Beer Styles FAQ

V. 0.2 September 1995

Written by

Jon Binkley,
Michael Stewart,

(c) 1995, by Jonathan Binkley and Michael Stewart. You can distribute this document freely, as long as this copywrite notice is intact, and credit is given where credit is due. You may not use any of this document in any commercial publication whatsoever without the express, written permission of both Jonathan Binkley and Michael Stewart.

Part I: INTRODUCTION to the Styles FAQ


	Most Righteous Editors and Keepers of the FAQs:

Keith Gumbinger
John Lock
Alan Marshall
Joel Plutchak
Craig Verver

	The following people from the many beer related newsgroups and 
digests on the 'Net, past and present, made invaluable contributions to 
this document:

Thomas Aylesworth
David Brockington
Dan Brown
Jim Busch
Dick Dunn
George Fix
Kirk Flemming
Rich Fortnum
Jeff Frane
Rob Gardner
Jay Hersh
Al Korzonas
Pat Laverty
Martin Lodahl
Ken Papai
Darryl Richman
Alison Scott
Mark Sexton
Russ Shipman
Paul Sovcik
Spencer Thomas

And many others whose names will be added as rapidly as aging and
damaged neurons can recall them.




Parts III through V will be posted one section at a time (in no
particular order) until the entire document is completed. This
table reflects how the FAQ will look then, not the way it looks

Part I: Introduction to the Styles FAQ


"The Beer Discovery Experience," by Paul Sovcik


Part II: BREWING: Ingredients, Process, and Style

	II.B.1   MALT




Part III: Styles of LAGER


	III.B.2. MAERZEN (Oktoberfest)




Part IV: Styles of ALE





Part V: Top-fermented Specialties

        V.A.1. KOELSCH
        V.B.2. ALTBIER

        V.D.1. RED BEERS
        V.D.2. BROWN BEERS

        V.F.2. DOUBLE


        V.H.3. FARO


Lifted from the electronic pages of

(names deleted in case another ugly flame war ensues)

>>>>> i think *** is the best beer in america.

>>>> I could not agree with you more. *** is the greatest
>>>> beer out there

>>> I could not disagree with you kids more, *** is one of the worst
>>> beers "out there."

>> Don't you think you both are right? If not, why don't you discuss
>> which color is the greatest?

>Well, I don't know which color is the greatest. But I would generally
>prefer one of hundreds of brilliant, full, vibrant colors over a drab,
>washed-out grey. Of course, it would depend on what I was painting.
>Just as it depends on why you drink beer.



	Beer style definitions are not written in stone, and sometimes
the exceptions are more interesting than the rules. However, there
are situations where they are very useful, or even essential. This
is especially true for the beginning beer enthusiast, for whom style
classification can be a valuable tool with which to make sense of a
very confusing world of obviously different beers. The need for
classification is acute in America. Serious beer culture in the
United States was destroyed on 16 January, 1920, when the prohibition
of alcohol became the law of the land. Although the law was repealed
on Alt.Beer Day (5 December) in 1933, appreciation and production
of diverse styles of beer is only now being rekindled in this 
country, and this is on a limited scale. Most Americans still have
never seen or heard of, let alone tasted, anything other than the 
standard American light lager. Even most of us who have tried to
educate ourselves were well into our twenties before we began to
experiment with different styles. Then, we were confronted by an
incomprehensible array of labels and flavors. Well defined style
classifications provide a comfortable base from which to explore
the many complexities in the world of Real Beer. For more experienced
beer drinkers, they continue to be the most convenient way to
intelligently discuss and compare different beers. We offer
this FAQ as a useful introduction to beer styles for the new
readers of, as well as a starting point for
discussion and good-natured argument for the regulars.

