Ale Style Glossary

ALE | LAGER | HYBRID

Ale Styles - English, Irish, American, German, Belgian/French

English Style Ales
Classic English-Style Pale Ale - Classic English pale ales are golden to copper colored and display earthy, herbal English-variety hop character. Medium to high hop bitterness, flavor, and aroma should be evident. This medium-bodied pale ale has low to medium malt flavor and aroma

English-Style India Pale Ale - This pale gold to deep copper-colored ale has a medium to high, flowery hop aroma and may have a medium to strong hop flavor (in addition to the hop bitterness). English-style India pale ales possess medium maltiness and body. Fruity-ester flavors and aromas are moderate to very strong.

Ordinary Bitter - Ordinary bitter is gold to copper colored with medium bitterness, light to medium body, and low to medium residual malt sweetness. Mild carbonation traditionally characterizes draft-cask versions.

Special Bitter or Best Bitter - Special bitter is more robust than ordinary bitter. It has medium body and medium residual malt sweetness. It is gold to copper colored. Hop bitterness should be medium and absent of harshness.

Extra Special Bitter or Strong Bitter - Extra special bitter possesses medium to strong hop aroma, flavor, and bitterness. The residual malt sweetness of this richly flavored, fullbodied
bitter is more pronounced than in other bitters. It is light amber to copper colored with medium to medium-high bitterness.

English-Style Summer Ale - English Summer Ale is light straw to golden colored with medium-low to medium bitterness, light to medium-light body, and low to medium residual malt sweetness. The overall impression is refreshing and thirst quenching.

Scottish-Style Light Ale - Scottish light ales are light bodied. Little bitterness is perceived and hop flavor or aroma should not be perceived. Despite its lightness, Scottish light ale will have a degree of malty, caramel like, soft and chewy character.

Scottish-Style Heavy Ale - Scottish heavy ale is moderate in strength and dominated by a smooth, sweet maltiness balanced with low, but perceptible, hop bitterness. Hop flavor or aroma should not be perceived. Scottish heavy ale will have a medium degree of malty, caramellike, soft and chewy character in flavor and mouthfeel. It has medium body, and fruity esters are very low, if evident.

Scottish-Style Export Ale - The overriding character of Scottish export ale is sweet, caramel like, and malty. Its bitterness is perceived as low to medium. Hop flavor or aroma should not be perceived. It has medium body. Fruity-ester character may be apparent. The color will range from golden amber to deep brown.

English-Style Pale Mild Ale - English pale mild ales range from golden to amber in color. Malt flavor dominates the flavor profile with little hop bitterness or flavor. Hop aroma can be light.

English-Style Dark Mild Ale - English dark mild ales range from deep copper to dark brown (often with a red tint) in color. Malt flavor and caramel are part of the flavor and aroma profile while, licorice and roast malt tones may sometimes contribute to the flavor and aroma profile. These beers have very little hop flavor or aroma.

English-Style Brown Ale - English brown ales range from deep copper to brown in color. They have a medium body and a dry to sweet maltiness with very little hop flavor or aroma. Roast malt tones may sometimes contribute to the flavor and aroma profile.

Old Ale - Dark amber to brown in color, old ales are medium- to full-bodied with a malty sweetness. Hop aroma should be minimal and flavor can vary from none to medium in character intensity. Fruity-ester flavors and aromas can contribute to the character of this ale. Bitterness should be minimal but evident and balanced with malt and/or caramel like sweetness. Alcohol types can be varied and complex. A distinctive quality of these ales is that they undergo an aging process (often for years) on their yeast either in bulk storage or through conditioning in the
bottle, which contributes to a rich and often sweet oxidation character.

Strong Ale - Light amber to mid-range brown in color, strong ales are medium to full bodied with a malty sweetness. Hop aroma should be minimal and flavor can vary from none to medium in character intensity. Fruity-ester flavors and aromas can contribute to the character of this ale.
Bitterness should be minimal but evident and balanced with malt and/or caramel like sweetness.

