BJCP – Guidelines 2015

1. Standard American Beer
1A. American Light Lager1B. American Lager1C. Cream Ale1D. American Wheat Beer
Overall Impression: Highly carbonated, very light-bodied, nearly flavorless lager designed to be consumed very cold. Very refreshing and thirst quenching.

Aroma: Low to no malt aroma, although it can be perceived as grainy, sweet, or corn-like if present. Hop aroma is light to none, with a spicy or floral hop character if present. While a clean fermentation character is desirable, a light amount of yeast character (particularly a light apple fruitiness) is not a fault. Light DMS is not a fault.

Appearance: Very pale straw to pale yellow color. White, frothy head seldom persists. Very clear.

Flavor: Relatively neutral palate with a crisp and dry finish and a low to very low grainy or corn-like flavor that might be perceived as sweetness due to the low bitterness. Hop flavor ranges from none to low levels, and can have a floral, spicy, or herbal quality (although rarely strong enough to detect). Low to very low hop bitterness. Balance may vary from slightly malty to slightly bitter, but is relatively close to even. High levels of carbonation may accentuate the crispness of the dry finish. Clean lager fermentation character.

Mouthfeel: Very light (sometimes watery) body. Very highly carbonated with slight carbonic bite on the tongue.

Comments: Designed to appeal to as broad a range of the general public as possible. Strong flavors are a fault.

History: Coors briefly made a light lager in the early 1940s. Modern versions were first produced by Rheingold in 1967 to appeal to diet-conscious drinkers, but only became popular starting in 1973 after Miller Brewing acquired the recipe and marketed the beer heavily to sports fans with the “tastes great, less filling” campaign. Beers of this genre became the largest sellers in the United States in the 1990s.

Characteristic Ingredients: Two- or six-row barley with high percentage (up to 40%) of rice or corn as adjuncts. Additional enzymes can further lighten the body and lower carbohydrates.

Style Comparison: A lighter-bodied, lower-alcohol, lower calorie version of an American Lager. Less hop character and bitterness than a Leichtbier.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.028 – 1.040
IBUs: 8 – 12
FG: 0.998 – 1.008
SRM: 2 – 3
ABV: 2.8 – 4.2%

Commercial Examples: Bud Light, Coors Light, Keystone Light, Michelob Light, Miller Lite, Old Milwaukee Light

Overall Impression: A very pale, highly-carbonated, light-bodied, well-attenuated lager with a very neutral flavor profile and low bitterness. Served very cold, it can be a very refreshing and thirst quenching drink.

Aroma: Low to no malt aroma, although it can be perceived as grainy, sweet or corn-like if present. Hop aroma may range from none to a light, spicy or floral hop presence. While a clean fermentation character is desirable, a light amount of yeast character (particularly a light apple character) is not a fault. Light DMS is also not a fault.

Appearance: Very pale straw to medium yellow color. White, frothy head seldom persists. Very clear.
Flavor: Relatively neutral palate with a crisp and dry finish and a moderately-low to low grainy or corn-like flavor that might be perceived as sweetness due to the low bitterness. Hop flavor ranges from none to moderately-low levels, and can have a floral, spicy, or herbal quality (although often not strong enough to distinguish). Hop bitterness at low to medium-low level. Balance may vary from slightly malty to slightly bitter, but is relatively close to even. High levels of carbonation may accentuate the crispness of the dry finish. Clean lager fermentation character.

Mouthfeel: Low to medium-low body. Very highly carbonated with slight carbonic bite on the tongue.

Comments: Strong flavors are a fault. Often what non-craft beer drinkers expect to be served if they order beer in the United States. May be marketed as Pilsner beers outside of Europe, but should not be confused with traditional examples.

History: Although German immigrants had brewed traditional Pilsner-inspired lager beer in the United States since the mid-late 1800s, the modern American lager style was heavily influenced by Prohibition and World War II. Surviving breweries consolidated, expanded distribution, and heavily promoted a beer style that was appealing to a broad range of the population. Became the dominant beer style for many decades, and spawning many international rivals who would develop similarly bland products for the mass market supported by heavy advertising.

Characteristic Ingredients: Two- or six-row barley with high percentage (up to 40%) of rice or corn as adjuncts.

Style Comparison: Stronger, more flavor and body than a Light American Lager. Less bitterness and flavor than an International Lager. Significantly less flavor, hops, and bitterness than traditional European Pilsners.
Vital Statistics:

OG: 1.040 – 1.050
FG: 1.004 – 1.010
IBUs: 8 – 18
SRM: 2 – 4
ABV: 4.2 – 5.3%

Commercial Examples: Budweiser, Coors Original, Grain Belt Premium Lager, Miller High Life, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Special Export

Tags: standard-strength, pale-color, bottom-fermented, lagered, north-america, traditional-style, pale-lager-family, balanced

Overall Impression: A clean, well-attenuated, flavorful American “lawnmower” beer. Easily drinkable and refreshing, with more character than typical American lagers.

Aroma: Medium-low to low malt notes, with a sweet, corn-like aroma. Low levels of DMS are allowable, but are not required. Hop aroma medium low to none, and can be of any variety although floral, spicy, or herbal notes are most common. Overall, a subtle aroma with neither hops nor malt dominating. Low fruity esters are optional.

Appearance: Pale straw to moderate gold color, although usually on the pale side. Low to medium head with medium to high carbonation. Fair head retention. Brilliant, sparkling clarity.

Flavor: Low to medium-low hop bitterness. Low to moderate maltiness and sweetness, varying with gravity and attenuation. Usually well-attenuated. Neither malt nor hops dominate the palate. A low to moderate corny flavor is commonly found, as is light DMS (optional). Finish can vary from somewhat dry to faintly sweet. Low fruity esters are optional. Low to medium-low hop flavor (any variety, but typically floral, spicy, or herbal).

Mouthfeel: Generally light and crisp, although body can reach medium. Smooth mouthfeel with medium to high attenuation; higher attenuation levels can lend a “thirst quenching” quality. High carbonation.

Comments: Pre-prohibition Cream Ales were slightly stronger, hoppier (including some dry hopping) and more bitter (25-30+ IBUs). These versions should be entered in the historical category. Most commercial examples are in the 1.050–1.053 OG range, and bitterness rarely rises above 20 IBUs.

History: A sparkling or present-use ale that existed in the 1800s and survived prohibition. An ale version of the American lager style. Produced by ale brewers to compete with lager brewers in Canada and the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest states. Originally known as sparkling or present use ales, lager strains were (and sometimes still are) used by some brewers, but were not historically mixed with ale strains. Many examples are kräusened to achieve carbonation. Cold conditioning isn’t traditional, although modern brewers sometimes use it.

Characteristic Ingredients: American ingredients most commonly used. A grain bill of six-row malt, or a combination of six-row and North American two-row, is common. Adjuncts can include up to 20% maize in the mash, and up to 20% glucose or other sugars in the boil. Any variety of hops can be used for bittering and finishing.
Style Comparison: Similar to a Standard American Lager, but with more character.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.042 – 1.055
FG: 1.006 – 1.012
IBUs: 8 – 20
SRM: 2.5 – 5
ABV: 4.2 – 5.6%

Commercial Examples: Genesee Cream Ale, Liebotschaner Cream Ale, Little Kings Cream Ale, New Glarus Spotted Cow, Old Style, Sleeman Cream Ale

Tags: standard-strength, pale-color, any-fermentation, north-america, traditional-style, pale-ale-family, balanced

Overall Impression: Refreshing wheat beers that can display more hop character and less yeast character than their German cousins. A clean fermentation character allows bready, doughy, or grainy wheat flavors to be complemented by hop flavor and bitterness rather than yeast qualities.

Aroma: Low to moderate grainy, bready, or doughy wheat character. A light to moderate malty sweetness is acceptable. Esters can be moderate to none, although should reflect relatively neutral yeast strains; banana is inappropriate. Hop aroma may be low to moderate, and can have a citrusy, spicy, floral, or fruity character. No clove phenols.

Appearance: Usually pale yellow to gold. Clarity may range from brilliant to hazy with yeast approximating the German weissbier style of beer. Big, long-lasting white head.

Flavor: Light to moderately-strong bready, doughy, or grainy wheat flavor, which can linger into the finish. May have a moderate malty sweetness or finish quite dry. Low to moderate hop bitterness, which sometimes lasts into the finish. Balance is usually even, but may be slightly bitter. Low to moderate hop flavor (citrusy, spicy, floral, or fruity). Esters can be moderate to none, but should not include banana. No clove phenols. May have a slightly crisp finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light to medium body. Medium-high to high carbonation. Slight creaminess is optional; wheat beers sometimes have a soft, ‘fluffy’ impression.

History: An American craft beer adaptation of the German weissbier style using a cleaner yeast and more hops, first widely popularized by Widmer in the mid-1980s.
Characteristic Ingredients: Clean American ale or lager yeast (German weissbier yeast is inappropriate). Large proportion of wheat malt (often 30–50%, which is lower than is typical in German weissbiers). American, German, or New World hops are typical.

Style Comparison: More hop character and less yeast character than German weissbier. Never with the banana and clove character of German weissbier. Generally can have the same range and balance as Blonde Ales, but with a wheat character as the primary malt flavor.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.040 – 1.055
FG: 1.008 – 1.013
IBUs: 15 – 30
SRM: 3 – 6
ABV: 4.0 – 5.5%

Commercial Examples: Bell’s Oberon, Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat Beer, Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat Ale, Widmer Hefeweizen

Tags: standard-strength, pale-color, any-fermentation, north-america, craft-style, wheat-beer-family, balanced

2. International Lager
2A. International Pale Lager2B. International Amber Lager2C. International Dark Lager
Overall Impression: A highly-attenuated pale lager without strong flavors, typically well-balanced and highly carbonated. Served cold, it is refreshing and thirst-quenching.

Aroma: Low to medium-low malt aroma, which can be grainy-malty or slightly corny-sweet. Hop aroma may range from very low to a medium, spicy or floral hop presence. While a clean fermentation profile is generally most desirable, low levels of yeast character (such as a light apple fruitiness) are not a fault. A light amount of DMS or corn aroma is not a fault.

Appearance: Pale straw to gold color. White, frothy head may not be long lasting. Very clear.

Flavor: Low to moderate levels of grainy-malt flavor, with a crisp, dry, well-attenuated finish. The grain character can be somewhat neutral, or show a light bready-crackery quality or up to moderate corny or malty sweetness. Hop flavor ranges from none to medium levels, and often showing a floral, spicy, or herbal character if detected. Hop bitterness at medium-low to medium level. Balance may vary from slightly malty to slightly bitter, but is relatively close to even. Neutral aftertaste with light malt and sometimes hop flavors. A light amount of DMS is not a fault.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body. Moderately high to highly carbonated. Can have a slight carbonic bite on the tongue.

Comments: International lagers tend to have fewer adjuncts than standard American lagers. They may be all-malt, although strong flavors are still a fault. A broad category of international mass-market lagers ranging from up-scale American lagers to the typical “import” or “green bottle” international beers found in America and many export markets. Often confusingly labeled as a “Pilsner.” Any skunkiness in commercial beers from being lightstruck in a green bottle is a mishandling fault, not a characteristic of the style.

History: In the United States, developed as a premium version of the standard American lager, with a similar history. Outside the United States, developed either as an imitation of American style lagers, or as a more accessible (and often drier and less bitter) version of a Pilsner-type beer. Often heavily marketed and exported by large industrial or multi-national breweries.

Characteristic Ingredients: Two- or six-row barley. May use rice, corn, or sugar as adjuncts, or may be all malt.

Style Comparison: Generally more bitter and filling than American lager. Less hoppy and bitter than a German Pils. Less body, malt flavor, and hop character than a Czech Premium Pale Lager. More robust versions can approach a Munich Helles in flavor, although with more of an adjunct quality.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.042 – 1.050
FG: 1.008 – 1.012
IBUs: 18 – 25
SRM: 2 – 6
ABV: 4.6 – 6.0%

Commercial Examples: Asahi Super Dry, Birra Moretti, Corona Extra, Devils Backbone Gold Leaf Lager, Full Sail Session Premium Lager, Heineken, Red Stripe, Singha

Tags: standard-strength, pale-color, bottom-fermented, lagered, traditional-style, pale-lager-family, balanced

Overall Impression: A well-attenuated malty amber lager with an interesting caramel or toast quality and restrained bitterness. Usually fairly well-attenuated, often with an adjunct quality. Smooth, easily-drinkable lager character.

