About Beer

Learn about Beer Styles

What establishes a beer style? Centuries of accumulated wisdom and trial and error, in most cases. Ever since early settled Homo Sapiens discovered that damp grains started to ferment under the right circumstances, the production of beer has been refined and formalized into styles. For many craft brewers, writers, and the industry in general, a huge debt of gratitude is owed to the late, great student of beer, Michael Jackson, the famous English beer writer, friend, and former Tastings/BTI beer panelist, for lucidly illustrating all of the world’s classic beer styles in their cultural context. The World Guide to Beers, first published in 1979, inspired a generation of new breweries and beer importers.

To the left are the seven main groups of beer styles, including cider which we group with beer. Within these groups you will find details of the numerous beer styles that comprise them with top rated  examples from our bling beer tastings. They should give you a grasp of the essential character of almost every beer style, barring re-created examples of ancient Sumerian sour bread beer, new experimental styles and hybrids, or any other such oddities.

Thanks to the craft beer revolution, there are well over hundred beer styles these days, some new and some resurrected—meaning that there is a lot to explore. Even if you think you don't like beer, we're betting that there is a beer style for you. Let us know when you’ve tasted them all! 

The World of Beer

Explore the famous and emerging beer countries of the world.

Beer is a Perishable Product

Beer is food, and it is perishable. Learn the importance of  freshness and how can you determine the "drinking window" of a beer.

Beer and Food Pairing

Learn the fine arts of cooking with beer and matching the right beer to food, including some classic pairings.

Beer Glassware

Does the glass shape and size actually influence the taste of beer? The answer is yes, up to a point.

Beer Faults

Why does that beer taste like #%$!*!!!? Could be it was poorly made, or it could be poorly handled. Learn what can go wrong and what are the signs (and smells) of a faulty beer.

Brewing in Six Easy Steps

To understand beer it helps to understand how it is made. Here is a quick synopsis.

British & North American Ales

Rogue Ales 2015 Old Crustacean Barleywine
97 points
British and North American ales represent a diverse range of styles ranging from milds to barley wines and bitters to imperial IPAs. All of the styles in this category originated in England but have since been adopted by American brewers, with noticeable differences between English and American versions.
Top Rating: Rogue Ales 2015 Old Crustacean Barleywine

Continental European Ales

Rodenbach Brewery Rodenbach Caractère Rouge Ale
97 points
Continental European ales represent styles originating in Europe outside of the United Kingdom. Many of these styles were first brewed as “farmhouse” specialties intended to last throughout the season, and incorporating regional, readily-available ingredients and spices. Today, these styles are brewed far outside their countries of origin and pose unique challenges for brewers in terms of creating beers that are balanced and representative of their original styles. This category includes styles such as alt and kölsch beers, as well as Trappist and Belgian-style ales.
Top Rating: Rodenbach Brewery Rodenbach Caractère Rouge Ale

Stout & Porters

4 Hands Brewing Co. Zellige Moroccan Coffee Stout
96 points
Stouts and porters are very dark, almost black in color, and feature heavily roasted flavors and aromas. They are enormously popular among craft brewers, with virtually all brewpubs and regional microbrewers producing one or both year round.
Top Rating: 4 Hands Brewing Co. Zellige Moroccan Coffee Stout

Lagers

Capital Brewery Fishin In The Dark
97 points
Lagers are relatively recent on the global beer scene, when one considers the centuries of ale brewing that predated the production of these styles. The simple difference between a lager and an ale is that the yeast employed for fermentation of a lager works at a cooler temperature and sinks to the bottom of the fermentation vessel, while ale yeasts work at higher temperatures and rise to the top of the vessel. Hence, lagers are "bottom-fermenting" beers. This category includes a wide range of bottom-fermenting beer styles, with some of the most popular being pilsners and pale lagers.
Top Rating: Capital Brewery Fishin' In The Dark

Wheat Beers

Urban Chestnut Brewing Company Pierres Wit
97 points
Wheat ales represent a diverse range of styles brewed with a portion of wheat in addition to malted barley. These beers are usually lighter in body, unfiltered and highly refreshing. Bavarian weizen beers are the better-known examples in this category, which also includes Berliner weisse and Belgian witbier. This category also features American style wheat beers, which may range from fairly neutral in flavor and aroma to highly-hopped.
Top Rating: Urban Chestnut Brewing Company Pierre's Wit

Fruit & Specialty Beers

Rodenbach Brewery Rodenbach Alexander
97 points
The specialty beer category includes some of the more unique and individualized styles. Many of these beers either do not have a clearly defined style guideline or do not fit under the umbrella of another category. This category also includes a wide range of hybrid styles, beers brewed from specialty yeast and malts and gluten-free ales and lagers.
Top Rating: Rodenbach Brewery Rodenbach Alexander

Ciders

WildCraft Cider Works Pinot Noir Barrel Aged Cherry Cider
96 points
Ciders cover a diverse range of styles typically made from fermented apple juice. Some ciders may also be made with other fruits such as pears, or with various fruit juices added in conjunction to the traditional apple juice. As with wine, the character and quality of the resulting product reflects the variety and quality of the fruits used. This category ranges from common ciders to specialty ciders made all around the world.
Top Rating: WildCraft Cider Works Pinot Noir Barrel Aged Cherry Cider