Beer Styles header

English Pale Ale

Porter

Sweet Stout

Irish Ale

Dry Stout

Imperial Stout

Scottish Ale

American Pale Ale

India Pale Ale

Imperial IPA

Amber/Red Ale

Golden Ale

Brown Ale

Stout

German Hefeweizen

Dunkel

Weizen Bock

German Weizen

Altbier

German Pilsner

Bohemian Pilsner

Vienna Lager

Euro Dark Lager

Oktoberfest/Marzen

Export Lager

Heller Bock

Doppelbock

Eisbock

German-Style Kölsch

Münchner (Munich)-Style Helles

Belgian Blonde Ale

Belgian Pale Strong Ale

Belgian Dark Strong Ale

Belgian Tripel Ale

Belgian Quad Ale

Belgian-Style Fruit Lambic

Farmhouse Ale/Saison

Premium Lager

Light Lager

American Wheat Beer

Pilsner

American Dark Lager

Cream Ale

Wheat Ale

Fruit Beer

Honey Ale

Wood or Barrel Aged Beer

Session Beers

American Style Stong Ale

All descriptions & guidelines are provided by 2011 Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines and used with permission of the Brewers Association

English Pale Ale image

English Pale Ale

Classic English pale ales are golden to copper colored and display earthy, herbal English-variety hop character. Note that earthy, herbal English-variety hop character is the perceived end, but may be a result of the skillful use of hops of other national origins. Medium to high hop bitterness, flavor, and aroma should be evident. This medium-bodied pale ale has low to medium malt flavor and aroma. Low caramel character is allowable. Fruity-ester flavors and aromas are moderate to strong. Chill haze may be in evidence only at very cold temperatures. The absence of diacetyl is desirable, though, diacetyl (butterscotch character) is acceptable and characteristic when at very low levels.

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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, caramel and chocolate is acceptable along with medium hop bitterness. This is a light to medium-bodied beer. Fruity esters are acceptable. Hop flavor and aroma may vary from being negligible to medium in character.

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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 (lactose) before bottling. Malt sweetness, chocolate, and caramel flavor should dominate the flavor profile and contribute to the aroma. Hops should balance and suppress some of the sweetness without contributing apparent flavor or aroma. The overall impression should be sweet and full-bodied.

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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. Some slight acidity may be perceived but is not necessary. European hop aroma and flavor should be low or not perceived. Dry stouts have medium-light to medium body. Fruity esters are minimal and overshadowed by malt, high hop bitterness, and roasted barley character. Diacetyl (butterscotch) should be very low or not perceived. Head retention and rich character should be part of its visual character.

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Irish Pale Ale image

Irish 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. The style may have low levels of fruity-ester flavor and aroma. Diacetyl should be absent or at very low levels. Chill haze is allowable at cold temperatures. Slight yeast haze is acceptable for bottle-conditioned products.

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Imperial Stout

American-Style Imperial Stouts are black. Extremely rich malty aroma is typical. Fruity-ester aroma is generally high. Diacetyl aroma should be absent. Hop aroma is medium-high to high with floral, citrus and/or herbal hop aromas. Extremely rich malty flavor with full sweet malt character is typical. Roasted malt astringency and bitterness can be moderately perceived but should not overwhelm the overall character. Hop flavor is medium-high to high floral, citrus and/or herbal hop flavors. Hop bitterness is medium-high to very high and balanced with the malt personality. Fruity-ester flavors are generally high. Diacetyl should be absent.

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Scottish Ale

Scottish-Style Heavy Ales are amber to dark brown. Chill haze is allowable at low temperatures. Malty, caramel-like aroma is present. Fruity-ester aromas are low if evident. Hop aroma is not perceived. Scottish Heavy is dominated by a smooth, balanced sweet maltiness; in addition it will have a medium degree of malty, caramel-like, soft and chewy character in flavor and mouthfeel. Hop flavor is not perceived. Hop bitterness is low but perceptible. Yeast characters such as diacetyl and sulfuriness are acceptable at very low levels. Bottled versions may contain higher amounts of carbon dioxide than is typical for mildly carbonated draft versions. Though there is little evidence suggesting that traditionally made Scottish Heavy Ale exhibited peat smoke character, the current marketplace offers many examples with peat or smoke character present at low to medium levels. Thus a peaty/smoky character may be evident at low levels. Ales with medium or higher smoke character would be considered a smoke flavored beer and considered in another category. Body is medium. Scottish Heavy Ale may be split into two subcategories: Traditional (no smoke character) and Peated (low level of peat smoke character).