Strong Scotch Ale - Scotch ales are overwhelmingly malty and full bodied. Perception of hop bitterness is very low. Hop flavor and aroma are very low or nonexistent. Color ranges from deep copper to brown. The clean alcohol flavor balances the rich and dominant sweet maltiness in flavor and aroma. A caramel character is often a part of the profile. Dark roasted malt flavors and aroma may be evident at low levels. Fruity esters are generally at medium aromatic and flavor levels.

British-Style Imperial Stout - Dark copper to very dark brown, British-style imperial stouts typically have high alcohol content. The extremely rich malty flavor (often characterized as toffee-like or caramel-like) and aroma are balanced with medium hopping and high fruity-ester characteristics. Bitterness should be moderate and balanced with sweet malt character.

English-Style Barley Wine Ale - English style barley wines range from tawny copper to dark brown in color and have a full body and high residual malty sweetness. Complexity of alcohols and fruity-ester characters are often high and counterbalanced by the perception of low to medium bitterness and extraordinary alcohol content.

Robust Porter - Robust porters are black in color and have a roast malt flavor but no roast barley flavor. These porters have a sharp bitterness of black malt without a highly burnt/charcoal flavor. Robust porters range from medium to full in body and have a malty sweetness. Hop bitterness is
medium to high, with hop aroma and flavor ranging from negligible to medium.

Brown Porter - Brown porters are mid to dark brown (may have red tint) in color. No roast barley or strong burnt/black malt character should be perceived. Low to medium malt sweetness is acceptable along with medium hop bitterness. This is a light to medium-bodied beer.

Sweet Stout - Sweet stouts, also referred to as cream stouts, have less roasted bitter flavor and a full-bodied mouthfeel. The style can be given more body with milk sugar before bottling. Malt sweetness, chocolate, and caramel flavor should dominate the flavor profile and contribute to the aroma. Hops should balance sweetness without contributing apparent flavor or aroma.

Oatmeal Stout - Oatmeal stouts include oatmeal in their grist, resulting in a pleasant, full flavor and a smooth profile that is rich without being grainy. A roasted malt character which is caramellike and chocolatelike should be evident — smooth and not bitter. Coffee-like roasted barley and roasted malt aromas (chocolate and nut-like) are prominent. Bitterness is moderate, not high. Hop flavor and aroma are optional but should not overpower the overall balance if present. This is a medium- to full-bodied beer.

Irish Style Alestop
Irish-Style Red Ale - Irish-style red ales range from light red-amber-copper to light brown in color. These ales have a medium hop bitterness and flavor. They often don’t have hop aroma. Irish-style red ales have low to medium candy-like caramel sweetness and a medium body.

Classic Irish-Style Dry Stout - Dry stouts have an initial malt and light caramel flavor profile with a distinctive dry-roasted bitterness in the finish. Dry stouts achieve a dry-roasted character through the use of roasted barley. The emphasis of coffee-like roasted barley and a moderate degree of roasted malt aromas define much of the character. Head retention and rich character should be part of its visual character.

Foreign (Export)-Style Stout - As with classic dry stouts, foreign-style stouts have an initial malt sweetness and caramel flavor with a distinctive dry-roasted bitterness in the finish. Coffee-like roasted barley and roasted malt aromas are prominent. Head retention is excellent.

North American Style Alestop
American-Style Pale Ale - American pale ales range from deep golden to copper in color. The style is characterized by fruity, floral and citrus-like American-variety hop character producing high hop bitterness, flavor, and aroma.

American-Style Strong Pale Ale - American strong pale ales range from deep golden to copper in color. The style is characterized by , floral and citrus-like American-variety hops used to produce high hop bitterness, flavor, and aroma. American strong pale ales have medium body and
low to medium maltiness.

American-Style India Pale Ale - American-style India pale ales have intense hop bitterness, flavor and aroma with medium-high alcohol content. The use of water with high mineral content results in a crisp, dry beer. This pale gold to deep copper-colored ale has a full, flowery hop aroma and may have a strong hop flavor.

Imperial or Double India Pale Ale - Imperial or Double India Pale Ales have intense hop bitterness, flavor and aroma. Alcohol content is high to very high and notably evident. They range from deep golden to amber in color. Though the hop character is intense it’s balanced with complex alcohol flavors, moderate to high fruity esters and medium to high malt character.

