The 7 Categories of Beer

Different Types of Beer

The more expansive the craft beer industry becomes, the more categories of beer that are being created. Currently there are 7 ways to categorize a brew: crisp, hop, malt, roast, smoke, fruit & spice, tart & funky. As a bar owner, knowing how to describe beer is incredibly important, especially in the craft beer industry. Customers will not only expect you to have knowledge on everything you serve, but also to describe your selections, and help them make a decision.

1. Crisp

A “crisp” beer is a lighter brew, and is often referred to by terms such as: “Light Lager,” “The Blond,” or “The Golden Ale.”  These types of beers can be described as light and delicate, and often with a fruity flavor. Crisp beers also include ales such as the American Blond Ale, English Blond Ale, and the Wheat and Cream ales.

Need a sweet and fruity taste? Malt accented brews stir with crisp flavors that you’ll also find in beers such as Amber Ale, Pale Ale, Vienna Ale, and Oktoberfest. Other beers described as “crisp” also include hoppier brews, referred to as “brisk hoppiness.” The name is derived from the noble German-Czech grown hops, and you will find this in a Pilsner or even an India Pale Lager.

2. Hop

Hop flavors can be described as earthy, and generally include styles that are dry, with a malty backbone, and herbal centric. Common examples of these styles are English Pale Ale, or a Belgian IPA.

The malt blend of hops includes the initial bitter flavor, and mixes with a caramel-fruity tone. You would typically find this in beer styles like the American Pale Ale or the American Imperial Red Ale. The bold, herbal and citrus flavored hop has a zestier taste that includes ales such as the American Pale Ale or the American Fresh Hop Ale.

3. Malt

Craft beer categorized as a malt, generally includes fruity, nutty, and toasty flavors. There is the toasty and nutty flavored malt that you would find in beers such as the Dark Lager, English Brown Ale, or a Doppelbock. For fruity and toffee flavored malt, look for a Scottish Ale, Belgian Pale Ale, or an English Strong Ale.

4. Roast

The darker and coffee blended malts is where you can find a soft and silky-like ale such as the Brown Porter, Oatmeal Stout, or an Imperial Brown Ale. For the richer and fuller roasts, try dark and dry flavors that include the Dry Stout, American Stout, and a Robust Porter.

5. Smoke

Think “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” type of flavor.  Smoke flavored beers hold a toasted richness that you would find in a smolder ale. This can includes types of beer like a Smoked Porter. There is also a spicier and meaty flavor in this category, that you will taste in a styles like Rauchbier.

6. Fruit and Spice

This category includes bright-flavored fruit blends like apples, pears, lemons, bananas. It is usually mixed with spices such as vanilla, pepper, and coriander. You will find this category of beer in styles like a Belgian Blond Ale, Kristalweizen, or a Belgian Strong Blond Ale.

There is a darker blend as well. This type of fruit and spice beer captures flavors such as figs, cherries, plums, and combines them with flavor profiles like nutmeg, and cinnamon. This category includes styles like a Belgian Dark Ale, Dubbel, or a Dunkelweizen.

7. Tart and Funky

These are sour brews that range from earthy to wine-like beer. It is a delicate style that is similar to the crisp brews, however, tart and funky usually include a twist of citrus, like you would find in a Berliner Weissbier or a Faro.

The fruity and vinous flavor profile is more for the wine drinkers, as this is the closest beer you can get to wine. It is the tartiest and funkiest of brews, and includes the Wild Ale and a Flanders Red Ale. Lastly, you will find a rustic earthy flavored ale such as a Saison or a Gueuze Lambic, is also categorized as tart and funky.

As the craft industry grows, keeping track of the different categories of beer can be daunting. Learning these flavor profiles as they edge into the market, gives your establishment a competitive edge.

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