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American 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 medium to medium-high hop bitterness, flavor, and aroma. Note that the ―traditional style of this beer has its origins with certain floral, fruity and citrus-like American hop varietals. One or more of these hop characters is the perceived end, but may be a result of the skillful use of hops of other national origins. American pale ales have medium body and low to medium maltiness. Low caramel character is allowable. Fruity-ester flavor and aroma should be moderate to strong. Diacetyl should be absent or present at very low levels. Chill haze is allowable at cold temperatures.

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India Pale Ale image

India Pale Ale

American-style India pale ales are perceived to have medium-high to intense hop bitterness, flavor and aroma with medium-high alcohol content. The style is further characterized by fruity, floral and citrus-like American-variety hop character. Note that fruity, floral and citrus-like American-variety hop character is the perceived end, but may be a result of the skillful use of hops of other national origins. 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 (in addition to the perception of hop bitterness). India pale ales possess medium maltiness which contributes to a medium body. Fruity-ester flavors and aromas are moderate to very strong. Diacetyl can be absent or may be perceived at very low levels. Chill and/or hop haze is allowable at cold temperatures.

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Imperial IPA

Imperial or Double India Pale Ales have intense hop bitterness, flavor and aroma. Alcohol content is medium-high to high and notably evident. They range from deep golden to medium 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 malt character. Hop character should be fresh and lively and should not be harsh in quality. The use of large amounts of hops may cause a degree of appropriate hop haze. Imperial or Double India Pale Ales have medium-high to full body. Diacetyl should not be perceived. The intention of this style of beer is to exhibit the fresh and bright character of hops. Oxidative character and aged character should not be present.

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Amber Ale

American amber/red ales range from light copper to light brown in color. They are characterized by American-variety hops used to produce the perception of medium hop bitterness, flavor, and medium aroma. Amber ales have medium-high to high maltiness with medium to low caramel character. They should have medium to medium-high body. The style may have low levels of fruityester flavor and aroma. Diacetyl can be either absent or barely perceived at very low levels. Chill haze is allowable at cold temperatures. Slight yeast haze is acceptable for bottle-conditioned products.

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Golden Ale image

Golden 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 aroma may be present but does not dominate. Bitterness is low to medium. Fruity esters may be perceived but do not predominate. Diacetyl should not be perceived. Chill haze should be absent.

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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 evident low to medium hop flavor and aroma, medium to high hop bitterness, and a medium body. Estery and fruity-ester characters should be subdued. Diacetyl should not be perceived. Chill haze is allowable at cold temperatures.

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Stout

Initial low to medium malt sweetness with a degree of caramel, chocolate and/or roasted coffee flavor with a distinctive dryroasted bitterness in the finish. Coffee-like roasted barley and roasted malt aromas are prominent. Some slight roasted malt acidity is permissible and a medium to full-bodied mouthfeel is appropriate. Hop bitterness may be moderate to high. Hop aroma and flavor is moderate to high, often with American citrus-type and/or resiny hop character. The perception of fruity esters is low. Roasted malt/barley astringency may be low but not excessive. Diacetyl (butterscotch) should be negligible or not perceived. Head retention is excellent.

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German Hefeweizen image

German Hefeweizen

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 should be present at low to medium-high levels. These beers are made with at least 50 percent malted wheat, and hop rates are quite low. Hop flavor and aroma are absent or present at very low levels. Weissbier is well attenuated and very highly carbonated and a medium to full bodied beer. The color is very pale to pale amber. Because yeast is present, the beer will have yeast flavor and a characteristically fuller mouthfeel and may be appropriately very cloudy. No diacetyl should be perceived.

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Dunkel

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. Dunkel Weissbier is well attenuated and very highly carbonated, and hop bitterness is low. Hop flavor and aroma are absent. Usually dark barley malts are used in conjunction with dark cara or color malts, and the percentage of wheat malt is at least 50 percent. If this is served with yeast, the beer may be appropriately very cloudy. No diacetyl should be perceived.