Aroma: Low to moderate malt aroma which can be grainy, with a very low to moderate caramel-sweet to toasty-malty aroma. Hop aroma can range from low to none with a mildly floral or spicy character. Clean lager profile. A slight DMS or corny aroma is acceptable.

Appearance: Golden-amber to reddish-copper color. Bright clarity. White to off-white foam stand which may not last.

Flavor: Low to moderate malt profile which can vary from dry to grainy-sweet. Low to moderate levels of caramel and toasty-bready notes can be evident. Low to medium-low corny sweetness is optional, but not a fault. Hop bitterness is low to moderate, and hop flavor is low to moderate with a spicy, herbal, or floral character. The balance can be fairly malty to nearly even, with the bitterness becoming more noticeable but not objectionable. The bitterness level can increase if the malt character increases to match. Clean fermentation profile. Finish is moderately dry with a moderately malty aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body. Medium to high carbonation. Smooth; some examples can be creamy.

Comments: A wide spectrum of mass-market Amber lagers developed either independently in various countries, or describing rather generic amber beers that may have had more historical relevance but who eventually changed into an indistinguishable product in modern times.

History: Varies by country, but generally represents an adaptation of the mass-market International Lager or an evolution of indigenous styles into a more generic product.

Characteristic Ingredients: Two-row or six-row base malt. Color malts such as victory, amber, etc. Caramel malt adjuncts. European or American hops or a combination of both.

Style Comparison: Less well-developed malt flavor than a Vienna lager, often with an adjunct taste.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.042 – 1.055
FG: 1.008 – 1.014
IBUs: 8 – 25
SRM: 7 – 14
ABV: 4.6 – 6.0%

Commercial Examples: Brooklyn Lager, Capital Winter Skål, Dos Equis Amber, Schell’s Oktoberfest, Yuengling Lager

Tags: standard-strength, amber-color, bottom-fermented, lagered, traditional-style, amber-lager-family, malty

Overall Impression: A darker and somewhat sweeter version of international pale lager with a little more body and Flavour, but equally restrained in bitterness. The low bitterness leaves the malt as the primary Flavour element, and the low hop levels provide very little in the way of balance.

Aroma: Little to no malt aroma; may have a light corn character. Medium-low to no roast and caramel malt aroma. Hop aroma may range from none to light spicy or floral hop presence. While a clean fermentation profile is generally most desirable, low levels of yeast character (such as a light apple fruitiness) are not a fault. A light amount of DMS or corn aroma is not a fault.

Appearance: Deep amber to dark brown with bright clarity and ruby highlights. Foam stand may not be long lasting, and is beige to light tan in color.

Flavour: Low to medium malty sweetness with medium-low to no caramel and/or roasted malt Flavours (and may include hints of coffee, molasses or cocoa). Hop Flavour ranges from none to low levels, and is typically floral, spicy, or herbal. Low to medium hop bitterness. May have a very light fruitiness. Moderately crisp finish. The balance is typically somewhat malty. Burnt or moderately strong roasted malt Flavours are a defect.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium-light body. Smooth with a light creaminess. Medium to high carbonation.

Comments: A broad range of international lagers that are darker than pale, and not assertively bitter and/or roasted.

History: Darker versions of International Pale Lagers often created by the same large, industrial breweries and meant to appeal to a broad audience. Often either a coloured or sweetened adaptation of the standard pale industrial lager, or a more broadly accessible (and inexpensive) version of more traditional dark lagers.

Characteristic Ingredients: Two- or six-row barley, corn, rice, or sugars as adjuncts. Light use of caramel and darker malts. Commercial versions may use colouring agents.

Style Comparison: Less Flavour and richness than Munich Dunkel, Schwarzbier, or other dark lagers. Frequently uses adjuncts, as is typical of other International Lagers.

Vital Statistics:
OG:1.044 – 1.056
FG: 1.008 – 1.012
IBUs: 8 – 20
SRM: 14 – 22
ABV: 4.2 – 6.0%

Commercial Examples: Baltika #4 Original, Devils Backbone Old Virginia Dark, Dixie Blackened Voodoo, Saint Pauli Girl Dark, San Miguel Dark, Session Black Dark Lager, Shiner Bock

Tags: standard-strength, dark-colour, bottom-fermented, lagered, traditional-style, dark-lager-family, malty

3. Czech Lager
3A. Czech Pale Lager3B. Czech Premium Pale Lager3C. Czech Amber Lager3D. Czech Dark Lager
Overall Impression: A lighter-bodied, rich, refreshing, hoppy, bitter pale Czech lager having the familiar Flavours of the stronger Czech Premium Pale Lager (Pilsner-type) beer but in a lower alcohol, lighter-bodied, and slightly less intense format.

Aroma: Light to moderate bready-rich malt combined with light to moderate spicy or herbal hop bouquet; the balance between the malt and hops may vary. Faint hint of caramel is acceptable. Light (but never intrusive) diacetyl and light, fruity hop-derived esters are acceptable, but need not be present. No sulfur.

Appearance: Light gold to deep gold colour. Brilliant to very clear, with a long-lasting, creamy white head.

Flavour: Medium-low to medium bready-rich malt Flavour with a rounded, hoppy finish. Low to medium-high spicy or herbal hop Flavour. Bitterness is prominent but never harsh. Flavourful and refreshing. Diacetyl or fruity esters are acceptable at low levels, but need not be present and should never be overbearing.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light to medium body. Moderate carbonation.

Comments: The Czech name of the style is světlé výčepní pivo.

History: Josef Groll initially brewed two types of beer in 1842–3, a výčepní and a ležák, with the smaller beer having twice the production; Evan Rail speculates that these were probably 10 °P and 12 °P beers, but that the výčepní could have been weaker. This is the most consumed type of beer in the Czech Republic at present.

Characteristic Ingredients: Soft water with low sulfate and carbonate content, Saazer-type hops, Czech Pilsner malt, Czech lager yeast. Low ion water provides a distinctively soft, rounded hop profile despite high hopping rates.

Style Comparison: A lighter-bodied, lower-intensity, refreshing, everyday version of Czech Premium Pale Lager.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.028 – 1.044
FG: 1.008 – 1.014
IBUs: 20 – 35
SRM: 3 – 6
ABV: 3.0 – 4.1%

Commercial Examples: Březňák Světlé výčepní pivo, Notch Session Pils, Pivovar Kout na Šumavě Koutská 10°, Únětické pivo 10°

Tags: session-strength, pale-colour, bottom-fermented, lagered, central-europe, traditional-style, pale-lager-family, bitter, hoppy

Overall Impression: Rich, characterful, pale Czech lager, with considerable malt and hop character and a long, rounded finish. Complex yet well-balanced and refreshing. The malt Flavours are complex for a Pilsner-type beer, and the bitterness is strong but clean and without harshness, which gives a rounded impression that enhances drinkability.

Aroma: Medium to medium-high bready-rich malt and medium-low to medium-high spicy, floral, or herbal hop bouquet; though the balance between the malt and hops may vary, the interplay is rich and complex. Light diacetyl, or very low fruity hop-derived esters are acceptable, but need not be present.

Appearance: Gold to deep gold colour. Brilliant to very clear clarity. Dense, long-lasting, creamy white head.

Flavour: Rich, complex, bready maltiness combined with a pronounced yet soft and rounded bitterness and floral and spicy hop Flavour. Malt and hop Flavours are medium to medium-high, and the malt may contain a slight impression of caramel. Bitterness is prominent but never harsh. The long finish can be balanced towards hops or malt but is never aggressively tilted either way. Light to moderate diacetyl and low hop-derived esters are acceptable, but need not be present.

Mouthfeel: Medium body. Moderate to low carbonation.

Comments: Generally a group of pivo Plzeňského typu, or Pilsner-type beers. This style is a combination of the Czech styles světlý ležák (11–12.9 °P) and světlé speciální pivo (13–14.9 °P). In the Czech Republic, only Pilsner Urquell is called a Pilsner, despite how widely adopted this name is worldwide. Kvasnicové (“yeast beer”) versions are popular in the Czech Republic, and may be either kräusened with yeasted wort or given a fresh dose of pure yeast after fermentation. These beers are sometimes cloudy, with subtle yeastiness and enhanced hop character. Modern examples vary in their malt to hop balance and many are not as hop-forward as Pilsner Urquell.

History: Commonly associated with Pilsner Urquell, which was first brewed in 1842 after construction of a new brewhouse by burghers dissatisfied with the standard of beer brewed in Plzeň. Bavarian brewer Josef Groll is credited with first brewing the beer.

Characteristic Ingredients: Soft water with low sulfate and carbonate content, Saazer-type hops, Czech malt, Czech lager yeast. Low ion water provides a distinctively soft, rounded hop profile despite high hopping rates. The bitterness level of some larger commercial examples has dropped in recent years, although not as much as in many contemporary German examples.

Style Comparison: More colour, malt richness, and body than a German Pils, with a fuller finish and a cleaner, softer impression. Stronger than a Czech Pale Lager.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.044 – 1.060
FG: 1.013 – 1.017
IBUs: 30 – 45
SRM: 3.5 – 6
ABV: 4.2 – 5.8%

Commercial Examples: Bernard Sváteční ležák, Gambrinus Premium, Kout na Šumavě Koutská 12°, Pilsner Urquell, Pivovar Jihlava Ježek 11°, Primátor Premium, Únětická 12°

Tags: standard-strength, pale-colour, bottom-fermented, lagered, central-europe, traditional-style, pilsner-family, balanced, hoppy

Overall Impression: Malt-driven amber Czech lager with hop character that can vary from low to quite significant. The malt Flavours can vary quite a bit, leading to different interpretations ranging from drier, bready, and slightly biscuity to sweeter and somewhat caramelly.

Aroma: Moderate intensity, rich malt aroma that can be either bready and Maillard product-dominant or slightly caramelly and candy-like. Spicy, floral or herbal hop character may be moderate to none. Clean lager character, though low fruity esters (stone fruit or berries) may be present. Diacetyl is optional and can range from low to none.

Appearance: Deep amber to copper colour. Clear to bright clarity. Large, off-white, persistent head.

Flavour: Complex malt Flavour is dominant (medium to medium-high), though its nature may vary from dry and Maillard product-dominant to caramelly and almost sweet. Some examples have a candy-like to graham-cracker malt character. Low to moderate spicy hop Flavour. Prominent but clean hop bitterness provides a balanced finish. Subtle plum or berry esters optional. Low diacetyl optional. No roasted malt Flavour. Finish may vary from dry and hoppy to relatively sweet.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full to medium body. Soft and round, often with a gentle creaminess. Moderate to low carbonation.

Comments: The Czech name of the style is polotmavé pivo, which translates as half dark. This style is a combination of the Czech styles polotmavý ležák (11–12.9 °P) and polotmavé speciální pivo (13–14.9 °P).

History: A Vienna-style lager which has continued to be brewed in the Czech Republic. A resurgence of small breweries opening in the Czech Republic has increased the number of examples of this style.

Characteristic Ingredients: Pilsner and caramel malts, but Vienna and Munich malts may also be used. Low mineral content water, Saazer-type hops, Czech lager yeast.

Style Comparison: The style can be similar to a Vienna lager but with Saazer-type hop character, or that approaching an English bitter but significantly richer with more of a deep caramel character. Large brewery versions are generally similar to Czech Premium Pale Lager with slightly darker malt Flavours and less hop, while smaller breweries often make versions with considerable hop character, malt complexity, or residual sweetness.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.044 – 1.060
FG: 1.013 – 1.017
IBUs: 20 – 35
SRM: 10 – 16
ABV: 4.4 – 5.8%

Commercial Examples: Bernard Jantarový ležák, Pivovar Vysoký Chlumec Démon, Primátor polotmavý 13°, Strakonický Dudák Klostermann polotmavý ležák 13°

Tags: standard-strength, amber-colour, bottom-fermented, lagered, central-europe, traditional-style, amber-lager-family, balanced

Overall Impression: A rich, dark, malty Czech lager with a roast character that can vary from almost absent to quite prominent. Malty with an interesting and complex Flavour profile, with variable levels of hopping providing a range of possible interpretations.

