It's no secret that the world offers a wealth of beer styles with a multitude of flavor profiles. Explore this world with us! Listed below is a bit of information on these styles as well as examples that we serve in house. Cheers!
Altbier (often abbreviated to Alt) is a dark, top-fermented type of beer from Düsseldorf and the Niederrhein region in Germany. The name Altbier, which literally means old beer, refers to the old brewing style (top-fermenting yeast and dark malt). Up to the 1950s, Alt was also called Düssel (from Düsseldorf), but since the term is not a Protected Designation of Origin, Altbier may also be produced outside of the Düsseldorf region. Traditionally, Altbiers are conditioned for a longer than normal periods of time. Alt beers are dark, copper colored, brewed from dark malts and well-hopped.
Amber to coppery-brown in color and usually clear, although dry-hopped versions may be slightly hazy. Medium to high hop and malt flavors. The malts may be sweet, often with a caramel flavor. Malts and hops are usually well balanced. Amber ales are somewhat similar to American pale ales with more body, more caramel richness, and a balance more towards malt than hops (although hop rates can be significant). This style of beer, sometimes called "Red Ales" was created on the west coast of the United States and is now commonly found across the country. The ABV is usually between 4.5-6% and IBUs range between 25-40.
American Pale Ale:
Pale golden to deep amber in color and usually clear, although dry-hopped versions may be slightly hazy. APAs tend to have a moderate to high hop flavor, often showing a citrusy American hop character. Low to medium-high clean malt character (not sweet) which may be bready, toasty, biscuity. The balance is typically towards the late hops and bitterness, but the malt presence can be substantial. Moderate to high hop bitterness with a medium to dry finish. Carbonation is usually on the higher end. American pale ales are a derivative of English pale ales, however, they use local ingredients (such as American hops) which makes the difference in flavor. The ABV usually falls between 4.5-6% and the IBUs are typically around 30-45+. (Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale )
American Strong Ale:
American microbrewers continue to create increasingly stronger beers. The American Strong Ale category is a classification for stronger American beers that don't fit into the Barleywine or Old Ale categories. These beers tend to be medium to dark in color and likely have a heavy malt and hops presence. Alcohol warming will tend to be common as well. Most beers in this category will have an ABV over 7%
Barley Wines can be broken down into American and English varieties. Here at BeerTutor, we feel they are similar enough that they can be grouped together. Their color may range from light amber to dark brown. Barley Wines have strong and complex malt flavors ranging from bready and biscuity through nutty, deep toast, dark caramel, toffee, and/or molasses. Moderate to high malty sweetness and often complex alcohol flavors should be evident. Moderate to fairly high fruitiness, often with a dried-fruit character. Hop bitterness may range from just enough for balance to a firm presence, although American varieties are typically heavily loaded with hops (American hops) which is the main difference between the 2 varieties. Barley Wines are often associated with holidays and special occasions and are good for ageing like wine. ABV tends to be 8% or higher and IBUs are usually between 35-70.
Black IPA / Cascadian Dark Ale:
The Black IPA style, or Cascadian Dark Ale (CDA) as it is also known, is a relatively new version of an IPA, with a characteristically dark or black appearance, due to the use of roasted malts (often Carafa malts). Common hops used are Cascade, Centennial, Simcoe and Amarillo which provide the typical hop aroma of the IPA style. The alcohol content tends to be slightly higher than a standard IPA with the low end starting at about 6.5%. The style's creation is often attributed to the late Greg Noonan, founder of Burlington's Vermont Pub and Brewery. In recent years, the style has become popular in the Pacific Northwest causing local brewers to push for the name Cascadian Dark Ale (CDA) for the style. At this time, the name seems to be gaining traction.
Blonde Ale / Golden Ale:
Also known as a Golden Ale, these beers are often referred to as a starter ale for those new to craft brewing because it is the closest style to a lager in the ale family. They are light yellow to deep gold in color and are clear. Overall flavor is subdued (by comparison to other ales) and usually has a mild malt sweetness. Malts can also provide a mild biscuity or toasty flavor. Low to medium hop flavor and bitterness. Overall this is a lawnmower beer that is most commonly found in American brewpubs, although English Summer Ales and other beers also fit in this category. ABV is typically between 4-6% and IBUs between 15-25.
The brown ale style is from England and these beers tend to be dark amber to dark brown in color. They tend to have a moderate to high malt character with flavors that can include caramel, chocolate, toffee, nuts, and biscuit. Malts tend to have moderate sweetness. Hop flavor can be very low to moderate and bitterness may be present. The finish may be dry. American versions tend to be hoppier than English counterparts. English versions are divided into Northern and Southern varieties, although the southern type is pretty uncommon. ABV varies between 3-6% and IBUs between 20-40. (Avery Ellie's Brown Ale & Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale)
Cream Ales are about the closest ale style to a lager and are sometimes made with lager strains. They tend to be clear pale straw colored and have medium to high carbonation. Flavor is a balance of low levels of malt and hops and may have a low to medium corn (adjunct) taste. Finish can be dry or sweet from the corn and added sugars. Alcohol tends to be between 4.2-5.6% and bitterness is usually below 25 IBUs.