American-Style Amber/Red Ale - American amber/red ales range from light copper to light brown in color. They are characterized by American-variety hops used to produce high hop bitterness, flavor, and medium to high aroma. Amber ales have medium-high to high maltiness with medium to low caramel character.

Imperial or Double Red Ale - Imperial or Double Red Ales have intense hop bitterness, flavor and aroma. Alcohol content is also very high and of notable character. They range from deep amber to dark copper in color. The style may use any variety of hops. Though the hop character is intense it’s balanced with complex alcohol flavors, moderate to high fruity esters and medium to high caramel malt character. Imperial or Double Red Ales have a full body.

American-Style Barley Wine Ale - American style barley wines range from amber to deep copper-garnet in color and have a full body and high residual malty sweetness. Complexity of alcohols and fruity-ester characters are often high and counterbalanced by assertive bitterness and extraordinary alcohol content.

American-Style Wheat Wine Ale - American style wheat wines range from gold to deep amber and are brewed with 50% or more wheat malt. They have full body and high residual malty sweetness. Bitterness is moderate to low. Fruity-ester characters are often high and counterbalanced by complexity of alcohols and high alcohol content. Hop aroma and flavor are at low to medium levels.

Golden or Blonde Ale - Golden or Blonde ales are straw to golden blonde in color. They have a crisp, dry palate, light to medium body, and light malt sweetness. Low to medium hop floral aroma may be present but does not dominate. Bitterness is low to medium. Fruity esters may be perceived but do not predominate.

American-Style Brown Ale - American brown ales range from deep copper to brown in color. Roasted malt caramel-like and chocolate-like characters should be of medium intensity in both flavor and aroma. American brown ales have an evident hop aroma, medium to high hop bitterness, low to medium hop flavor and a medium body.

American-Style Sour Ale (Fruit and Unfruited) - American sour ales range from golden to deep copper to brown in color. Wood- and barrel- aged sour ales are classified elsewhere. Acidity from lactic, acetic and other organic acids are naturally developed with acidified malt, in the mash or in fermentation by the use of various microorganisms including certain bacteria and yeasts. Acidic character can be balanced by several types of acid and characteristics of age. The evolution of natural acidity develops balanced complexity.

American-Style Stout - Initial low to medium malt sweetness with a degree of caramel, chocolate and/or roasted coffee flavor with a distinctive dry-roasted bitterness in the finish. Coffee-like roasted barley and roasted malt aromas are prominent. Hop aroma and flavor is moderate to high with American citrus-type and/or resiny hop character. The perception of fruity esters is low.

American-Style Imperial Stout - Black to very black, American-style imperial stouts typically have a high alcohol content. Generally characterized as very robust. The extremely rich malty flavor and aroma are balanced with assertive hopping and fruity-ester characteristics. Bitterness should be moderately high to very high and balanced with full sweet malt character

German Alestop
German-Style Kölsch/Köln-Style Kölsch - Kölsch is warm fermented and aged at cold temperatures (German ale or alt-style beer). Kölsch is characterized by a golden to straw color
and a slightly dry, subtly sweet softness on the palate, yet crisp. Good, dense head retention is desirable. A light fruitiness may be apparent, but is not necessary for this style. Caramel character should not be evident. The body is light to medium-light. This beer has low hop flavor
and aroma with medium bitterness.

German-Style Brown Ale/Düsseldorf-Style Altbier - Copper to brown in color, this German ale may be highly hopped and intensely bitter and has a medium body and malty flavor. A variety of malts, including wheat, may be used. Hop character may be medium to high in the flavor and aroma. The overall impression is clean, crisp, and flavorful often with a dry finish. Fruity esters can be low to medium-low.

Berliner-Style Weisse (Wheat) - This is very pale in color and the lightest of all the German wheat beers. The unique combination of yeast and lactic acid bacteria fermentation yields a beer that is acidic, highly attenuated, and very light bodied. The carbonation of a Berliner Weisse is high, and hop rates are very low. Hop character should not be perceived. Fruity esters will be evident.