Aroma: Medium to medium-high rich, deep, sometimes sweet maltiness, with optional qualities such as bread crusts, toast, nuts, cola, dark fruit, or caramel. Roasted malt characters such as chocolate or sweetened coffee can vary from moderate to none but should not overwhelm the base malt character. Low, spicy hop aroma is optional. Low diacetyl and low fruity esters (plums or berries) may be present.

Appearance: Dark copper to almost black colour, often with a red or garnet tint. Clear to bright clarity. Large, off-white to tan, persistent head.

Flavour: Medium to medium-high deep, complex maltiness dominates, typically with malty-rich Maillard products and a light to moderate residual malt sweetness. Malt Flavours such as caramel, toast, nuts, licorice, dried dark fruit, chocolate and coffee may also be present, with very low to moderate roast character. Spicy hop Flavour can be moderately-low to none. Hop bitterness may be moderate to medium-low but should be perceptible. Balance can vary from malty to relatively well-balanced to gently hop-forward. Low to moderate diacetyl and light plum or berry esters may be present.

Mouthfeel: Medium to medium-full body, considerable mouthfeel without being heavy or cloying. Moderately creamy in texture. Smooth. Moderate to low carbonation. Can have a slight alcohol warmth in stronger versions.

Comments: This style is a combination of the Czech styles tmavý ležák (11–12.9 °P) and tmavé speciální pivo (13–14.9 °P). More modern examples are drier and have higher bitterness while traditional versions often have IBUs in the 18–20 range with a sweeter balance.

History: The U Fleků brewery has been operating in Prague since 1499. Many small, new breweries are brewing this style.

Characteristic Ingredients: Pilsner and dark caramel malts with the addition of debittered roasted malts are most common, but additions of Vienna or Munich malt are also appropriate. Low mineral content water, Saazer-type hops, Czech lager yeast. Any fruity esters are typically from malt, not yeast.

Style Comparison: The beer is the Czech equivalent of a dark lager ranging in character from Munich Dunkel to Schwarzbier, but typically with greater malt richness and hop character (aroma, Flavour, and/or bitterness).

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.044 – 1.060
FG: 1.013 – 1.017
IBUs: 18 – 34
SRM: 14 – 35
ABV: 4.4 – 5.8%

Commercial Examples: Bohemian Brewery Cherny Bock 4%, Budweiser Budvar B:Dark tmavý ležák, Devils Backbone Morana, Kout na Šumavě Koutský tmavý speciál 14°, Notch Černé Pivo, Pivovar Březnice Herold, U Fleků Flekovský tmavý 13° ležák

Tags: standard-strength, dark-colour, bottom-fermented, lagered, central-europe, traditional-style, dark-lager-family, balanced

4. Pale malty European Lager
4A. Munich Helles4B. Festbier4C. Helles Bock
Overall Impression: A clean, malty, gold-coloured German lager with a smooth grainy-sweet malty Flavour and a soft, dry finish. Subtle spicy, floral, or herbal hops and restrained bitterness help keep the balance malty but not sweet, which helps make this beer a refreshing, everyday drink.

Aroma: Moderate grainy-sweet malt aroma. Low to moderately-low spicy, floral, or herbal hop aroma. While a clean aroma is most desirable, a very low background note of DMS is not a fault. Pleasant, clean fermentation profile, with malt dominating the balance. The freshest examples will have more of a malty-sweet aroma.

Appearance: Medium yellow to pale gold. Clear. Persistent creamy white head.

Flavour: Moderately malty start with the suggestion of sweetness, moderate grainy-sweet malt Flavour with a soft, rounded palate impression, supported by a low to medium-low hop bitterness. The finish is soft and dry, not crisp and biting. Low to moderately-low spicy, floral or herbal hop Flavour. The malt dominates the hops in the palate, finish, and aftertaste, but the hops should be noticeable. There should not be any residual sweetness, simply the impression of maltiness with restrained bitterness. Very fresh examples will seem sweeter due to the fresh, rich malt character that can fade with time. Clean fermentation profile.

Mouthfeel: Medium body. Medium carbonation. Smooth, well-lagered character.

Comments: A fully-attenuated Pils malt showcase, Helles is a malt-accentuated beer that is not overly sweet, but rather focuses on malt Flavour with underlying hop bitterness in a supporting role. Export examples can quickly lose some of the rich malt character that often suggests sweetness. Helles in Munich tends to be lighter in all aspects than those outside the city, which can be more assertive with more body, Flavour, and hop character.

History: Created in Munich in 1894 at the Spaten brewery to compete with pale Pilsner-type beers. Currently the most popular style in Southern Germany.

Characteristic Ingredients: Continental Pilsner malt, traditional German Saazer-type hop varieties, clean German lager yeast.
Style Comparison: Similar in malt balance and bitterness to Munich Dunkel, but less malty-sweet in nature and pale rather than dark. More body and malt presence than a German Pils, with less hop character throughout. Similar malt profile as a German Exportbier, but with less hops in the balance.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.044 – 1.048
FG: 1.006 – 1.012
IBUs: 16 – 22
SRM: 3 – 5
ABV: 4.7 – 5.4%

Commercial Examples: Augustiner Lagerbier Hell, Bürgerbräu Wolznacher Hell Naturtrüb, Hacker-Pschorr Münchner Gold, Löwenbraü Original, Paulaner Premium Lager, Spaten Premium Lager, Weihenstephaner Original

Tags: standard-strength, pale-colour, bottom-fermented, lagered, central-europe, traditional-style, pale-lager-family, malty

Overall Impression: A smooth, clean, pale German lager with a moderately strong malty Flavour and a light hop character. Deftly balances strength and drinkability, with a palate impression and finish that encourages drinking. Showcases elegant German malt Flavours without becoming too heavy or filling.

Aroma: Moderate malty richness, with an emphasis on toasty-doughy aromatics and an impression of sweetness. Low to medium-low floral, herbal, or spicy hops. The malt should not have a deeply toasted, caramel, or biscuity quality. Clean lager fermentation character.

Appearance: Deep yellow to deep gold colour; should not have amber hues. Bright clarity. Persistent white to off-white foam stand. Most commercial examples are medium gold in colour.

Flavour: Medium to medium-high malty Flavour initially, with a lightly toasty, bread dough quality and an impression of soft sweetness. Medium to medium-low bitterness, definitely malty in the balance. Well-attenuated and crisp, but not dry. Medium-low to medium floral, herbal, or spicy hop Flavour. Clean lager fermentation character. The taste is mostly of Pils malt, but with slightly toasty hints. The bitterness is supportive, but still should yield a malty, Flavourful finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, with a smooth, somewhat creamy texture. Medium carbonation. Alcohol strength barely noticeable as warming, if at all.

Comments: This style represents the modern German beer served at Oktoberfest (although it is not solely reserved for Oktoberfest; it can be found at many other ‘fests’), and is sometimes called Wiesn (“the meadow” or local name for the Oktoberfest festival). We chose to call this style Festbier since by German and EU regulations, Oktoberfestbier is a protected appellation for beer produced at large breweries within the Munich city limits for consumption at Oktoberfest. Other countries are not bound by these rules, so many craft breweries in the US produce beer called Oktoberfest, but based on the traditional style described in these guidelines as Märzen.

History: Since 1990, the majority of beer served at Oktoberfest in Munich has been this style. Export beer specifically made for the United States is still mainly of the traditional amber style, as are US-produced interpretations. Paulaner first created the golden version in the mid-1970s because they thought the traditional Oktoberfest was too filling. So they developed a lighter, more drinkable but still malty version that they wanted to be “more poundable” (according to the head brewer at Paulaner). But the actual type of beer served at Oktoberfest is set by a Munich city committee.

Characteristic Ingredients: Majority Pils malt, but with some Vienna and/or Munich malt to increase maltiness. Differences in commercial examples are mostly due to different maltsters and yeast, not major grist differences.

Style Comparison: Less intense and less richly toasted than a Märzen. More rich-heavy in body than a Helles, with more hop Flavour and higher alcohol. Less rich in malt intensity than a Maibock. The malt complexity is similar to a higher-gravity Czech Premium Pale Lager, although without the associated hops.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.054 – 1.057
FG: 1.010 – 1.012
IBUs: 18 – 25
SRM: 4 – 7
ABV: 5.8 – 6.3%

Commercial Examples: Augustiner Oktoberfest, Hacker-Pschorr Superior Festbier, Hofbräu Festbier, Löwenbräu Oktoberfestbier, Paulaner Wiesn, Schönramer Gold, Weihenstephaner Festbier

Tags: standard-strength, pale-colour, bottom-fermented, lagered, central-europe, traditional-style, pale-lager-family, malty

Overall Impression: A relatively pale, strong, malty German lager beer with a nicely attenuated finish that enhances drinkability. The hop character is generally more apparent than in other bocks.

Aroma: Moderate to strong grainy-sweet malt aroma, often with a lightly toasted quality and low Maillard products. Moderately-low to no hop aroma, often with a spicy, herbal, or floral quality. Clean fermentation profile. Fruity esters should be low to none. Very light alcohol may be noticeable. May have a light DMS aroma.

Appearance: Deep gold to light amber in colour. Bright to clear clarity. Large, creamy, persistent, white head.

Flavour: Moderately to moderately strong grainy-sweet malt Flavour dominates with some toasty notes and/or Maillard products providing added interest. Little to no caramel Flavours. May have a light DMS Flavour. Moderate to no hop Flavour (spicy, herbal, floral, peppery). Moderate hop bitterness (more so in the balance than in other bocks). Clean fermentation profile. Well-attenuated, not cloying, with a moderately-dry finish that may taste of both malt and hops.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Moderate to moderately-high carbonation. Smooth and clean with no harshness or astringency, despite the increased hop bitterness. A light alcohol warming may be present.

Comments: Also known as Mai Bock, but there is some dispute whether Helles (“pale”) Bock and Mai (“May”) Bock are synonymous. Most agree that they are identical, but some believe that Maibock is a “fest” type beer hitting the upper limits of hopping and colour for the range. Any fruitiness is due to Munich and other specialty malts, not yeast-derived esters developed during fermentation. The hops compensate for the lower level of Maillard products.

History: A fairly recent development in comparison to the other members of the bock family. The serving of Maibock is specifically associated with springtime and the month of May.

Characteristic Ingredients: Base of Pils and/or Vienna malt with some Munich malt to add character (although much less than in a traditional bock). No non-malt adjuncts. Saazer-type hops. Clean lager yeast. Decoction mash is typical, but boiling is less than in Dunkles Bock to restrain colour development.

Style Comparison: Can be thought of as either a pale version of a Dunkles Bock, or a Munich Helles brewed to bock strength. While quite malty, this beer typically has less dark and rich malt Flavours, and can be drier, hoppier, and more bitter than a Dunkles Bock. Has more of a rich malt character and more alcohol than a Festbier.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.064 – 1.072
FG: 1.011 – 1.018
IBUs: 23 – 35
SRM: 6 – 11
ABV: 6.3 – 7.4%

Commercial Examples: Altenmünster Maibock, Ayinger Maibock, Capital Maibock, Blind Tiger Maibock, Einbecker Mai-Urbock, Hacker-Pschorr Hubertus Bock, Mahr’s Bock

Tags: high-strength, pale-colour, bottom-fermented, lagered, central-europe, traditional-style, bock-family, malty

5. Pale Bitter European Beer
5A. German Leichtbier5B. Kölsch5C. German Helles Exportbier5D. German Pils
Overall Impression: A pale, highly-attenuated, light-bodied German lager with lower alcohol and calories than normal-strength beers. Moderately bitter with noticeable malt and hop Flavours, the beer is still interesting to drink.

Aroma: Low to medium hop aroma, with a spicy, herbal, or floral character. Low to medium-low grainy-sweet or slightly crackery malt aroma. Clean fermentation profile.

