Defined: Extra Special/Strong Bitter (English Pale Ale)

October 5, 2010

Aroma: Hop aroma moderately-high to moderately-low, and can use any variety of hops although UK hops are most traditional.  Medium to medium-high malt aroma, often with a low to moderately strong caramel component (although this character will be more subtle in paler versions). Medium-low to medium-high fruity esters.  Generally no diacetyl, although very low levels are allowed.   May have light, secondary notes of sulfur and/or alcohol in some examples (optional).

Appearance: Golden to deep copper.  Good to brilliant clarity.  Low to moderate white to off-white head.  A low head is acceptable when carbonation is also low.

Flavor: Medium-high to medium bitterness with supporting malt flavors evident.  Normally has a moderately low to somewhat strong caramelly malt sweetness.  Hop flavor moderate to moderately high (any variety, although earthy, resiny, and/or floral UK hops are most traditional).  Hop bitterness and flavor should be noticeable, but should not totally dominate malt flavors.  May have low levels of secondary malt flavors (e.g., nutty, biscuity) adding complexity.  Moderately-low to high fruity esters.  Optionally may have low amounts of alcohol, and up to a moderate minerally/sulfury flavor.  Medium-dry to dry finish (particularly if sulfate water is used).  Generally no diacetyl, although very low levels are allowed. Read the rest of this entry »


Defined: Baltic Porter

October 4, 2010

Aroma: Rich malty sweetness often containing caramel, toffee, nutty to deep toast, and/or licorice notes.  Complex alcohol and ester profile of moderate strength, and reminiscent of plums, prunes, raisins, cherries or currants, occasionally with a vinous Port-like quality.  Some darker malt character that is deep chocolate, coffee or molasses but never burnt.  No hops.  No sourness.  Very smooth.

Appearance: Dark reddish copper to opaque dark brown (not black).  Thick, persistent tan-colored head.  Clear, although darker versions can be opaque.

Flavor: As with aroma, has a rich malty sweetness with a complex blend of deep malt, dried fruit esters, and alcohol.  Has a prominent yet smooth schwarzbier-like roasted flavor that stops short of burnt.  Mouth-filling and very smooth.  Clean lager character; no diacetyl.  Starts sweet but darker malt flavors quickly dominates and persists through finish. Read the rest of this entry »


Defined: Robust Porter

October 1, 2010

Aroma: Roasty aroma (often with a lightly burnt, black malt character) should be noticeable and may be moderately strong. Optionally may also show some additional malt character in support (grainy, bready, toffee-like, caramelly, chocolate, coffee, rich, and/or sweet).  Hop aroma low to high (US or UK varieties).  Some American versions may be dry-hopped.  Fruity esters are moderate to none.  Diacetyl low to none.

Appearance: Medium brown to very dark brown, often with ruby- or garnet-like highlights.  Can approach black in color.  Clarity may be difficult to discern in such a dark beer, but when not opaque will be clear (particularly when held up to the light).  Full, tan-colored head with moderately good head retention.

Flavor: Moderately strong malt flavor usually features a lightly burnt, black malt character (and sometimes chocolate and/or coffee flavors) with a bit of roasty dryness in the finish.   Read the rest of this entry »


Defined: Northern English Brown Ale

September 30, 2010

Aroma: Light, sweet malt aroma with toffee, nutty and/or caramel notes.  A light but appealing fresh hop aroma (UK varieties) may also be noticed.  A light fruity ester aroma may be evident in these beers, but should not dominate.  Very low to no diacetyl.

Appearance: Dark amber to reddish-brown color.  Clear.  Low to moderate off-white to light tan head.

Flavor: Gentle to moderate malt sweetness, with a nutty, lightly caramelly character and a medium-dry to dry finish.  Malt may also have a toasted, biscuity, or toffee-like character.  Medium to medium-low bitterness.  Malt-hop balance is nearly even, with hop flavor low to none (UK varieties).  Some fruity esters can be present; low diacetyl (especially butterscotch) is optional but acceptable. Read the rest of this entry »


Defined: Southern English Brown

September 29, 2010

Aroma: Malty-sweet, often with a rich, caramel or toffee-like character. Moderately fruity, often with notes of dark fruits such as plums and/or raisins.  Very low to no hop aroma.  No diacetyl.

Appearance: Light to dark brown, and can be almost black.  Nearly opaque, although should be relatively clear if visible.  Low to moderate off-white to tan head.

Flavor: Deep, caramel- or toffee-like malty sweetness on the palate and lasting into the finish.  Hints of biscuit and coffee are common.  May have a moderate dark fruit complexity.  Low hop bitterness.  Hop flavor is low to non-existent.  Little or no perceivable roasty or bitter black malt flavor.  Moderately sweet finish with a smooth, malty aftertaste.  Low to no diacetyl. Read the rest of this entry »


Defined: Brown Porter

September 28, 2010

Aroma: Malt aroma with mild roastiness should be evident, and may have a chocolaty quality.  May also show some non-roasted malt character in support (caramelly, grainy, bready, nutty, toffee-like and/or sweet).  English hop aroma moderate to none.  Fruity esters moderate to none.  Diacetyl low to none.

