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There Are More Beer Varieties Than Ever

American Adjunct Lager

The American Adjunct Lager is the best selling style of beer in the nation and encompasses all of the giant brands: Budweiser, Miller, Coors, Pabst, etc. There are three general categories that American-style lagers fall into: light lagers, standard lagers, and premium lagers.

Belgian Beers

Belgian Lambic refers to a spontaneously-fermented beer from Belgium. Like champagne of France, true lambic can only originate from Belgium. Belgian Tripel is an estery and spicy strong golden beer. "Tripel" likely refers to the strength of the beer, as they generally range from 7.5-11% ABV. 

American Strong Ale

American Strong Ale is a catch-all for many different beers. Complex and innovative, these beers may not share many characteristics with each other, but they are always strong. American Barleywine, a sub-genre of American Strong Ale, for example, is always over 9%. 

German Kolsch

Originating from the city of Cologne, Kolsch is Germany's only light ale and one of the few light ale styles in the world. Kolsch is actually a "lagered ale," but it is fermented with a top-fermenting ale yeast specific only to this style and then lagered for around two months for clarity and mellowing.

India Pale Ales (IPA)

India Pale Ale (IPA) has origins dating back to as early as 1709, when pale ale was being produced in England. Around that time, beer was being exported to India, and brewers were advised by the 1760s that they should increase the hops in beer to be sent to those warmer climates.

Porters & Stouts

There are a lot of different definitions and styles of Porters and Stouts. They range from something that's actually closer to a black IPA, like Avery's New World Porter, to a dry, easy-drinking brown porter like Holy City Pluff Mud. Regardless, the Green's staff can help you find your new favorite.

Other Beer Types You Should Know

California Common

The modern California Common, or “Steam Beer,” was invented by Anchor Brewing Company in their classic example Anchor Steam. Anchor Steam was trademarked in 1981, but their website alludes to the fact that Anchor Steam was actually in production before prohibition, and it could have even been brewed as early as the late 1800s. Most modern steam beers are all modeled after this one example, as it defined the style in the early days of the craft beer renaissance.


Modern steam beer is simply an ale brewed with a lager yeast. Similar to a pale ale in ingredients, steam beer typically favors a more earthy and herbal hop character and is usually brewed with Northern Brewer hops, which do not have the grapefruit-forward characteristics of other American hop varieties. A toasty and bready malt character accompanies the assertive hop notes.


German Hefeweizen

"Weizen" means wheat and "Hefe" means yeast. So, then, "Hefeweizen" literally means "yeast-wheat," aptly named because of the massive percentage of wheat malt (at least 50% by German law, but generally around 70%) and the cloudy yeast that you swirl and pour into the beer, which gives it all those delicious phenolics.


According to the German Beer Institute, "The oldest archeological proof of wheat-beer brewing in Germany dates from the Bronze Age." Modern Hefeweizen was originally called (and some still are) a "weissbier" because early malting techniques made almost all beers relatively dark in appearance. Wheat malt did not darken like barley, so though the beer was a light golden, it was called a "white beer." 


German Sour Ales

"Gose" (pronounced GO-suh) is one of the oldest styles brewed, dating back to at least the 11th century A.D. Originating in the mining town of Goslar, Gose is a mild, sour, and salty beer. Due to its low alcohol content and dryness, Gose offers exceptional complexity and drinkability. The salt and mineral content of the water in Goslar were responsible for the initial saltiness of the beverage, while a lactic top-fermentation gives the beer its tartness.


As the mines of Goslar gave out in the late middle ages, production of Gose migrated to Leipzig, where by 1900 it was the most popular beer style in Leipzig. Unfortunately, the 20th century was not kind to this beverage. Lighter beers grew in popularity and, more importantly, almost all beer production ceased entirely during World War II. The last Gose brewery was confiscated and closed by the state in 1945. Leipzig’s Friedrich Wurzler Brauerei revived Gose in 1949, but when the owner died in 1966, so did the style. Gose-style beer began to make a comeback in the 1980s with the revitalization of Ohne Bedenken, once one of the city’s most famous Gosenschenke. Now, there are several Gose breweries in Germany, and the recent sour craze in the U.S. has revived interest in German sour styles.