	The Beer Styles FAQ is posted monthly to in 
five separate sections. The section you're reading now covers basic 
definitions and explanations. Part II describes the ingredients used for 
brewing, some of the technical details of the brewing process, and their 
contributions to style; the Appendix of Part II defines measurable
criteria for comparing styles, such as original gravity, color, and 
bitterness. Part III gives detailed descriptions of the styles of lager,
and Part IV does the same for the most common types of ale. Part V covers
some special types of top-fermented beers, found mainly in Belgium and
Germany.  Following each style description there is a short chart in
the following format:

ORIGINAL GRAVITY 	(given as a range of specific gravities)
COLOR			(qualitative description and range in SRM units)
BITTERNESS 		(range in International Bittering Units)
ALCOHOL CONTENT 	(range in % by volume)
COMMERCIAL EXAMPLE 	(as widely available as possible)


	Until the FAQ is completed, the posting schedule will be a
bit different from that described above. We will post the first two
parts every two months or so, and will post WEEKLY "mini-FAQs" 
featuring a single style. These will be posted, serial fashion,
until we've finished the whole document. Bear with us!! We're
poor, oppressed grad students!

	This FAQ is not intended to be the world's most definitive source of
beer knowledge (see the references for some of those), and the authors
don't pretend to be the smartest beer geeks on the 'Net (see the
acknowledgements list for some of them). So, corrections and additions
submitted in good spirit will be cheerfully accepted, rapidly incorporated,
duly acknowledged, and will earn you a pint of your favorite should we
ever meet in a real pub. Flames and impoliteness will be shamelessly
retaliated upon or blissfully ignored, depending upon our coffee:beer
ratios at the time of reading.


	As the broad definition of wine is fermented fruit, the broad 
definition of beer is fermented grain. This broad definition includes 
some things we're not going to talk about, like saki (fermented from 
rice), kvass (a Russian drink made from fermented bread), or Zima 
(fermented from malt and other grains, then filtered exhaustively). Two 
other beverages we're not going to talk about sometimes find their way 
into discussions of beer styles-- mead and hard cider. Mead is fermented 
honey; it tends to be high in alcohol and has many wine-like features.  
Hard cider is fermented apples, and may therefore more properly be 
defined as a type of wine (although it is usually lower in alcohol than 
typical wines).

	Earlier in the millennium, there was a dichotomy between Beer and 
Ale. Beer was the fermented grain beverage flavored with hops popular in 
north and central Europe. Ale was the unhopped fermented grain beverage 
popular in England. By the 1700s, Beer had taken hold in England as well, 
and very few true Ales existed any more. The word "ale" came to be 
applied to the expensive, pale English beers to distinguish them from the 
darker Porters and Stouts popular among the working classes. Meanwhile, 
back in central Europe, beers were being developed which could ferment at 
lower and lower temperatures; a new species of yeast evolved from this 
process. These beers were typically stored in cold caves for many months, 
and were called "lager" beers (lager means "to store" or "put away" 
in German). 

	Today, the most widely accepted dichotomy between beer styles is
Ale vs. Lager: both are hopped, and are brewed primarily from malted 
barley. The distinguishing characteristic between the two is the type of 
yeast employed to ferment them. Ale is any beer fermented by the 
traditional warm-fermenting yeast (and now includes the porter and stout 
it used to be distinguished from); lager is any beer fermented by that 
newly evolved, cold-fermenting yeast mentioned above. More will be said
about these differences in the brewing ingredients section (Part II), and 
about the different types of Lager and Ale in Parts III and IV, 
respectively. Some special types of "Ale" are described in Part V.

	The definitions and specifications of the different styles of
beer presented in Parts III through V are more or less in line with those 
of the American Homebrewers Association (AHA); thus, they reflect styles 
available in the United States, and opinions of beer drinkers and brewers 
in the United States. We will incorporate corrections and additions from 
our international readers when possible-- i.e., when they don't conflict 
directly with the AHA definitions, or other widely agreed upon 
conventions (such as those put forward by Michael Jackson in his many 

	While no one should pretend that beer styles fall into an 
absolutely self-consistent system of comparison, the great majority of 
the commercial beers you will stumble across will fall into one of our 
style categories. There are three reasons for the exceptions to this: 
government regulations, marketing ploys, and necessarily narrow style 

	There are a multitude of laws around the world dictating what 
beers can be called, usually based upon alcohol content. These laws are 
frequently inconsistent from country to country, as well as from state to 
state within the US. The most common labeling law in the US is that in 
many (but not all) states, anything called "beer" must be less than some 
fixed percentage alcohol by volume-- different states require 4%, 5%, or 
6%. In these states, anything higher either cannot be sold at all or must 
be called something different-- most commonly "malt liquor," but sometimes 
"ale" (regardless of whether or not it was really fermented by ale 
yeast). You will notice that many imported beers have been labeled "malt 
liquor" by default for the US market, regardless of their true style or 
strength, in order to be sure to comply with these varying state laws.