English Pale Ale:
In England, Bitters and ESBs are considered "Pale Ales", however, outside England we use this term to describe beers that emulate these English styles. These beers can be golden to amber in color. They are similar in many ways to American Pale Ales, however, the English variety tend to have a more defined malt presence while APAs tend to be hoppier. The other main difference is that English Pale Ales almost always use English ingredients. Alcohol usually ranges between 4-6%. (Fuller's London Pride Ale)
Extra Special Bitter:
Extra Special Bitters are also known as Extra Strong Bitter or Premium Bitter and are usually referred to as ESBs. They are usually golden to deep copper in color and have low to moderate carbonation. Flavor is balanced toward hop flavor and bitterness, although malts should be present and can include carmel sweetness, nutty, or biscuity tastes. Flavor may include medium to high fruit esters. Optionally, may have low amounts of alcohol and up to a moderate minerally/sulfury flavor. Medium-dry to dry finish (particularly if sulfate water is used). Alcohol ranges between 4-6.5% AND bitterness is 30-50+ IBUs.
Referred to as an Imperial IPA or Double IPA, some say that this newer style was invented by Rogue with the release of their I2PA. In any event, this style is basically a regular IPA on crack. Slightly darker than regular IPAs, Double IPAs are usually amber to reddish copper in color. The dominant flavor comes from hops and LOTS of them which also provide high levels of bitterness. Double IPAs contain a lot of malts to balance the hops, however, the balance is definitely toward the hops. They have higher alcohol content that usually ranges from 7-12%. The alcohol flavor is usually well hidden by the strong hop flavor. IBUs range from 60 to well over 100.
India Pale Ale (IPA):
The creation of India Pale Ale (IPA) during the 1790s was the result of tremendous efforts by British brewers to overcome a difficult problem. During the 1700s beer did not keep well on long ocean voyages, especially into hot climates. These hot environments resulted in the arrival of flat, sour beer. The high hopping and alcohol of IPAs solved this problem. American versions of this style tend to be bolder, stronger, and hoppier. Color is from golden amber to light copper, usually with an orange tint. Malts are used to balance the hops and may have a mild sweet flavor in American varieties. In English versions, malts may have a biscuity or toasty flavor. ABV ranges from 5-7.6% and IBUs from 40-60+. (Ballast Point Sculpin IPA)
Legend has it that the earliest Irish ales were most likely brewed in monasteries and were red in color. Today, Irish Red Ales are amber to dark reddish copper and usually have a deep red tint to them. They exhibit a toasted malt flavor with a medium sweet caramel flavor. These maltcentric beers are low to medium in hop flavor and bitterness due to poor hop growing conditions and expensive English tarrifs. Like Irish Stouts, they have a dry finish from roasted grains. Designed to be an everyday beer, Irish Red Ales typically have an ABV between 4-6.5% and IBUs from 17-28.
This style hales from Cologne (Koln), Germany and is also the word for a dialect of German spoken there. In 1986 the Kolsch Konvention was signed into law by 24 brewers and the German government in order to protect the name "Kolsch" and only allow beer brewed in Cologne to use this label. The document was developed by The Cologne Brewing Organizaton (Kölner Brauerei Verband). Kolsch beers are often mistaken for a Blonde Ale, Pale Lager, or Pilsner due to their appearance and flavor. They are pale to light gold in color with medium carbonation. Malt flavor is typically low and medium hop bitterness. Some subtle fruity flavors may be present and the finish is typically dry which can make the beer seem more bitter. Alcohol usually ranges from 4-6% and IBUs from 20-30. (Gaffel Kolsch)
Mild Ales are an English style of beer that is likely a predecessor of the Porter style. Due to population growth, and thus demand for beer in the 18th century, some English brewers began selling beer before it was ready. This young beer was called "Mild". Mild Ales are copper to dark brown although paler versions do exist. This maltcentric style can offer a wide range of malt and yeast flavors including sweet caramel, toffee, toast, nuts, chocolate, coffee, roast, fruit, licorice, molasses, plum, or raisin. Hop flavor and bitterness is low and they can have a dry or sweet finish. Carbonation is on the low side and so is the alcohol which ranges from 3-5% and IBUs from 10-25.
