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Beer Styles

Courtesy of Bill Owens at American Brewer Magazine.

Ale
One of the primary beer families. Ales are fermented with a top- fermenting yeast, usually at near room temperature. They tend to have a more fruity character than lagers. Ales can be any color and any strength. Examples: bitter, porter, stout.

Abbey Ale
A beer made by a secular brewery in a Trappist style, or licensed by an Abbey to a secular brewery.

Alt
A top-fermented specialty associated with D¤sseldorf. "Alt" means "old," in the sense that it is the type of beer commonly made in Germany before the introduction of lager beer. Alt is usually copper-colored and cold-conditioned, and has conventional strength.

Barley Wine
A strong ale, normally in the range of 7-11 percent alcohol by volume. Originally a British style, barley wine is now commonly made in the United States.

Berliner Weisse
A low-gravity beer made from about 25 percent wheat malt. The beer undergoes a lactic fermentation and contains about 3 percent alcohol by volume. It is often served with a splash of fruit syrup to cut its acidity.

Bi°re de garde
Made in Northern France, this beer is meant to be laid down.

Bitter
A well-hopped English-style ale. Usually bronze or copper in color, it contains 3.5-5.5 percent alcohol by volume.

Bock
A strong, German lager. It is often dark, but can be any color. A regular bock usually has at least 6.25 percent alcohol by volume, while a double bock has 7 percent or more.

Cream Ale
An American style, thought to be a blend of lager and ale. Also, in Victorian times, a light ale made with an addition of sugar and dry-hopped.

Dry Stout
A dark, full-bodied ale with dryness both from roasted barley and hops.

Doppelbock
A strong bock that normally has at least 7 percent alcohol by volume. Most Doppelbocks have names ending in "-ator," in honor of Salvator ("Savior"), the first Doppelbock, made by the brothers of St. Francis of Paula, now made by Munich's Paulaner brewery.

 

Dubbel
A brown Trappist/abbey ale, usually containing 6-7 percent alcohol by volume.

ESB
Extra special bitter, a premium bitter containing about 5.5 percent alcohol by volume.

Faro
A sweetened lambic.

Framboise/
Frambozen

A lambic or Flanders brown ale aged with raspberries.

Gueuze/Gueze
A blend of old and young lambics.

Hefeweizen
A bottle-conditioned Bavarian wheat beer.

India Pale Ale (IPA)
A pale ale that was first brewed in Great Britain for export to India. To preserve the beer, brewers increased the hop bitterness and the alcohol. IPA is pale or copper-colored, contains about 6 percent alcohol by volume, is well attenuated and quite bitter.

Kristall Weizen
The filtered form of Bavarian wheat beer.

Lager
One of the primary families of beer, lager is bottom-fermented. Lager means "to store," and this type of beer is characterized by lengthy maturation, during which the beer becomes smooth and round.

Lambic
A beer made only in the area surrounding Brussels, Belgium. Lambic is made with a portion of raw wheat and hopped with varieties aged for one or two years so that their aromatic qualities are suppressed. The beer is aged in oak barrels.

Mírzen
A lager beer originally brewed in March for Munich's Oktoberfest. Mírzen is a variant of the Vienna style originated by Anton Dreher. From this, Spaten's Gabriel Sedlmayr developed the first Oktoberfest beer, Spaten Ur-Mírzen.

Malt Liquor
A pale, light-bodied, North American lager with minimal flavor and relatively high alcohol content, as much as 8.1 percent by volume according to Fred Eckhard't The Essentials of Beer Style. Regulations in some states require beers over a certain strength to be labeled malt liquors.

Oatmeal Stout
A sweet, silky-bodied stout.

Pale Ale
A well-hopped, fruity ale, copper or amber in color.

Pilsner/Pilsener
A medium-bodied, golden lager beer with moderate bitterness and a noticeable hop flavor and aroma.

Porter
A dark, top-fermented beer with flavors of coffee and chocolate. Originally thought to be brewed to approximate a blend of three beers, porter at one time received lengthy aging that imparted sourness to the brew.

Rauchbier
A specialty of the German city of Bamberg, Rauchbier is a lager beer made from malt smoked over beechwood.

Russian Imperial Stout
A high-gravity stout originally made by Courage for shipment to the Czar's court. Imperial stout tastes of tar, burnt fruit and alcohol warmth.

Scottish Ale
Usually malty, these beers are top-fermented, but have a smooth body from cold aging.

Saison
A Belgian farmhouse ale, sometimes spiced.

Sweet Stout
Sometimes called milk stout, this British specialty is low in gravity and is typical sweetened with lactose.

Trappist
Six Trappist monasteries five in Belgium and one in the Netherlands make various types of strong, bottle-conditioned ales.

Vienna/Mírzen/
Oktoberfest

First made by Anton Dreher, the Vienna style is an amber lager with a balance of malt sweetness and hop bitterness. Gabriel Sedlmayr of the Spaten brewery developed the Oktoberfest variant, a slightly stronger version served at Munich's famous celebration.

Wit
A Belgian ale made from raw wheat and barley malt and spiced with coriander and Curacao in addition to hops. Wit is a cloudy and refreshing brew.

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