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Beer Glossary

Main Beer Styles

Abby beer: A beer that is brewed in the style and manner of trappist beers.

Ale: Beer fermented more quickly and at warmer temperatures than lager, with top-fermenting yeast.

Altbier: A copper-colored German ale that originated in Dusseldorf. It is a style that historically preceded lager. Literally, “old beer” in German.

Barleywine: A British-style, very strong ale ranging from 8-10 percent alcohol by volume.

Beer: A fermented beverage made from malted grain and usually seasoned with hops.

Biere de Garde: A malty, strong French-style ale.

Bitter: A British-style ale with a high hop content.

Bock: A strong, dark German lager, usually brewed for the spring season.

Brown ale: A mild, brown beer, usually low in alcohol.

California Common: A generic name for steam beer.

Cream ale: A sweet, golden American-style beer with a high level of carbonation. Some are fermented with both ale and lager yeasts.

Doppelbock: Translates to “doublebock” in German, this beer is an extra strong version of bock. Traditionally, the names of all doppelbocks end in -ator as in Celebrator (brewed by Ayinger) or Optimator (brewed by Spaten).

Dunkel: Literally translated, “dark” in German. Dark beer.

Framboise: A Belgian-style beer made with raspberries.

Hefeweizen: Meaning “yeast wheat” in German. An unfiltered wheat beer that is bottle conditioned and cloudy when served.

Helles: Literally, “pale” in German. Pale beer.

Hard cider: A fermented beverage made from apples.

Imperial stout: a very strong, hoppy black ale, which originated in Britain as an export to Czarist Russia.

India Pale Ale: (IPA) A very strong, hoppy pale ale, which originated in Britain for export to soldiers in India.

Kolsch: A light, golden German ale, which originated in Cologne.

Kriek: A Belgian-style beer made with cherries.

Lager Beer: fermented more slowly and at cooler temperatures than ale, with bottom-fermenting yeast, and which is then aged for a smooth, clean flavor and aroma.

Lambic: A Belgian ale that spontaneously ferments with wild yeast in the air in the brewery. It is distinctive for its sour taste and aroma.

Maibock: Translates to “May bock” in German. A sweet pale lager brewed for the spring season.

Marzen: Literally, “March” in German, which is the month the beer is brewed for consumption the following fall. A malty lager that originated in Germany, Marzen is traditionally brewed for Oktoberfest. It is also referred to as an Oktoberfest.

Mead: A fermented beverage made from honey.

Mild: An English-style beer that is dark in color but mild in alcoholic content.

Munchener: Literally, “Munich” in German. A dark, spicy lager.

Old Ale: A British-style ale that is medium strong and dark.

Pale Ale: A fruity, milder version of England’s India Pale Ale.

Pilsener/Pilsner/Pils: The most imitated style of lager in the world, it was perfected in 1842 in Pilsen, Bohemia. It is pale in color with an assertive hop aroma and is highly carbonated.

Porter: An English-style dark ale that was stout’s predecessor. It was first brewed for London laborers.

Rauchbier: Literally, “smoke beer” in German. A lager with a strong smoky character popularized in Bamburg. It is brewed with wood-smoked malt.

Saison: A Belgian-style ale that is mildly sour with spices or herbs and which usually is brewed for spring.

Seasonal beer: a beer brewed for a specific season of the year, such as an Octoberfest or winter warmer.

Session beer: A low-alcohol beer brewed so several can be consumed in one drinking session.

Scotch Ale: A Scottish-style malty, copper-colored strong ale.

Scottish Ale: A Scottish-style ale that is less alcoholic than its Scotch ale cousin.

Steam Beer: A uniquely American beer that was first introduced in California during the Gold Rush. It is brewed using bottom-fermenting lager yeast at top-fermenting ale temperatures. Anchor Steam beer is the most famous example of this style.

Steinbier: Literally, “stone beer” in German. A lager brewed with hot rocks plunged into the boiling wort to impart a caramelized flavor.

Stout: An English- and Irish-style ale that is opaque black, smooth and creamy. It may be dry or sweet.

Trappist Ale: A strong ale made at one of the last five brewing Trappist monasteries in Belgium and The Netherlands. They are widely regarded as the finest beers in the world.

Vienna: A German-style lager that is sweet, malty and reddish in color. It was originally brewed in Vienna.

Weizenbier/Wheat Beer: Literally, “wheat beer” in German. An ale brewed with between 20 and 60 percent wheat that is often served in the summer.

Wit Beer: The Belgian version of wheat beer brewed with coriander and curacao orange peel.