We can talk up Madison beer all day — but if we talk too much, it starts to sound like a whole different language. Consider this your reader on all the lingo no one told you before you tried ordering your first beer at the bar, including local recs + pairings.
(Heads up: This piece is pretty stout, so once you’ve had your pils you can always bookmark it for lager.)
Amber + Red Ale | Red and amber ales will typically taste like caramel, dried fruit, or coffee — more sour than sweet. Pair with a hearty slow cooker meat.
Amber + Red Lager | These lagers can taste light + crisp but also contain aromas you’d find in darker beers – like caramel or toffee. Pair with tacos.
Belgian Style Beer | Belgian-style beers are typically historical styles, like Bière de Garde, Abbey ales, Dubbels, and Tripels. Belgian-style beers have a high alcohol content + low bitterness. Pair with cheese and potato dishes.
Brown Ale | An English-style ale that is especially sweet + nutty tasting. Pair with pecan pie.
Cream Ale | Light in flavor, pale in color, and not too bitter for a newbie beer drinker. Pair with grilled chicken.
Dark Lager | You can expect rich aromas like coffee, chocolate, molasses, and even pumpernickel bread. Pair with smoked fish.
Fruit Beer | Many fruits find their way into beer recipes — some popular ones are lime, strawberry, and cherry. Most fruit beers are sweet tasting + pair perfectly with dessert.
Hefeweizen | Time for a German lesson — hefeweizen is the German word for pale wheat beer. These are also called witbiers or blanches and are made by adding wheat to the mix to give the beer a foamy head + a silky texture. They have a distinct sweetness and sometimes give off a bubble gum or banana smell. Pair with cedar-smoked salmon or a watermelon + tomato salad.
India Pale Ale (IPA) | These beers can be bitter + have high alcohol levels. They can range from citrus flavors to stronger, more bitter flavors — depending on the hops used. These are usually the intro beer for new beer drinkers. Pair with fish + chips.
Pale Ale | Pale ales are usually hoppy but carry a lower alcohol content than IPAs. Most types of pale ale are malty, medium-bodied, and easy to drink.
Pilsner | A light + crisp lager from 19th century Europe that is hoppy and a pale gold color. Pair with calamari or schnitzel.
Radler | A radler is a hybrid — part beer, part citrus juice. The word radler means “cyclist” in German + legend has it radlers were invented to quench the thirst of cyclists. Pair with grilled fruit or pulled pork.
Saison | Also called farmhouse ales, saisons are typically light + dry, with low alcohol and high carbonation. Pair with comfort food.
Stouts + Porters | These beers have a deep, roasted flavor and are often described as tasting like chocolate or coffee. Oatmeal stouts and porters are a subtype that include a small amount of oatmeal to give it a thicker body.
Wild + Sour Ales | Wild or sour ales are typically very low in alcohol, and feature tart, sour flavors that come from (safe) bacteria in the brew mash. Pair with salty meats, stinky cheeses, and lemony seafood dishes.