Maybe this topic isn’t going to be that seen in countries with bigger beer culture, but it’s something that it still happening a lot. You might have seen it, heard of or even done: someone approaching the bar and asking for a “dark beer” or a “blonde beer”. Error. For know I’ll just mention there’s two ways of making beer depending if it ferments in cold (bottom fermentation) or warm/room temperature (top fermentation).
Every type of beer in the world it’s made with, at least, four basic ingredients: Water, barley, hops and yeast. Obviously there’s a lot of crazy brewers who add extracts, tequila, rum or even oysters to the mix. But back to the topic of the colours, basicaly the colour of a beer it’s going to be given by the barley (malted barley in this case). It’s quite similar to baking bread: if you put it in the oven just made, it’s going to have that yellowy colour, pale. The more it roasts the more toasted colours it’s going to have, going through oranges, toasted until it finally it burns and it gets black.
Lagers (basically 80% of the mass beer produced, Heineken, Carlsberg, Peroni, Fosters, Stela, Budweisser, Asahi…) are cold fermented, which means the fermentation process happens at the bottom of the fermenter. They generally have a pale colour, yellowy, kind of like urine, due mainly because the barley hasn’t been toasted. Other types of beer, like Pale Ales or IPAs have a more amber colour, until we get to black beers: Stouts and Porters, where the barley it’s been burnt until it releases flavours and aromas of coffee and chocolate.
¿Why you shouldn’t ask for a blonde or a black beer? Because there’s a lot of types of blonde beers and black beers. Belgian beers and sour beers are blonde in colour. Even wheat beer and kind of blondes. And there’s even black lagers. In the other hand, if you ask for an Ipa or a Porter, you’re automatically letting the person who’s serving you a beer that you might like and it’s easier to make reccomendation based on styles. If you ask for a blonde beer and you get a sour…you have nothing to complain about!
Font of the image: https://www.timeout.com/sydney/bars/sydney-craft-beer-guide