	In the US there are no controlled appellations for beer styles, 
and no truth in labeling laws governing beer styles. Within the types of 
laws mentioned above, the brewers can call their beer anything they feel 
like (i.e., anything that they think will sell more beer). One form this 
takes is when they invent some meaningless new term, like "Draft Beer" 
(when the beer is actually in a can or bottle) or "Ice Beer." There's 
nothing new or unique about these types of beer apart from their labels. 
Another form this takes is the misapplication of a trendy style name. You 
most often see this among microbrews or craft brews. Examples are Sam 
Adams Cranberry Lambic, Widmer Hefeweizen, and Celis Pale Bock. These
may well be fine beers, but it would be nice if they were called what
they really are: a fruited Wheat Beer, an unfiltered American Wheat Ale, 
and a Belgian Pale Ale, respectively. (To be fair, Mr. Celis couldn't
call his beer "Ale" because of an especially stupid Texas state law;
however, he didn't need to misname it "bock.")

	Finally, our style definitions are, by the necessity of 
classification, too narrow to encompass the potentially infinite 
variation of actual beer. You see this all the time in homebrewing, where 
the brewers have to please nobody but themselves. A common critique from 
the judges at homebrew competitions is "great beer, but it doesn't match 
the style." The entire country of Belgium gives those who try to 
catalogue beer styles headaches; almost every small brewery has their own 
unique, classic style.


	Luckily, most beers *do* fall into definable styles, and we
argue that distinguishing these styles is a worthwhile endeavor.
A distinction can be made between appreciating something and liking 
it: you don't need to like a thing in order to appreciate its value. 
While liking a thing is a subjective matter of taste and can't be argued 
or evaluated, appreciating it is based upon objective criteria which can 
be measured and compared.

	By learning about and trying different styles of beer you will 
come to appreciate them. Tastes change; many times, you will find that 
appreciation of a style that you initially don't like will grow into
genuine enjoyment. There may be a style you will never grow to like,
but you will be able to distinguish a beer which is actually a good
representation of that style, from a genuinely bad beer. That may
sound really stupid, but it's essential for the growing number of
people who judge beer in commercial and amateur competitions, where 
different beers compete only with others of like style.

	You will be able to communicate with other people about a 
particular beer, and discuss meaningful information about it apart from 
your tastes. The best movie reviewers are those who give consistent 
reasons for liking or disliking movies. Once you become familiar with 
these reviewers, they provide enough information that you can decide 
whether or not you'll be likely to enjoy the movie, regardless of whether 
or not they liked it. The best beer reviewers (some of whom post to this 
newsgroup) do the same thing. They know that taste is subjective, but 
that style guidelines are a valuable base for objective comparison. They 
provide enough information to give you a fairly good idea of whether or 
not you'll like the beer.

	The practical side of all this is that style guidelines help you 
to know something about what you're buying before you taste it. You 
wouldn't buy a package that was just labeled "FOOD," would you? If you 
find a style you really love, you'll know what to get when you're 
shopping or at the pub. Conversely, if you learn you don't like a 
particular style, you don't need to buy every other example of it in the 


The Beer Discovery Experience

This was originally posted to by Paul Sovcik. It is reprinted
here for your edification.

From Mon Feb 28 22:12:09 PST 1994
Organization: University of Illinois at Chicago, ADN Computer Center
Date: Mon, 28 Feb 1994 16:13:28 CST
Message-ID: <>
Subject: Re: What happened to Sam Adams?