Appearance: Straw to pale gold in colour. Brilliant clarity. Moderate white head with average to below average persistence.

Flavour: Low to medium grainy-sweet malt Flavour initially. Medium hop bitterness. Low to medium hop Flavour, with a spicy, herbal, or floral quality. Clean fermentation character, well-lagered. Dry finish with a light malty and hoppy aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Light to very light body. Medium to high carbonation. Smooth, well-attenuated.

Comments: Marketed primarily as a diet-oriented beer with lower carbohydrates, alcohol, and calories. Pronounced “LYESHT-beer.” May also be known as a Diat Pils or Helles, this style is in the schankbier gravity class. Other variations of Leicht class beers can be made from Weissbier, Kölsch, and Altbier; those beers are best entered in the Mixed-Style Beer category.

History: Traditional versions existed as drinks for physical laborers in factories or fields, but modern versions are more based on popular American products in the same class.

Characteristic Ingredients: Similar to a German Pils or Helles, continental Pils malt, German lager yeast, Saazer-type hops.

Style Comparison: Like a lower-alcohol, lighter-bodied, slightly less aggressive German Pils or Helles.

Vital Statistics:

OG:  1.026 – 1.034
FG: 1.006 – 1.010
IBUs:  15 – 28
SRM:  2 – 5
ABV:  2.4 – 3.6%

Commercial Examples: Beck’s Light, Bitburger Light, Mahr’s Leicht, Paulaner Münchner Hell Leicht, Paulaner Premium Leicht

Tags: session-strength, pale-colour, bottom-fermented, lagered, central-europe, traditional-style, pale-lager-family, bitter, hoppy

Overall Impression: A clean, crisp, delicately-balanced beer usually with a very subtle fruit and hop character. Subdued maltiness throughout leads into a pleasantly well-attenuated and refreshing finish. Freshness makes a huge difference with this beer, as the delicate character can fade quickly with age. Brilliant clarity is characteristic.

Aroma: Low to very low malt aroma, with a grainy-sweet character. A pleasant, subtle fruit aroma from fermentation (apple, cherry or pear) is acceptable, but not always present. A low floral, spicy or herbal hop aroma is optional but not out of style. Some yeast strains may give a slight winy or sulfury character (this characteristic is also optional, but not a fault). Overall, the intensity of aromatics is fairly subtle but generally balanced, clean, and fresh.

Appearance: Very pale gold to light gold. Very clear (authentic commercial versions are filtered to a brilliant clarity). Has a delicate white head that may not persist.

Flavour: Soft, rounded palate comprised of a delicate Flavour balance between soft yet attenuated malt, an almost imperceptible fruity sweetness from fermentation, and a medium-low to medium bitterness with a delicate dryness and slight crispness in the finish (but no harsh aftertaste). The malt tends to be grainy-sweet, possibly with a very light bready or honey quality. The hop Flavour is variable, and can range from low to moderately-high; most are medium-low to medium intensity and have a floral, spicy, or herbal character. May have a malty-sweet impression at the start, but this is not required. No noticeable residual sweetness. May have a slightly winy, minerally, or sulfury accent that accentuates the dryness and Flavour balance. A slight wheat taste is rare but not a fault. Otherwise, very clean.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light to medium body (most are medium-light). Medium to medium-high carbonation. Smooth and generally crisp and well-attenuated.

Comments: Characterized in Germany as a top-fermented, lagered beer. Each Köln brewery produces a beer of different character, and each interprets the Kölsch Konvention slightly differently. Allow for a range of variation within the style when judging. Note that drier versions may seem hoppier or more bitter than the IBU specifications might suggest. Due to its delicate Flavour profile, Kölsch tends to have a relatively short shelf-life; older examples and imports can easily show some oxidation defects. Served in Köln in a tall, narrow 200ml glass called a Stange.

History: Cologne, Germany (Köln) has a top-fermenting brewing tradition since the Middle Ages, but developed the beer now known as Kölsch in the late 1800s to combat encroaching bottom-fermented pale lagers. Kölsch is an appellation protected by the Kölsch Konvention (1986), and is restricted to the 20 or so breweries in and around Köln. The Konvention simply defines the beer as a “light, highly attenuated, hop-accentuated, clear, top-fermenting Vollbier.”

Characteristic Ingredients: Traditional German hops (Hallertau, Tettnang, Spalt or Hersbrucker). German Pils or pale malt. Attenuative, clean ale yeast. Up to 20% wheat malt may be used, but this is quite rare in authentic versions.

Current commercial practice is to ferment warm, cold condition for a short period of time, and serve young.

Style Comparison: To the untrained taster, easily mistaken for a cream ale or somewhat subtle Pils.

Vital Statistics:
OG:  1.044 – 1.050
FG: 1.007 – 1.011
IBUs:  18 – 30
SRM:  3.5 – 5
ABV:  4.4 – 5.2%

Commercial Examples: Früh Kölsch, Gaffel Kölsch, Mühlen Kölsch, Reissdorf Kölsch, Sion Kölsch, Sünner Kölsch

Tags: standard-strength, pale-colour, top-fermented, lagered, central-europe, traditional-style, pale-ale-family, balanced

Overall Impression: A pale, well-balanced, smooth German lager that is slightly stronger than the average beer with a moderate body and a mild, aromatic hop and malt character.

Aroma: Low to medium hop aroma, typically floral, spicy, or herbal in character. Moderate grainy-sweet malt aroma. Clean fermentation profile. A slight sulfury note at the start that dissipates is not a fault, neither is a low background note of DMS.

Appearance: Light gold to deep gold. Clear. Persistent white head.

Flavour: Neither grainy-sweet malt nor floral, spicy, or herbal hops dominate, but both are in good balance with a touch of malty sweetness, providing a smooth yet crisply refreshing beer. Balance continues through the finish and the hop bitterness lingers in aftertaste (although some examples may finish slightly sweet). Clean fermentation character. Some mineral character might be noted from the water, although it usually does not come across as an overt minerally Flavour.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, medium carbonation. Smooth but crisp.

Comments: Sometimes known as Dortmunder or Dortmunder Export. Brewed to a slightly higher starting gravity than other light lagers, providing a firm malty body and underlying maltiness to complement the sulfate-accentuated hop bitterness. The term “Export” is a beer strength descriptor under German brewing tradition, and is not strictly synonymous with the “Dortmunder” style; beer from other cities or regions can be brewed to Export strength, and labeled as such (even if not necessarily exported).

History: The Dortmunder style developed in the Dortmund industrial region in the 1870s in response to pale Pilsner-type beers, it became very popular after World War II but declined in the 1970s. Other Export-class beers developed independently, and reflected a slightly stronger version of existing beers. The modern German style is typically 12-13 °P.

Characteristic Ingredients: Minerally water with high levels of sulfates, carbonates and chlorides, German or Czech noble hops, Pilsner malt, German lager yeast. Newer commercial versions can contain adjuncts and hop extract.

Style Comparison: Less finishing hops and more body than a Pils but more bitter than a Helles.

Vital Statistics:
OG:  1.048 – 1.056
FG: 1.010 – 1.015
IBUs:  20 – 30
SRM:  4 – 7
ABV:  4.8 – 6.0%

Commercial Examples: DAB Original, Dortmunder Kronen, Dortmunder Union Export, Flensburger Gold, Gordon Biersch Golden Export, Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold

Tags: standard-strength, pale-colour, bottom-fermented, lagered, central-europe, traditional-style, pale-lager-family, balanced

Overall Impression: A light-bodied, highly-attenuated, gold-coloured, bottom-fermented bitter German beer showing excellent head retention and an elegant, floral hop aroma. Crisp, clean, and refreshing, a German Pils showcases the finest quality German malt and hops.

Aroma: Medium-low to low grainy-sweet-rich malt character (often with a light honey and slightly toasted cracker quality) and distinctive flowery, spicy, or herbal hops. Clean fermentation profile. May optionally have a very light sulfury note that comes from water as much as yeast. The hops are moderately-low to moderately-high, but should not totally dominate the malt presence. One-dimensional examples are inferior to the more complex qualities when all ingredients are sensed. May have a very low background note of DMS.

Appearance: Straw to light gold, brilliant to very clear, with a creamy, long-lasting white head.

Flavour: Medium to high hop bitterness dominates the palate and lingers into the aftertaste. Moderate to moderately-low grainy-sweet malt character supports the hop bitterness. Low to high floral, spicy, or herbal hop Flavour. Clean fermentation profile. Dry to medium-dry, crisp, well-attenuated finish with a bitter aftertaste and light malt Flavour. Examples made with water with higher sulfate levels often will have a low sulfury Flavour that accentuates the dryness and lengthens the finish; this is acceptable but not mandatory. Some versions have a soft finish with more of a malt Flavour, but still with noticeable hop bitterness and Flavour, with the balance still towards bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light body. Medium to high carbonation.

Comments: Modern examples of Pils tend to become paler in colour, drier in finish, and more bitter as you move from South to North in Germany, often mirroring the increase in sulfate in the water. The Pils found in Bavaria tend to be a bit softer in bitterness with more malt Flavour and late hop character, yet still with sufficient hops and crispness of finish to differentiate itself from a Helles. The use of the term ‘Pils’ is more common in Germany than ‘Pilsner’ to differentiate it from the Czech style, and (some say) to show respect.

History: Adapted from Czech Pilsner to suit brewing conditions in Germany, particularly water with higher mineral content and domestic hop varieties. First brewed in Germany in the early 1870s. Became more popular after WWII as German brewing schools emphasized modern techniques. Along with its sister beer, Czech Pilsner, is the ancestor of the most widely produced beer styles today. Average IBUs of many well-regarded commercial examples have dropped over time.

Characteristic Ingredients: Continental Pilsner malt, German hop varieties (especially Saazer-type varieties such as Tettnanger, Hallertauer, and Spalt for taste and aroma; Saaz is less common), German lager yeast.

Style Comparison: Lighter in body and colour, drier, crisper, and more fully attenuated, with more of a lingering bitterness, and with higher carbonation than a Czech Premium Pale Lager. More hop character, malt Flavour, and bitterness than International Pale Lagers. More hop character and bitterness with a drier, crisper finish than a Munich Helles; the Helles has more malt Flavour, but of the same character as the Pils.

Vital Statistics:
OG:  1.044 – 1.050
FG: 1.008 – 1.013
IBUs:  22 – 40
SRM:  2 – 5
ABV:  4.4 – 5.2%

Commercial Examples: König Pilsener, Left Hand Polestar Pils, Paulaner Premium Pils, Schönramer Pils, Stoudt Pils, Tröegs Sunshine Pils, Trumer Pils

Tags: standard-strength, pale-colour, bottom-fermented, lagered, central-europe, traditional-style, pilsner-family, bitter, hoppy

6. Amber Malty European Lager
6A. Märzen6B. Rauchbier6C. Dunkles Bock
Overall Impression: An elegant, malty German amber lager with a clean, rich, toasty and bready malt Flavour, restrained bitterness, and a dry finish that encourages another drink. The overall malt impression is soft, elegant, and complex, with a rich aftertaste that is never cloying or heavy.

Aroma: Moderate intensity aroma of German malt, typically rich, bready, somewhat toasty, with light bread crust notes. Clean lager fermentation character. No hop aroma. Caramel, dry-biscuity, or roasted malt aromas inappropriate. Very light alcohol might be detected, but should never be sharp. Clean, elegant malt richness should be the primary aroma.

Appearance: Amber-orange to deep reddish-copper colour; should not be golden. Bright clarity, with persistent, off-white foam stand.

Flavour: Initial malt Flavour often suggests sweetness, but finish is moderately-dry to dry. Distinctive and complex maltiness often includes a bready, toasty aspect. Hop bitterness is moderate, and the hop Flavour is low to none (German types: complex, floral, herbal, or spicy). Hops provide sufficient balance that the malty palate and finish do not seem sweet. The aftertaste is malty, with the same elegant, rich malt Flavours lingering. Noticeable caramel, biscuit, or roasted Flavours are inappropriate. Clean lager fermentation profile.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, with a smooth, creamy texture that often suggests a fuller mouthfeel. Medium carbonation. Fully attenuated, without a sweet or cloying impression. May be slightly warming, but the strength should be relatively hidden.

