker, don’t let the term “pilsner” turn you off. There are a lot of fun pilsners out there that experiment with the classic flavor profile of this Czech style. So don’t be afraid to go with an old standby every once in a while, especially if you’re having a lot of friends over while you fire up the grill.
Autumn Beer Styles
Pumpkin — It should come as no surprise that pumpkin, the most autumn-inspired food, dominates the seasonal beer scene every fall. Pumpkin beers allude to their pastry counterparts, often featuring large amounts of nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon. Pumpkin also creates a heavier body, giving these beers a more dessert-like feel. In fact, these seasonal beers are so popular, they are starting to be released earlier and earlier every fall.
Maple — More recently, maple has become a popular flavor addition for fall beers. The syrupy flavor goes well with brown ales, making these beers less heavy than pumpkin beers, meaning they’re perfect whether you’re drinking them before or after dinner.
Amber — Amber beers, whether they are ales or lagers, are slightly darker than pale beers. This slightly heavier maltiness is perfect for the fall, especially if you’re spending the day watching football. Supremely drinkable, they come in a lot of different varieties, so you can cater your amber beer to your specific tastes.
Belgian — Belgium is famed for its Trappist beers, which can only be legally made by Trappist monks. These beers have long been hailed as the best in the world. They tend to be spicy and boozy. If you want to spend some time sipping on one beer and really exploring its flavor profile, Trappist ales are perfect come autumn.
Oktoberfest — Autumn is also the time when Germany’s famed Oktoberfest, probably the greatest holiday dedicated to beer in the world, is celebrated. So it only makes sense that many breweries offer their own Oktoberfest beer. Oktoberfest beers are typically heavier brews that are well-aged with a deep amber color. If you want to really celebrate like a true Bavarian, find one of these beers and raise your stein.
Now you will know what to expect, but don't forget Buffalo on Tap is the perfect time to try something new!