I remember first discovering Sam Adams about 5 years ago in Fort Collins, 
Colorado (not that is was that special of an experience... I was just 
kind of pissed 'cause I wanted a Boulder Pale Ale).

It tasted exactly the same as it does today. A very good lager with 
excellent hop character and absolutely wonderful aroma.

Why do some people claim to taste a difference? I'll bet it is an 
outgrowth of the "beer discovery experience." The process goes something 
like this:
	 (starting with adolescence)
	1)  You drink Budmilloors because it's cheap, you want to get
	    drunk, and you really don't like beer anyway.
	    You cannot distinguish marketing ploys from taste.
	    (ex. Genuine Draft, Ice beer, Dry beer etc.)

	2)  As you get older, you still like to get drunk, but you
	    have a bit of cash to spend. You also tend to drink beer
	    'cause you like it. You drink Budmilloors taste-alikes like
	    oh... Leinenkugel. Killian's Red, or for that matter, anything

	3)  You graduate from Budmilloors to Pete's Wicked Ale, or
	    some kind of non-mainstream beer, such as Sam Adams.
	    You begin to distinguish taste. You try and actually
	    start to enjoy darker beers like stouts and such.
	    You start to ridicule Budmilloors. Mass marketing of
	    "craft brews" still plays a role in your taste.

	4)  Now you differentiate between "good" and "bad" well-brewed
	    beers. You discover the Sierra Nevadas of the world, and
	    other truly exceptional beers.  You use these handful of
	    select brews as your gold standard. All other beers are
	    crap. The beer that originally tasted exceptional at
	    stage 1,2 or 3, is now poor.

	5)  You gradually begin to realize that other beers have their
	    place in the world too. In fact, the simple fact that
	    SNPA, PU or Guinness exists as a benchmark begins
	    to allow you to evaluate beer on a comparative scale,
	    and you appreciate the differences and variations in
	    styles. You become more tolerant of Budmilloors.

	6)  You reach the Zen of beer tasting. All beer has a
	    purpose in life, and who are you to foist your taste
	    on anyone else anyway?  Taste is relative. You realize
	    that maybe you should have a Bud when mowing the lawn
	    instead of a barley wine.  All beer serves its own
	    purpose. Even Schlitz exists for a reason (Tonya Harding's
	    drinking buddies?). No beer "kicks ass" (to use Usenet
	    terminology) or is swill. It simply is.

	I don't know about you guys, but I'm still at #5.

Rambling on,



American Homebrewers Association, 1993.
"1995 Style Guidelines"

Association of Brewers
"Yeast and Beer (Special Issue)"
_Zymurgy_, 12:4 (1989). 

Association of Brewers
"Hops and Beer (Special Issue)"
_Zymurgy_, 13:4 (1990). 

Fred Eckhardt, 1989.
_The Essentials of Beer Style_
All Brewers Information Service, Portland, OR, USA
ISBN 0-9606302-7-9

_Evaluating Beer_, 1993.
Brewers Publications, Boulder, CO, USA
ISBN 0-937381-37-3

Terry Foster, 1990.
_Pale Ale_
Classic Beer Style Series
Brewers Publications, Boulder, CO  USA
ISBN 0-937381-18-7

Terry Foster, 1992.
Classic Beer Style Series
Brewers Publications, Boulder, CO, USA
ISBN 0-937381-28-4

Michael Jackson, 1993.
_Michael Jackson's Beer Companion_
Running Press, Philadelphia, PA, USA
ISBN 1-56138-288-4

Michael Jackson, 1994.
_Pocket Guide to Beer_
Simon and Schuster, New York, NY, USA
ISBN 0-671-89814-0

Solomon H. Katz and Fritz Maytag
"Brewing an Ancient Beer"
_Archaeology_, 44:4 (July/August 1991), 24 - 33

David Miller, 1988.
_The Complete Handbook of Home Brewing_
Garden Way Publishing, Pownal, VT, USA
ISBN 0-88266-517-0

David Miller, 1990.
_Continental Pilsner_
Classic Beer Style Series
Brewers Publications, Boulder, CO, USA
ISBN 0-937381-20-9