In the past, Old Ales were referred to as "Stock Ales" in England which refers to the fact that they were stored for long periods of time. Later they would either be blended with a mild or bitter, or served at full strength. In modern days, they are often released as winter seasonals. Old ales tend to be reddish-brown to dark brown with moderate to low carbonation and head. The taste is usually centered around the complex malt flavor which can include notes of caramel, nuts, and/or molasses. Chocolate or a roasted flavor may also be present, but should be subdued. Malts are usually on the sweet side and the taste may also have fruit flavors. Extended aging may result in flavors like a Port or Sherry. Alcohol warming is likely with AVB ranges between 6-10% although lighter versions are out there. Hop flavors and bitterness are on the low side with IBUs ranging from 10 to 25.
At BeerTutor.com, we use this category to encompass German Roggenbiers as well as newer English and American Rye beers. Rye beers are usually straw to dark amber in color, although darker versions do exist. These beers can contain anywhere from 10 to 50 percent rye malt. Roasted malts may be evident as a cocoa/chocolate or light caramel character and a fruity-estery aroma and flavor are typical but at low levels. Hops flavor and bitterness are typically on the low end of the spectrum (American versions tend to be higher than others). The main differences between Roggenbiers and other rye ales are as follows: Roggenbiers tend to have a higher rye content, lower hop presence, and they usually have an additional banana and clove flavors like a Dunkelweizen. Rye beers' alcohol content can range between 4.5-7.5% and IBUs from 10-30.
Scotch Ales are also known as "Wee Heavy" and are the strongest of the Scottish ales, comparable to a barley wine. They were classified based on the now defunct Shilling currency system and ranged from 90/- to 160/-. Scotch ales are light copper to dark brown in color and clear. They are rich, malty (with kettle carmelization due to long wort boil) and often accented with a touch of peat-smoked whiskey malt. Additional flavors may include nuts, plums, and/or raisins. Scotland's cool damp climate is good for growing barley, but hops were in short supply, and the Scottish weren't very excited about buying them from England. As a result, the hop presence is low and the balance is decidedly toward malts. Alcohol is from 6.5-10% and IBUs are 15-35.
Scottish ales are classified based on the now defunct Shilling currency system. They are broken down as follows:
· 60 Shilling (60/-) = Light
· 70 Shilling (70/-) = Heavy
· 80 Shilling (80/-) = Export
The main difference between these varieties is alcohol strength and original gravity. Scottish ales are deep amber to dark copper in color and have low to medium carbonation. Like Scotch Ales, these beers endure a long boil which creates carmelization. The taste is balanced toward malts which are not overly strong and fruity esters might be present. Hop bitterness is usually low and hop flavor is low to none. Peat flavor may be present which may taste earthy or slightly smokey, but this style should not be overly smokey tasting. Finish is usually dry. ABV is 2.5-6% and IBUs are 15-30.
Traditional Ales are a category that we use to classify beers that are based on old/ancient beer styles that are now very uncommon or extinct. These styles include old traditions such as Sahti, Gruit, Gose, Heather Ale, Grozet, Elderberry Black Ale, Steinbeer, and others. Because of the wide range of styles encompassed here, the color, taste, flavor, and other characteristics will vary widely.
Abbey Beers have a long tradition dating back to the middle ages when Trappist monks brewed these beers in their monasteries (a small number still do today). Dubbels are a mid-strength Belgian style of beer that are dark amber to brown in color and usually have a large head that lasts. Complex flavor consists of sweet malts which can have a chocolate, roasted, nutty taste. Dark fruit flavors such as raisin, date, or plum are usually present and sometimes this is accompanied by a spicy presence. Hop flavor is usually not noticeable, but yeast flavor is. Finish tends to be dry with a little alcohol warming. Good Dubbels are very complex and tasty with an ABV between 6-8.5%. IBUs are usually around 15-25. The names of Dubbels often have brune, bruin, or brown in the name. (Ommegang Abbey Ale, Chimay Premiere (Red) & Westmalle Dubbel)
Abbey Beers have a long tradition dating back to the middle ages when Trappist monks brewed these beers in their monasteries (a small number still do today). It is believed that Tripels were invented at the monastery at Westmalle which still brews to this day. They are yellow to deep gold in color and are often highly carbonated almost like champagne. A good Tripel will have a complex flavor consisting of Belgian yeast, citrus fruits, candi sugar, spices, malt, hops, and alcohol tastes. Malts are much more subdued than Dubbels, the yeast is even more prevalent, and the hops are moderately increased. The finish is dry largely due to the high carbonation and hops bitterness. These factors also hide the alcohol burn, but let the alcohol flavor come through. Alcohol ranges from 7-10+% and IBUs are between 25-40. (Westmalle Tripel)
Abt / Quadrupel:
Created by La Trappe, Abt (also known as quadrupel) are Abbey and Trappist beer styles of great strength and bold flavors. Abts tend to be darker with dark fruit flavors while Quadrupels tend to be lighter in color and may have a peachy taste. Both styles have strong, rich, malt flavors with very low hop content and flavor. Alcohol presence is very noticeable and the ABV is usually over 10%. (Chimay Grand Reserve & Trappistes Rochefort 10)
This is a sort of catch-all category for beers that fall into the lighter side of Belgian Ales. These tend to be golden to amber in color, although some beers in this category will be on the darker side. The beers in this category will vary in malt and hop flavors/levels and typically have an ABV of 7.5% or less. (Orval)
Belgian IPAs are a newer style of beer predominantly brewed in the USA and Belgium. This style uses a variety of malts, typically American hops, and Belgian yeast. Like many Belgian ales, the alcohol content is fairly high, usually over 7%. Like American IPAs, the bitterness level is typically high with IBUs usually over 50.
