What Are the Most Popular Craft Beer Styles?

Craft beer has exploded in popularity over the last few decades, with enthusiasts and casual drinkers alike exploring the vast array of styles offered by innovative brewers around the world. Here, we delve into some of the most beloved craft beer styles, examining their unique characteristics and why they resonate so strongly with beer lovers.

India Pale Ale (IPA)

India Pale Ale, or IPA, stands as the quintessential craft beer style, revered for its robust hop character and complex flavor profile. Originally brewed in England with extra hops to survive the long voyage to India, today's American IPAs push the boundaries with even more hops, resulting in intense bitterness and a bouquet of aromatic and flavor nuances ranging from citrus and pine to tropical fruit and floral notes. Sales data consistently shows IPAs accounting for approximately 30% of all craft beer sales in the U.S., making it the dominant style in the craft beer market.


Stout is a dark, rich beer style where the flavor of roasted malt leads the way, offering notes of coffee, chocolate, and caramel. Variants like oatmeal stout, milk stout, and imperial stout each bring something different to the tableā€”be it the smoothness from oats, sweetness from lactose, or an elevated alcohol content and boldness in imperials. Stouts, particularly during the colder months, see a surge in popularity, with enthusiasts appreciating their complex profiles and hearty body.

Sour Ales

Sour ales have carved out a niche in the craft beer world, appealing to those looking for something genuinely different. These beers are often aged with wild yeasts or bacteria in wood barrels, resulting in a tart and tangy flavor. Styles like Berliner Weisse, Gose, and Lambic are gaining traction, especially among drinkers who are new to beer, thanks to their light body and refreshing sourness. These styles represent a rapidly growing segment, with an increase in production by over 40% in recent years.

Amber Ale

Amber ales are versatile beers with a balance of malt and hops, characterized by medium to high maltiness and a caramel-like sweetness. They typically display a color that ranges from deep amber to reddish-gold. This style is especially popular among those who enjoy a beer that bridges the lighter and darker spectrums, providing richness without the heaviness of a stout or the intense hoppiness of an IPA.

Pale Ale

Pale ale is a staple style in the craft beer community, known for its balanced approach to malt and hops. It's lighter in color and bitterness compared to an IPA, with a focus on drinkability and subtle flavor nuances, making it a favorite everyday beer. The approachability and mild character of pale ales help maintain their position as a top choice for both new craft beer drinkers and seasoned aficionados.

Pilsner and Other Lagers

While lagers are often associated with big commercial breweries, craft pilsners and other craft lagers are gaining popularity for their crisp and clean profiles. These beers are typically lighter in flavor and color, with a smooth finish, making them highly refreshing. Craft lagers are particularly appealing during the summer months and are increasingly found at craft beer festivals and competitions.

Each of these styles represents a unique aspect of the craft beer culture, offering something for every taste and occasion. The diversity and richness of these styles are what make exploring CRAFT BEER such an exciting and rewarding hobby for millions of enthusiasts around the world. As the craft beer scene continues to evolve, the popularity of these styles serves as a testament to the creativity and passion of craft brewers globally.

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