South German-Style Hefeweizen/Hefeweissbier - The aroma and flavor of a Weissbier with yeast is decidedly fruity and phenolic. The phenolic characteristics are often described as cloveor
nutmeg like and can be smoky or even vanilla like. Banana like esters are often present. These beers are made with at least 50 percent malted wheat, and hop rates are quite low. Hop flavor and aroma are absent. Weissbier is well attenuated and very highly carbonated, yet its
relatively high starting gravity and alcohol content make it a medium- to full-bodied beer. The color is very pale to pale amber, and may appear cloudy.

South German-Style Kristal Weizen/Kristal Weissbier - The aroma and flavor of a Weissbier without yeast is very similar to Weissbier with yeast (Hefeweizen/Hefeweissbier) with the caveat that fruity and phenolic characters are not combined with the yeasty flavor and fuller-bodied mouthfeel of yeast. The phenolic characteristics are often described as clove- or nutmeg like and can be smoky or even vanilla like. Bananalike esters are often present. These beers are made with at least 50 percent malted wheat, and hop rates are quite low. Hop flavor and aroma are absent. Weissbier is well attenuated and very highly carbonated, yet its relatively high starting gravity and alcohol content make it a medium- to full-bodied beer. The color is very pale to deep golden.

German-Style Leichtes Weizen/Weissbier - The German word leicht means light, and as such these beers are light versions of Hefeweizen. Leicht Weissbier is top fermented and cloudy like Hefeweizen. The phenolic and estery aromas and flavors typical of Weissbiers are more subdued in Leichtes Weizen. Hop flavor and aroma are normally absent. The overall flavor profile is less complex than Hefeweizen due to decreased alcohol content. The beer may have a broad range of color from pale golden to pale amber.

South German-Style Bernsteinfarbenes Weizen/Weissbier - The German word Bernsteinfarben means amber colored, and as such, a Bernsteinfarbenes Weizen is dark yellow to amber in color. This beer style is characterized by a distinct sweet maltiness and caramel or bready character from the use of medium colored malts. Estery and phenolic elements of this Weissbier should be evident but subdued.

South German-Style Dunkel Weizen/Dunkel Weissbier - This beer style is characterized by a distinct sweet maltiness and a chocolate like character from roasted malt. Estery and phenolic
elements of this Weissbier should be evident but subdued. Color can range from copper-brown to dark brown.

South German-Style Weizenbock/Weissbock - This style can be either pale or dark (golden to dark brown in color) and has a high starting gravity and alcohol content. The malty sweetness of a Weizenbock is balanced with a clovelike phenolic and fruity-estery banana element to produce a well-rounded aroma and flavor. As is true with all German wheat beers, hop bitterness is low and carbonation is high. Hop flavor and aroma are absent. It has a medium to full body.

Bamberg-Style Weiss (Smoke) Rauchbier - Bamberg-style Weiss Rauchbier should have smoky characters that range from detectable to prevalent in the aroma and flavor. Smoke character is not harshly phenolic, but rather very smooth, almost rendering a perception of mild sweetness to this style of beer. The aroma and flavor of a Weissbier with yeast is decidedly fruity and phenolic. The phenolic characteristics are often described as clove- or nutmeg like and can be smoky or even vanilla like. Banana like esters are often present. These beers are made with at least 50 percent malted wheat, and hop rates are quite low. Hop flavor and aroma are absent. Weissbier is well attenuated and very highly carbonated and a medium- to full-bodied beer. The color is very pale to pale amber and my be very cloudy.

Kellerbier (Cellar beer) or Zwickelbier - Traditional Kellerbier: Unfiltered and often young, not fully lagered versions of Germanic lager styles of beer such as Münchner-Style Helles and Dunkel, Dortmunder/European-Style Export, Bohemian-style Pilsener and German-style Pilsener. Kellerbier is noticeably less carbonated. Natural, unfiltered clarity may be apparent. They may or may not be clear, head retention may not be optimal.

Belgian and French Alestop
Belgian-Style Flanders/Oud Bruin or Oud Red Ales - This light- to medium-bodied deep copper to brown ale is characterized by a slight to strong lactic sourness and spiciness. A fruity-estery
character is apparent with no hop flavor or aroma. Flanders brown ales have low to medium bitterness.