Belgian Strong Ale:
The BJCP divides Belgian Strong Ales into dark and golden subcategories, but these 2 are combined at BeerTutor. For this reason, the beers in this category can be anywhere from yellow to dark brown in color. Blond versions tend to be similar to Tripels and have a fruity and spicy hop flavor. They tend to be paler, lighter, and drier than their Tripel counterparts. Dark versions are similar to Abbey Dubbels and are more malt oriented than the blonde versions. They tend to be sweet, often flavored with candied sugar, and have moderate hop flavor. Both versions have a high ABV ranging from about 7.5 to 13%. (Trappistes Rochefort 8, Gouden Carolus Grand Cru of the Emperor (Blue), Duvel & Delirium Tremens)
Biere de Garde:
Biere de Garde beers are artisanal farmhouse ales from northern France. They are similar to Saisons, however, Biere de Gardes tend to be sweeter and lack the sourness and spiciness of Saisons. The name Biere de Garde literally means "beer that has been kept" which refers to the fact that this style tends to improve with age. There are 3 different colors of Biere de Garde which are blond, amber, and brown. This style is often unfiltered and can be cloudy. These beers are balanced toward malts whose presence is usually high with toffee or caramel flavors. Hop presence provides low to medium bitterness levels which can sometimes be spicy. The lighter versions may have higher hop levels, but are still balanced toward malts. The finish is usually dry with malt flavor. The ABV is usually 5.5-8.5% and IBUs are between 20 and 30.
Flemish Sour Ale:
Flemish Sour Ales is a catch all category for styles such as Flanders Red Ales and Flanders Oud Bruin which come from Flanders, of course. These beers can be red to brown in color and have low carbonation. The flavor is typically of dark fruits such as plum, cherry, black cherry, red currant, figs, dates, raisins, or prunes. Toffee, chocolate, or caramel flavors may also be present. Their defining characteristic is medium to high levels of sourness and acidity. These beers exhibit little to no hop or alcohol flavors and the sour flavor often turns sweet in the finish. The Red Ale variety are often aged for 2 years in oak barrels. Oud Bruin varieties are not oak barrel aged. ABV is typically between 4-8% and IBUs are 15-25. (Bockor Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge)
Lambics are wheat beers that come from the Senne Valley in Belgium. They are spontaneously fermented with wild yeasts in the air and are typically unfiltered. The most basic Lambic is called "Unblended" and will tend to have very earthy and sour flavors, with virtually no carbonation. The sourness can be decreased with ageing. Lambics have virtually no hop flavor or bitterness. Fruit Lambics are just what the name describes. After the Lambic has fermented, fruits are added and their sugars are fermented as well. This adds fruit flavor to the Lambic while retaining its sour character. The most common fruits used in lambics are Peche (peach), Framboise (raspberries), Kriek (cherries), and Cassis (black currant). Another category of Lambics is Gueuze. Gueuze is a blend of old and young Lambics. Like an unblended Lambic, Gueuze has an earthy and sour profile, however, it is highly carbonated and should be more complex in flavor. ABV of these styles is typically between 4-6% and IBUs should be less than 10. (Boon Oude Gueuze & Lindemans Framboise Lambic)
Saison, also known as 'farmhouse ale', is a Belgian style that was originally brewed during the cold months in order to last through summer. The flavor tends to focus on the earthy yeast and heavy spices, although fruit and tartness are common. Saisons are highly carbonated and tend to be dry. Typical alcohol content varies widely from 5-9%.
