There are three main types of beer. These are
top-fermenting, bottom-fermenting and spontanious-fermenting beers.
Munich, Bock, Dopple Bock, Rauchbeer
Lambics, Geuze, Faro, Kriek
Abbey beers are strong fruity ales and brewed
in Belgium by commercial companies. They copy the style of the
surviving beers produced in monasteries, or name their brews after
a church or a saint. Examples are Leffe, Grimbergen and Maredsous.
Ales are brewed with "top-fermenting"
yeasts at temperatures from 10-20 degrees Celsius. Ales include
bitters, pale ales, porters, stouts, barley wines, trappist, and
alt. In England ales are very popular.
This is a bitter-tasting brew produced by the
ancient style of brewing using top-fermentation. Alt is a copper-colored
aromatic ale, made in the city of Dusseldorf and a few other cities
in the north of Germany. It's a firm-bodied but quite bitter beer
that contains just over 4.5% alcohol. Examples are Diebels, Schlosser
Barley wine is the English name for a powerful,
almost syrupy, strong ale, that is usually sold in small nip-size
bottles. These well-matured brews can be golden or dark in colour.
The darker versions of barley wine were once called Stingo.
A light, sharply acidic German wheat beer made
predominantly in Berlin, this refreshing brew is relatively low
in alcohol and is often laced with a dash of green woodruff or
raspberry juice to add color to its cloudy white appearance.
Biere de Garde
A top-fermenting "beer for keeping"
from north-west France, this was originally made in farmhouses,
but is now produced by commercial breweries. This style produces
medium to strong spicy ales; some are bottle-conditioned, and
many are sealed with wired corks.
The distinctive style of draught ale in England
and Wales is generally served in pubs. It is usually dry and hoppy
with an alcohol content of 3.5%. Traditionally reddish amber in
colour, paler varieties are now proving popular in England. Stronger
versions used to be called Best or Special.
In Germany, Schwarzbier is a strongtasting, bitter-chocolate
lager. It is not a stout but a very dark lager and is a speciality
of eastern Germany, particularly around Bernau. The town of Kostritz
in the former East Germany is noted for its black lager, and Kulmbach
and Erlangen are also known for their deep brown beers. This style
is also made in Japan. In England, especially Yorkshire, black
beers are strong, pitch-black, treacly malt extracts, usually
bottled for mixing with lemonade to make distinctive shandies.
A strong malty, warming German beer of about 6.5%
alcohol, bock was originally brewed for the colder months. Traditionally
dark in colour, today it is more likely to be golden-bronze. This
powerful smooth brew originated in Einbeck in Lower Saxony, but
is now more associated with Bavaria. Bock is also produced in
Austria, the Netherlands and other countries surrounding Germany.
The word bock means "billy goat", and a goat's head
often features on the label. The brew is sometimes linked with
seasonal festivals, such as Maibock which celebrates the arrival
of spring. Extra-potent versions are called doppelbocks (and are
chiefly associated with Bavaria), with more than 7% alcohol, such
as Paulaner Salvator.
A sweetish, bottled mild ale, dark in colour and
low in alcohol, from England, brown ale was once a popular workers'
drink, although sales have declined heavily in recent years. The
north-east of the country produces stronger, drier versions like
the well-known Newcastle Brown Ale. Belgium boasts its own sweet
and sour brown ales from East Flanders. The main producer is Liefmans
of Oudenaarde. The sour taste comes from a slow simmering rather
than a boil, and from the addition of a lactic yeast. Other producers
include Cnudde, also of Oudenaarde, the nearby Roman Brewery and
Produced by only a handful of American breweries
this is an odd, slow burning speciality. The Pike Place Brewery
of Seattle produces an occas ional Cerveza Rosanna Red Chilli
Ale, while the hotter Crazy Ed's Cave Creek Chilli Beer of Phoenix,
Arizona, has a whole chilli pod in each bottle. It reputedly goes
well with Mexican food.
A sweetish, smooth, golden ale from the United
States, cream ale was originally introduced by ale brewers trying
to copy the Pilsner style. Some cream ales are made by blending
ales with bottom-fermenting beers.
Nothing to do with dieting, diat pils is lager
which undergoes a thorough fermentation which removes nearly all
the sugars from the bottom fermented, Pilsner derived brew. This
leaves a strong, dry tasting beer, which is still packed with
calories in the alcohol. It was originally brewed as a beer suitable
for diabetics, rather than slimmers. Because it misled many, the
word "diat" has now been removed.
An extra-strong bock beer; doppelbock is not double
in strength, but usually around 7.5% alcohol. It is rich and warming.
The names of the leading Bavarian brands usually end in "ator",
Salvator from Paulaner of Munich, for example.
