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Beer Styles

Amber Ale

Amber Ales are a low to medium strength brew containing caramel, crystal or other amber-colored malts that impart a toasty, caramel or even toffee flavor to the beer. Bitterness can range from low to fairly high (in the case of the American Amber). Ales in this category range up to 8% ABV.

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Amber Lager

Amber Lagers are clean, crisp beers which feature malt flavors that range from bready to toasty and are usually slightly sweet. Hops bitterness is present, but only enough to balance the malt sweetness.

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Bock

Bocks are a stronger than average category of Lagers with more of a robust malt character. They range in hue from dark amber to brown. Hop bitterness is assertive enough to balance without getting in the way of the malt flavor.

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Brown Ale

Brown Ales feature malt flavors like nuts, caramel, chocolate or toffee. English-style Brown Ales highlight the malt flavors alone, while American versions add a layer of assertive American hops flavor and bitterness on top of the malt flavors. Colors range from dark amber and brownish-red to light or medium brown, while retaining a degree of transparency.

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Dark Lager

Dark Lagers have a clean, deep, malty flavor that leans toward being nutty or toasty without being harsh. Roasted character is light or absent and hops bitterness is low. They do not feature the acidic bite present in many dark beers. This style is typically dark brown to black in color, with darker varieties conveying tastes of chocolate or licorice.

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Fruit Beer

Fruit Beer typically takes on the flavor of the fruit(s) being used in the beer, but the best fruit beers allow both the flavor of the fruit and the qualities of the beer to enhance each other. The end flavors depend very much on the fruit and beer themselves. Fruit Beers can be sweet, tart or balanced between both, depending on the style. ABV tends to be low in this style group.

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Pale Ale

Pale Ales often feature delicate or subtle bready and biscuit-like malt flavors while hops levels are typically low to moderate, with the exception of the American Pale Ale, which is rather bitter and hops forward. Belgian versions sometimes have a fruity character. Colors range from pale yellow to deep amber.

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Pale Lager

Pale Lagers are very pale to golden in color with a light, clean-tasting flavor. This style features varying degrees of noble hops character ranging from negligible to dry bitterness.

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Pilsner

Pilsners are medium-bodied Lagers characterized by a pale color and high carbonation. Many varieties have a rounded mouthfeel and feature floral aromas with a dry, bitter finish. Alcohol levels typically hover around 5% ABV.

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Porter

Porter is a dark brown beer that is well balanced with a focus on dark malt flavors like chocolate, coffee, caramel and nuts. The coffee and chocolate flavors are more pronounced than in Brown Ales, but less so than in Stouts. American variants feature hops bitterness, in contrast to their less assertive English counterparts.

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Sour Ale

Sour Ales are fermented using wild yeasts and live cultures to produce a sour flavor that was a staple of many beers before the advent of modern brewing processes. Sour Ales tone down the bitterness and impart a remarkable level of complex, layered flavor more akin to wine than a standard can of beer.

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Stout

Stouts are dark black beers that feature the flavors of dark malts and usually roasted barley. Flavors range from bitter to sweet depending upon the particular style. Coffee flavors are common. Stouts evolved from Porters with the addition of roasted barley and use of black malt, though these are no longer reliable differentiators among modern variants.

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Strong Ale

Strong Ales typically include rich, malty flavors. It is malt that typically makes them "strong." Some variants, particularly in the American versions, contain a lot of hops bitterness and assertive hops flavors. Strong Ales are relatively high in alcohol content, typically exceeding 7% ABV.

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Wheat Beer

Wheat Beers are highly effervescent and tend to be crisp and light in flavor, with a hazy appearance and silky mouth feel. Varieties of this Ale from Germany or Belgium have a tart fruitiness or a hint of cloves, whereas American variants tend to be bitter and hoppy in comparison.

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Non-Alcoholic

Non-alcoholic beers are fermented in such a way as to minimize the amount of alcohol produced, or which have the alcohol removed after fermentation. By definition, they must contain less than 0.5% alcohol by volume. That means that even a non-alcoholic beer contains some alcohol, but not nearly as much as a regular beer. 

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Specialty Beer

Aside from the traditional Ales and Lagers, there are many innovative and unusual beers available for those with adventurous palates. These can be differentiated by brewing methods, aging techniques, and/or use of non-traditional ingredients. They could also encompass a blend of styles that simply defies categorization.

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Hard Cider and Perry

Though not a "beer", the popularity of Hard Cider has risen steadily in recent years. Cider features the flavor of apples and sometimes other added fruits or seasoning, while Perry features the flavors of pears. Sweetness ranges from quite dry to very sweet depending on the Cider. These are fermented beverages made from fruit juice, making them an excellent gluten-free alternative to grain-based Ales and Lagers. 

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