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Capital Weizen image

Weizen Bock

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 clove-like 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. If dark, a mild roast malt character should emerge in flavor and to a lesser degree in the aroma. If this is served with yeast the beer may be appropriately very cloudy. No diacetyl should be perceived.

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German Weizen

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. Bernsteinfarbenes Weissbier is well attenuated and very highly carbonated, and hop bitterness is low. Hop flavor and aroma are absent. The percentage of wheat malt is at least 50 percent. If this is served with yeast, the beer may be appropriately very cloudy. No diacetyl should be perceived.

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Altbier

Copper to brown in color, this German ale may be highly hopped and intensely bitter (although the 25 to 35 IBU range is more normal for the majority of Altbiers from Düsseldorf) and has a medium body and malty flavor. A variety of malts, including wheat, may be used. Hop character may be low to medium in the flavor and aroma. The overall impression is clean, crisp, and flavorful often with a dry finish. Fruity esters can be low. No diacetyl or chill haze should be perceived.

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German Pilsner

A classic German Pilsener is very light straw or golden in color and well hopped. Perception of hop bitterness is medium to high. Noble-type hop aroma and flavor are moderate and quite obvious. It is a well-attenuated, medium-light bodied beer, but a malty residual sweetness can be perceived in aroma and flavor. Very low levels of sweet corn-like dimethylsulfide (DMS) character are below most beer drinkers’ taste thresholds and are usually not detectable except to the trained or sensitive palate. Other fermentation or hop related sulfur compounds, when perceived at low levels, may be characteristic of this style. Fruity esters and diacetyl should not be perceived. There should be no chill haze. Its head should be dense and rich.

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Bohemian Pilsner

Traditional Bohemian Pilseners are medium bodied, and they can be as dark as a light amber color. This style balances moderate bitterness and noble-type hop aroma and flavor with a malty, slightly sweet, medium body. Extremely low levels of diacetyl and low levels of sweet corn-like dimethylsulfide (DMS) character, if perceived, are characteristic of this style and both may accent malt aroma. A toasted, biscuit-like, bready malt character along with low levels of sulfur compounds may be evident. There should be no chill haze. Its head should be dense and rich.

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Vienna Lager

Beers in this category are reddish brown or copper colored. They are medium in body. The beer is characterized by malty aroma and slight malt sweetness. The malt aroma and flavor should have a notable degree of toasted and/or slightly roasted malt character. Hop bitterness is clean and crisp. Noble-type hop aromas and flavors should be low or mild. Diacetyl, chill haze and ale-like fruity esters should not be perceived.

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Euro Dark Lager

These light brown to dark brown beers have a pronounced malty aroma and flavor that dominates over the clean, crisp, moderate hop bitterness. This beer does not offer an overly sweet impression, but rather a mild balance between malt sweetness, hop bitterness and light to moderate mouthfeel. A classic Münchner dunkel should have a chocolate-like, roast malt, bread-like or biscuit-like aroma that comes from the use of Munich dark malt. Chocolate or roast malts can be used, but the percentage used should be minimal. Noble-type hop flavor and aroma should be low but perceptible. Diacetyl should not be perceived. Ale-like fruity esters and chill haze should not be perceived.

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oktoberfest image

Oktoberfest/Marzen

Today’s Oktoberfest beers are characterized by a medium body and light, golden color. Sweet maltiness is mild with an equalizing balance of clean, hop bitterness. Hop aroma and flavor should be low but notable. Ale-like fruity esters should not be perceived. Diacetyl and chill haze should not be perceived. Similar or equal to Dortmunder/European-Style Export.

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Export Lager

Dortmunder has medium hop bitterness. Hop flavor and aroma from noble hops are perceptible but low. Sweet malt flavor can be low and should not be caramel-like. The color of this style is straw to deep golden. The body will be medium bodied. Fruity esters, chill haze, and diacetyl should not be perceived.

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Heller Bock

The German word helle means light colored, and as such, a heller Bock is light straw to deep golden in color. Maibocks are also light-colored bocks. The sweet malty character should come through in the aroma and flavor. A lightly toasted and/or bready malt character is often evident. Roast or heavy toast/caramel malt character should be absent. Body is medium to full. Hop bitterness should be low, while noble-type hop aroma and flavor may be at low to medium levels. Bitterness increases with gravity. Fruity esters may be perceived at low levels. Diacetyl should be absent. Chill haze should not be perceived.