Charlie Papazian, 1991.
_The New Complete Joy of Home Brewing_
Avon Books, New York, NY, USA
ISBN 0-380-76366-4

Pierre Rajotte, 1992.
_Belgian Ale_
Classic Beer Style Series
Brewers Publications, Boulder, CO, USA
ISBN 0-937381-31-4

Jon Rodin and Glenn Colon-Bonet
"Beer From Water"
_Zymurgy_, 14:5 (1991). 28 - 32

Eric Warner, 1992.
_German Wheat Beer_
Classic Beer Styles Series
Boulder, CO, USA
ISBN 0-937381-34-9


Part II: BREWING: Ingredients, Process, and Style

	This part of the Styles FAQ describes the 
processes and ingredients used in brewing. It includes an Appendix at the 
end which defines the measurable criteria used to compare the different 
styles listed in Parts III through V. Appreciating what is involved in
making beer can result in a better understanding of style similarities
and differences; however, if knowing the details doesn't appeal to you,
you can safely skip the body of Part II. You should at least skim the 
Appendix, however, to make sure we're all on the same page during the 
style descriptions. 

	Sewn throughout Part II are salient stanzas from "The Hymn
to Ninkasi," an ancient Sumerian prayer to the goddess of brewing
that details the brewing techniques used by the Sumerians. The Hymn
was translated by Miguel Civil, of the University of Chicago. The
full translated text can be found in an article by Solomon Katz
and Fritz Maytag (referenced at the end of Part I) which describes
an interesting attempt to re-create the Sumerian beer by Maytag
at the Anchor Brewing Co. Katz theorizes that the cultivation
of grain to produce beer-- not bread-- was responsible for the
advent of civilization. He'll get no argument here.


Contents of Part II:


	II.B.1   MALT







		Borne of the flowing water (...),
		Tenderly cared for by the Ninhursag,
		Borne of the flowing water (...),
		Tenderly cared for by the Ninhursag,


		Your father is Enki, Lord Nidimmud,
		Your mother is Ninti, the queen of the sacred lake.
		Ninkasi, your father is Enki, Lord Nidimmud,
		Your mother is Ninti, the queen of the sacred lake.

	(From the Hymn to Ninkasi, ca. 1800 BC)

	Water is the primary ingredient in beer. Perhaps surprisingly,
virtually any non-polluted water may be used to produce some sort
of beer. The catch is, not all water can produce every style of beer:
in the absence of water treatment, the range of beer styles that can
be made from a water supply depends strongly on the mineral content
of the water. These effects are felt mainly at the mashing step of
the brewing process (the conversion of starch in the grain to sugar,
and the extraction of the sugar from the grain; see below). To a
lesser extent, water quality also effects brewing and fermentation.
With the wide use of water treatment the effects on beer style of water
are now largely historical. Still, many of the classic beer styles
depend on the properties of their local water supply for much of
their character. This is illustrated by the following examples.

	The water of Pilsen, Czech Republic, is very soft; i.e., it
has a very low mineral content. The famous beer from Pilsen couldn't be 
produced in its classic form from any harder water. Classic Pilsner is 
made with very large amounts of bittering hops-- much more than any other 
lager beer. Coupled with its light body and mild maltiness, one might 
expect it to be sharply bitter. The reason this is not the case is that 
the water contains very little Sulfate ion; Sulfate accentuates the 
perception of hop bitterness. To brew similar tasting beer almost 
anywhere else is impossible without either lowering the hopping rate 
considerably, or extensively treating the water to remove minerals and 
ions. While soft water is ideal for muting hop bitterness, it is
terrible for extracting sugars from pale malts, such as the malts
used for Pilsner and Pale Ales. The solution in Pilsen is to add
laborious extra steps at the mashing step to acidify and buffer the
brewing water. This is called "decoction mashing," and is briefly
described in the section on Malt and Mashing, below. 