Comments: Modern domestic German Oktoberfest versions are golden – see the Festbier style for this version. Export German versions (to the United States, at least) are typically orange-amber in colour, have a distinctive toasty malt character, and are most often labeled Oktoberfest. American craft versions of Oktoberfest are generally based on this style, and most Americans will recognize this beer as Oktoberfest. Historic versions of the beer tended to be darker, towards the brown colour range, but there have been many ‘shades’ of Märzen (when the name is used as a strength); this style description specifically refers to the stronger amber lager version. The modern Festbier can be thought of as a pale Märzen by these terms.

History: As the name suggests, brewed as a stronger “March beer” in March and lagered in cold caves over the summer. Modern versions trace back to the lager developed by Spaten in 1841, contemporaneous to the development of Vienna lager. However, the Märzen name is much older than 1841; the early ones were dark brown, and in Austria the name implied a strength band (14 °P) rather than a style. The German amber lager version (in the Viennese style of the time) was first served at Oktoberfest in 1872, a tradition that lasted until 1990 when the golden Festbier was adopted as the standard festival beer.

Characteristic Ingredients: Grist varies, although traditional German versions emphasized Munich malt. The notion of elegance is derived from the finest quality ingredients, particularly the base malts. A decoction mash was traditionally used to develop the rich malt profile.

Style Comparison: Not as strong and rich as a Dunkles Bock. More malt depth and richness than a Festbier, with a heavier body and slightly less hops. Less hoppy and equally malty as a Czech Amber Lager.

Vital Statistics:
OG:  1.054 – 1.060
FG: 1.010 – 1.014
IBUs:  18 – 24
SRM:  8 – 17
ABV:  5.8 – 6.3%

Commercial Examples: Buergerliches Ur-Saalfelder, Hacker-Pschorr Original Oktoberfest, Paulaner Oktoberfest, Weltenburg Kloster Anno 1050

Tags: standard-strength, amber-colour, bottom-fermented, lagered, central-europe, traditional-style, amber-lager-family, malty

Overall Impression: An elegant, malty German amber lager with a balanced, complementary beechwood smoke character. Toasty-rich malt in aroma and Flavour, restrained bitterness, low to high smoke Flavour, clean fermentation profile, and an attenuated finish are characteristic.

Aroma: Blend of smoke and malt, with a varying balance and intensity. The beechwood smoke character can range from subtle to fairly strong, and can seem smoky, woody, or bacon-like. The malt character can be low to moderate, and be somewhat rich, toasty, or malty-sweet. The malt and smoke components are often inversely proportional (i.e., when smoke increases, malt decreases, and vice versa). Hop aroma may be very low to none. Clean lager fermentation character.

Appearance: This should be a very clear beer, with a large, creamy, rich, tan- to cream-coloured head. Medium amber/light copper to dark brown colour.

Flavour: Generally follows the aroma profile, with a blend of smoke and malt in varying balance and intensity, yet always complementary. Märzen-like qualities should be noticeable, particularly a malty, toasty richness, but the beechwood smoke Flavour can be low to high. At higher levels, the smoke can take on a ham- or bacon-like character, which is acceptable as long as it doesn’t veer into the greasy range. The palate can be somewhat malty, rich, and sweet, yet the finish tends to be medium-dry to dry with the smoke character sometimes enhancing the dryness of the finish. The aftertaste can reflect both malt richness and smoke Flavours, with a balanced presentation desirable. Moderate, balanced, hop bitterness. Moderate to none hop Flavour with spicy, floral, or herbal notes. Clean lager fermentation character. Harsh, bitter, burnt, charred, rubbery, sulfury or phenolic smoky characteristics are inappropriate.

Mouthfeel: Medium body. Medium to medium-high carbonation. Smooth lager character. Significant astringent, phenolic harshness is inappropriate.

History: A historical specialty of the city of Bamberg, in the Franconian region of Bavaria in Germany. Beechwood-smoked malt is used to make a Märzen-style amber lager. The smoke character of the malt varies by maltster; some breweries produce their own smoked malt (rauchmalz).

Characteristic Ingredients: German Rauchmalz (beechwood-smoked Vienna-type malt) typically makes up 20-100% of the grain bill, with the remainder being German malts typically used in a Märzen. Some breweries adjust the colour slightly with a bit of roasted malt. German lager yeast. German or Czech hops.

Style Comparison: Like a Märzen with but with a balanced, sweet, smoky aroma and Flavour and a somewhat darker colour.

Vital Statistics:
OG:  1.050 – 1.057
FG: 1.012 – 1.016
IBUs:  20 – 30
SRM:  12 – 22
ABV:  4.8 – 6%

Commercial Examples: Eisenbahn Rauchbier, Kaiserdom Rauchbier, Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen, Spezial Rauchbier Märzen Victory Scarlet Fire Rauchbier

Tags: standard-strength, amber-colour, bottom-fermented, lagered, central-europe, traditional-style, amber-lager-family, malty, smoke

Overall Impression: A dark, strong, malty German lager beer that emphasizes the malty-rich and somewhat toasty qualities of continental malts without being sweet in the finish.

Aroma: Medium to medium-high bready-malty-rich aroma, often with moderate amounts of rich Maillard products and/or toasty overtones. Virtually no hop aroma. Some alcohol may be noticeable. Clean lager character, although the malts can provide a slight (low to none) dark fruit character, particularly in aged examples.

Appearance: Light copper to brown colour, often with attractive garnet highlights. Lagering should provide good clarity despite the dark colour. Large, creamy, persistent, off-white head.

Flavour: Complex, rich maltiness is dominated by the toasty-rich Maillard products. Some caramel notes may be present. Hop bitterness is generally only high enough to support the malt Flavours, allowing a bit of sweetness to linger into the finish. Well-attenuated, not cloying. Clean fermentation profile, although the malt can provide a slight dark fruit character. No hop Flavour. No roasted or burnt character.

Mouthfeel: Medium to medium-full bodied. Moderate to moderately low carbonation. Some alcohol warmth may be found, but should never be hot. Smooth, without harshness or astringency.

Comments: Decoction mashing and long boiling plays an important part of Flavour development, as it enhances the caramel and Maillard Flavour aspects of the malt. Any fruitiness is due to Munich and other specialty malts, not yeast-derived esters developed during fermentation.

History: Originated in the Northern German city of Einbeck, which was a brewing center and popular exporter in the days of the Hanseatic League (14th to 17th century). Recreated in Munich starting in the 17th century. The name “bock” is based on a corruption of the name “Einbeck” in the Bavarian dialect, and was thus only used after the beer came to Munich. “Bock” also means “Ram” in German, and is often used in logos and advertisements.

Characteristic Ingredients: Munich and Vienna malts, rarely a tiny bit of dark roasted malts for colour adjustment, never any non-malt adjuncts. Continental European hop varieties are used. Clean German lager yeast.

Style Comparison: Darker, with a richer malty Flavour and less apparent bitterness than a Helles Bock. Less alcohol and malty richness than a Doppelbock. Stronger malt Flavours and higher alcohol than a Märzen. Richer, less attenuated, and less hoppy than a Czech Amber Lager.

Vital Statistics:
OG:  1.064 – 1.072
FG: 1.013 – 1.019
IBUs:  20 – 27
SRM:  14 – 22
ABV:  6.3 – 7.2%

Commercial Examples: Aass Bock, Einbecker Ur-Bock Dunkel, Great Lakes Rockefeller Bock, Kneitinger Bock, New Glarus Uff-da Bock, Penn Brewery St. Nikolaus Bock

Tags: high-strength, amber-colour, bottom-fermented, lagered, central-europe, traditional-style, bock-family, malty

7. Amber Bitter European Beer
7A. Vienna Lager7B. Altbier7C. Kellerbier7C. Kellerbier - Pale Kellerbier7C. Kellerbier - Amber Kellerbier
Overall Impression: A moderate-strength amber lager with a soft, smooth maltiness and moderate bitterness, yet finishing relatively dry. The malt Flavour is clean, bready-rich, and somewhat toasty, with an elegant impression derived from quality base malts and process, not specialty malts and adjuncts.

Aroma: Moderately-intense malt aroma, with toasty and malty-rich aromatics. Clean lager character. Floral, spicy hop aroma may be low to none. A significant caramel or roasted aroma is inappropriate.

Appearance: Light reddish amber to copper colour. Bright clarity. Large, off-white, persistent head.

Flavour: Soft, elegant malt complexity is in the forefront, with a firm enough hop bitterness to provide a balanced finish. The malt Flavour tends towards a rich, toasty character, without significant caramel or roast Flavours. Fairly dry, crisp finish, with both rich malt and hop bitterness present in the aftertaste. Floral, spicy hop Flavour may be low to none. Clean lager fermentation character.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light to medium body, with a gentle creaminess. Moderate carbonation. Smooth.

Comments: A standard-strength everyday beer, not a beer brewed for festivals. American versions can be a bit stronger, drier and more bitter, while modern European versions tend to be sweeter. Many Mexican amber and dark lagers used to be more authentic, but unfortunately are now more like sweet, adjunct-laden Amber/Dark International Lagers. Regrettably, many modern examples use adjuncts which lessen the rich malt complexity characteristic of the best examples of this style. This style is on the watch list to move to the Historical category in future guidelines; that would allow the classic style to be described while moving the sweeter modern versions to the International Amber or Dark Lager styles.

History: Developed by Anton Dreher in Vienna in 1841, became popular in the mid-late 1800s. Now nearly extinct in its area of origin, the style continues in Mexico where it was brought by Santiago Graf and other Austrian immigrant brewers in the late 1800s. Authentic examples are increasingly hard to find (except perhaps in the craft beer industry) as formerly good examples become sweeter and use more adjuncts.

Characteristic Ingredients: Vienna malt provides a lightly toasty and complex, Maillard-rich malt profile. As with Märzens, only the finest quality malt should be used, along with Continental hops (preferably Saazer types or Styrians). Can use some caramel malts and/or darker malts to add colour and sweetness, but caramel malts shouldn’t add significant aroma and Flavour and dark malts shouldn’t provide any roasted character.

Style Comparison: Lighter malt character, slightly less body, and slightly more bitter in the balance than a Märzen, yet with many of the same malt-derived Flavours. The malt character is similar to a Märzen, but less intense and more balanced. Lower in alcohol than Märzen or Festbier. Less rich, less malty and less hop-centered compared to Czech Amber Lager.

 Vital Statistics:
OG:  1.048 – 1.055
FG: 1.010 – 1.014
IBUs:  18 – 30
SRM:  9 – 15
ABV:  4.7 – 5.5%

Commercial Examples: Cuauhtémoc Noche Buena, Chuckanut Vienna Lager, Devils Backbone Vienna Lager, Figueroa Mountain Danish-style Red Lager, Heavy Seas Cutlass Amber Lager, Schell’s Firebrick

Tags: standard-strength, amber-colour, bottom-fermented, lagered, central-europe, traditional-style, amber-lager-family, balanced

Overall Impression: A well-balanced, well-attenuated, bitter yet malty, clean, and smooth, amber- to copper-coloured German beer. The bitterness is balanced by the malt richness, but the malt intensity and character can range from moderate to high (the bitterness increases with the malt richness).

Aroma: Clean yet robust and complex aroma of grainy-rich malt and spicy hops with restrained (low to medium-low) fruity esters. The malt character reflects German base malt varieties, with rich baked bread and nutty-toasty bread crust notes. The hop aroma may vary from moderate to low, and can have a peppery, spicy, floral, herbal or perfumy character associated with Saazer-type hops.

Appearance: The colour ranges from light amber to deep copper colour, stopping short of brown; bronze-orange is most common. Brilliant clarity. Thick, creamy, long-lasting off-white head.