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Doppelbock

Malty sweetness is dominant but should not be cloying. Malt character is more reminiscent of fresh and lightly toasted Munichstyle malt, more so than caramel or toffee malt character. Some elements of caramel and toffee can be evident and contribute to complexity, but the predominant malt character is an expression of toasted barley malt. Doppelbocks are full bodied and deep amber to dark brown in color. Astringency from roast malts is absent. Alcoholic strength is high, and hop rates increase with gravity. Hop bitterness and flavor should be low and hop aroma absent. Fruity esters are commonly perceived but at low to moderate levels. Diacetyl should be absent.

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Eisbock

A stronger version of Doppelbock. Malt character can be very sweet. The body is very full and deep copper to almost black in color. Alcoholic strength is very high. Hop bitterness is subdued. Hop flavor and aroma are absent. Fruity esters may be evident but not overpowering. Typically these beers are brewed by freezing a Doppelbock and removing resulting ice to increase alcohol content. Diacetyl should be absent.

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German-Style Kölsch

German-Style Kölsch/Köln-Style Kölschs are straw to gold. Chill haze should be absent. Good, dense head retention is desirable. Fruity-ester aroma should be minimally perceived, if at all. Light pear-apple-Riesling wine-like fruitiness may be apparent, but is not necessary for this style. Hop aroma is low and if evident should express noble hop character. Malt character is a very low to low with soft sweetness. Caramel character should not be evident. Hop flavor is low and if evident should express noble hop character. Hop bitterness is medium. Fruity-ester flavors should be minimally perceived, if at all. Light pear-apple-Riesling wine-like fruitiness may be apparent, but is not necessary for this style. Wheat can be used in brewing this beer. Kölsch is fermented at warmer temperatures compared to typical lager temperatures but at lower temperatures than most English and Belgian ales, then aged at cold temperatures (German ale or alt-style beer). Ale yeast is used for fermentation, though lager yeast is sometimes used in the bottle or final cold conditioning process. Body is light to medium-light; it is slightly dry on the palate, yet crisp.

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Münchner (Munich)-Style Helles

Münchner (Munich)-Style Helless are pale to golden. There should be no chill haze. This is a malt aroma and flavor emphasized beer style. Malt aromas and flavors are often balanced with low levels of yeast-produced sulfur aromas and flavors. Malt character is sometimes bread-like yet always reminiscent of freshly and very lightly toasted malted barley. There should not be any caramel character. Hop aroma is not perceived to low. Hop flavor is very low to low, deriving from European noble-type hops, with hop flavor not implying hop bitterness. Hop bitterness is low, deriving from European noble-type hops. Fruity-ester aromas and flavors should not be perceived. Diacetyl aroma and flavor should not be perceived. Body is medium.

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Belgian Blonde Ale

Belgian-Style Blonde Ales are pale to light amber. Chill haze is allowable at cold temperatures. Malt aroma is low. Low to medium fruity-ester aromas balanced with light malt and spice aromas may be present. Hop aroma is not perceived to low; noble-type hops are commonly used. Malt flavor is low. Hop flavor is not perceived to low. Hop bitterness is very low to low. Overall impression is a beer orchestrated with balanced light sweet, spiced and low to medium fruity-ester flavors. Low yeast-derived phenolic spiciness may be perceived. Diacetyl and acidic character should not be perceived. Body is light to medium.

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Belgian-Style Pale Strong Ale

Belgian-Style Pale Strong Ales are pale to copper. Chill haze is allowable at cold temperatures. Hop aroma is medium-low to medium-high. Malt character intensity should be low to medium, often surviving along with a complex fruitiness. Hop flavor is medium-low to medium-high. Hop bitterness is medium-low to medium-high. These beers are often brewed with light colored Belgian "candy" sugar. Very little or no diacetyl should be perceived. Herbs and spices are sometimes used to delicately flavor these strong ales. Low levels of yeast-derived phenolic spiciness may also be perceived. These beers can be malty in overall impression or dry and highly attenuated. They can have a perceptively deceiving high alcoholic character. They can have relatively light body for beers of this alcoholic strength. Some versions may be equally high in alcohol yet more medium in body. Body is very light to medium.