Appearance: Light brown to dark brown in color, often with ruby highlights when held up to light.  Good clarity, although may approach being opaque.  Moderate off-white to light tan head with good to fair retention.

Flavor: Malt flavor includes a mild to moderate roastiness (frequently with a chocolate character) and often a significant caramel, nutty, and/or toffee character.  May have other secondary flavors such as coffee, licorice, biscuits or toast in support. Read the rest of this entry »


Defined: Mild

September 24, 2010

Aroma: Low to moderate malt aroma, and may have some fruitiness.  The malt expression can take on a wide range of character, which can include caramelly, grainy, toasted, nutty, chocolate, or lightly roasted.  Little to no hop aroma.  Very low to no diacetyl.

Appearance: Copper to dark brown or mahogany color.  A few paler examples (medium amber to light brown) exist. Generally clear, although is traditionally unfiltered.  Low to moderate off-white to tan head.  Retention may be poor due to low carbonation, adjunct use and low gravity.

Flavor: Generally a malty beer, although may have a very wide range of malt- and yeast-based flavors (e.g., malty, sweet, caramel, toffee, toast, nutty, chocolate, coffee, roast, vinous, fruit, licorice, molasses, plum, raisin).  Can finish sweet or dry.  Versions with darker malts may have a dry, roasted finish.  Low to moderate bitterness, enough to provide some balance but not enough to overpower the malt.  Fruity esters moderate to none.  Diacetyl and hop flavor low to none. Read the rest of this entry »


Defined: American Brown Ale

September 23, 2010

Aroma: Malty, sweet and rich, which often has a chocolate, caramel, nutty and/or toasty quality.  Hop aroma is typically low to moderate.  Some interpretations of the style may feature a stronger hop aroma, a citrusy American hop character, and/or a fresh dry-hopped aroma (all are optional).  Fruity esters are moderate to very low.  The dark malt character is more robust than other brown ales, yet stops short of being overly porter-like.  The malt and hops are generally balanced.  Moderately low to no diacetyl.

Appearance: Light to very dark brown color.  Clear.  Low to moderate off-white to light tan head.

Flavor: Medium to high malty flavor (often with caramel, toasty and/or chocolate flavors), with medium to medium-high bitterness.  The medium to medium-dry finish provides an aftertaste having both malt and hops.  Hop flavor can be light to moderate, and may optionally have a citrusy character.  Very low to moderate fruity esters.  Moderately low to no diacetyl. Read the rest of this entry »


Defined: American Amber Ale

September 22, 2010

Aroma: Low to moderate hop aroma from dry hopping or late kettle additions of American hop varieties.  A citrusy hop character is common, but not required.  Moderately low to moderately high maltiness balances and sometimes masks the hop presentation, and usually shows a moderate caramel character. Esters vary from moderate to none.  No diacetyl.

Appearance: Amber to coppery brown in color.  Moderately large off-white head with good retention.  Generally quite clear, although dry-hopped versions may be slightly hazy.

Flavor: Moderate to high hop flavor from American hop varieties, which often but not always has a citrusy quality.  Malt flavors are moderate to strong, and usually show an initial malty sweetness followed by a moderate caramel flavor (and sometimes other character malts in lesser amounts).  Malt and hop bitterness are usually balanced and mutually supportive.  Fruity esters can be moderate to none.  Caramel sweetness and hop flavor/bitterness can linger somewhat into the medium to full finish.  No diacetyl. Read the rest of this entry »


Defined: American Pale Ale

September 21, 2010

Aroma: Usually moderate to strong hop aroma from dry hopping or late kettle additions of American hop varieties.  A citrusy hop character is very common, but not required. Low to moderate maltiness supports the hop presentation, and may optionally show small amounts of specialty malt character (bready, toasty, biscuity).  Fruity esters vary from moderate to none.  No diacetyl.  Dry hopping (if used) may add grassy notes, although this character should not be excessive.

Appearance: Pale golden to deep amber.  Moderately large white to off-white head with good retention.  Generally quite clear, although dry-hopped versions may be slightly hazy.

Flavor: Usually a moderate to high hop flavor, often showing a citrusy American hop character (although other hop varieties may be used).  Low to moderately high clean malt character supports the hop presentation, and may optionally show small amounts of specialty malt character (bready, toasty, biscuity).   Read the rest of this entry »


Defined: Strong Scotch Ale

September 20, 2010

Aroma: Deeply malty, with caramel often apparent. Peaty, earthy and/or smoky secondary aromas may also be present, adding complexity.  Caramelization often is mistaken for diacetyl, which should be low to none.  Low to moderate esters and alcohol are often present in stronger versions.  Hops are very low to none.

