Hello fellow beer enthusiasts, the purpose of the particular article is to help educate those people in the ever- expanding craft beer world who are new to craft beer or have questions as to what certain things mean. As a beertender, I am often asked questions like what does IBU stand for or what is the difference between a porter and a stout. This recurring article will answer all of those questions and help each of us to be better informed. Let’s first begin with styles of beer. We have German and Czech beers; English, Scottish and Irish beers; American styles and Belgians. Given that many new beer enthusiasts generally do not venture outside of American style beers, I will focus on those first.

American Amber Ale – The citrusy hoppiness of a pale ale but with a much richer malt base of caramel and toasted flavors, this amber colored ale has a pronounced bitterness that fills the gap between a pale and a brown ale. Example: Alaskan Amber American

Brown Ale – A light to dark brown ale with a moderate bitterness, this malty, toasty and caramel flavored beer contains light to medium hops and provides a slight thickness on the taste buds. Example: Jackalope Bearwalker Brown American

India Pale Ale (IPA) – My beer of choice, the IPA ranges from gold to dark amber in color and has an assertive bitterness. It is very dominate in citrus flavor and aroma. Example: Dogfish Head 60 Minute

IPA American Pale Ale – A gold to amber hue with a pronounced bitterness with citrus and spice flavors, pale ales usually have a low to medium malt flavor with caramel notes. Example: Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale

American Stout – Roasty rich coffee flavors and a dark hue with an assertive bitterness make stout the perfect beer for those who want something big and bold. For a seasonal drinker, this is their winter time preference. Example: Sierra Nevada Stout

American Wheat Beer – Lightly malted with notes of bread and flour with a straw to gold coloring and low bitterness makes this an easy drinking beer, especially for craft beer beginners. Example: Bell’s Oberon

Blonde Ale – Harnessing light biscuit notes from the pale malts, this straw to gold colored, moderately bitter ale makes for a nice refreshing thirst quencher. Example: Southern Star Bombshell Blonde

California Common – With a light to dark amber color, this “steam beer” has a medium bitterness and a clean, fresh finish. Example: Anchor Steam

Cream Ale – This pale to gold colored hybrid of ale and lager has a distinct malt character with low bitterness. Example: Ballast Point Calm Before the Storm

Imperial IPA – Much like a normal IPA in color and flavor, the Imperial IPA is highly assertive and can have a slightly subdued maltiness. Also, it has a higher alcohol by volume (ABV) content usually in the range of 7.5% – 10% as opposed to the 5.5% – 7.5% of the normal IPA. Example: Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA.

Standard American Lager – A very pale color often referred to as straw with a very low perceived bitterness, this is a lightly balanced lager with a mild sweetness and noticeable carbonation. Example: Sam Adams Boston Lager

There are many other styles out there and in time we will cover the majority of them but this should serve as a great starting point for newbies and a reminder for the more experienced.

If you have questions or if there is a certain Beer 101 topic you think we should discuss, feel free to contact me at

by Shane Gibbs