Stouts and Porters
This style originated in England evolving from a blend of beers once called "Entire". This predecessor to stout styles is said to have been popular among porters, and hence its name. Porters are light brown to dark brown in color, often with a ruby tint. The flavor has a moderate roasted malt taste which usually includes bitter chocolate, but often has coffee or licorice flavors as well. Hop flavor is usually non-existant although some bittering is used for balance. Similar to a brown ale, but is thicker and has more of a roasted flavor. The ABV is usually in the 4-7% range and IBUs are 18-35 (Founders Porter)
This beer originates from countries in the Baltic Sea area and is essentially a stronger version of an English Porter or a weaker Russian Imperial Stout. Baltic Porters are usually dark brown in color and may or may not be opaque. This complex style tends to have a rich, malty sweetness with dark fruit and alcohol flavors. Most will have a roasted coffee (but not burnt) character. Malts may have caramel, toffee, molasses, nuts, and/or licorice notes. Hop bitterness is medium to low and is included for balance. Hop flavor may exist, but typically hops are not tasted. ABV is usually in the 6-9.5% range and IBUs are 20-40. (Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter)
Generally dark brown to black in color, stouts are originally an English style of beer that has also become popular among American brewers. This category also serves as a catch-all for experimental stouts that don't fit into other stout categories. Stouts tend to have a strong roasted malt flavor that often tastes of coffee, dark/bittersweet chocolate, and/or caramel. This flavor is sometimes slightly burnt tasting. This style usually has low sweetness and higher bitterness. Hop flavor can run the gamut of low to high presences. Alcohol flavors are sometimes present. ABV is usually between 4.5-7.5% and IBUs between 35-75. (Bell's Kalamazoo Stout)
Also known as an Irish Stout, the dry stout was derived from the English porter style and is dark brown to jet black in color. This style has a medium roasted malt character with a coffee finish, and often a bittersweet or unsweetened chocolate note. This creamy beer style has a medium to high hop bitterness with very little hop flavor. As the name suggests, this style has a very dry finish. The ABV is usually between 4-6% and the IBUs are 30-45. (Guinness Stout)
Foreign Style Stout:
In the past, these were sometimes known as "Tropical Stouts" as they were brewed for export to tropical locations. They were originally higher gravity, stronger beers that encompassed a fairly wide range of characteristics. Even today, these can be fruity and sweet (tropical versions) or dry and bitter (export versions). They typically have a high malt profile that should lack the sharpness of a dry stout. Either version may include coffee and chocolate flavors. The hop bitterness will typically be moderate to none and the hop flavor will be almost non-detectable. The ABV is usually around 5.5-8% and the IBUs between 30-70.
This style is also known as Russian Imperial Stout because these beers were originally brewed by England for export to Russia as they were popular with the imperial court there. Now, this style is very popular among American brewers who have built on the style. The color ranges from dark brown to jet black. These beers are very rich and complex. The flavors typically include roasted chocolate, cocoa, and/or coffee and can have hints of caramel and/or toasty flavors. Dark fruit flavors can range from non-existant to very strong. Hop flavor is usually moderate to high with high levels of hop bitterness. American versions tend to be more heavily hopped. Alcohol flavor and warming are usually present. The mouthfeel is usually very thick and creamy. The ABV ranges from 8-13+% and the IBUs from 50-100+.
Originally an English stout version that offers a sweetness level between a standard stout and a sweet stout, although this can vary. This style is brown to black in color. The oatmeal creates a silky mouthfeel that becomes oily when large amounts of oatmeal are used. The flavor usually consists of various levels of oatmeal, milk chocolate and/or creamy coffee. Oatmeal stouts usually have medium hop bitterness and very little hop flavor. ABV is usually between 4.5-7% and IBUs between 25-40. (Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout)
This is another English style of stout that has also been known as "Milk Stout" or "Cream Stout", although it is not legal to call them this in England anymore. These names were derived because of the use of lactose or milk sugar to sweeten the beer. The color of these beers is dark brown to black in color. The flavor is dominated by dark grains and malts with mid to high levels of sweetness (often from lactose). Coffee and/or chocolate flavors may be present. The roasted malt flavor and hop bitterness last into the finish. Overall, these beers are creamy and often taste like sweet espresso. American varieties tend to be higher gravity than their English counterparts. ABV usually ranges from 4.5-6.5% and IBUs from 25-40.
These beers are like an American version of a German Hefeweizen. They are usually pale yellow to gold, although there are some dark versions out there. Typically, they will look much like a Hefeweizen. American Wheat ales typically use a hefty amount of wheat which gives a fairly strong wheat flavor. They have a low to moderate hop bitterness and hop flavor is typically on the low end, usually giving off a citrus flavor. Despite often having "Hefeweizen" in their name, these beers lack the banana and clove flavors of a Hefeweizen and have much higher carbonation. American Wheat ales are often served with a lemon wedge. The ABV is typically between 4-6.5 and IBUs between 15-30. These beers do not age well.
This is a very rare beer style that you won't come across too often. This style has its roots in Munich, Germany and was referred to by Napoleon's troops as "The Champagne of the North" in 1809. It is a German wheat ale that is characterized by its very wheaty and very sour flavor. Hop bitterness is usually low and hop flavor is typically non-existent. This style is light-bodied with very high carbonation. These beers are often served with a raspberry syrup (himbeer) or woodruff syrup (Waldmeister) which help cut the sourness. Another thing that sets this beer apart is its very low ABV that ranges from 2.8-4.5. IBUs are usually in the 3-8 range. These beers do not age well.