Mead, as you probably know, is honey wine, but is generally grouped with beer and cider rather than wine. It is the oldest known alcoholic beverage, with archeological evidence for mead dating back to around 7000 BC. It was regarded in ancient Greece as the drink of the gods (the term "nectar of the gods" actually refers to mead), and as such, was thought to bring health, virility, and even fertility. Indeed, the reputation of mead even made its way into our own vernacular: the word "honeymoon" hearkens to a time when young couples were given enough mead to last them a lunar cycle, during which time it was hoped that the mead would aid in conception.


Mead production slid throughout Europe and the world as grapes were discovered to be a more economical and predictable source of alcohol, but mead was still made for royalty and by monks all the way through the middle ages. Mead still holds ties, even in our modern thought, to ancient Greece, norse warriors, Beowulf, and the gods; it is, in fact, largely still a mystical beverage, and, when compared to other alcoholic beverages, is still rare. 


Scottish Ale

Scotland is a country, not a beer style, and as a country, had as robust and widely varied a brewing history as its neighbors, much to the contrary of easily found notes on the subject. Essentially, there are many misconceptions and, of course, there is the truth.


And the truth is that Scotland produced porters, stouts, IPAs, bitters, etc. - not just one style. Scotland had a slightly cooler climate than England, so beers fermented in Scotland did tend to be fermented a bit cooler (5-10 degrees, perhaps) and so were less estery, generally, than their English counterparts. But as far as a style labeled "Scottish Ale?" Well, if someone like Belhaven uses it, it simply means an Ale from Scotland. If an American brewer uses it, there's no telling. You could get a rauchbier or a sweet brown ale, or even a hoppy brown ale. The only beer that seems to be particularly Scottish in nature is a very defined style: "Wee Heavy."


Wood-Aged Beer

Despite using wood as a way to store and transport beer, there has traditionally been an effort to minimize the effect that wood has on the beer. In old England, oak barrels were lined with brewer's pitch and sourced from Russia and Poland, known for growing wood that would impart minimal flavor. Indeed, only Belgium stood out, for centuries, as a place where the bacteria and yeast found naturally in wood, and growing happily there, was a desirable flavor in the final product.


Every other generation of brewers in other corners of the world would have considered a woody taste or sourness a flaw in a beer, until very recently. With the craft revolution in the late 20th century, brewers began to experiment yet again with putting beer in barrels, but this time in unlined barrels for the flavor additions that these barrels afforded. US law prohibits bourbon barrels from being used more than once for bourbon, so many used barrels were shipped to Scotland for scotch production or simply sold as planters and sundries. Because of the widespread availability and inexpensive nature of these barrels, craft brewers began thinking about barrels as a means of bulk aging beers.


Goose Island was one of the first American brewers to do this back in the 1990s, and there are literally hundreds of brewers now in the US experimenting with barrel aging beers. Bourbon barrels are generally used "wet," (meaning there is still some bourbon left in there, probably a pint or two) as are wine barrels and other whisk(e)y barrels. Some white wine or new oak barrels are inoculated with hefty strains of sour yeasts and bacteria, such as those found in the traditional Belgian Lambics. The wood will retain the bacteria and wild yeasts and allow them to flourish, helping the beer develop the desired flavors much more quickly than it would if the brewer simply developed these strains and inoculated the beer.


Many brewers don't have the space to store a pile of extra barrels in a temperature controlled room, so the industry has developed several other methods of wood aging: oak and cedar chips, staves, spirals, and cubes, for example. These can be purchased aged in bourbon themselves and then introduced to the beer. Or they can be inoculated with wild yeast strains and tossed into a vat of wild ale, which still imparts new flavor characteristics to the beer but without the hassle and expense of barrels themselves.