Belgian-Style Dubbel - This medium- to full-bodied, dark amber to brown-colored ale has a malty sweetness and nutty, chocolate-like, and mild roast malt aroma. Flavor and aroma may also have a raisin-like cocoa character. A faint hop aroma is acceptable. Dubbels are also characterized by low bitterness and no hop flavor. Head retention is dense and mousse like.

Belgian-Style Tripel - Tripels are often characterized by a complex, sometimes mild spicy character, but no clove-like phenolic flavor. Yeast-generated fruity banana esters are also common, but not necessary. These pale/light-colored ales may finish sweet, though any sweet finish should be light. The beer is characteristically medium bodied with a equalizing hop/malt balance. Traditional Belgian Tripels are often well attenuated and bottle conditioned beers aged for a long period may be very well attenuated.

Belgian-Style Pale Ale - Belgian-style pale ales are characterized by low, but noticeable, hop bitterness, flavor, and aroma. Light to medium body and low malt aroma are typical. They are golden to deep amber in color. Noble-type hops are commonly used. Low to medium fruity esters are evident in aroma and flavor.

Belgian-Style Pale Strong Ale - Belgian pale strong ales are pale to golden in color with relatively light body for a beer of its alcoholic strength. Often brewed with light colored Belgian "candy" sugar, these beers are well attenuated. The perception of hop bitterness is low to medium, with hop flavor and aroma also in this range.

Belgian-Style Dark Strong Ale - Belgian dark strong ales are amber to dark brown in color. Often, though not always, brewed with dark Belgian "candy" sugar, these beers can be well attenuated, ranging from medium to full-bodied. The perception of hop bitterness is low to medium, with hop flavor and aroma also in this range. Fruity complexity along with the soft flavors of roasted malts add distinct character.

Belgian-Style White (or Wit)/Belgian-Style Wheat - Belgian white ales are very pale in color and are brewed using unmalted wheat and malted barley and are spiced with coriander and orange
peel. Coriander and light orange peel aroma should be perceived. Phenolic spiciness and yeast flavors may be evident at mild levels. These beers are traditionally bottle conditioned and served cloudy. An unfiltered nearly opaque haze should be part of the appearance.

Belgian-Style Lambic - Unblended, naturally and spontaneously fermented lambic is intensely estery, sour, and sometimes, but not necessarily, acetic flavored. Low in carbon dioxide, these hazy beers are brewed with unmalted wheat and malted barley. Sweet malt characters are not perceived. They are very low in hop bitterness. Cloudiness is acceptable. These beers are quite dry and light bodied.

Belgian-Style Gueuze Lambic - Old lambic is blended with newly fermenting young lambic to create this special style of lambic. Gueuze is always refermented in the bottle. These unflavored blended and secondary fermented lambic beers may be very dry or mildly sweet and are characterized by intense fruity-estery, sour, and acidic aromas and flavors. These pale beers are brewed with unmalted wheat, malted barley, and stale, aged hops. Sweet malt characters are not perceived. They are very low in hop bitterness.

Belgian-Style Fruit Lambic - These beers, also known by the names framboise, kriek, peche, cassis, etc., are characterized by fruit flavors and aromas. The color reflects the choice of fruit. Sourness is an important part of the flavor profile, though sweetness may compromise the intensity. These flavored lambic beers may be very dry or mildly sweet and range from a dry to a full-bodied mouthfeel.

Belgian-Style Table Beer - These ales and lagers are very low in alcohol and traditionally enjoyed with meals. Pale to very dark brown in color. Additions of caramel coloring are sometimes employed to adjust color. They are light bodied with relatively low carbonation with limited aftertaste.

French-Style Bière de Garde - Beers in this category are golden to deep copper or light brown in color. They are light to medium in body. This style of beer is characterized by a toasted malt aroma, slight malt sweetness in flavor, and medium hop bitterness.

French & Belgian-Style Saison - Beers in this category are golden to deep amber in color. There may be quite a variety of characters within this style. Generally: They are light to medium in body. Malt aroma is low to medium-low. Fruity esters dominate the aroma, while hop character, complex alcohols, herbs, spices and even clove and smoke-like phenolics may or may not be evident in the overall balanced beer. Malt flavor is low but provides foundation for the overall balance. Hop bitterness is moderate to moderately assertive.

 

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 * Descriptions from the 2007 Brewers Association Beer Style Guide