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Beer Brains

At Bootleg Brew, our mission is to let you enjoy the Prohibition-era/Jazz Age charm and romanticism when you sip your adult drink. But as our business sadly has nothing to do with the grand tales of pistols, illegal breweries/distilleries, excisemen and smugglers, we create this charm and romanticism by offering you a knowledge base of beer knowledge that cannot be found elsewhere. 

Types of Beer



Tasting Beer

Bootleg Brew's 4 Steps for Tasting Beers

What do you need? 

What to look out for?

Bootleggers' Recommendations

For the lightweight

For the adventurous drinker

For the dark beer drinker

Types of Beer

All beers fall into 1 of the 2 categories – ale or lager. In a nutshell, ales are top-fermented and lagers are bottom-fermented.

Top Fermenting Beer                                                      Bottom Fermented

Ale with top fermentation (img source)                                    Lager with bottom fermentation (img source



Pale Ale

Extremely popular in Europe, Pale Ales are brewed with ale yeast and lightly-roasted malts. They are generally more floral, fruity and lightly hopped than other beer styles. They are usually light golden in color (darker than lagers but paler than Brown Ale). Pale Ales go perfectly with food that is not very intensely flavored or not very spicy.

Amber Ale

A mostly American and French style, the Amber Ale (also called Red Ale) is brewed with ale yeast and more highly-roasted malts. Amber Ales are sweeter than Pilsners or Pale Ales, and pair well with seafood. 

India Pale Ale

The India Pale Ale (IPA) originated during the British rule in the Indian subcontinent in the 18th century, when breweries in England sent their Pale Ales to India by sea. By the time they arrived, the beer was undrinkable - it had soured on the long, hot journey. The breweries increased the amount of hops in the Pale Ale, as hops are a natural preservative. To counteract the hop bitterness, they added more pale malt as well - more malt means more sugars, which means more alcohol. The end result is an intensely hoppy, bitter beer with a strong malt backbone and a higher alcohol content than a typical Pale Ale. IPAs pair perfectly with spicy food.

Brown Ale

Made with a darker roast of malt, some of the sugars in the malt caramelize and give a lingering sweetness and caramel taste to most brown ales. Easy to drink and full-flavored, these beers pair very well with beef and other red meats – it goes especially well with pulled pork BBQ!

Porter & Stout

Porter and Stout are dark beers – usually dark brown to black. They are made from darker malts which impart a dense aroma and taste usually compared to dark chocolate or coffee. The difference between porter and stout is not obvious – porter is generally lighter bodied and lower in alcohol than stout, but this is not always so. "Stout" means "strong or full-bodied", so one can generally say a brewery's Porter is lighter bodied and lower in alcohol than its Stout, but one brewery's porter could be heavier bodied than higher in alcohol than another brewery’s stout! These dark, dramatic beers are ideal companions to desserts - you can treat them as you would coffee and serve them with cheesecake, cakes, and other hot or cold desserts.

Wheat Ale

Wheat beers (also called WitWitbierWitte, Weissbier, Hefeweizen or White Beer) are, as the name implies, made with a high proportion of wheat in addition to malted barley. Brewed with a top fermenting ale yeast, there tends to be a lot of residual sugar providing a delicate sweetness. Many breweries add orange peel or spices to their wheat beers, thereby lending another component to the flavor. The delicate flavor of these beers make them great to sip on a hot day. Wheat beer is great for drinking with lighter and less flavourful food (eg. a light salad).

There is a special way to pour wheat beers. Hold the glass at a 45 degree angle and allow the beer to run down the side. Once there is an inch or so of beer left, swirl the bottle to gather up the yeast sediment and then pour the rest into the beer. This adds to the desired cloudiness of the hefeweizen and contributes flavor. Yeast is also full of vitamins so there is the added health benefit as well!

Lager (or Pilsner)  

Lagers have a clean, crisp and refreshing style. They are typically clear golden yellow in colour. Lagers are brewed using yeast that works at lower temperatures than ale yeast and does not tend to flavour the beer or give it any noticeable aromas like an ale yeast does. This style is a good all-rounder: enjoy with pizza!

A Pilsner is a particular type of Lager. Firmer bitterness coupled with an earthy floral aroma from the Saaz hops and a slightly grainy malt profile leading into a medium mouthfeel and a crisp finish is the hallmark of a good Pilsner. Because of its more pronounced bitterness, Pilsner pairs well with spicy foods as well as rich and oily meat dishes through which the beer will cut.


Alternatively, check out Jamie Oliver's Drinks Tube video with the Craft Beer Boys

Tasting Beer

Bootleg Brew's 4 Steps for Tasting Beers

  1. Assess the colour of the beer
  2. Swirl the beer around to release the aroma
  3. Gently nose the beer
  4. Taste the beer

What do you need? 

  1. Beer (duh!)
  2. A proper glass

Craft beer brewers formulate their beers according to how they taste in a proper glass. Thus, if you drink a craft beer from the bottle like how you drink a cheap commercial beer, you will miss out on much of the brewer’s art. So what’s the magic behind a proper glass? A proper glass channels the smell of the beer to the drinker’s nose. As a lot of the tasting sensation happens through the nose (there are more than a thousand discernible aromatic compounds, and the nose picks up many flavours and sensations that the tongue cannot), being able to properly smell a beer is crucial to truly experiencing it. Moreover, a proper glass allows the proper formation of the beer head (the frothy foam on top of the beer when poured into a glass), which affects the beer’s mouthfeel.

