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Beer 101: Understanding beers and ciders

You’re standing in line at a bar. As you inch closer to the bar counter, it’s your turn to order, and you’re confronted with 25 beer taps and a dozen cider options. You recognise about three out of all of them. With more than 100 styles and countless variations, it’s safe to say that the world of beer is a limitless one. From classic lagers to funky sour ales, each beer has a distinct, unique taste, which can make trying to decode a fully stocked beer menu or tap list a challenging task.

It’s times like these when you wish you could have some kind of craft beer and cider guide to help you out of these situations. Lucky for you (pun intended), The Lucky Squire makes understanding the numerous styles and tastes of beer and cider an easy task with their comprehensive menu. With that said, dive into beer 101 with Oracle Boulevard’s resident beer experts and get ready to flaunt your newly acquired beer knowledge.  

What is brewing?

“Brewing” is the practice of regulating the interactions between water, starch, yeast, and hops, all of which create the end result: beer. In a sense, brewing is about doing as much as possible to influence the results of a process that’s entirely hands off: fermentation.

What is beer?

Thankfully, the basic formula of beer has remained the same for centuries, making the answer to this question fairly straightforward. Beer is the fermented, alcoholic product of the combination of water, malt, hops, and yeast. In case you were wondering like we were, hops are the flower of a plant that’s a member of the hemp family. They are added to the brewing process and play a key role in balancing the flavours and aromas of beer.

Beers start out as an ale or a lager, and their unique flavours and styles continue to evolve from there.


Do the names Tiger and Heineken sound familiar? Well, these popular beers are lager style. Lager is known as the typical entry point into beer for new drinkers, which explains why the majority of modern, commercially available beers from across the world are lagers. Made with bottom-fermenting yeast that has a lower tolerance to alcohol, lager has a lighter, malty taste that tends to be crispier than other styles.


Originating from the Czech Republic, pilsener, or ‘pale lagers’ fall under the lager category, although the two terms are often interchangeable. Pilseners tend to be hoppier scented and carry a drier finish. For an introduction to this slightly more bitter style, try the James Squire Four ‘Wives’ Pilsener. Its sparkling golden brilliance, distinctive floral aroma, and enticing spicy finish will have your tastebuds walking on the bohemian side of life.


Ale is the most common beer type in the craft kingdom, with majority of craft beers falling under a sub-category of ale variety due to the bolder flavours which the brewing process can produce. Widely popular across the world, ales are brewed through fermentation in a warmer tank for shorter periods of time, producing a fruitier flavour and aroma. 

Pale ale

The most preferred style of craft beer consumed by Aussie enthusiasts, pale ales are brewed using pale barley malts. With its unique light golden colouring, The Lucky Squire’s James Squire ‘Mid River 3.5%’ Pale Ale is a refreshing mid-strength pale. With a crisp herbaceous flavour, this pale ale is packed with citrus and fruity aromas.

Amber ale

Not quite a pale, and not quite a dark ale – amber ale has a more pronounced caramel toffee flavour caused by adding additional malts to its mix. Amber ales match well with harder, nutty flavoured cheeses or gamey meats. Hand-crafted with pale, crystal malts, and distinctive hops, you’ll be mesmerised by the rich copper colour of the James Squire ‘Nine Tales’ Amber Ale. Not to mention, its toffee-caramel sweetness and nutty finish, balanced against citrus hop notes – perfect on a warm summer evening.

Wheat ale

Commonly known as ‘white beer’, wheat ale contains higher protein content, giving it a light-coloured, cloudy appearance with a thick and long-lasting head. With little-to-no hops included in its mix, wheat ales don’t require maturation and can be consumed straight after brewing. And what better way to get introduced to it than with The Lucky Squire’s limited edition ‘Vagabond American’ Wheat Ale. Clean and refreshing, this new release has a crisp hop flavour and grainy wheat character.

What is cider?

So, you already know that beer is made from a combination of water, malt, hops, and yeast. But what’s the deal with cider? Unlike beer, ciders don’t contain any malted barley or other grains, which results in most ciders being gluten-free. Cider is the fermented juice of apples and sometimes, pear juice. For a refreshing traditional cloudy cider, try the James Squire ‘Orchard Crush’ Apple Cider and get ready for your tastebuds to fall in love with its clean palate, crisp finish, and fresh aroma.   Feel ready to face that bar counter now? If you ever need to refer back to something for more info, check out The Lucky Squire for the full list of craft beers and ciders they have on offer. And check out all the latest events and news happening at Oracle Boulevard.

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