	At the other end of the spectrum is the water of Burton-upon-
Trent, in central England. This water is very hard, and is particularly 
high in Sulfate ion levels. The most famous beers from Burton are Pale 
Ales, and their dry, bitter character is greatly amplified by the 
hardness of the water. Large amounts of Calcium Sulfate (Gypsum) are 
frequently added to the water by brewers in other locations when a 
Burton-style pale ale is the desired product. The hard water also
makes the mashing of pale malts possible with a simple, single step,
in contrast to the mashing contortions needed at Pilsen.

	The water of Dublin, Ireland is very high in temporary hardness; 
that is, it has very high levels of carbonate and bicarbonate ions. As a 
result, the water is quite alkaline (high pH). All stages of the brewing 
process favor slightly acidic conditions (low pH). In the absence of 
water treatment, this poses an insurmountable problem for brewing pale 
beers. Luckily, roasted grains acidify and buffer the mash water, making 
roasty Porters and Stouts ideal styles for regions with alkaline water.
The popularity of Dry Stout in Dublin is a direct result it being the beer 
style most successfully brewed there.



		You are the one who waters the malt set on the ground,
		The noble dogs keep away even the potentates,
		Ninkasi, you are the one who waters the malt
		   set on the ground,
		The noble dogs keep away even the potentates,

		You are the one who soaks the malt in a jar,
		The waves rise, the waves fall.
		Ninkasi, you are the one who soaks the malt in a jar,
		The waves rise, the waves fall.

		You are the one who spreads the cooked mash on large
		   reed mats,
		Coolness overcomes,
		Ninkasi, you are the one who spreads the cooked mash
		   on large reed mats,
		Coolness overcomes...

	(From the Hymn to Ninkasi, ca. 1800 BC)


	Malt is grain (most commonly barley, but other grains may be used) 
which has been allowed to germinate, and is then kiln-dried. Germination 
produces enzymes which are needed by the newly sprouting seedling to 
break down the proteins and complex starches in the grain into amino 
acids and simple sugars. Drying stops the seedling growth, but leaves the 
enzymes intact. Brewers make use of these enzymes during the "mash" step 
of the brewing process, to do the same thing as the seedlings were going 
to-- break down proteins and starches-- but much more quickly. Malt comes 
in many different varieties, divided into base malts and specialty malts. 
Base malts are mashed without any further processing after malting, and 
provide mainly fermentable sugars. Specialty malts undergo varying 
degrees of roasting after malting, before they are mashed. They mainly
provide color, flavor, aroma, and body.

	Base malts differ from each other in the type of grain they come 
from, in the amount of time they are allowed to germinate, and in the 
time and temperatures at which they are dried. The differences in grain 
have to do with their starch and protein content, and with their ability 
to enzymatically convert starch to sugar-- called the diastatic power. The 
types of malt with the highest starch content tend to have lower 
diastatic power, so there is a trade-off determined by the specific needs 
of the brewer. The diastatic power of most base malts is sufficient to 
convert an equivalent mass of additional starch into sugar-- this is how 
the starch provided by un-malted adjunct grains is dealt with. Base malt 
is discussed in degrees of "modification;" this refers to the amount of 
time it has been allowed to germinate. The longer this time, the more 
modified the malt. The less modified a malt, the more extensive the 
"mashing" procedure needed to extract all the fermentable sugars from it.

	Some special varieties of malt undergo additional processing. 
These specialty malts usually contribute a great deal of flavor, aroma, 
body, and color to the beer, but usually have no diastatic power and 
yield little or no fermentable sugar. They usually make up less than 20% 
of the total grain bill. Specialty malts are added to the mash along with 
the base malts. Caramel malt, or crystal malt, is slowly baked right after 
germination, before it has been dried. The starch in the grain is rapidly 
converted to sugar, which then caramelizes. Caramel malt provides amber 
color, and a malty sweetness and aroma to the beer. It is used in many 
styles of ale, and for a few dark lagers as well. Malt (and also unmalted 
barley) may also be roasted. Roasted grain gives the beer a lot of dark 
color, and flavor and aroma ranging from mellow and toasty to sharp and 
burnt, depending on how darkly the grain was roasted and the amount used. 
Roasted malts provide most of the character of Porters, some Stouts, and 
German Black Beers. Unmalted, roasted barley provides the character for 
Irish Dry Stouts. 

