Beer Styles Guide

Gone are the days of “one beer style, fits all.” Diversity is the hallmark of the better beer revolution. From Abbey to Wit, the Arizona Brewers Guild members have got a beer style or two to quench your thirst. Look through the list and identify a new style to try ‐ you may find a new favorite! For a more in-depth guide, visit the Brewer’s Association.


A Belgian or Dutch strong ale in the style of the local monastic brews.


A German style of top fermenting beer, altbier comes from the German alt, meaning “old.” Copper to brown in color, this style is more similar in taste to a lager than an ale. Altbier originated in Düsseldorf and has a medium body and malty flavor. The overall impression is clean, crisp and flavorful.


American‐style amber lagers are amber, reddish brown or copper colored and usually very malty in taste and aroma. The level of hop taste and aroma will vary.


American brown ales range from deep copper to brown in color. It is a malty beer, although American brown ales have an evident hop aroma, medium to high hop bitterness and a medium body.


Light in body and color, American lagers are very clean and crisp and aggressively carbonated. As the most popular beer style brewed in America, it is brewed by all large breweries. Malt sweetness is absent. Corn, rice or other grain or sugar adjuncts are often used. Hop aroma and flavor is mild or negligible.


American wheat beers are pale in color and low in hop flavor and aroma. It is is a refreshing and drinkable style with light to medium body.


Barley wine is a strong ale that ranges from copper to dark brown in color. These beers have a full body and bold maltiness balanced by a strong hop character. Barley wine is a complex ale with extraordinary alcohol strength.


Bitter is the term for draught pale ale in the UK. Copper colored and hoppy, this is the most traditional style of ale produced by British brewers.


Bocks are traditional German‐style beers that are strong, malty and medium- to full‐bodied. Bocks can range in color from golden to deep copper to dark brown and are generally stronger than typical lagers. This style came from the town of Einbeck, and the name was eventually corrupted to Ein Bock, the German word for goats, explaining why goats are pictured on many bock beer labels.


Brown ale is typically considered a British beer style, although France and Belgium also produce brown ales. The British make a sweet, dark brown ale in southern England, as well as the drier Northern version. Both are low in hops and get their color from a blend of roasted malt.


A true American style, cream ales are mild, pale, light‐bodied ales or lagers. These beers are crisp and refreshing and are low in hops, with a creamy head.


Cream stouts have less roasted bitter flavor and a full‐bodied mouthfeel. The style can be given more body with milk sugar (lactose). Malt sweetness, chocolate and caramel flavor should dominate the flavor profile. Hops should balance sweetness without contributing apparent flavor or aroma.


This beer’s malt aroma and flavor are low but notable. Its color ranges from a very deep copper to a deep, dark brown. Its body is light. Non‐malt adjuncts are often used, and hop rates are low. Hop bitterness, flavor and aroma are low.


Doppel means double in German and although doppelbocks are not actually twice as strong as a bock, it is definitely an extra strong beer. Doppelbocks are full bodied and deep amber to dark brown in color. The hop flavor and aroma is low and the alcoholic strength is high.


This German style originated in the city of Dortmund. Also referred to as Export, this lager is pale golden and slightly strong with a medium hop bitterness and medium body.


Dry stouts have an initial malt and 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.


This Belgian‐style ale is medium‐ to full‐bodied. It is dark amber to brown in color and has a malty sweetness and nutty, chocolate‐like, and roast malt aroma. Dubbels are also characterized by low hop flavor and yeasty fruity esters.


Dunkel Weizen is a German dark wheat style characterized by a distinct sweet maltiness and a chocolate‐like character from roasted malt. The color can range from copper‐brown to dark brown. Both hop flavor and aroma are absent.


English‐style extra special bitters (ESBs) display medium to strong hop qualities in aroma, flavor and bitterness. The residual malt sweetness of this richly flavored, full‐bodied bitter is more pronounced than in other bitters. It is golden to copper colored.


Classic English pale ales are golden to copper colored and display 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.


Fruit beers are any beers using fruit or fruit extracts as an adjunct in either primary or secondary fermentation, providing obvious (ranging from subtle to intense), yet harmonious, fruit qualities.


These beers, also known by the names framboise (raspberry), kriek (cherry), peche (peach) and others 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 mouth feel.


Hefeweizen is a Bavarian style wheat beer made with at least 50 percent malted wheat. This is a medium‐ to full‐bodied beer style that is very pale to pale amber in color. Because yeast is present, the beer will have yeast flavor and a fuller mouthfeel. Spicy, clove flavors are derived from the special yeast strain and it is often cloudy in appearance. Hop flavor and aroma are absent.


The German word helles means light colored, and as such, a helles is light straw to deep golden in color. This beer has a relatively low bitterness. It is a medium‐bodied, malt‐emphasized beer.