Dortmunder is a strong, full bodied export style
of lager from Dortmund in Germany, the
biggest brewing city in Europe. It was originally brewed for export
and was once sold under this name across the globe, but is now
declining in popularity Malty, dry and full bodied, these brews
usually have an alcohol strength of around 5.5%, being firmer
and less aromatic than a Pilsner. The leading examples include
DAB, Kronen and DUB.
First produced in Japan by the Asahi Brewery in
l987, this is a super diat pils with a parching effect, which
was widely adopted in North America. The beer taste is so clean
it has been swept away almost entirely through further fermentation.
Dry beer, in which more of the sugars are turned to alcohol leaving
little taste, was developed in Japan and launched in America in
l988. After an initial surge in sales when Anheuser-Busch introduced
Bud Dry, the market has faded almost coompletely away.
German lagers were traditionally dark, and these
soft, malty brown beers are associated with Munich, often being
known as Munchner like the paler hell, they contain around 4.5%
alcohol. Most of the major Munich breweries produce a dunkel.
This is a term used to describe dark, medium-strength
Trappist and abbey beers in Belgium.
An extra-potent bock, eisbock is produced by freezing
the brew and removing some of the frozen water to leave behind
more concentrated alcohol. The most notable producer is Kulmbacher
Reichelbrau in Northern Bavaria. Eisbock is the original ice beer.
This term was originally used to denote a better-quality
beer, worth selling abroad. The Dortmunder style is also known
as Dortmunder Export, since it became popular around the world.
In Scotland, the term export is widely adopted for premium ales.
Once the most common manifestation of Belgian
lambic beer, faro is a weak lambic sweetened with sugar. Now this
style has largely disappeared.
These are Flemish and French names for a Belgium
fruit beer made by adding raspberries to a lambic. Framboise has
a sparkling, pink champagne character and the raspberries impart
a light, fruity flavour. Because the whole fruit is too soft,
producers usually add raspberry syrup. In recent years a whole
variety of other fruit juices have been tried, from peaches to
bananas, with varying degrees of success.
Despite its name, this is a refreshing, low or
non alcohol soft drink flavoured with root ginger However. long
before the hop appeared, ginger was used in beer and some pioneering
micro-brewers are trying it again: Salopian in England adds ginger
to its dark wheat beer, Gingersnap.
Any young beer which has not had time too mature
is known as a green beer. The term is
also used to denote a beer made with organic malt and hops. Organic
green beer is known as
biologique in France (where Castelain makes an organic beer called
Jade) and biologisch in Germany. In Scotland, the Caledonian Brewery
of Edinburgh has pioneered organic ale with Golden Promise.
This is a ripe blend of old and new Belgian lambics.
By blending young and old lambics, a secondary fermentation is
triggered. The resulting distinctive, sparkling beer, often sold
in corked bottles like champagne to withstand the pressure, packs
a fruity, sour, dry taste. Blending is such an art that some producers
do not brew, but buw in their wort. Often this beer is matured
for many more months in the bottle. In some cases the seconday
fermentation is triggered by the addition of various fruits. Traditionally
gueuze should not be filtered, pasteurized or sweetened, though
some more commercial brands do all three.
Scottish brewers use this term to describe a standard
strength ale, between a Light and an Export. A "wee heavy"
is a bottled strong ale. the wee referring to the small nip size
of the bottle.
The German word for yeast is used to describe
a beer that is unfiltered, with a sediment in
the bottle. Draught beers "mmit Hefe" are usually cloudy.
This word means. pale or light in German and indicates
a mild, malty golden lager, often from Munich. Notable examples
include Hacker-Pschorr and Augustiner.
The Celts and other ancient peoples used to make
mead from fermented honey. They
also produced a beer, bragot, to which honey was often added as
a soft sweetener. A hazy honey brew called Golden Mead Ale was
produced in England by Hope & Anchor Breweries of Sheffield,
and was widely exported until the early l960's. Today, a few breweries
have revived the style, notably Ward's of Sheffield with Waggle
Dance and Enville Ales of Staffordshire. Some
new American brewers also use honey, as do the innovative Belgian
De Dolle Brouwers in their Boskeun beer.
A chilling innovation of the early l99O's; the
brew is froozen during maturation to produce a purified beer,
with the ice crystals removed to increase the strength. Many ice
beers were originally developed in Canada by Labatt and contain
around 5.5% alcohol. Canadian brewers. Labatt and Molson introduced
the new beer style in l993 in which the beer is frozen after fermentation,
giving a cleaner, almost smoothed away flavour. Sometimes the
ice crystals are removed, concentrating the beer. Most major US
brewers have launched their own brands such as Bud Ice and Miller's
Icehouse, but ice beer still accounts for less than 4% of the
beer market. ln 1996, Tennent's of Scotland produced a Super lce
with a strength of 8.6%.
