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All beer can be classified as either an ale or lager depending on the type of yeast used to make it. Top-fermenting yeasts are used to make ales, while lagers are crafted at cooler temperatures using bottom-fermenting yeasts.
Ales pre-date lagers by about 5,000 to 6,000 years. While ancient people may have indulged in an ale or two, it wasn't until the 15th century that brewers found the right yeast to produce lagers.
American adjunct lagers -- lighter beers made with corn and rice instead of more traditional grains -- outsell other styles of beer by a large margin.
A whopping 90 percent of the world's beer fits into the pilsner category. This crisp, easy-drinking beer, known for its clear golden hue, also serves as the inspiration for most of the biggest beers in the U.S.
Guinness got his start making porter, a style of dark beer popular with transportation workers during the 18th century.
Though it was first brewed in the 1800s, it wasn't until the late 20th and early 21st centuries that IPA took off in the U.S., ranking as the top-selling craft beer in the country by 2013.
The terms imperial or double before the name of a beer indicate that the product is high in both hops and alcohol. When these products were first created, they needed to be made extra strong -- the added hops serving as a preservative of sorts -- to survive the voyage overseas.
Hefeweizen is German for wheat beer made "with yeast." It's left unfiltered, giving it a murky appearance. When filtered, the Germans call this same beer Kristallweizen.
Brown ale features shades of coffee and chocolate, with a dominate malty nuttiness. Originally made in Europe, the American brown ale tends to be slightly more bitter than the British or German varieties.
During the 16th century, brewers couldn't safely make beer during the hot summer months. Instead they stocked up in March, or Marzen, crafting strong beers that would last until the cool weather returned -- right around the time of Oktoberfest.
Germans typically began brewing Bock, a powerful, malty beer, right after Oktoberfest to stock up for the long, cold winter ahead.
The term stout once referred only to the strongest beers produced by a brewery, but now refers to a variety of dark, rich beer varieties.
Dry hopping gave Indian Pale Ale the added kick needed to maintain its flavor during the long trek around the globe to buyers in India in the 1800s.
Steam beer, or California Common, was developed in the 19th century. Before the widespread use of refrigeration, brewers used a high level of carbonation to safely craft lager for the state's growing mining communities.
The Germans may have invented wheat beer, but the Dutch revived it with their Wit style, enhanced with citrus, coriander and other herbs. In the U.S., this beer is often served with a lemon wedge to cut the strong wheat flavor.
A glass of Guinness and Harp -- with the Guinness on top, of course -- serves as the traditional Black and Tan, though some drinkers replace the Harp with Bass or some other ale.
Any ingredients other than water, malt, hops and yeast are considered adjuncts -- non-core ingredients -- in the beer-making world. Adjuncts may include the corn and rice used in many U.S. beers or specialty ingredients like honey, oats or herbs.
Like the grape varietals used to make wine, different types of hops can be used to craft different styles of beer. Noble hops, known for their low bitterness, are loaded with essential oils that add layers of fruity flavor to beer.
Manufacturers create malt liquor by limiting hops and loading vats with plenty of adjuncts, like rice, corn and refined yeast.
Frustrated by poor-quality beer, the people of Plzen in the Czech Republic decided to start their own city-owned beer company in 1842. The company, Pilsner Urquell, produced a clear, golden lager, one of the first golden lagers in the world. This bitter, hoppy blend is still made in the same spot using the same recipe to this day.