WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?
BELGIUM STYLE ALES
Dark, malty, yeasty strong ales in the
Trappist tradition, but produced (mainly)
by secular brewers. Dubbels range
between 6.5-8% abv, and have a dark
brown, cloudy colour, and a palate mixing
malt, a lush fruitiness, and yeast.
Strong, yeasty-malty beers. They are also pale, and have a notable hop profile.
Hop bitterness may be higher than a typical abbey ale, but the finish is where the hops really shine.
Quadrupel is the name given to ultra-strong Trappist and abbey ales. They are paler, with corresponding peachy notes.
Alcohol is very high (10+% abv).
Belgian-style ales seldom fit neatly into classic beer styles, but this category represents those ales under 7% abv that
do not fit other categories. Colour ranges from golden to deep amber, with the occasional example coming in darker.
Body tends to be light to medium, with
a wide range of hop and malt levels.
BELGIUM STRONG ALE
It can vary from pale to dark brown in color, darker ales may be colored with dark candy sugar. Hop flavor can range from low to high, while hop aroma is low. The beers are medium to full-bodied and have a high alcoholic character.
Fruity esters dominate the aroma.
Clarity is good with a large foamy head
on top. The addition of several spices and herbs create a complex fruity or citrusy flavor. Light to medium bodied with very high carbonation. Alcohol level is medium to high.
A style without definition, amber ales range from bland, vaguelly caramelly beers to products with a fairly healthy malt and hop balance. Often the differentiation between a quality amber and an American Pale is that the amber might have more dark malt character, or a less assertive hop rate.
Color ranges from reddish-brown to dark brown. Beers termed brown ale include sweet, low alcohol beers, medium strength amber beers of moderate bitterness,
and malty but hoppy beers.
There are a few different types of blond ale. The first is the traditional "Canadian Ale", an adjunct-laden, macrobrewed,
top-fermented equivalent of the US Standard. The second is common in US brewpubs - a light starter ale, with marginally more hop and body than
a macrobrew, fewer adjuncts, but still
not a flavourful beer by any means.
The British interpretation is easily the boldest, hoppiest blond ale rendition.
AMERICAN PALE ALE
Light in color, ranging from golden to a light copper color. The style of this beer is defined by the American hops used, which typically have high bitterness and aroma. This is a perfect beer for big fare like grilled burgers or combination pizzas, as well as lighter fare like sushi and green salads.
A gold to copper color, low carbonation
and medium to high bitterness. Hop flavor and aroma may be non-existent to mild.
Great to drink with steak and lobster.
Ale or lager made with fruit. See beer description for flavor. Body, color, hop character and strength vary depending on the type of fruit used.
It is a strong, top-fermenting ale, with an alcohol contents of at least 9% and up to 13% (or more) by volume. Hops may be hardly noticeable at all or very noticeable. They are excellent with cigars
or with dessert.
ENGLISH PALE ALE
Classic English Pale Ales are not pale but rather are golden to copper colored and display English variety hop character. Distinguishing characteristics are dryness and defined hop taste, but more malt balance than what you’ll typically find in
an American Pale Ale. Great to drink
with all sorts of meats (roast beef, lamb, burgers or duck).
IMPERIAL / DOUBLE IPA
Imperial IPA or Double IPA is a strong,
often sweet, intensely hoppy version of the traditional India Pale Ale. Bitterness units range upward of 100 IBUs and alcohol begins at 7.5% but is more commonly in
the 8.5-10% range. The flavour profile is intense all-round. The balance is heavily towards the hops, with crystal and other malts providing support.
Golden, top-fermented style native to
Köln, Germany. The style has a very narrow profile and many beers that consider themselves to be kölschbiers are not. Generally they have a moderate bitterness, but fairly prominent hop flavour.
They have high effervescence, medium esters, but a rounded, stylish character derived from lagering.
PREMIUM BITTER / ESB
The style that has come to be known as Premium or Special Bitter generally includes the stronger ( 4.6%-6.0%) examples.
In the US, the designation ESB is common for this style, owing to the influence of Fuller’s ESB, the London brew that was among the first to be exported to the US. Some ESBs are made with American
hops and a clean yeast, but the alcohol range is the same.
INDIA PALE ALE
India Pale Ale has a golden to copper color with a medium maltiness and body.
The aroma is moderate to very strong.
IPAs work especially well at cutting the
heat of chili, Vindaloo or Sichuan cuisine.
In England, IPA is often just another name for bitter although some micros are
doing their own versions of an American
IPA as well.
Scotch Ale was the name given to a strong pale ale from Edinburgh in the 19th century. This was typical of the strong
pale ales brewed in Britain at that time - mainly pale barley malt and moderate hopping, and were not that stylistically different to English Strong Ales or Barley Wines. The name however became regionalised so that a strong pale ale
from Scotland became known as a
Scotch Ale or Wee Heavy.