The words behind the initials betray IPA's imperial
origins India Pale Ale. This strong, heavily hopped beer was brewed
in Britain, notably in Burton-on-Trent by companies like Allsopp
and Bass. The recipe was designed to withstand the long sea voyages
to distant parts of the British Empire like India. According to
legend, a cargo of 30O casks of Bass's East India Pale Ale was
wrecked off the port of Liverpool in l827. Some of the rescued
beer was sold locally and won instant fame among English drinkers.
Specialist American brewers like Bert Grant's Yakima Brewing Company
now proobably produce the most authentic versions.
A soft, slightly sweet reddish ale from the 'Emerald
Isle". Top and bottom fermenting versions are brewed commercially.
This ale followed many of the Irish in migrating to other lands.
George Killian Letts, a member the Letts family who brewed Ruhy
Ale in County Wexford until l956, licensed the French brewery
Pelforth to produce Geoorge Killian's Biere Rousse and the American
brewers Coors to produce Killian's lrish Red. Smithwick's of Kilkenny
(owned by Guinness is the best known ale in Ireland today.
The refreshing golden beer of Cologne may look
like a Pilsner (though it may sometimes be cloudy), but its light,
subtle fruity taste reveals it to be a top fermenting ale. Its
fleeting aromatic nature masks an alcohol content of 4.5%. Kolsch
is produced only by some 20 breweries in and around the busy cathedral
of Cologne and it is usually served in small glasses. The leading
producers include Kuppers and Fruh.
In this Belgian lambic beer, secondary fermentation
is stimulated by adding cherries to give a dry, fruity flavour
and deep colour. This is not a novelty drink, but draws on a long
tradition of using local fruit to flavour an already complex brew,
balancing the lambic sourness and providing an almond character
from the cherry stones. The kriek is a small dark cherry grown
This term, taken from the German word for a crystal-clear
beer, usually indicates a filtered wheat beer or Weizenbier.
Lagers are brewed with "bottom-fermenting"
yeasts at colder temperatures of 2-10 degrees Celsius during a
long period of time). This process is called "lagering".
Lagers include bocks, doppelbocks, Munich, Vienna, Märzen
and pilsners. These pilsners come from a town called Pilsen in
the Czech Republic. The pilseners are very popular all over the
world and are mass produced.
Lambics are (only) brewed in parts of Belgium.
The lambics are often flavoured using fruits like cherries.
In England, this term indicates a bottled low-gravity
bitter. In Scotland, it means the weakest brew, a beer light in
strength although it may well be dark in colour.
In North America, this term is used to describe
a thin, low-calorie beer, the best-known being Miller Lite. In
some countries, Australia for instance, lite can mean low in alcohol.
Since the late l980's, many breweries throughout
the world have added low or non-alcoholic brews to their beer
range, usually in response to increasingly strict drink-driving
laws. Low alcohol (or LA) can contain as much as 2.5% alcohol.
Alcohol free brews should contain no more than O.O5%. Some of
these near beers are produced using yeasts which create little
alcohol, or the fermentation is cut short. In others the alcohol
is removed from a normal beer by distillation or reverse osmosis.
It has proved difficult to provide an acceptable beer taste. Some
of the more successful brews, Clausthaler from Frankfurt in Germany
and Birell from Hurlimann of Zurich in Switzerland, now sell or
licence their low or non-alcoholic beers across many countries.
In the United States, this term indicates a strong
lager, often made with a high amount of sugar to produce a thin
but potent brew. These beers are designed to deliver a strong
alcoholic punch (around 6-8%) but little else. They are light
beers with a kick, often cheaply made with a high proportion of
sugar and using enzymes to create more alcohol. Sales of malt
liquor account for about 4% of the total American beer market.
A full-bodied copper-colored lager, this beer
style originated in Vienna, but developed in Munich as a stronger
Marzen (March) brew (6% alcohol), which was laid down in March,
to allow it to mature over the summer for drinking at the Oktoberfest
after the harvest. It has largely been replaced in Germany by
more golden "Festbiere". Smooth and malty, most are
now stronger versions of the golden hell, containing more than
5.5% alcohol. Notable examples include Spaten UrMarzen and Hofbrauhaus
Mild was the dominant ale in England and Wales
until the 196O's, and later in some regions. It is a relatively
low-gravity malty beer, usually lightly hopped, and can be dark
or pale in color. Mild was traditionally the workers' drink and
would be sold on draught in the pub or club. Today, the style
has vanished from many areas; it survives mainly in the industrial
West Midlands and the north west of England.
The German name for a beer from Munich traditionally
refers to the city's brown, malty
This strong, well matured, richa and dark ale
is usually sold as a seasonal beer in England as a winter warmer.
Sometimes such ales are used as stock beers for blending with
Old Browns in the Netherlands are weak, sweetish
An English bottled beer, pale ale is stronger
than light ale and is usually based on the brewery's best bitter.