Dunkel means "dark" and weizen means "wheat". Dunkelweizens are a traditional unfiltered Bavarian wheat beer that is light copper to mahogany brown in color. The taste is malty, usually featuring banana and clove with an optional vanilla and/or bubblegum flavor. In addition, these beers have bready wheat flavor. The hop presence and bitterness are very low and usually exist for balance. Dunkelweizens are medium bodied with moderate to high carbonation. Alcohol levels are typically from 4.5-6 and IBUs between 10-18. These beers do not age well.
Hefe means "with yeast" and weizen means "wheat". A Hefeweizen is an unfiltered German wheat beer that is pale straw to dark gold in color. These beers are cloudy because of the yeast and the high protein content of the wheat due to not being filtered. Hefeweizens have banana and clove esters that come from special yeast. They can optionally have a vanilla and/or bubblegum flavor. These flavors are accompanied by a bready wheat taste and some pilsner malt. Hop taste and bitterness are very low. These beers are medium bodied with high carbonation. They are easy to drink and a summer favorite. Alcohol is usually between 4.5-6.2%, although some new "Imperial" versions of the style are much higher. IBUs are usually between 8 and 15. These beers do not age well. (Weihenstephaner Hefe-Weissebier & Schneider Weisse)
The first thing of note about these beers is that many leading publications including the BJCP mispell this style Kristal instead of Kristall. Just look to the right and see how authentic German brewers spell it. This style is a filtered Hefeweizen which means that it is clear instead of cloudy. They are generally fruitier and have less clove/vanilla/bubblegum flavors than hefeweizens. They have the same bready wheat flavor, hop character, carbonation, ABV, and IBUs. These beers do not age well.
This Belgian wheat style is 400 hundred years old. It was virtually unheard of by the 1950s, but was resurrected by Pierre Celis at Hoegaarden. These "white beers" are pale straw to light gold color and are cloudy. The taste tends toward the sweet side with orange peel/orange citrus and spice (usually coriander) flavors. Other spices may be present. Hop presence and flavor is very low and the carbonation is high. These beers finish slightly dry and often a bit tart. Most of the beers in this style have an alcohol range of 4.5-6% with the majority being at 5%, however, there are some newer double/imperial versions with higher alcohol. The IBUs are typically 10-20. These beers do not age well. (Allagash White)
American Dark Lager:
A slightly heavier bodied, colored version of a pale lager. The beer's darkness is sometimes the result of roasted malts, it is often artificial and made with dark caramel syrups. The taste may include mild sweetness from caramel. This style has low to medium hop bitterness levels. Alcohol usually ranges from 3.5% - 5.1%
While we aren't exactly sure about the history of Bock beers, it is believed that their roots can be found in medieval monestaries where they may have been drank to survive during Lent. Bocks are lagers that are deep amber to dark brown in color and medium to full-bodied in flavor. The flavor is dominated by a rich maltiness. Munich and Vienna malts provide a caramel taste. Bocks have little to no hop presence and an above average alcohol content ranging from 6-7.5% ABV.
The history of Pilsner beers began in the 1840's in the city of Plzen which is located in the west side of the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic is currently trying to trademark the term "Pilsner" so that only beers brewed in their country can be labeled as such. Czech Pilsners are light straw to golden in color and are completely clear. They are brewed with Saaz hops which are a large part of the pilsner flavor. In fact, a Czech pilsner must have at least 28 IBUs in order to meet this classification. Czech Pilsners tend to be crisp and refreshing, although they can tend to be grassy (skunky). No fruit or ester flavors are found in this style. The alcohol content is low to moderate at around 4-5.3% ABV.
California Common/Steam Beer:
This style was founded in California during the late 18th century. At the time, brewers had little access to ice or other refridgeration methods, so they began making beer using special lager yeasts in warm temperatures (Lagers are typically cold-fermented). The end result is a well-balanced light amber lager that has some characteristics of an ale such as mild fruitiness. Anchor Steam Brewing of San Francisco trademarked the term "Steam Beer" - all others are called a California Common.