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Belgian-Style Dark Strong Ale

Belgian-Style Dark Strong Ales are medium-amber to very dark. Chill haze is allowable at cold temperatures. Medium to high malt aroma and complex fruity aromas are distinctive. Very little or no diacetyl aroma should be perceived. Hop aroma is low to medium. Medium to high malt intensity can be rich, creamy, and sweet. Fruity complexity along with soft roasted malt flavor adds distinct character. Hop flavor is low to medium. Hop bitterness is low to medium. These beers are often, though not always, brewed with dark Belgian "candy" sugar. Very little or no diacetyl flavor should be perceived. Herbs and spices are sometimes used to delicately flavor these strong ales. Low levels of phenolic spiciness from yeast byproducts may also be perceived. These beers can be well attenuated, with an alcohol strength which is often deceiving to the senses. Body is medium to full.

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Belgian-Style Tripel

Belgian-Style Tripels are pale to medium-amber. Chill haze is acceptable at low serving temperatures. Traditional tripels are bottle conditioned and may exhibit slight yeast haze, but the yeast should not be intentionally roused. Head retention is dense and mousse-like. A complex, sometimes mild spicy aroma characterizes this style. Clove-like phenolic aroma may be very low. Fruity-ester aromas including banana are also common but not necessary. Hop aroma is low if present. Low sweetness from very pale malts is present. Character from roasted or any dark malts should not be present. Hop flavor is low if present. Hop bitterness is medium to medium-high. Complex sometimes mild spicy flavor characterizes this style. Clove-like phenolic flavor may be evident at very low levels. Fruity-ester flavors including banana are also common but not necessary. Traditional Tripels are often well attenuated. Brewing sugar may be used to lighten the perception of body. Alcohol strength and flavor should be perceived as evident. Hop/malt balance is equalizing. The overall beer flavor may finish sweet, though any sweet finish should be light. Oxidative character if evident in aged tripels should be mild and pleasant. Body is medium.

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Belgian-Style Quad

Belgian-Style Quadrupels are amber to dark brown. Chill haze is acceptable at low serving temperatures. A mousse-like dense, sometimes amber head will top off a properly poured and served quad. Complex fruity aromas reminiscent of raisins, dates, figs, grapes and/or plums emerge, often accompanied with a hint of winy character. Hop aroma is not perceived to very low. Caramel, dark sugar and malty sweet flavors and aromas can be intense, not cloying, while complementing fruitiness. Hop flavor is not perceived to very low. Hop bitterness is low to low-medium. Perception of alcohol can be extreme. Complex fruity flavors reminiscent of raisins, dates, figs, grapes and/or plums emerge, often accompanied with a hint of winy character. Perception of alcohol can be extreme. Clove-like phenolic flavor and aroma should not be evident. Diacetyl and DMS should not be perceived. Quadrupels are well attenuated and are characterized by the immense presence of alcohol and balanced flavor, bitterness and aromas. They are well balanced with savoring/sipping drinkability. Oxidative character if evident in aged examples should be mild and pleasant. Body is full with creamy mouthfeel.

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Belgian Style Fruit Lambic

Belgian-Style Fruit Lambics are hued with color reflecting the choice of fruit. Cloudiness is acceptable. These beers, also known by the names framboise, kriek, peche, cassis, etc., are characterized by fruit aromas. Characteristic horsey, goaty, leathery and phenolic aromas evolved from Brettanomyces yeast are often present at moderate levels. Hop aroma is not perceived. Malt sweetness is absent, but sweetness of fruit may be low to high. Hop flavor is not perceived. Hop bitterness is very low. Fruit lambics are characterized by fruit flavors. 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. Characteristic horsey, goaty, leathery and phenolic flavors evolved from Brettanomyces yeast are often present at moderate levels. Vanillin and other woody flavors should not be evident. Fruit Lambics whose origin is the Brussels area are often simply called fruit lambic. Versions of this beer style made outside of the Brussels area of Belgium are said to be "Belgian-Style Fruit Lambics." The Belgian-style versions are made to resemble many of the beers of true origin. Historically, traditional lambics are dry and completely attenuated, exhibiting no residual sweetness either from malt, sugar, fruit or artificial sweeteners. Some versions often have a degree of sweetness, contributed by fruit sugars, other sugars or artificial sweeteners. See also Belgian-Style Lambic for additional background information. Body is dry to full.