	Some special malts fall between specialty and base malts. They are 
kiln-dried at higher temperatures than standard base malts, and end up 
with more color and stronger flavor. Their diastatic power is weakened; 
they may convert their own starch, but cannot convert additional adjunct 
starch. They are called aromatic, mild, Vienna, or Munich malts. They 
impart an amber to deep copper color, and a lightly sweet, sometimes 
spicy maltiness to the beer. These malts are responsible for much of the 
character of Vienna Lager, of Maerzen or Oktoberfest beers, for some 
British Mild and Brown Ales, and for many malty Belgian beers.


	Between the malting kiln and the brewing kettle, the fermentable 
sugars must be extracted from the malt in a process called "mashing." 
Mashing involves soaking crushed malt in water at increasing temperature 
steps, or "rests." At different rest temperatures, different enzymes from 
the malt are most active. By carefully controlling the temperature, 
brewers achieve different results based on their particular stylistic 
need- for example, slightly raising the temperature during the starch 
converting rest results in more complex, unfermentable sugars being 
produced, and ultimately in a beer with more body and residual sweetness.

	Less modified malts need to be stepped through several
different rests. The under-modified malt used to make authentic
Pilsner must be taken through sequential temperature steps to acidify
the mash water, to break down proteins, and to activate two different
groups of starch converting enzymes. Traditionally this is achieved
with a "triple decoction" mash, wherein portions of the soaking malt
are removed from the bulk, boiled separately, then added back to raise
the temperature of the whole to the next rest step. At the other
extreme, the highly modified malt used for many English style ales
only needs to go through one rest step to convert the starch to sugar-
a "single infusion" mash. It may seem ridiculous that anyone wouldn't
use highly modified malts. However, there are several benefits in
using undermodified malts. First, the shorter time in the kiln means
that the malt is paler in color. For Pilsner and other very pale
beers, it is thus necessary to go through the extra mashing steps--
a process which contributes to the distinctive character of such
beers. Another benefit is an increase in body and head retention, a
result of the mash step at which proteins are broken down, the
"protein rest."  And, finally, malt which is undermodified has a
higher starch content: a brewer with an eye on costs has an incentive
to try to work with malt which isn't too thoroughly modified.
Nevertheless, despite these advantages and the long history of using
under-modified malt in Pilsner, very few breweries are so traditional
as to still use a "triple decoction" mash. In modern practice most
breweries use malt which is not too under-modified, and hence are able
to simplify the mash schedule by eliminating some of the rest steps.

	When the starch converting steps are completed, the mash is ended 
by draining off the sweet liquid from the spent grains- a process called 
"lautering." The sweet liquid is combined with hops in the brewing 
kettle, and the complex mixture is now called the "wort." 



		You are the one who handles the dough [and]
		   with a big shovel,
		Mixing in a pit, the bappir with sweet aromatics,
		Ninkasi, You are the one who handles the dough
		   [and] with a big shovel,
		Mixing in a pit, the bappir with [date]-honey,
		You are the one who bakes the bappir in the big oven,
		Puts in order the piles of hulled grains,
		Ninkasi, you are the one who bakes the bappir in
		   the big oven,
		Puts in order the piles of hulled grains...

	(From the Hymn to Ninkasi, ca. 1800 BC)

	Bappir was bread used by the Sumerians exclusively for brewing,
made primarily from unmalted barley and wheat, mixed with honey and
fruits. It was mixed in with the malt at the mashing step, where its
starch was converted to sugar. So as we see, the descendants of August
Busch and Adolph Coors were hardly the first ones to use non-malt adjuncts
in the brewing process!