Appearance: Light copper to dark brown color, often with deep ruby highlights.  Clear.  Usually has a large tan head, which may not persist in stronger versions.  Legs may be evident in stronger versions.

Flavor: Richly malty with kettle caramelization often apparent (particularly in stronger versions).  Hints of roasted malt or smoky flavor may be present, as may some nutty character, all of which may last into the finish.  Hop flavors and bitterness are low to medium-low, so malt impression should dominate.  Diacetyl is low to none, although caramelization may sometimes be mistaken for it.  Low to moderate esters and alcohol are usually present.  Esters may suggest plums, raisins or dried fruit.  The palate is usually full and sweet, but the finish may be sweet to medium-dry (from light use of roasted barley). Read the rest of this entry »


Defined: Irish Red Ale

September 17, 2010

Aroma: Low to moderate malt aroma, generally caramel-like but occasionally toasty or toffee-like in nature.  May have a light buttery character (although this is not required).  Hop aroma is low to none (usually not present).  Quite clean.

Appearance: Amber to deep reddish copper color (most examples have a deep reddish hue).  Clear.  Low off-white to tan colored head.

Flavor: Moderate caramel malt flavor and sweetness, occasionally with a buttered toast or toffee-like quality.  Finishes with a light taste of roasted grain, which lends a characteristic dryness to the finish.  Generally no flavor hops, although some examples may have a light English hop flavor.  Medium-low hop bitterness, although light use of roasted grains may increase the perception of bitterness to the medium range.  Medium-dry to dry finish.  Clean and smooth (lager versions can be very smooth).  No esters. Read the rest of this entry »


Defined: Scottish Ale

September 16, 2010

Aroma: Low to medium malty sweetness, sometimes accentuated by low to moderate kettle caramelization.  Some examples have a low hop aroma, light fruitiness, low diacetyl, and/or a low to moderate peaty aroma (all are optional).  The peaty aroma is sometimes perceived as earthy, smoky or very lightly roasted.

Appearance: Deep amber to dark copper. Usually very clear due to long, cool fermentations.  Low to moderate, creamy off-white to light tan-colored head.

Flavor: Malt is the primary flavor, but isn’t overly strong.  The initial malty sweetness is usually accentuated by a low to moderate kettle caramelization, and is sometimes accompanied by a low diacetyl component.  Fruity esters may be moderate to none.  Hop bitterness is low to moderate, but the balance will always be towards the malt (although not always by much).  Hop flavor is low to none.  A low to moderate peaty character is optional, and may be perceived as earthy or smoky. Generally has a grainy, dry finish due to small amounts of unmalted roasted barley. Read the rest of this entry »


Defined: Special/Best/Premium Bitter

September 15, 2010

Aroma: The best examples have some malt aroma, often (but not always) with a caramel quality.  Mild to moderate fruitiness.  Hop aroma can range from moderate to none (UK varieties typically, although US varieties may be used).  Generally no diacetyl, although very low levels are allowed.

Appearance: Medium gold to medium copper.  Good to brilliant clarity.  Low to moderate white to off-white head.  May have very little head due to low carbonation.

Flavor: Medium to high bitterness.  Most have moderately low to moderately high fruity esters.  Moderate to low hop flavor (earthy, resiny, and/or floral UK varieties typically, although US varieties may be used).  Low to medium maltiness with a dry finish.  Caramel flavors are common but not required.  Balance is often decidedly bitter, although the bitterness should not completely overpower the malt flavor, esters and hop flavor.  Generally no diacetyl, although very low levels are allowed. Read the rest of this entry »


Defined: Düsseldorf Altbier

September 14, 2010

Aroma: Clean yet robust and complex aroma of rich malt, noble hops and restrained fruity esters.  The malt character reflects German base malt varieties.  The hop aroma may vary from moderate to very low, and can have a peppery, floral or perfumy character associated with noble hops.  No diacetyl.

Appearance: Light amber to orange-bronze to deep copper color, yet stopping short of brown.  Brilliant clarity (may be filtered). Thick, creamy, long-lasting off-white head.

Flavor: Assertive hop bitterness well balanced by a sturdy yet clean and crisp malt character.  The malt presence is moderated by moderately-high to high attenuation, but considerable rich and complex malt flavors remain.  Some fruity esters may survive the lagering period.  A long-lasting, medium-dry to dry, bittersweet or nutty finish reflects both the hop bitterness and malt complexity.  Noble hop flavor can be moderate to low.  No roasted malt flavors or harshness.  No diacetyl.  Some yeast strains may impart a slight sulfury character.  A light minerally character is also sometimes present in the finish, but is not required.  The apparent bitterness level is sometimes masked by the high malt character; the bitterness can seem as low as moderate if the finish is not very dry. Read the rest of this entry »