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Farmhouse Ale/Saison

French & Belgian-Style Saisons are pale to light brown. Chill or slight yeast haze is acceptable. There may be quite a variety of characters within these beers. Malt aroma is low to medium-low. Fruity-ester aromas are medium to high. Earthy, cellar-like and/or musty aromas are okay. Diacetyl aroma should not be perceived. Hop aroma is low to medium. Malt flavor is low but provides foundation for the overall balance. Hop flavor is low to medium. Hop bitterness is medium to medium-high. Complex alcohols, herbs, spices, low Brettanomyces character and even clove and smoke-like phenolics may or may not be evident in the overall balanced beer. Herb and/or spice flavors, including black pepper-like notes, may or may not be evident. Fruitiness from fermentation is generally in character. A balanced small amount of sour or acidic flavors is acceptable when in balance with other components. Diacetyl flavor should not be perceived. These beers are often bottle conditioned with some yeast character and high carbonation. Saison may have Brettanomyces characters that are slightly acidic, fruity, horsey, goaty and/or leather-like. Specialty ingredients (spices, herbs, flowers, fruits, vegetables, fermentable sugars and carbohydrates, special yeasts of all types, wood aging, etc.) may contribute unique and signature character; color, body, malt character, esters, alcohol level and hop character should be in harmony with the general style description. Body is generally light to medium.

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Premium Lager

This style has low malt (and adjunct) sweetness, is medium bodied, and should contain no or a low percentage (less than 25%) of adjuncts. Color may be light straw to golden. Alcohol content and bitterness may also be greater. Hop aroma and flavor is low or negligible. Light fruity esters are acceptable. Chill haze and diacetyl should be absent. Note: Some beers marketed as "premium" (based on price) may not fit this definition.

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Light Lager

Light in body and very light to straw in color, American lagers are very clean and crisp and aggressively carbonated. Flavor components should be subtle and complex, with no one ingredient dominating the others. Malt sweetness is light to mild. Corn, rice, or other grain or sugar adjuncts are often used. Hop bitterness, flavor and aroma are negligible to very light. Light fruity esters are acceptable. Chill haze and diacetyl should be absent.

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American Wheat Beer

Light American Wheat Beer without Yeasts are straw to light amber. Chill haze is acceptable in these versions packaged and served without yeast. Low fruity-ester aroma is typical, as is low to medium-low malt aroma. Phenolic, clove-like aromas should not be perceived. Diacetyl aroma should not be perceived. No yeast aroma should be evident. Hop aroma is low to medium. Low to medium-low malt sweetness is present. Hop flavor is low to medium. Hop bitterness is low to medium. These beers can be made using either ale or lager yeast. Grist includes at least 30 percent malted wheat. No yeast flavor should be evident. Low fruity-ester flavors are typical. Diacetyl and phenolic, clove-like flavors should not be perceived. Body is low to medium.

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Pilsner

This classic and unique pre-Prohibition American-style Pilsener is straw to deep gold in color. Hop bitterness, flavor and aroma are medium to high, and use of noble-type hops for flavor and aroma is preferred. Up to 25 percent corn and/or rice in the grist should be used. Malt flavor and aroma are medium. This is a light-medium to medium-bodied beer. Sweet corn-like dimethylsulfide (DMS), fruity esters and citrus flavors or aromas should not be perceived. Diacetyl is not acceptable. There should be no chill haze. Competition organizers may wish to subcategorize this style into rice and corn subcategories.

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American Dark Lager

This beer's malt aroma and flavor are low but notable. Its color ranges from a very deep copper to a deep, dark brown. It has a clean, light body with discreet contributions from caramel and roasted malts. Non-malt adjuncts are often used, and hop rates are low. Hop bitterness is clean and has a short duration of impact. Hop flavor, and aroma are low. Carbonation is high. Fruity esters, diacetyl, and chill haze should not be perceived.

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Cream Ale

Mild, pale, light-bodied ale, made using a warm fermentation (top or bottom) and cold lagering. Hop bitterness and flavor range from very low to low. Hop aroma is often absent. Sometimes referred to as cream ales, these beers are crisp and refreshing. Pale malt character predominates. Caramelized malt character should be absent. A fruity or estery aroma may be perceived. Diacetyl and chill haze should not be perceived. Sulfur character and/or sweet corn-like dimethylsulfide (DMS) should be extremely low or absent from this style of beer.