Flavour: Assertive hop bitterness well balanced by a sturdy yet clean and crisp malt character. The malt presence is moderated by medium-high to high attenuation, but considerable rich, complex, and somewhat grainy malt Flavours can remain. Some fruity esters (especially cherry-like) may survive the lagering period. A long-lasting, medium-dry to dry, bittersweet or nutty finish reflects both the hop bitterness and malt complexity. Spicy, peppery or floral hop Flavour can be moderate to low. No roasted malt Flavours or harshness. The apparent bitterness level is sometimes masked by the malt character; the bitterness can seem as low as moderate if the finish is not very dry. Light sulfury or minerally character optional.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Smooth. Medium to medium-high carbonation, although can be lower when served from the cask. Astringency low to none. Despite being very full of Flavour, is light-bodied enough to be consumed as a gravity-fed session beer in its home brewpubs in Düsseldorf.

Comments: A top-fermented lagered beer, fermented at cool ale temperature (59–68 °F), often conditioned at bottom-fermentation temperatures (about 50 °F) and then lagered at cold temperatures to produce a cleaner, smoother palate than is typical for most ales. Zum Uerige is a wonderful beer, but much more aggressively bitter and complex than most other German examples. It may be like the Fuller’s ESB of the strong bitter category – well-known but somewhat of a stylistic outlier. Do not judge all Altbiers as if they were Zum Uerige clones; allow for a more balanced bitterness in the beer (25–35 IBUs is more typical for most other German examples). Stronger sticke and doppelsticke beers should not be entered here.

History: The traditional style of beer from Düsseldorf. “Alt” refers to the “old” style of brewing (i.e., using top-fermenting yeast) that was common before bottom-fermenting lager brewing became popular. Predates the isolation of bottom-fermenting yeast strains, though it approximates many characteristics of bottom-fermenting lager beers. Many of the classic examples can be found in brewpubs in the Altstadt (“old town”) section of Düsseldorf.

Characteristic Ingredients: Grists vary, but usually consist of German base malts (usually Pils, sometimes Munich) with small amounts of crystal, chocolate, and/or black malts used to adjust colour. Occasionally will include some wheat, including roasted wheat. Spalt hops are traditional, but other Saazer-type hops can also be used. Clean, highly attenuative ale yeast. A step mash or decoction mash program is traditional.

Style Comparison: More bitter and malty than international amber lagers. Somewhat similar to California Common, both in production technique and finished Flavour and colour, though not in ingredients.

Vital Statistics:
OG:  1.044 – 1.052
FG: 1.008 – 1.014
IBUs:  25 – 50
SRM:  11 – 17
ABV:  4.3 – 5.5%

Commercial Examples: Bolten Alt, Diebels Alt, Füchschen Alt, Original Schlüssel Alt, Schlösser Alt, Schumacher Alt, Uerige Altbier

Tags: standard-strength, amber-colour, top-fermented, lagered, central-europe, traditional-style, amber-ale-family, bitter

Aroma: Reflects base style. Typically has additional yeast character, with byproducts not frequently found in well-lagered German beers (such as diacetyl, sulfur, and acetaldehyde).

Appearance: Reflects base style. Typically can be somewhat hazy or cloudy, and likely a little darker in appearance than the base style.

Flavour: Reflects base style. Typically has additional yeast character, with some byproducts not frequently found in well-lagered German beers (such as diacetyl, sulfur, and acetaldehyde), although not at objectionable levels.

Mouthfeel: Reflects base style. Has a bit more body and creamy texture due to yeast in suspension, and may have a slight slickness if diacetyl is present. May have a lower carbonation than the base style.

Comments: Young, unfiltered, unpasteurized versions of the traditional German beer styles, traditionally served on tap from the lagering vessel. The name literally means “cellar beer” – implying a beer served straight from the lagering cellar. Since this serving method can be applied to a wide range of beers, the style is somewhat hard to pin down. However, there are several common variants that can be described and used as templates for other versions. Sometimes described as Naturtrüb or naturally cloudy. Also sometimes called Zwickelbier, after the name of the tap used to sample from a lagering tank.

History: Originally, Kellerbier referred to any Lager beer being matured in the caves or cellars under the brewery. In the 19th century, Kellerbier was a strong, aged beer meant to last the summer (Sommerbier), stored in rock cellars and served straight from them. But when refrigeration began to be used, the term shifted to describing special beers that were served young, directly from the cellar or lagering vessel. Today some breweries use the term purely for marketing purposes to make their beers appear special. While a kellerbier is sometimes considered more of a serving style than a beer style, the serving technique is still predominately used with certain styles in certain regions (such as Helles around the Munich area, or a Märzen in the Franconia region).

Entry Instructions: The entrant must specify whether the entry is a Pale Kellerbier (based on Helles) or an Amber Kellerbier (based on Märzen). The entrant may specify another type of Kellerbier based on other base styles such as Pils, Bock, Schwarzbier, but should supply a style description for judges.

Aroma: Reflects base style. Typically has additional yeast character, with byproducts not frequently found in well-lagered German beers (such as diacetyl, sulfur, and acetaldehyde).

Appearance: Reflects base style. Typically can be somewhat hazy or cloudy, and likely a little darker in appearance than the base style.

Flavour: Reflects base style. Typically has additional yeast character, with some byproducts not frequently found in well-lagered German beers (such as diacetyl, sulfur, and acetaldehyde), although not at objectionable levels.

Mouthfeel: Reflects base style. Has a bit more body and creamy texture due to yeast in suspension, and may have a slight slickness if diacetyl is present. May have a lower carbonation than the base style.

Comments: Young, unfiltered, unpasteurized versions of the traditional German beer styles, traditionally served on tap from the lagering vessel. The name literally means “cellar beer” – implying a beer served straight from the lagering cellar. Since this serving method can be applied to a wide range of beers, the style is somewhat hard to pin down. However, there are several common variants that can be described and used as templates for other versions. Sometimes described as Naturtrüb or naturally cloudy. Also sometimes called Zwickelbier, after the name of the tap used to sample from a lagering tank.

History: Originally, Kellerbier referred to any Lager beer being matured in the caves or cellars under the brewery. In the 19th century, Kellerbier was a strong, aged beer meant to last the summer (Sommerbier), stored in rock cellars and served straight from them. But when refrigeration began to be used, the term shifted to describing special beers that were served young, directly from the cellar or lagering vessel. Today some breweries use the term purely for marketing purposes to make their beers appear special. While a kellerbier is sometimes considered more of a serving style than a beer style, the serving technique is still predominately used with certain styles in certain regions (such as Helles around the Munich area, or a Märzen in the Franconia region).

Entry Instructions: The entrant must specify whether the entry is a Pale Kellerbier (based on Helles) or an Amber Kellerbier (based on Märzen). The entrant may specify another type of Kellerbier based on other base styles such as Pils, Bock, Schwarzbier, but should supply a style description for judges.

A very common seasonal summer beer brewed by many of the Munich area breweries and served in the beer gardens, where they are very popular.

Overall Impression: A young, fresh Helles, so while still a malty, fully-attenuated Pils malt showcase, the hop character (aroma, Flavour and bitterness) is more pronounced, and the beer is cloudy, often with some level of diacetyl, and possibly has some green apple and/or other yeast-derived notes. As with the traditional Helles, the Keller version is still a beer intended to be drunk by the liter, so overall it should remain a light, refreshing, easy drinking golden lager.

Aroma: Moderately-low to moderately-high spicy, floral, or herbal hop aroma. Very low to moderate diacetyl, possible very low green apple or other yeast derived notes. Pleasantly grainy-sweet, clean malt aroma, with possible low background note of DMS.

Appearance: Slight haze to moderately cloudy, but never extremely cloudy or murky. Medium yellow to pale gold colour. Creamy white head with good persistence. When served on cask, can have low carbonation and very low head.

Flavour: Moderately malty with a rounded, grainy-sweet profile. Low to moderately-high spicy, floral, or herbal hop Flavour, with a moderate hop bitterness that can linger. Finish is crisp and dry, but the aftertaste remains malty. Very low to moderate diacetyl, which should always remain at a pleasant, drinkable level that balances somewhat with the other characteristics of the beer; overwhelming diacetyl is not appropriate. Possible very low green apple or other yeast derived notes, and possible low background note of DMS.

Mouthfeel: Medium body. Low to medium carbonation. Depending on the level of yeast in suspension, it may assist in creating a slightly creamy texture. A slight slickness on the tongue may be present from the diacetyl.

Comments: Most Pale Kellerbiers are young, unfiltered, unpasteurized versions of Munich Helles beer, although Pils or a different, custom golden lager beer designed specifically for serving young could also be used. The best examples are served only on tap at many of the Munich area breweries. Bottled versions are not likely to have the freshness, hop character and young beer notes exhibited by the draft versions.

History: Modern adaptation from the traditional Franconian style, using Helles instead of Märzen. Today, a popular summer seasonal beer.

Characteristic Ingredients: Pilsner malt, German hops, German lager yeast; same as a Munich Helles.

Style Comparison: Most commonly, a young, unfiltered and unpasteurized version of a Munich Helles, though it can be a young, unfiltered and unpasteurized version of other golden German lagers, such as a Pilsner or a seasonal golden lager made specifically for serving young.

Vital Statistics:
OG:  1.045 – 1.051
FG: 1.008 – 1.012
IBUs:  20 – 35
SRM:  3 –7
ABV:  4.7 – 5.4%

Commercial Examples: (local) Paulaner, Paulaner Brauhaus, Hofbrau, Tegernseer Tal. (bottled) Ayinger Kellerbier, Hacker-Pschorr Munchner Kellerbier Anno 1417, Hofbrau Munchner Sommer Naturtrub, Wolnzacher Hell Naturtrüb

Tags: standard-strength, pale-colour, bottom-fermented, central-europe, traditional-style, balanced, pale-lager-family

8. Dark European Lager
8A. Munich Dunkel8B. Schwarzbier
Overall Impression: Characterized by depth, richness and complexity typical of darker Munich malts with the accompanying Maillard products. Deeply bready-toasty, often with chocolate-like Flavours in the freshest examples, but never harsh, roasty, or astringent; a decidedly malt-balanced beer, yet still easily drinkable.

Aroma: Rich, elegant, deep malt sweetness, typically like bread crusts (often toasted bread crusts). Hints of chocolate, nuts, caramel, and/or toffee are also acceptable, with fresh traditional versions often showing higher levels of chocolate. Clean fermentation profile. A slight spicy, floral, or herbal hop aroma is acceptable.

Appearance: Deep copper to dark brown, often with a red or garnet tint. Creamy, light to medium tan head. Usually clear, although murky unfiltered versions exist.

Flavour: Dominated by the soft, rich, and complex Flavour of darker Munich malts, usually with overtones reminiscent of toasted bread crusts, but without a burnt-harsh-grainy toastiness. The palate can be moderately malty, although it should not be overwhelming or cloyingly sweet. Mild caramel, toast or nuttiness may be present. Very fresh examples often have a pleasant malty-chocolate character that isn’t roasty or sweet. Burnt or bitter Flavours from roasted malts are inappropriate, as are pronounced caramel Flavours from crystal malt. Hop bitterness is moderately low but perceptible, with the balance tipped firmly towards maltiness. Hop Flavour is low to none; if noted, should reflect floral, spicy, or herbal German-type varieties. Aftertaste remains malty, although the hop bitterness may become more apparent in the medium-dry finish. Clean fermentation profile and lager character.

Mouthfeel: Medium to medium-full body, providing a soft and dextrinous mouthfeel without being heavy or cloying. Moderate carbonation. The use of continental Munich-type malts should provide a richness, not a harsh or biting astringency.

Comments: Unfiltered versions from Germany can taste like liquid bread, with a yeasty, earthy richness not found in exported filtered examples.

History: The classic brown lager style of Munich which developed as a darker, more malt-accented beer than other regional lagers. While originating in Munich, the style became popular throughout Bavaria (especially Franconia). Franconian versions are often darker and more bitter.

Characteristic Ingredients: Grist is traditionally made up of German Munich malt (up to 100% in some cases) with the remainder German Pilsner malt. Small amounts of crystal malt can add dextrins and colour but should not introduce excessive residual sweetness. Slight additions of roasted malts (such as Carafa or chocolate) may be used to improve colour but should not add strong Flavours. Traditional German hop varieties and German lager yeast strains should be used. Often decoction mashed (up to a triple decoction) to enhance the malt Flavours and create the depth of colour.