Classic German Pilsner:
Very similar to Czech Pilsners, but they use German noble hops, tend to be drier, and more bitter. The flavor derived from the hops tends to be higher as well. The ABV range is usually around 4.4-5.2%
This style of beer was invented by the Brothers of St. Francis of Paula in Munich. Doppelbocks are typically dark brown in color, although lighter versions have been made. This style is loaded with rich malt flavor and alcohol warming, and has very little hop flavor. Bitterness from hops is also typically low. The ABV is usually very strong in the range of 7.5-12%. You may also notice that the names of these brews often end in "ator". (Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock)
Dortmunder and Helles Lagers are very similar styles which is why we have lumped them together. Dortmunders are from Dortmund and Helles are from Bavaria. These beers are golden in color with medium carbonation, and should exhibit a biscuity/bready malt flavor. Balance defines Dortmunders as they possess the malt profile of a Helles, the hop character of a German Pilsner, and are slightly stronger than both. The water used to brew these beers may be high in mineral content which can show up in the finish. These beers are crisp, clean, and have no fruity esters. The ABV will generally be 4-6% and the bitterness around 23-30 IBUs.
Dunkel means "dark" in German and this style of beer originated in Germany. They are deep copper to dark brown in color, often having a red tint from the Munich malts that are used. Flavor is malty throughout and usually moderately sweet with hints of caramel, chocolate, breadiness or nuts. Bitterness and hop (i.e. Hallertau and Tetnang) flavor tend to be low. No fruity esters. Unfiltered versions of this style exist and they tend to be very bready, yeasty and earthy. Typical IBU range is 14-28 and ABV is around 4.5-5.6%.
Eisbocks are full-bodied lagers that are brewed by freezing off some of the water in a doppelbock and removing the ice which leaves a beer of stronger flavor and alcohol content. They are usually deep copper to very dark brown in color and often have a ruby or red colored tinge. The flavor is mainly composed of strong malt and alcohol flavors. This usually amounts to a sweet caramel flavor. This style has no flavor from hops, and hops add just enough bitterness to offset the malts slightly. Dark fruit (plum, prune and/or grape) esters usually exist. IBUs are generally around 25-35 and the ABV is typically 9-14%.
European Strong Lager:
This style of beer is somewhat like a European version of a Malt Liquor, the main difference being that they usually do not use corn or rice like Malt Liquors. This means that they have higher levels of malt and are sometimes all malt. The alcohol content is usually over 7% ABV.
Helles Bock / Maibock:
Most experts agree that Maibocks and Helles Bocks are the same thing. This style is usually made available during the spring festivals in Europe, typically in the month of May. They are lighter in color than other Bocks, and the malt profile is more like that of a Pilsner than the carmelized malt flavor found in other Bock styles. Hops are more apparent than other Bocks and they have a moderately-high carbonation level. The finish will tend to be dry, possibly with some spices from the hops. Fruit flavors should not be present. The ABV is usually in the range of 5.5%-8% and IBUs are typically around 30. (Rogue Dead Guy)
Keller / Landbier / Zwickel:
These somewhat related styles of German beer are hopped up, unfiltered versions of the Munich Helles style. They are old styles (from the middle ages), rather uncommon, unfiltered, and have natural carbonation.
Light / Pale Lager:
This style is the most popular in the world and includes mass produced giants like Budweiser, Heineken, Carlsberg, Coors, Miller, etc. The BJCP distinguishes between light and standard versions, however, they are so similar that we have lumped them together. Light/Pale lagers are light straw to medium yellow in color due to the use of cereals such as rice or corn as adjuncts. The flavor of this style should be mild or non-existent with very little (if any) in the way of hop bitterness/flavor or malt flavor, although sometimes they are all-malt. They typically have a crisp, clean flavor with medium-high levels of artificial carbonation. These beers are designed to be refreshing with no fruit flavors. Light/Pale Lagers are typically lower in carbohydrates and calories than other styles and the alcohol usually ranges between 4%-6%. (Stella Artois)
Malt Liquors are usually found in 40oz bottles and, if you want to do it right, you should place the bottle in a paper bag. Malt Liquors are brewed for one purpose only - getting drunk for cheap which is why it is popular among the poor/homeless and college students. This style uses a large amount of adjuncts such as rice or corn, and has very little in the way of hops. The flavor is usually dominated by alcohol and sugar. The alcohol ranges from 5%-10% ABV.
Oktoberfest / Marzen:
Before refridgeration, these German beers were usually brewed in the spring (Marzen means "March") and stored in caves or cellars during the warmer summer months to prevent spoilage and bacterial infections. They were then served during the festival season in the fall. Marzen / Oktoberfest beers are dark gold to orange/red in color. These beers are typically dominated by a sweet malt flavor with medium hop bitterness followed by a dry finish. This style does not have fruity esters and is smooth and rich. Modern instances of this beer are almost always seasonal. The ABV usually ranges from 4.5%-6.5%.
