A Texas Hill Country Beer Primer: Ales, Lagers, Stouts, & Porters

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Tony Maples Photography


Beer comes in many different flavors and styles, and knowing the difference among beer types will help you become a more informed drinker when you explore the many craft brews from Texas Hill Country beer breweries, whether you visit this fall or any other time of the year.

Ales Well That Ends Well

Real Ale Brewing Company is one of the Texas Hill Country beer makers that produces ales

Photo: Facebook/Real Ale Brewing Company

Ales tend to taste bold and full-bodied. These beers come from a brew that uses the ambient temperatures of cooler cellars and top-fermenting yeast. Since they use more hops than other beer types, ales have a hoppier, fruitier taste and a darker coloring compared to lagers. Examples of Texas Hill Country beer brands that are ales include the Rio Blanco Pale Ale and Fireman’s #4 Blonde Ale from Real Ale Brewing Company.

Lager It Alone

Texas Hill Country beer includes styles such as Faust Brewing Comany's Oktoberfaust lager

Photo: Facebook/Faust Brewing Company

Unlike ales, lagers need to age in a cold place for several months. This allows the beers to be brewed in the late summer or fall and stored over the winter for spring consumption. Though with modern storage methods, spring does not have to be lager season. Some lagers are produced all year long. The lengthy aging process yields lighter beers with a smooth, crisp taste that appeals to many. Perhaps that explains why most beers made today fall into the lager category. Many Texas Hill Country beer makers produce lagers, such as Faust Brewing Company’s Oktoberfaust and Alex Meixner’s Polka Pils.

Short and Stout

The creamy top is common with bold stout beers

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Stouts tend to have a creamy texture and bold, coffee-like flavor. In fact, many Hill Country brewers combine coffee with stout to maximize the flavors of both. Like ale, stout is a top-fermenting beer. What sets stout apart is the use of barley, which contributes to its flavor reminiscent of roasted coffee. Texas Hill Country beer that falls into this category includes Double Horn Brewing’s Imperial Stout.

Porting a Porter

At the holidays, Fredericksburg Brewing Company adds a gingerbread porter to its lineup

Photo: Facebook/Fredericksburg Brewing Co.

Porters and stouts have similar flavors and preparation methods. While stouts have a creamy texture and roasted flavor, porters tend to be dry, dark, and fruity. These beers use malt for added flavor, and as top-fermented beers, technically are ales. Examples of Texas Hill Country beer brands of porter include Pioneer Porter from Fredericksburg Brewing Company and Geist der Berg from Boerne Brewing Company.