Style Comparison: Not as intense in maltiness as a bock (and thus more drinkable in quantity). Lacking the more roasted Flavours (and often hop bitterness) of a schwarzbier. Richer, more malt-centric, and less hoppy than a Czech Dark Lager.

Vital Statistics:
OG:  1.048 – 1.056
FG: 1.010 – 1.016
IBUs:  18 – 28
SRM:  14 – 28
ABV:  4.5 – 5.6%

Commercial Examples: Ayinger Altbairisch Dunkel, Chuckanut Dunkel Lager, Ettaler Kloster Dunkel, Hacker-Pschorr Alt Munich Dark, Weltenburger Kloster Barock-Dunkel

Tags: standard-strength, dark-colour, bottom-fermented, lagered, central-europe, traditional-style, malty, dark-lager-family

Overall Impression: A dark German lager that balances roasted yet smooth malt Flavours with moderate hop bitterness. The lighter body, dryness, and lack of a harsh, burnt, or heavy aftertaste helps make this beer quite drinkable.

Aroma: Low to moderate malt, with low aromatic malty sweetness and/or hints of roast malt often apparent. The malt can be clean and neutral or moderately rich and bready, and may have a hint of dark caramel. The roast character can be somewhat dark chocolate- or coffee-like but should never be burnt. A low spicy, floral, or herbal hop aroma is optional. Clean lager yeast character, although a light sulfur is possible.

Appearance: Medium to very dark brown in colour, often with deep ruby to garnet highlights, yet almost never truly black. Very clear. Large, persistent, tan-coloured head.

Flavour: Light to moderate malt Flavour, which can have a clean, neutral character to a moderately rich, bread-malty quality. Light to moderate roasted malt Flavours can give a bitter-chocolate palate that lasts into the finish, but which are never burnt. Medium-low to medium bitterness, which can last into the finish. Light to moderate spicy, floral, or herbal hop Flavour. Clean lager character. Aftertaste tends to dry out slowly and linger, featuring hop bitterness with a complementary but subtle roastiness in the background. Some residual sweetness is acceptable but not required.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light to medium body. Moderate to moderately-high carbonation. Smooth. No harshness or astringency, despite the use of dark, roasted malts.

Comments: Literally means “black beer” in German. While sometimes called a “black Pils,” the beer is rarely as dark as black or as bitter as a Pils; don’t expect strongly roasted, porter-like Flavours.

History: A regional specialty from Thuringia, Saxony and Franconia in Germany. History is a bit sketchy, but is suspected of being originally a top-fermented beer. Popularity grew after German reunification. Served as the inspiration for black lagers brewed in Japan.

Characteristic Ingredients: German Munich malt and/or Pilsner malts for the base, supplemented by a judicious use of roasted malts (such as Carafa types) for the dark colour and subtle roast Flavours. Huskless dark roasted malts can add roast Flavours without burnt Flavours. German hop varieties and clean German lager yeasts are traditional.

Style Comparison: In comparison with a Munich Dunkel, usually darker in colour, drier on the palate, lighter in body, and with a noticeable (but not high) roasted malt edge to balance the malt base. Should not taste like an American Porter made with lager yeast. Drier, less malty, with less hop character than a Czech Dark Lager.

Vital Statistics:
OG:  1.046 – 1.052
FG: 1.010 – 1.016
IBUs:  20 – 30
SRM:  17 – 30
ABV:  4.4 – 5.4%

Commercial Examples: Devils Backbone Schwartz Bier, Einbecker Schwarzbier, Eisenbahn Dunkel, Köstritzer Schwarzbier, Mönchshof Schwarzbier, Nuezeller Original Badebier

Tags: standard-strength, dark-colour, bottom-fermented, lagered, central-europe, traditional-style, balanced, dark-lager-family

9. Strong European Beer
9A. Doppelbock9B. Eisbock9C. Baltic Porter
Overall Impression: A strong, rich, and very malty German lager that can have both pale and dark variants. The darker versions have more richly-developed, deeper malt Flavours, while the paler versions have slightly more hops and dryness.

Aroma: Very strong maltiness. Darker versions will have significant Maillard products and often some toasty aromas. A light caramel aroma is acceptable. Lighter versions will have a strong malt presence with some Maillard products and toasty notes. Virtually no hop aroma, although a light noble hop aroma is acceptable in pale versions. A moderately low malt-derived dark fruit character may be present (but is optional) in dark versions. A very slight chocolate-like aroma may be present in darker versions, but no roasted or burned aromatics should ever be present. Moderate alcohol aroma may be present.

Appearance: Deep gold to dark brown in colour. Darker versions often have ruby highlights. Lagering should provide good clarity. Large, creamy, persistent head (colour varies with base style: white for pale versions, off-white for dark varieties). Stronger versions might have impaired head retention, and can display noticeable legs.

Flavour: Very rich and malty. Darker versions will have significant Maillard products and often some toasty Flavours. Lighter versions will have a strong malt Flavour with some Maillard products and toasty notes. A very slight chocolate Flavour is optional in darker versions, but should never be perceived as roasty or burnt. Clean lager character. A moderately low malt-derived dark fruit character is optional in darker versions. Invariably there will be an impression of alcoholic strength, but this should be smooth and warming rather than harsh or burning. Little to no hop Flavour (more is acceptable in pale versions). Hop bitterness varies from moderate to moderately low but always allows malt to dominate the Flavour. Most versions are fairly malty-sweet, but should have an impression of attenuation. The sweetness comes from low hopping, not from incomplete fermentation. Paler versions generally have a drier finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full to full body. Moderate to moderately-low carbonation. Very smooth without harshness, astringency. A light alcohol warmth may be noted, but it should never burn.

Comments: Most versions are dark coloured and may display the caramelizing and Maillard products of decoction mashing, but excellent pale versions also exist. The pale versions will not have the same richness and darker malt Flavours of the dark versions, and may be a bit drier, hoppier and more bitter. While most traditional examples are in the lower end of the ranges cited, the style can be considered to have no upper limit for gravity, alcohol and bitterness (thus providing a home for very strong lagers).

History: A Bavarian specialty first brewed in Munich by the monks of St. Francis of Paula. Historical versions were less well-attenuated than modern interpretations, with consequently higher sweetness and lower alcohol levels (and hence was considered “liquid bread” by the monks). The term “doppel (double) bock” was coined by Munich consumers. Many commercial doppelbocks have names ending in “-ator,” either as a tribute to the prototypical Salvator or to take advantage of the beer’s popularity. Traditionally dark brown in colour; paler examples are a more recent development.

Characteristic Ingredients: Pils and/or Vienna malt for pale versions (with some Munich), Munich and Vienna malts for darker ones and occasionally a tiny bit of darker colour malts (such as Carafa). Saazer-type hops. Clean lager yeast. Decoction mashing is traditional.

Style Comparison: A stronger, richer, more full-bodied version of either a Dunkles Bock or a Helles Bock. Pale versions will show higher attenuation and less dark fruity character than the darker versions.

Entry Instructions: The entrant will specify whether the entry is a pale or a dark variant.

Vital Statistics:
OG:  1.072 – 1.112
FG: 1.016 – 1.024
IBUs:  16 – 26
SRM:  6 – 25
ABV:  7.0 – 10.0%

Commercial Examples: Dark Versions –Andechser Doppelbock Dunkel, Ayinger Celebrator, Paulaner Salvator, Spaten Optimator, Tröegs Troegenator, Weihenstephaner Korbinian,; Pale Versions – Eggenberg Urbock 23º, EKU 28, Plank Bavarian Heller Doppelbock

Tags: high-strength, amber-colour, pale-colour, bottom-fermented, lagered, central-europe, traditional-style, bock-family, malty

Overall Impression: A strong, full-bodied, rich, and malty dark German lager often with a viscous quality and strong Flavours. Even though Flavours are concentrated, the alcohol should be smooth and warming, not burning.

Aroma: Dominated by a balance of rich, intense malt and a definite alcohol presence. No hop aroma. May have significant malt-derived dark fruit esters. Alcohol aromas should not be harsh or solventy.

Appearance: Deep copper to dark brown in colour, often with attractive ruby highlights. Lagering should provide good clarity. Head retention may be moderate to poor. Off-white to deep ivory coloured head. Pronounced legs are often evident.

Flavour: Rich, sweet malt balanced by a significant alcohol presence. The malt can have Maillard products, toasty qualities, some caramel, and occasionally a slight chocolate Flavour. No hop Flavour. Hop bitterness just offsets the malt sweetness enough to avoid a cloying character. May have significant malt-derived dark fruit esters. The alcohol should be smooth, not harsh or hot, and should help the hop bitterness balance the strong malt presence. The finish should be of malt and alcohol, and can have a certain dryness from the alcohol. It should not by sticky, syrupy or cloyingly sweet. Clean lager character.

Mouthfeel: Full to very full-bodied. Low carbonation. Significant alcohol warmth without sharp hotness. Very smooth without harsh edges from alcohol, bitterness, fusels, or other concentrated Flavours.

Comments: Extended lagering is often needed post-freezing to smooth the alcohol and enhance the malt and alcohol balance. Pronounced “ICE-bock.”

History: A traditional Kulmbach specialty brewed by freezing a doppelbock and removing the ice to concentrate the Flavour and alcohol content (as well as any defects).

Characteristic Ingredients: Same as doppelbock. Commercial eisbocks are generally concentrated anywhere from 7% to 33% (by volume).

Style Comparison: Eisbocks are not simply stronger doppelbocks; the name refers to the process of freezing and concentrating the beer and is not a statement on alcohol; some doppelbocks are stronger than Eisbocks. Not as thick, rich, or sweet as a Wheatwine.

Vital Statistics:
OG:  1.078 – 1.120
FG: 1.020 – 1.035
IBUs:  25 – 35
SRM:  18 – 30
ABV:  9.0 – 14.0%

Commercial Examples: Kulmbacher Eisbock

Tags: very-high-strength, amber-colour, bottom-fermented, lagered, central-europe, traditional-style, bock-family, malty

Overall Impression: A Baltic Porter often has the malt Flavours reminiscent of an English porter and the restrained roast of a schwarzbier, but with a higher OG and alcohol content than either. Very complex, with multi-layered malt and dark fruit Flavours.

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-coloured head. Clear, although darker versions can be opaque.

Flavour: 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 Flavour that stops short of burnt. Mouth-filling and very smooth. Clean lager character. Starts sweet but darker malt Flavours quickly dominates and persists through finish. Just a touch dry with a hint of roast coffee or licorice in the finish. Malt can have a caramel, toffee, nutty, molasses and/or licorice complexity. Light hints of black currant and dark fruits. Medium-low to medium bitterness from malt and hops, just to provide balance. Hop Flavour from slightly spicy hops ranges from none to medium-low.

Mouthfeel: Generally quite full-bodied and smooth, with a well-aged alcohol warmth. Medium to medium-high carbonation, making it seem even more mouth-filling. Not heavy on the tongue due to carbonation level.

Comments: May also be described today as an Imperial Porter, although heavily roasted or hopped versions are not appropriate for this style. Most versions are in the 7–8.5% ABV range. Danish breweries often refer to them as Stouts, which indicates their historic lineage from the days when Porter was used as a generic name for Porter and Stout.

History: Traditional beer from countries bordering the Baltic Sea, developed indigenously after higher-gravity export brown or imperial stouts from England were established. Historically top-fermented, many breweries adapted the recipes for bottom-fermenting yeast along with the rest of their production.

Characteristic Ingredients: Generally lager yeast (cold fermented if using ale yeast, as is required when brewed in Russia). Debittered chocolate or black malt. Munich or Vienna base malt. Continental hops (Saazer-type, typically). May contain crystal malts and/or adjuncts. Brown or amber malt common in historical recipes.

Style Comparison: Much less roasted and smoother than an Imperial Stout, typically with less alcohol. Lacks the roasty qualities of stouts in general, more taking on the roasted-but-not-burnt characteristics of a schwarzbier. Quite fruity compared to other porters. Higher alcohol than other porters.

