Fancy getting into craft beer but not sure what to expect? The world of craft beer can be complicated to beginners, so we’ve broken down some of the classics, pulling out key flavours and food pairings. Enjoy!

What is craft beer?

Craft beer is smaller, independently brewed batches of beer made with skill, care, individual character and distinctive flavours. Known for its bolder, hoppier flavours, with craft beer there’s a big emphasis on flavour and quality. Grab yourself a 330ml can or bottle on the shelves with a wide choice ranging from pale ales to IPAs and everything in between. 

In this piece we’ll try to stay away from the complicated jargon but we do mention ‘hops’ as one of the essential ingredients for craft beers. When it comes to beer, hops are the flowers from the Humulus Lupulus plant which basically add the bitterness, aroma and flavour that you can taste when you crack open a cold one.

American Pale Ale (APA)

Grab a glass of refreshing citrus with this soft tasting, medium bodied beer. Known for its floral, citrus and piney hops, the toasty malt notes and an undeniable bitterness of APA, pair it perfectly with fruity cheddars, pizza or Mexican food. Adapted from English Pale Ale, with American ingredients and increased alcohol content, APAs usually have an ABV of between 5%-6%.

Brown Ale

Enjoy chocolate, toffee and caramel notes with this British classic. This nutty favourite is malty and dark in colour. Team with roast pork, smoked sausage or grilled salmon. More of a sweet tooth? Try it with a slice of walnut cake for the ultimate taste sensation.

India Pale Ale (IPA)

Best served crisp and cold, IPA fans are spoiled for choice with a variety of tastes on offer when it comes to this type of beer. From fruity fans enjoying citrus and tropical notes, bitter stronger preferences, and those preferring a cloudy hazy IPA. Everyone is catered for. Popular IPAs include West Coast IPA, British IPA, Hazy IPA and American IPA. Turn up the heat with a spicy food pairing, Indian or Thai makes a winning combo! Mexican food lovers will be pleased to hear that fish tacos pair perfectly with a citrus IPA. BBQ food is yet another winner here.


Easy to drink and a popular choice, lagers are often a good place to start when getting into craft beer. Light and malty, they’re a refreshing option for all occasions. With a lager, the yeast prefers cooler temperatures, gathering at the bottom of the tank whilst fermenting. Many craft brewers are now creating lagers including Pilsner, Mexican lager and Vienna lager. Another great match for spicy foods, couple a lager with curry, pizza or lighter dishes like a salad.

Pale Ale

A popular classic when it comes to craft beer, pale ale is a hop-forward beer, meaning the first impression when you take a sip are the hops. With a typically lower alcohol content than most IPAs, look out for it’s pale amber colouring and malty flavour. Tuck into a juicy burger with your pale ale for the dream team. More tasty pairings are succulent steak, grilled foods or English cheese.


Refreshing and crisp, this thirst quenching pale lager has added hops giving it a slightly spicy flavour with a bit of a kick. Team it with roast chicken or shellfish like crab, clams, shrimp or mussels for a flavour sensation. Look out on the shelves for types including German Pilsner, American Pilsner, Bavarian Pilsner and Czech Pilsner.


Creamy, dark and full flavoured, you’re in for a treat with a stout. Savour rich coffee and chocolate flavours with this versatile and popular beer style. Look out for variations including milk stout, dry stout, oatmeal, chocolate, oyster and imperial stout. Salty savouries work well with stouts so indulge in oysters or a rich stew. Satisfy your sweet tooth and enjoy with a chocolate cake or dark chocolate truffles.


From tart to fruity, sour beer is exactly as it sounds, distinctively sour and acidic in taste. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but this addictively acquired taste in beer is certainly gaining popularity. Lemony seafood, tangy cheeses and rich meats pair well with your sours.

Wheat Beer

Cloudy and refreshing, the wheat beer category offers several different varieties. Like most of the other categories mentioned, the tasting notes vary depending on where it’s brewed. Enjoy soft banana and clove notes from a German wheat beer, citrus aromas with a Belgian wheat beer, and the lighter, thirst quenching taste of American wheat beers. Team with a mild curry or paella. And for dessert? Try key lime pie for a match made in heaven.