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Wheat Ale

This beer can be made using either ale or lager yeast. It can be brewed with 30 to 75 percent wheat malt, and hop rates may be low to medium. Hop characters may be light to moderate in bitterness, flavor and aroma. Fruity-estery aroma and flavor are typical but at low levels however, phenolic, clove-like characteristics should not be perceived. Color is usually straw to light amber, and the body should be light to medium in character. Diacetyl should not be perceived. Because this style is served with yeast the character should portray a full yeasty mouthfeel and appear hazy to very cloudy. Chill haze is also acceptable. Yeast flavor and aroma should be low to medium but not overpowering the balance and character of malt and hops. These beers are typically served with the yeast in the bottle, and are cloudy when served.

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Fruit Beer

Fruit beers are any beers using fruit or fruit extracts as an adjunct in either, the mash, kettle, primary or secondary fermentation providing obvious (ranging from subtle to intense), yet harmonious, fruit qualities. Fruit qualities should not be overpowered by hop character. If a fruit (such as juniper berry) has an herbal or spice quality, it is more appropriate to consider it in the herb and spice beers category. Acidic bacterial (not wild yeast) fermentation characters may be evident (but not necessary) they would contribute to acidity and enhance fruity balance. Clear or hazy beer is acceptable in appearance. A statement by the brewer explaining what fruits are used is essential in order for fair assessment in competitions. If this beer is a classic style with fruit, the brewer should also specify the classic style.

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Honey Ale

These beers are brewed using honey in addition to malted barley. Beers may be brewed to a traditional style or may be experimental. Character of honey should be evident in flavor and aroma and balanced with the other components without overpowering them. A statement by the brewer explaining the classic or other style of the beer, and the type of honey used is essential in order for fair assessment in competitions.

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Wood or Barrel Age Beers

Wood- and Barrel-Aged Dark Beers are brown to black. For purposes of competition these wood-aged beers have color greater than 18 SRM or 36 EBC, and contain alcohol less than 5.2% abw or 6.5% abv. Paler wood-aged beers (<18 SRM or <36 EBC) or higher alcohol wood-aged beers (>5% abw or >6.25% abv) of any color would be more appropriately considered as other beer styles. Any lager, ale or hybrid beer in the appropriate color range, either a traditional style or a unique experimental beer, can be aged for a period of time in a wooden barrel or in contact with wood. Primary character of the original beer style may or may not be apparent. These beers are aged with the intention of imparting the particularly unique character of the wood and/or what has previously been in the barrel; but, wood aged is not necessarily synonymous with imparting wood-flavors. New wood character can be characterized as a complex blend of vanillin and/or other unique wood character. Used sherry, rum, bourbon, scotch, port, wine and other barrels are often used, imparting complexity and uniqueness to beer. Ultimately a balance of 37 flavor, aroma and mouthfeel are sought with the marriage of new beer with wood and/or barrel flavors. Wood-Aged Dark Beers may or may not have Brettanomyces character. Dark fruited or spiced beer that is wood and barrel aged would also be appropriately entered in this category. Sour wood-aged beer of any color is outlined in other categories. Body is variable with style.

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Session Beer

Session Beers are the color of the classic beer style being made to lower strength. Appearance will vary with style of beer being made to lower strength. Aroma depends on the style of beer being made to lower strength. Any style of beer can be made lower in strength than described in the classic style guidelines. The goal should be to reach a balance between the style's character and the lower alcohol content. Drinkability is a character in the overall balance of these beers. Beers in this category must not exceed 4.0% alcohol by weight (5.0% alcohol by volume).

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American Strong Ale

American-Style Strong Pale Ales are deep golden to copper. Chill haze is allowable at cold temperatures. Low caramel malt aroma is allowable. Fruity-ester aroma should be moderate to strong. Hop aroma is high, exhibiting floral, fruity, citrus-like, piney, resinous, or sulfur-like American-variety hop characters. Low level maltiness may include low caramel malt character. Hop flavor is high, exhibiting floral, fruity, citrus-like, piney, resinous, or sulfur-like American-variety hop flavors. Hop bitterness is high. Fruity-ester flavor is moderate to strong. Diacetyl should be absent or low if present. Body is medium.

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