Vital Statistics:
OG:  1.060 – 1.090
FG: 1.016 – 1.024
IBUs:  20 – 40
SRM:  17 – 30
ABV:  6.5 – 9.5%

Commercial Examples: Aldaris Porteris, Baltika #6 Porter, Devils Backbone Danzig, Okocim Porter, Sinebrychoff Porter, Zywiec Porter

Tags: high-strength, dark-colour, any-fermentation, lagered, eastern-europe, traditional-style, porter-family, malty

10. German Wheat Beer
This category contains vollbier- and starkbier-strength German wheat beers without sourness, in light and dark colours.
10A. Weissbier10B. Dunkles Weissbier10C. Dunkles Weizenbock
Overall Impression: A pale, refreshing German wheat beer with high carbonation, dry finish, a fluffy mouthfeel, and a distinctive banana-and-clove yeast character.

Aroma: Moderate to strong phenols (usually clove) and fruity esters (typically banana). The balance and intensity of the phenol and ester components can vary but the best examples are reasonably balanced and fairly prominent. The hop character ranges from low to none. A light to moderate wheat aroma (which might be perceived as bready or grainy) may be present but other malt characteristics should not. Optional, but acceptable, aromatics can include a light to moderate vanilla character, and/or a faint bubblegum aroma. None of these optional characteristics should be high or dominant, but often can add to the complexity and balance.

Appearance: Pale straw to gold in colour. A very thick, moussy, long-lasting white head is characteristic. The high protein content of wheat impairs clarity in an unfiltered beer, although the level of haze is somewhat variable.

Flavour: Low to moderately strong banana and clove Flavour. The balance and intensity of the phenol and ester components can vary but the best examples are reasonably balanced and fairly prominent. Optionally, a very light to moderate vanilla character and/or faint bubblegum notes can accentuate the banana Flavour, sweetness and roundness; neither should be dominant if present. The soft, somewhat bready or grainy Flavour of wheat is complementary, as is a slightly grainy-sweet malt character. Hop Flavour is very low to none, and hop bitterness is very low to moderately low. Well-rounded, Flavourful palate with a relatively dry finish. The perception of sweetness is more due to the absence of hop bitterness than actual residual sweetness; a sweet or heavy finish would significantly impair drinkability.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light to medium body; never heavy. Suspended yeast may increase the perception of body. The texture of wheat imparts the sensation of a fluffy, creamy fullness that may progress to a light, spritzy finish aided by high to very high carbonation. Always effervescent.

Comments: These are refreshing, fast-maturing beers that are lightly hopped and show a unique banana-and-clove yeast character. These beers often don’t age well and are best enjoyed while young and fresh. The version mit hefe is served with suspended yeast; the krystal version is filtered for excellent clarity. The character of a krystal weizen is generally fruitier and less phenolic than that of the weissbier mit hefe. May be known as hefeweizen, particularly in the United States.

History: While Bavaria has a wheat beer tradition dating back hundreds of years, brewing wheat beer used to be a monopoly reserved for Bavarian royalty. Modern weissbier dates from 1872 when Schneider began production. However, pale weissbier only became popular since the 1960s. It is quite popular today, particularly in southern Germany.

Characteristic Ingredients: By German brewing tradition, at least 50% of the grist must be malted wheat, although some versions use up to 70%; the remainder is typically Pilsner malt. A decoction mash is traditional, although modern brewers typically don’t follow this practice. Weizen ale yeast produces the typical spicy and fruity character, although high fermentation temperatures can affect the balance and produce off-Flavours.

Vital Statistics:
OG:  1.044 – 1.052
FG: 1.010 – 1.014
IBUs:  8 – 15
SRM:  2 – 6
ABV:  4.3 – 5.6%

Commercial Examples: Ayinger Bräu Weisse, Hacker-Pschorr Weisse, Paulaner Hefe-Weizen Naturtrüb, Schneider Weisse Unser Original, Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier

Tags: standard-strength, pale-colour, top-fermented, central-europe, traditional-style, wheat-beer-family, malty

Overall Impression: A moderately dark German wheat beer with a distinctive banana-and-clove yeast character, supported by a toasted bread or caramel malt Flavour. Highly carbonated and refreshing, with a creamy, fluffy texture and light finish that encourages drinking.

Aroma: Moderate phenols (usually clove) and fruity esters (usually banana). The balance and intensity of the phenol and ester components can vary but the best examples are reasonably balanced. Optionally, a low to moderate vanilla character and/or faint bubblegum notes may be present, but should not dominate. Hop aroma ranges from low to none, and may be lightly floral, spicy, or herbal. A light to moderate wheat aroma (which might be perceived as bready, doughy or grainy) may be present and is often accompanied by a caramel, bread crust, or richer malt aroma. The malt aroma may moderate the phenols and esters somewhat.

Appearance: Light copper to mahogany brown in colour. A very thick, moussy, long-lasting off-white head is characteristic. The high protein content of wheat impairs clarity in this traditionally unfiltered style, although the level of haze is somewhat variable. Suspended yeast sediment can contribute to cloudiness.

Flavour: Low to moderately strong banana and clove Flavour. The balance and intensity of the phenol and ester components can vary but the best examples are reasonably balanced and fairly prominent. Optionally, a very light to moderate vanilla character and/or faint bubblegum notes can accentuate the banana Flavour, sweetness and roundness; neither should be dominant if present. The soft, somewhat bready, doughy, or grainy Flavour of wheat is complementary, as is a richer caramel, toast, or bread crust Flavour. The malty richness can be low to medium-high, and supports the yeast character. A roasted malt character is inappropriate. A spicy, herbal, or floral hop Flavour is very low to none, and hop bitterness is very low to low. Well-rounded, Flavourful, often somewhat malty palate with a relatively dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light to medium-full body. The texture of wheat as well as yeast in suspension imparts the sensation of a fluffy, creamy fullness that may progress to a lighter finish, aided by moderate to high carbonation. Effervescent.

Comments: The presence of Munich and/or Vienna-type barley malts gives this style a deep, rich barley malt character not found in a weissbier. Often known as dunkelweizen, particularly in the United States.

History: Bavaria has a wheat beer brewing traditional hundreds of years old, but the brewing right was reserved for Bavarian royalty until the late 1700s. Old-fashioned Bavarian wheat beer was often dark, as were most beer of the day. Pale weissbier started to become popular in the 1960s, but traditional dark wheat beer remained somewhat of an old person’s drink.

Characteristic Ingredients: By German brewing tradition, at least 50% of the grist must be malted wheat, although some versions use up to 70%; the remainder is usually Munich, Vienna, or dark or caramel wheat malts, or Pilsner malt with colour malt. A decoction mash is traditional, but infrequently used today. Weizen ale yeasts produce the typical spicy and fruity character, although extreme fermentation temperatures can affect the balance and produce off-Flavours.

Style Comparison: Reflecting the best yeast and wheat character of a weissbier blended with the malty richness of a Munich dunkel. The banana and clove character is often less apparent than in a weissbier due to the increased maltiness.

Vital Statistics:
OG:  1.044 – 1.056
FG: 1.010 – 1.014
IBUs:  10 – 18 
SRM:  14 – 23
ABV:  4.3 – 5.6%

Commercial Examples: Ayinger Ur-Weisse, Ettaler Weissbier Dunkel, Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse Dunkel, Hacker-Pschorr Weisse Dark, Tucher Dunkles Hefe Weizen, Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel

Tags: standard-strength, amber-colour, top-fermented, central-europe, traditional-style, wheat-beer-family, malty

Overall Impression: A strong, malty, fruity, wheat-based ale combining the best malt and yeast Flavours of a weissbier (pale or dark) with the malty-rich Flavour, strength, and body of a Dunkles Bock or Doppelbock.

Aroma: Medium-high to high malty-rich character with a significant bready-grainy wheat component. Paler versions will have a bready-toasty malty richness, while darker versions will have a deeper, richer malt presence with significant Maillard products. The malt component is similar to a helles bock for pale versions (grainy-sweet-rich, lightly toasted) or a dunkles bock for dark versions (bready-malty-rich, highly toasted, optional caramel). The yeast contributes a typical weizen character of banana and spice (clove, vanilla), which can be medium-low to medium-high. Darker versions can have some dark fruit aroma (plums, prunes, grapes, raisins), particularly as they age. A low to moderate alcohol aroma is acceptable, but shouldn’t be hot or solventy. No hop aroma. The malt, yeast, and alcohol intertwine to produce a complex, inviting, prominent bouquet.

Appearance: Pale and dark versions exist, with pale versions being light gold to light amber, and dark versions being dark amber to dark ruby-brown in colour. A very thick, moussy, long-lasting white to off-white (pale versions) or light tan (dark versions) head is characteristic. The high protein content of wheat impairs clarity in this traditionally unfiltered style, although the level of haze is somewhat variable. Suspended yeast sediment can contribute to the cloudiness.

Flavour: Similar to the aroma, a medium-high to high malty-rich Flavour together with a significant bready-grainy wheat Flavour. Paler versions will have a bready, toasty, grainy-sweet malt richness, while darker versions will have deeper, bready-rich or toasted malt Flavours with significant Maillard products, optional caramel. Low to moderate banana and spice (clove, vanilla) yeast character. Darker versions can have some dark fruit Flavour (plums, prunes, grapes, raisins), particularly as they age. A light chocolate character (but not roast) is optional in darker versions. No hop Flavour. A low hop bitterness can give a slightly sweet palate impression, but the beer typically finishes dry (sometimes enhanced by a light alcohol character). The interplay between the malt, yeast, and alcohol adds complexity and interest, which is often enhanced with age.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full to full body. A fluffy or creamy texture is typical, as is the mild warming sensation of substantial alcohol content. Moderate to high carbonation.

Comments: A Weissbier brewed to bock or doppelbock strength. Schneider also produces an Eisbock version. Pale and dark versions exist, although dark are more common. Pale versions have less rich malt complexity and often more hops, as with doppelbocks. Lightly oxidized Maillard products can produce some rich, intense Flavours and aromas that are often seen in aged imported commercial products; fresher versions will not have this character. Well-aged examples might also take on a slight sherry-like complexity.

History: Aventinus, the world’s oldest top-fermented wheat doppelbock, was created in 1907 at the Schneider Weisse Brauhaus in Munich.

Characteristic Ingredients: A high percentage of malted wheat is used (by German brewing tradition must be at least 50%, although it may contain up to 70%), with the remainder being Munich- and/or Vienna-type barley malts in darker versions, and more Pils malt in paler versions. Some colour malts may be used sparingly. A traditional decoction mash can give the appropriate body without cloying sweetness. Weizen ale yeasts produce the typical spicy and fruity character. Too warm or too cold fermentation will cause the phenols and esters to be out of balance and may create off-Flavours. Hop choice is essentially irrelevant, but German varieties are most traditional.

Style Comparison: Stronger and richer than a Weissbier or Dunkles Weissbier, but with similar yeast character. More directly comparable to the Doppelbock style, with the pale and dark variations. Can vary widely in strength, but most are in the bock to doppelbock range.

Entry Instructions: The entrant will specify whether the entry is a pale or a dark version.

Vital Statistics:
OG:  1.064 – 1.090
FG: 1.015 – 1.022
IBUs:  15 – 30  
SRM:  6 – 25
ABV:  6.5 – 9.0%

Commercial Examples: Dark –Eisenbahn Weizenbock, Plank Bavarian Dunkler Weizenbock, Penn Weizenbock, Schneider Unser Aventinus; Pale –Plank Bavarian Heller Weizenbock, Weihenstephaner Vitus

Tags: high-strength, amber-colour, pale-colour, top-fermented, central-europe, traditional-style, wheat-beer-family, malty

7. Amber Bitter European Beer
7A. Vienna Lager7B. Altbier7C. Kellerbier
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7. Amber Bitter European Beer
7A. Vienna Lager7B. Altbier7C. Kellerbier
1st info
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7. Amber Bitter European Beer
7A. Vienna Lager7B. Altbier7C. Kellerbier
1st info
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7. Amber Bitter European Beer
7A. Vienna Lager7B. Altbier7C. Kellerbier
1st info
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7. Amber Bitter European Beer
7A. Vienna Lager7B. Altbier7C. Kellerbier
1st info
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7. Amber Bitter European Beer
7A. Vienna Lager7B. Altbier7C. Kellerbier
1st info
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