In some regards, this is a catch-all category for pilsners that do not fit into the Classic German or Bohemian/Czech Pilsner categories. These tend to be American style pilsners which were created by German immigrants who used ingredients native to America to recreate this style of their homeland. This style disappeared after prohibition, but was resurrected later on. The pre-prohibition version of these beers were more bitter and had a higher original gravity. These beers tend to be yellow to deep gold in color. The BJCP describes this beer's flavor as "Moderate to moderately high maltiness similar in character to the Continental Pilsners but somewhat lighter in intensity due to the use of up to 30% flaked maize (corn) or rice used as an adjunct. Slight grainy, corn-like sweetness from the use of maize with substantial offsetting hop bitterness. Rice-based versions are crisper, drier, and often lack corn-like flavors. Medium to high hop flavor from noble hops (either late addition or first-wort hopped). Medium to high hop bitterness, which should not be coarse nor have a harsh aftertaste. No fruitiness or diacetyl. Should be smooth and well-lagered." Beers of this style generally range between 4.5%-6% ABV and 25-40 IBUs.
The name means "black beer" in German. The color of this beer can be anywhere from medium brown to almost black in color. Roasted malt flavors are apparent, but not as prominent as that found in a Porter. Roasted malt flavor is not overpowering and never burnt. This flavor can be of bitter (not sweet) chocolate. Hop flavors are low to medium which can be evident in the finish, balancing the slight roasty flavor from the malts. In comparison to a Dunkel, this style is usually darker, drier, and has the previously mentioned roasted malt flavor. IBUs usually fall in the range of 22-32 and ABV is between 4.4%-5.4%.
Named because of its origins in Vienna, Austria where it is rarely found, this style has remained popular in Mexico since the 1800s. Viennas are amber red to copper in color. Flavor is composed of mild malt taste with some toasted (not roasted) flavor from the Vienna malts. Dry finish with hop bitterness. This style usually has moderate carbonation and a slightly creamy mouthfeel. Bitterness is usually between 18-30 IBUs and ABV is 4.5%-5.7%.
As you would expect from the name, this category of beer encompasses beers that are made with herbs, spices, and/or vegetables. This category does not include beers that have herb or spice flavors that are the natural esters resulting from the brewing process. The herb, spice or vegetable must actually be added to the beer for this category. Common ingredients can include clove, nutmeg, pumpkin, ginger, peppers, cinnamon, and many others. This is a wide open category as the underlying beer style can vary as widely as the extra ingredients that are added. These beers are often seasonal. Alcohol, color, IBUs, carbonation, etc. will vary widely depending on the style of the base beer.
Just as the name suggests, this category includes beers that have fruit added to them. It does not include beers that have fruit flavors derived from the brewing process such as grapefruit or citrus from hops, or esters from fermentation. Brewers may use fresh fruit, extract, or syrup. The goal of this style is to create a harmonious combination of fruit and a wide variety of underlying styles. The beer should not be overly fruity or artificial tasting. It should not taste like fruit juice. These beers are often seasonal. Alcohol, color, IBUs, carbonation, etc. will vary widely depending on the style of the base beer.
This category encompasses beers that utilize smoked malts. These malts can be smoked with peat, Beechwood, Oak, Maple, Mesquite, and a wide variety of other woods. The flavor of the beer will vary widely depending on the product used, but can range from a woody to meaty (bacon) taste. The flavor of the beer will also vary widely depending on the base style of the beer. Commonly smoked beers include porters and a variety of lagers including German Rauchbiers. Rauchbiers are a style from Bamberg, Germany whereby Beechwood-smoked malt is used to make a Märzen-style amber lager. Excessive peat-smoked malt in smoked beers is generally undesirable due to its sharp, piercing phenolics and dirt-like earthiness. Alcohol, color, IBUs, carbonation, etc. will vary widely depending on the style of the base beer. (Aecht Schelenkerla Rauchbier Marzen)
Gluten Free Beers:
We are the only site to have this category, but felt that it was an important one to recognize. Celiac Disease is a lifelong autoimmune intestinal disorder in which damage to the mucosal surface of the small intestine is caused by an immunologically toxic reaction to the ingestion of gluten and interferes with the absorption of nutrients. Gluten is the common name for the offending proteins in specific cereal grains that are harmful to persons with celiac disease. These proteins are found in all forms of wheat, rye, barley, and other related grains. As a result, those with the disease cannot drink regular beer. New gluten-free forms of beer have made their way to the market and an increasing number of them are available. These beers come in a wide variety of styles. Most of them are brewed with sorghum or buckwheat. (Green's Discovery Gluten-Free Amber Ale)
This category encompasses lagers that are mixed with fruit drinks or soda. In Germany and Austria, Radlers are a mixture of lager beer and lemonade. A Russ is a mixture of Hefeweizen and lemonade. In England, the beer and lemonade mixture is called a Shandy. There are other combinations, some involving other fruit drinks or soda that would belong in this category as well. The mixtures are usually 50% beer, 50% other drink resulting in a low alcohol beverage typically between 2.4% and 2.6% ABV. These drinks are often marketed toward bicyclists and other sports enthusiasts.