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Ale Styles

Lager Styles

Specialty Styles



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Ale Styles:

Style Color Malt Hops Body/Flavor Alc% Description
American Brown Ale
Brown to Dark brown
Malt still dominates, but the character is toasted or chocolate-like rather than caramel or nut-like
Medium to high hop bitterness with noticeable hop aroma and flavor
Medium body with low levels of ale fruitiness
This is the Americanized version of an English classic, common in brewubs and microbreweries
Abbey Double or Dubbel
Copper to brown
A malt accented beer with nutty, toasty and chocolate-like flavors
low hop bitterness and no hop flavor or aroma
Full body, often somewhat fruity/banana-like in aroma
A stronger version of Abbey Ale using more malt, resulting in higher alcohol content.
American Hefeweizen
Cloudy and opaque, golden to orange
Light with wheat notes
Low in bitterness
Light to medium body, may have noticeable fruit character as well as some yeasty/bread-like notes
"Hefe" means "yeast", so beers in this style still contain much of the yeast used for fermentation.
Altbier or Alt
Amber to copper
Medium to high maltiness, but little or no caramel flavor
Medium to high bitterness, but usually fairly low in hop flavor and aroma
Medium body, little or no ale fruitiness
"Alt" means "Old" and this German style relies on the old method of brewing that employed ale rather than lager yeast.
American Pale Ale
Light amber to amber
Moderate or assertive and may include caramel or toasted notes
Medium bitterness and hop flavor, aroma may be spicy, resinous, or citrus-like
Medium body
This ale is the U.S. interpretation of the classic English ale.
American Strong Ale
Pale to deep amber
Medium to high
Medium to high bitterness and medium to high hop flavor and aroma
Full bodied, apparent alcoholic strength
This ale is an emerging U.S. style that still shows a lot of variation.
Abbey Triple or Trippel
Golden to pale
Somewhat sweet with no toasted or dark malt flavor
Moderate bitterness and low hop flavor and aroma
Full body, assertive fruity aroma that includes banana and clove traits, evident alcoholic strangth
This is the strongest Abbey-style beer.
American Wheat Ale
Golden to light amber
Usually includes a mild malt/wheat character
Low to moderate bitterness, may exhibit some hop flavor and aroma
Light to medium body, often with a light fruity character
This style gives an American twist to German wheat ales.
English Brown Ale
Copper to brown
Malty with low levels of caramel flavor, some have a distinct nutty or woody flavor
Hop bitterness, aroma and flavor are low
Medium body with some characteristic ale fruitiness
This beer is a modern descendant of the ales drunk by Mary Queen of Scots and Robin Hood.
Belgian Pale Ale
Golden to deep amber
Low malt aroma. May have caramel or toasted notes.
Low, but noticeable, hop bitterness, flavor and aroma. Nobel hops often used.
Light to medium body. Low to medium fruity esters are evident in aroma and flavor.
This is the "standard" beer of Belgium although produced in astonishing variety.
Amber to Copper
Malt generally plays a secondary role and is often accented by caramel-like, nutty, or woody flavors
Moderate to high level of hop bitterness with medium to high hop flavor and aroma
Low to medium body
The bitter ales of England are the centerpiece of pub fare, which are traditionally served only on draft.
Golden or Blonde Ale
Pale golden
Fleeting malt flavor
Light floral hop aroma and low to medium bitterness
Light body, usually crisp with little fruitiness
Sometimes this beer is called extra pale or Canadian-style ale.
Belgian Strong Ale
Varies from light to dark
Moderate to low malt character
Low to high hop bitterness, low hop aroma and flavor
Full body, alcoholic strength is evident with vinous or wine-like character
Because they couldn't serve hard liquor by law, Belgian cafes offered strong beers instead, giving rise to the strong ale style.
Copper to medium brown
Intensely malty and often sweet with low to medium caramel flavor
Hop bitterness and character vary widely from low to intensely high
Full bodied
Sometimes vintage dated, these beers are often good for years after they are bottled.
Cream Ale
Quite pale
Somewhat dry with mild pale malt flavor
Low to moderate in bitterness and little or no hop flavor or aroma
Light body, may have low levels of fruitiness
Originally a blend of ale and lager unique to North America. Canadian cream ales are usually dark in color.
Dry Stout or Irish Stout
Black and opaque
Dry, roasty, coffee-like malt character, caramel and sweet malt flavors may also be present
Medium to high bitterness, but little or no hop flavor or aroma
Medium bodied, little if any ale fruitiness, some interpretations (called foreign-style) are stronger and more full-bodied with more malt sweetness
This classic Dublin stout began life as a strong version of Porter and has become the better known of the two styles.
Cloudy, light brown
Often include toasted and chocolate-like flavors
Low bitterness and no hop flavor or aroma
Light body, often sweet with low levels of clove and banana flavor
This beer is a dark version of the classic German hefeweizen.
Strong or Extra Special Bitter
A high level of maltiness with nutty, woody, caramel-like flavors common
