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Craft Beer for Beginners: How to Enjoy Your Beer Better in Raleigh NC


If you’re new to craft beers, then this guide will surely help you in choosing the right beer style that suits your palate. Craft beers are exciting. Breweries are always innovating and beer-lovers look forward to the latest styles that they can offer. Let’s start by learning a bit more about craft beers.

What are Craft Beers?

Craft beers are those that weren’t produced by big breweries. Craft beers are those that were brewed by traditional, independent, and small breweries. However, there are a number of beers that are really good even if the breweries do not meet the qualifications mentioned. You can expect craft beers to be good. But there are also good beers that are not exactly “craft beers.”

What’s the Difference Between Craft Beer and a Microbrew? 

In the 90s, when the beer was produced by small and independent breweries, they were called microbrews. It may be a strange term but it’s able to describe precisely what these types of breweries are. 

People knew what it meant when the beer was considered a microbrew. They expect something exciting and innovative whenever the beer was labelled as that. However, the term became obsolete over time. 

It is because of “microbrew” being a legal term. It describes breweries that only produce a specific number of barrels. Also, some microbreweries became big companies and so, they are no longer considered to be micro. 

Different Craft Beer Styles

Today, we have a wide array of options when it comes to beer styles. There are over one hundred craft beer styles to choose from. Many breweries are innovating and experimenting on their processes to produce really great beers. Don’t worry if you feel confused at first. There are common craft beer styles that are easy to get familiar with. 

American IPA

This beer style is moderately strong with up to about 7.5% alcohol content. It is citrusy, fruity, and piney. It will begin at the nose and then travel through your bitter palate. It will then culminate in a dry finish. In the beverage world, the American IPA is among the most recognizable beer styles. It has a tropical kick to it. You’ll love it with burgers, burritos, salsa, and tuna steak. 

American Pale Ale

With a low-moderate alcohol content of up to 6.2%, you can expect this beer style to be citrusy and piney. What separates it from the American IPA is that it has more of a floral hoppiness to it. It also has restrained bitterness. Its malty backbone is more noticeable so it makes this beer style less assertive. If you want a beer style that can match with almost any food, this is it!

Cream Ale

The cream ale is moderate with just about 5.6% alcohol content. It has that hint of malt sweetness and it is slightly hoppy. You can expect it to be crisp and light. If you’re looking for a beer style for easy drinking, the cream ale won’t let you down. Don’t worry if you’re lactose intolerant because the “cream” in cream ale is just to describe its texture. It’s good with anything such as pizza, hot dogs, popcorn, and other stadium foods. 

Double IPA

If you’re looking for something stronger, then the double IPA is your go-to beer style as it has up to 10% alcohol content. What you can expect from the double IPA is that it doubles in everything – the hoppiness, the maltiness, the fruitiness, and so on.  It’s best paired with barbeques and pulled pork sliders. You will surely have a great time with this beer style. 

How to Know Which Beer Style is for You

There are so many different beer styles that it’s easy to get confused. For example, if you were to choose among a stout, porter, IPA, and pale ale, would you know which one you’d like best? Don’t worry. We’ll help you with that. 

  • Lagers: These are beers that have been brewed before summer when the fermentation conditions are less ideal. It has a clean and grainy taste. The bitterness is low and the drink appears light red. 
  • Pale Lagers: For an easy-drinking beer that is crisp and can hit the spot, go for pale lagers. It has a low alcohol content and appears golden. The drink is bready in the tongue but well-balanced. 
  • India Pale Ale: This style is a favorite for many beer-drinkers. It has high hop content which gives them a bitter yet floral flavor. It also has hints of pine. 
  • Pale Ale: This beer style has lower alcohol content compared to India Pale Ales. It is easy to drink as it is lighter and also less bitter than IPAs. 
  • Brown Ale: This drink has a chestnut color to it. Its flavors are those of roasted malt, and often, coffee or chocolate. It is the middle ground between the pale ales and stouts that are thicker and darker.
  • Wheat: As a newbie, you may want to start with this style. It is light and very refreshing. It’s great for summertime drinking. 
  • Porter: Porters and stouts can often be confusing. But porters are robust and dark beers. It goes down smoothly and it is sweet. 
  • Stouts: This beer style is produced using unmalted roasted barley. It is intense, silky, and dark. It will give you a deeper coffee flavor. You can expect it to have a very rich flavor as well as alcohol content. 


Now that you know the basics of craft beers, you are ready to go on a brewery tour in Raleigh and try some of these beer styles. You’ll surely enjoy being able to know which drinks to order as you can now differentiate the many unique beer styles.