Imperial Russian Stout was originally brewed for the Russian Court. Dark copper to very black in color, imperial stouts typically have high alcohol content. The extremely rich malty flavor and aroma are balanced by hops.


India pale ale (IPA) is a very hoppy, somewhat stronger version of pale ale, made to last the voyage from the UK to India in the 1800s. India pale ales are characterized by intense hop bitterness with a high alcohol content. IPAs are crisp, dry ales that are pale gold to deep copper colored. India pale ales
possess medium maltiness and body.


Kölsch is a golden, fruity beer from the German city of Cologne. It is characterized by a golden color and has a slightly dry, subtly sweet flavor. The body is light. This beer has low hop flavor and aroma with medium bitterness.


Lambics are a Belgian-style that is brewed with unmalted wheat and malted barley. The beers are naturally and spontaneously fermented using wild yeast. The result is a dry, sour and cloudy beer. Lambics are sometimes casked with cherries, raspberries or other fruits.


Maibock is a bock beer that is traditionally available in Germany in May, although it is brewed year round by some brewers. Maibocks are also light‐colored with a medium- to full-body. The malty character should come through in the aroma and flavor, with a low to medium hop flavor and aroma.


This German style is characterized by a medium body, malty aroma and slight malt sweetness. Beers in this category are usually reddish brown or copper colored. Sweet maltiness should dominate slightly over a clean, hop bitterness. They are usually slightly higher in alcohol content.


Mild is a British‐style light bodied ale, that is low in hops and alcohol. Most are dark brown in color with a full‐bodied flavor.


Based on a lager brewed in Munich, this German style is full‐bodied with a sweet malt flavor and slight hop taste. It’s dark brown color and malty flavor come from roasted barley.


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 that is caramel‐like and chocolate‐like should be evident. This is a smooth, medium‐ to full‐bodied beer.


Old ales are English strong beers containing more alcohol than regular ales, but less than barley wine.


This light‐ to medium‐bodied deep copper to brown Belgian‐style ale is characterized by a slight to strong vinegar or lactic sourness and spiciness. A fruity‐estery character is apparent with no hop flavor or aroma and low to medium bitterness.


Originally brewed in England, pale ales are popular hoppy ales. American pale ales range from golden to light copper in color. The style is characterized by the American‐variety hops used to produce high hop bitterness, flavor and aroma. American pale ales have medium-body and low to medium maltiness.


Pilsner originated in the Czech city of Pilsen. True Pilsners are golden in color, medium‐bodied and have a hoppy aroma and dry finish. Many light lagers are modeled on the Pilsner style but have less body and character.


Porter is based on a style of beer made in London in the early 1700s. Once extinct, today’s Porters range from brown to almost black in color and have a roasted malt flavor. Porters have less pronounced hop flavor than other ales and a slightly sweet taste.


Rauchbiers originated in the Bamberg region of Germany. Very smoky and malty, Rauchbier is an amber lager made with beechwood smoked malt. The beer is generally malty, full bodied, with a low- to medium-hop bitterness and should have smoky characters prevalent in the aroma and flavor.


Red ales are uniquely American and are one of the most popular styles brewed by craft brewers. The color ranges from light copper to light brown. Many red ales are quite hoppy.


German in origin, these very dark brown to almost black beers have a roasted malt character without the associated bitterness. Malt flavor and aroma are low in sweetness. Hop flavor and aroma should be low but perceptible.


Scottish style ales are moderate in strength and dominated by a smooth, sweet maltiness. Scottish ales have a medium body with the color ranging from golden amber to deep brown. The maltiness is balanced with low, hop flavor and aroma.


Stout has a dark, almost black color and a rich malty flavor. There are four main versions of this style: Dry Stout, Cream or Milk Stout, Oatmeal Stout and Imperial Stout.


Belgian‐style Tripels are often characterized by a complex, spicy flavor. Yeast‐generated fruity banana esters are also common. These pale to light‐colored ales are medium- to full-body. Alcohol strength and flavor are evident.


Brewed from wheat instead of the more traditional barley, wheat beers are brewed using a top‐fermenting yeast. Generally unfiltered and pale in color, this German style is known for its cloudy appearance, yeasty aroma and spicy, clovey flavor.


Unfiltered Belgian wheat beer, called wit, or white, because of its cloudy appearance is brewed using unmalted wheat and malted barley. This very pale beer is spiced with coriander and orange peel. The style is characterized by a low- to medium-hop bitterness and hop flavor, and low- to medium-body.

Better beer is all about choices. And today, you have more choices than ever before with our local craft breweries offering many of these astounding distinct beer styles. From “Abbey to Wit” Arizona Guild members truly brew something for everyone, with beers to match any occasion and any food. Stop in today and experience the flavors of Arizona.



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