A catch-all category used to classify ancient or resurrected styles of antiquity that are appearing more in brewing today.
Heather ale, spruce beer, sorghum beer, gruit, and beers like Adam and Midas
Touch are all included in this category. These ales will vary tremendously in character from one another. Many are unhopped, strength can vary, but all are
a glimpse into brewing’s past.
STOUTS AND PORTERS
Baltic Porters are typically strong, sweet and bottom-fermented. They lack the powerful roast of an imperial stout,
but have an intense malt character,
and moderate to strong alcohol.
An emerging beer style roughly defined as
a beer with IPA-level hopping%2C, relatively high alcohol and a distinct toasty dark malt character. Typically lacks the roastiness and body of a strong stout and is hoppier
than a strong porter. Expressive dry-hopping is common.
Imperial stouts are usually extremely dark brown to black in color with intensely malty flavors, deeply roasted and sometimes
with accents of dark fruit (raisin, fig) or
milk sourness. They are strong and often exceed 8% by volume.
Black or chocolate malt gives the porter its dark brown color. Porters are often well hopped and somewhat heavily malted. This is a medium-bodied beer and may show some sweetness usually from the light.
BELGIUM WHITE BEER
Belgian style wheat beers are very pale, opaque, with the crisp character of wheat, plus the citric refreshment of orange
peel and coriander. Great with light
cheeses or mussels.
Dunkelweizens have the same banana and clove notes of their pale cousins, but also have earthy, toasty, chocolatey notes
from the addition of dark malts.
Alcohol is between 4.8-5.6% generally, bitterness is low, and carbonation is
high. Occasionally, you will see dark versions of American Wheats, but these
Depending on the style can range from
pale and light body to dark brown with full body. Wheat beer is characterized by it’s cloudy appearance and it’s banana and sometimes vanilla aftertaste.
Strong, dark wheat beers, typically with
a high ester profile and more malt and alcohol than is typically associated with
a wheat beer.
Golden to light amber in color, the body
is light to medium. The wheat lends a crispness to the brew, often with some acidity. Some hop flavour may be present, but bitterness is low. Not as estery as German or Belgian-style wheats.
A stronger version of Doppelbock.
Deep copper to black. Very alcoholic. Typically brewed by freezing a doppel-
bock and removing resulting ice to
increase alcohol content.
Copper to dark brown lager common
in Germany and the Czech Republic. Medium body, nutty toasted chocolate-like malty sweetness in aroma and flavor. Medium bitterness. Low "noble-type" hop flavor and aroma. In both Germany and Czech dark lagers span a wide range of characters from sweet to dry forming more of a category than a specific style with considerable leeway for the brewer with regards to the character of the beer.
Your typical macrobrewed Dark Lager,
often rendered dark with either brewer’s caramel or black patent malt, but each brewery will have a different approach. Aside from caramelly notes, these beers
will not typically resemble other dark
lager styles so much as they do the lighter styles, due to low amounts of hops,
malt and body.
Hallmarked by the generous use of the Saaz hop, Czech pilsners are also noted for their rich gold color, fat maltiness and moderate to full body. Generally brewed to 10-12° Plato they are sometimes served cloudy
and unfiltered with young wort mixed in.
To be a pilsner a beer must have at
least 28 units of bitterness, and prefer-
ably much more.
The colour of pale lager ranges from light bronze to nearly transparent and the alcohol anywhere from 4-6%. One thing that does not vary is that neither the malt nor the hops make much of an impression on the palate. The body will often be
thin and/or spritzy while the finish is typically mildly bitter.
OKTOBERFEST / MARZEN
Oktoberfest is a German festival dating from 1810, and Oktoberfestbiers are the beers that have been served at the festival since 1818, and are supplied by 6 breweries: Spaten, Lowenbrau, Augustiner, Hofbrau, Paulaner and Hacker-Pschorr. Traditionally Oktoberfestbiers were the lagers of around 5.5 to 6 abv called Marzen- brewed in March and allowed to ferment slowly during the summer months.
While the definition of pilsner is open to much debate in the beer community, it generally refers to pale, hoppy lagers, ranging from 28 IBU and up. Pilsners that do not meet the specific characteristics of
a German or Bohemian pils will be given this generic classification.
The classic smoked beers hail from Bamberg in Franconia, Germany. These are made using malt that has been smoked over beechwood. The insistent smokiness may be applied to any lager style. In North America, the same technique has been used to make smoked porter. Whiskey malt beers are made using peat-smoked malt.
Low alcohol beers range from the typical "Non-Alc" beers, which typically contain 0.5%, to the various European table beer styles. The base criteria is that the beer should be under 3%, but still contain alcohol (which rules out malta/malzbier).