Plus, food pairing inspiration!

Jessica Ball, M.S., R.D.
August 13, 2020
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Credit: Getty Images/Jack Andersen

Whether it's at the beach on a sunny day or après ski, there are few things as refreshing as a cold beer. No matter the season, cracking open a bottle or can is the universal sign for unwinding. Your drink of choice may say more about you than just your flavor preferences. Check out this lighthearted guide to what your favorite brew says about you.

Since the brands and types of beer are endless these days, we broke our list into eight of the styles most commonly enjoyed. Whether or not we've guessed right about you, we added in a few fun facts about the beer itself as well as flavor suggestions and food pairings.

Sour or Fruited Ale

Let me take a wild guess and say you probably also like wine and cider? Not opposed to Warheads or Sour Patch Kids as a child? You prefer warmer temperatures and will more than likely be drinking one of these outside. Sours and fruited ales come in many shapes and forms, so this is not a one-size-fits-all beer preference.

American sour ales are made through what is called a "spontaneous fermentation." This means that brewers use wild bacterias and yeasts to create a unique, funky flavor in anything they brew. It also makes it easy to add fruit-forward flavors, similar to flavors of many natural wines and ciders. Sour ales can vary widely in their alcohol content, from below 4% to over 8% ABV, depending on how long they're fermented. Pair sours with fruit, strong cheeses and charcuterie.

Wheat Beer

Whether it's German or Belgian, you're someone with respect for long-standing traditions ... especially when they taste this good. Kudos for being able to pronounce hefeweizen and witbier—your local bartender will likely be impressed. You've seen an Oktoberfest of two, maybe even own a pair of lederhosen. Hey, we aren't judging. From Blue Moon to Allagash White, there are some newer-age brews that carry on the wheat beer tradition well.

The big difference in wheat beer is that it uses wheat instead of barley for the grain that is fermented. This creates a brew that is lighter in color and flavor, and lower in alcohol content, usually between 4% and 5.5% ABV. Pair your favorite wheat beer with soft cheeses, salads, seafood or ham.

Pilsner or Lager

This easy-drinking beer matches your calm, collected vibe. You're taking it slow but could just chill all day. Whatever comes your way, you're down to see where it goes. Plus, you may have the most options (besides IPA lovers). As you may have learned in college, there is nothing wrong with the classics (lookin' at you, PBR, Coors and Bud Light!). If it isn't broken, don't fix it. That is not to say there aren't lighter craft beer options abounding, too.

People often associate Germany with the birthplace of pilsner-style beers, but many people don't know that they are also common in the Czech Republic. Lagers and pilsners are similar in flavor, and have a light color and low alcohol content compared to other beers, averaging between 4-6% ABV. Pair light beers such as these with spicy cuisine, fish or flavorful cheeses, like sharp Cheddar or Brie.

India Pale Ale (IPA)

If you love IPAs, you're probably in craft brew paradise these days. You are a social butterfly who is willing to try new things often. This is good news, since IPAs are an unpredictable category of beer that covers a lot of ground. You may have the most options and most variety of any beer lover when choosing a weekend beverage.

What sets the flavor of IPAs apart from many other kinds of beer are the hops. Hops are the flowers of a plant called Humulus lupulus, which is in the same family as hemp and marijuana, that are often used in the production of beer. They add aroma, flavor, foam and (most notably) bitterness to beers like IPAs. Different varieties of hops can create different flavors in beer, which partially explains why IPAs have such a wide range of tastes and alcohol contents. Pair IPAs with meat, fish, cheese or spicy foods.

Double IPA

You're not messing around. And if we are being totally honest, you are probably from (or living in) New England. Who can blame you? Those cold winters are no joke. You're all about the bang for your buck, and these beers definitely give you your money's worth.

The high alcohol content (usually over 7% ABV) is derived from more fermentable sugars in the beer, usually from adding more malts or grains. The higher alcohol content creates a notably strong taste in these beers that double IPA fans know and love. However, you better drink these with intention, because room temperature is not your friend. Pair double IPAs with classic American cuisine, like cheeseburgers or steak, as well as fish, other meats and sharp cheese.

Porter

Fall is your season of choice, and flannels are your go-to uniform. You're probably not averse to pumpkin spice, either. But forget Starbucks; fall officially starts for you when Dogfish Head Brewery releases their Pumpkin Ale (keep your eyes peeled in August, folks). We'd be lying if we didn't agree that few things pair better with changing leaves, cool air and warm sun than a porter.

Porter's dark color can make them look heavy, but they drink more similarly to an ale or brown ale than they do to a coffee-like stout. The malts add an approachable sweetness to the dark beer. Pair porters with barbecue, meats and hard cheeses like Parmesan or asiago.

Stout

Let me guess, you ski or snowboard? You prefer cold weather to enjoy your favorite brew ... or St. Patrick's Day. In your book, there is no such thing as "too full for beer." But you may be on to something, since Guinness has fewer calories than a Bud Light.

A stout's rich flavor can be attributed to the malts used in making it. The more they are roasted creates a depth of flavor, as well as a darkness in the beer itself. Stouts typically have a higher alcohol content over 6% ABV, but can be lower. Guinness, for example, has only 4.2% ABV, which accounts for how low in calories it is compared to other beer. Pair stouts with heavy foods like beef, stew, barbecue and burgers. In our professional opinion, these heavier beers also make a great liquid dessert.

Shandy

We are not *totally* sure if this counts as a beer, but we're glad you're trying! You, like pilsner lovers, are probably a beach dweller. And we can agree that this is more portable than a cocktail. Shandies are a combination of beer and citrus juice or lemonade, which lends their fruity flavor, making them super drinkable. This also makes them lover in alcohol, usually below 4.5% ABV. You can even make your own by adding lemonade or grapefruit juice to your favorite light beer. Pair with cheese and charcuterie.