Long story short: if you want to experience a craft beer as the brewer had intended it, use a proper glass.

Fortunately, this does not mean that you have to find space in your cabinet for yet another set of glasses. This may sound crazy, but you can use your wine glasses. Wine glasses actually suit a number of beer styles very well – definitely much better than the “pint” glass that you get at the bar.

  • Glasses designed for white wine, or even Champagne flutes, are ideal for light and spritzy beers such as Pilsners and wheat beer.
  • Wine glasses used for red wine, conversely, bring out the best in dark, fuller-bodied beers. Their bulbous shape allows you to warm up the beer, cradle it, and swirl the aromas awake.
  • If a beer is big in body and flavor (eg. intensely hoppy IPA), a snifter or brandy balloon makes sense – they ease the impact of overwhelming aromas and hold the flavours in tightly.

What to look out for?


After pouring the beer into a glass, give it a swirl to elevate the aromas. Then stick your nose in. Instead of taking lots of deep inhalations, mix them up with lots of quick, small sniffs, and let the fabulous, flavoursome fumes fill the nostrils.


Remember, when tasting beer, you should swallow and not spit. This is because bitterness receptors are located at the back of the throat and tongue – spitting will deprive you from the full sensory experience a beer offers. Take a slow sip of the beer and circulate it around the tongue. Aerate the flavours by sucking the beer around the mouth as if you’re whistling backward. Take note of the tingle:

  • Sweet sensations should tickle the tip of the tongue, 
  • The back borders are where sour and acidic sensations will show themselves, while
  • Salty flavours reveal themselves at the front sides of the tongue. 
  • Bitterness is felt at the back of the throat, but also, to a smaller extent, on the entire surface of the tongue, which is why, when a beer is extremely bitter, the mouth puckers up. 

A good way of detecting the bitterness of a beer and the hop flavours is to eat a bit of foam from the head with a teaspoon. It looks odd, but it is extremely revealing.

Mouthfeel and body are important. Full-bodied beer fills the mouth like an oyster, while thin-bodied beers dissipate on the tongue like a shrimp cracker. Mouthfeel can be thin or thick, smooth or grainy, creamy, leathery, metallic, mousse-like, or cloying and coating.

Bootleggers' Recommendations

Our recommendations for the Lightweight (Ciders & Fruit Beer) 

The beers in this range tend to be lighter, with fruity flavours and a lower alcohol content. The aim here is to introduce the interesting flavours of craft beer without overpowering the senses. We always keep a few bottles of these in the fridge on standby in case of guests as they are great for everyday drinking and appeal to a wide audience. 

Crabbies Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer Mongonzo Mango Beer Cornish Orchard Gold Cider
 Crabbies Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer Mango Beer gold cider

 Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer is combined with ginger shipped from the Far East, steeped for up to 6 weeks to produce its refreshing and deep, deliciously spicy flavour.

Mongozo Mango has the sweet, refreshing flavor of fresh mangoes. It is a light beer with a refreshingly fruity flavor. Perfect for combining with exotic dishes and is a pleasantly refreshing beer on warm days.

This immensely refreshing cider has a light champagne sparkle with fruity apple tones and a long-dry finish. The creative blend of bittersweet and dessert apples impart this classic cider with body and crispness

Our recommendations for the Adventurous Drinker

The beers in this range will be very similar to what you see on commercial taps everywhere - the Tigers, Heinekens, and ABCs of the world. This is our craft beer take on it, we think it's worth a try if you are looking to move from your standard drinks and try something different (and we think, better)!

Wittekerke Rose Hitachino Nest White Ale Black Mac
 Rose Wheat Beer
White Ale Black Mac

Awarded Europe’s Best Fruit Wheat Beer in the World Beer Awards 2011, it is a blend of the Wittekerke White Beer (voted Best Belgium Wit Ale for 2 years), known for its fruity aroma and taste, together with 10 % of the purest raspberry fruit.

 Crafted in the Belgian "Wit” style, it is refreshing and mildly hopped, with a complex flavor of coriander, orange peel, nutmeg. It pairs well with many Japanese foods, particularly the seasonal foods of spring and summer. 

Deep and rich with hints of caramel and chocolate, Black Mac tempers the smoothness of its toasted malts with the characterful presence of Fuggles hops. No wonder it's proven such a perennial favourite.

Our recommendations for the Dark Beer Drinker

The beers in this range are all dark beers, celebrating the awesomeness that is dark beer - the creamy mouthfeel, strong flavours and long finish. We are huge fans of these beers as they have this satisfying feeling of drinking REAL beer. Also, with the complexity of flavours, the craft element really comes through in the variety of flavours. 

Tokyo Black Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout Minoh Stout
 Tokyo Black
Hitachino Espresso minoh stout

An American Porter, the Tokyo Black is very drinkable and easy on the palate. Creamy and malty, this is definitely not one to miss. 

Beer Advocate rating: 84 Good 
Ratebeer rating: Overall – 90; Style – 87

Caramel, roasted, black and chocolate malts provide an explosion of coffee like flavors. Its unusual character  stems from the use of a Russian Imperial Stout as base.

Beer Advocate rating: 88/100 Very Good
Ratebeer rating: Overall – 99; Style – 99

One of the best in the world - Minoh Stout was awarded the World’s Best Dry Stout in the World Beer Awards 2009 and Asia’s Best Dry Stout 2012.

Beer Advocate rating: 85/100 Very Good
Ratebeer rating: Overall – 71



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