You probably wouldn't order a "a glass of wine" or "a coffee" when out to dinner or at a bar. Most people would be more precise and ask for a sauvignon blanc or a shiraz, or an espresso or caffe latte. Unfortunately, many people don't think twice about ordering "a beer" just like they'd order a "glass of water".

For people who know beer this is amazing given there are probably more styles of beer than there are styles of wine.

For those willing to expand their horizons, there's a plethora of beer out there.

Sometimes interesting and unusual beers are quite easy to come by, while others need a bit of investigative work or a visit to a specialist beer bar or retailer to track down. Or you may decide to brew your own.

There is a beer for almost every taste. Some people like nothing better than a full-flavored, dark, bitter beer such as stout. Others prefer light, delicate beers, possibly a pale lager. Or there is always tart wheat beer, which some find unpalatable but others can't get enough of.

Over the next pages are explanations of the main beer styles, along with their typical original gravity (OG), alcohol by volume (ABV) and bitterness expressed in international bitterness units (IBUs). IBUs and European bitterness units, or EBUs, can be and are used interchangeably to express the bitterness of a beer.

More information on beer styles is available from the Beer Judge Certification Program website. The BJCP's style guide is also a free app for BlackBerry, Apple and Android phones and tablets.