Increased hop bitterness, flavor, and aroma
Medium to full body
This beer is a stronger version of the classic English bitter.
Cloudy with yeast, pale to amber
Light and crisp
Very low
Light body, clove and banana notes dominant
Some customers like a slice of lemon in wheat beer, but beware because purists dislike this practice. Ask before you garnish!
India Pale Ale
Golden to copper
Medium to high in malt flavor
High hop bitterness , flavor, and aroma
Medium to full body, moderat fruit esters and high alcohol flavor
The granddaddy of pale ales, this style got its start as a special brew for the English soldiers living in India
Imperial or Russian Stout
Dark copper to black and opaque
Rich, intense maltiness with caramel and coffee-like roasted flavors
Medium to high hop bitterness, hop aroma and flavor can be subtle to overwhelming
Full body
A strong version of the style was once exported to Russia and enjoyed by Catherine the Great.
Pale golden
Light and dry
Medium bitterness, may exhibit some hop flavor and aroma
Light body, rarely has any fruity characteristics
Centuries of resistance to lager brewing in the German city of Cologne resulted in this unique ale/lager hybrid style.
Light Ale
Very Pale
Low but discernible bitterness and hop flavor
Light in body, slightly fruity
Developed by craft brewers for customers who prefer a light beer.
Varies from amber to fruit-colored, often cloudy
Dry and light
Low levels of hop bitterness, aroma and flavor
Most are dry and light-bodied, makign for a tart, refreshing drink, fruit flavored versions vary from sweet to syrupy to intensely sour
Rather than adding brewers yeast, lambic makers throw open the doors of the brewery and allow their beers to be fermented by wild yeast and other organisms.
Mild Ale
Amber to Brown
Light to sweet with some toasty or caramel character
Low levels of bitterness and hop flavor
Fairly light in body
British tax laws encourage low alcohol beer production and mild ale is one result.
Old Ale
Amber to Brown
Assertive and full-bodied malt flavor that often includes a definited caramel character
Medium bitterness plus low to medium hop flavor and aroma
Full bodied, must display a fruity ale aroma and noticeable alcoholic strength
This style is descended from the strong English ales of the 17th and 18th centuries, which were aged for up to a year before serving
Oatmeal Stout
Black and Opaque
Malt flavor dominates with caramel and chocolate-like notes
Hop bitterness is moderate, hop flavor and aroma may be present in moderate amounts
Medium to full body
Once added to boost claims that stout had healthful or medicinal value, oats still help give stout a smooth, mellow character.
English Pale Ale
Pale golden to amber
Firm malt base
Assertive hop flavor and bitterness
Medium body
The "pale" designation recalls a day when most beers were brown or black.
Light brown to black
Noticeable dark malt flavor, may be toasty, chocolate-like or sharp and slightly burnt
Hop bitterness is medium to high, hop flavor and aroma are faint to moderate
Medium to high in body, generally differentiated from stouts by their lack of roasty/coffee-like flavor
Porter was the first industrial beer, coming of age with the Industrial Revolution in 18th century England.
Scottish Ale
Gold to dark brown
The malt profile often includes an assertive caramel character and may display a hint of smoke flavor
Low bitterness and little or no hop flavor or aroma
Medium to full body, they generally lack the fuitiness common in ales
The three common varieties were once known as "60-", "70-" and "80-shilling" ales and may also be called "light", "heavy" and "export"
Sweet Stout or Cream Stout
Black and opaque
Assertive malt sweetness that is often caramel-like
Low levels of hop bitterness, no hop flavor or aroma
Mildly roasty, coffee-like flavor, medium to full body
A sweet interpretation of stout, this beer sometimes has an addition of lactose or milk sugar.
Strong Scotch Ale or Wee Heavy
Amber to very dark brown
Malt-dominated flavor profile, and caramel character is medium to high
Low in hop bitterness with little or no hop flavor and aroma
Full bodied with some alcoholic warmth
This is a big, strong Scottish ale that has enjoyed a worldwide reputation for centuries
Cloudy, amber to dark brown
Definite malty sweetness, may have some roasty or chocolate-like character
Low bitterness and no hop flavor or aroma
Medium to full body, banana and clove character noticeable, but not assertive
A strong dark weizen with increased alcohol, this ale is a hybrid of weizen and bock styles.
Weizen or Bavarian Weissbier
Pale Golden
Light with wheat notes
Low in bitterness
Light body with distinct clove and banana flavors, high in carbonation, usually displays a thick, creamy, white foam head
Once reserved for the Bavarian nobility, the pronunciation still retains a German character where "W" sounds like "V".
Wit or White beer
Pale to golden and usually cloudy
Light malt character with wheat notes
Low to medium hop bitterness and flavor
Low to medium body, spiced with coriander and orange peel
The combination of wheat, orange and coriander spice provides a distintive, but light and refreshing flavor.

Data adapted from the AHA's Style Guidelines (PDF document)

See also: Lager Styles & Specialty Styles


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