	In an attempt to put an end to this sort of thing, the
sixteenth century Bavarian court decreed Reinheitsgebot: the "Beer
Purity" law that forbade the use of anything other than water, malt,
and hops as ingredients for beer. German brewers are still adamant
about following the tenets this law, although with the advent of the
European Union they are no longer required to do so. German beers
benefit from this by being generally full-bodied and full-flavored.
The greatest foe of "purity" is the non-malted adjunct grain, and the
starch and sugar derived from it. It's true that these are frequently 
over-used as cheap substitutes for malt, and often result in dull, 
flavorless products. But even when used in large amounts the result isn't 
necessarily poor quality beer. Excellent Belgian and British (and 
Sumerian!) beers use adjunct grains and sugars, sometimes accounting
for up to 50% of the fermentables in the bill. The reason the beers are
still excellent is that high quality ingredients are also used to provide
flavor and aroma-- specialty malts, noble hops, and sometimes different
kinds of fruits or spices. Adjuncts mainly provide fermentable sugars:
they yield alcohol and little else. When little else is added in
conjunction with them, the result is  boring beer. However, it is the
absence of good ingredients that makes them boring, not the presence
of adjuncts.

	Just about any starch and sugar source can and is used as a 
brewing ingredient somewhere. Honey, molasses, and some special syrups 
and sugars provide some interesting flavors as well as fermentables when 
they are used as adjuncts. Sugars and syrups bypass the mashing step, 
going directly into the brewing kettle. Starches must be included in the 
mash along with a base malt of high diastatic power in order that they 
may be coverted to fermentable sugar. Rice or corn is the starch choice 
when cheap fermentables are all that is wanted; they are commonly used in 
ultra-light lagers around the world, but find their way into an 
occasional beer of character as well. Wheat, oats, and barley are also 
used as unmalted adjuncts; their high protein content gives beers 
containing them some additional body and head-retention. Belgian White 
beers use unmalted wheat and oats, several famous Stouts use oats or 
unmalted barley, and a few German lagers get away with using "malt"
so under-modified that it may be practically considered unmalted



	Hops are the green, cone-shaped flowers of a prolific weed
closely related to cannabis. After harvesting, hops are dried; ideally
they are used for brewing in this condition, but they may undergo 
further compression and extraction. Hops produce two types of compounds 
relevant to brewing: bitter resins and aromatic oils. To extract the 
bitter resins, the hops must be boiled extensively. This is done in the 
brew kettle along with the sweet liquid from the mash. The oils, on the 
other hand, are volatile; their desired flavors and aromas are lost if 
boiled for more than a few minutes. As a result, hops are added to the 
brewing kettle in many stages: bittering hops early, flavoring (or 
"finishing") hops late. Obviously, this will vary with the style of beer; 
Pilsners and Pale Ales get lots of hops at all stages, while Bocks and 
Brown Ales don't get much at any stage. When overwhelming hop aroma and 
flavor are desired, a method called "dry hopping" is sometimes employed; 
whole hops are added to the conditioning tanks after fermentation. This 
method accounts for the awe-inspiring hop character of Anchor Liberty Ale.

	Different strains of hops are used for differing purposes. Some 
hops are prized for their extreme bitterness, but tend to be somewhat 
lacking in the flavor/aroma department; others are only mildly bitter, 
but have wonderful, distinctive flavors and aromas. A few modern hybrid 
strains can do both tricks- like Centennials, featured in Sierra Nevada 
Celebration Ale.

	The most famous hop varieties are the "Nobel Hops." These strains 
have been around for hundreds of years, and provide the character of many 
famous European style beers. Nobel hops are all low in bitterness, and 
high in flavor and aroma. Some examples are Hallertauer Mittlefreuh, 
grown in Bavaria and featured in Samuel Adams Lager and many German
Lagers; Saaz, grown in Bohemia and featured in Pilsner Urquell; and 
East Kent Goldings, grown in southeastern England and featured in
Young's Special London Ale. An American variety which ranks with the
European Nobility is Cascade, grown in the Pacific Northwest of the
United States and VERY prominently featured in the aforementioned
Anchor Liberty Ale.


	Hops took over as the major beer flavoring and bittering 
ingredient in the early to middle part of the millennium. Before this, a 
wide variety of herbs and spices were used for similar purposes. Today 
these are used in only a few styles, and almost always in conjunction 
with hops. Traditional beer styles using fruit, herbs, and spices 
include: Belgian White Beer, which uses orange peel and corriander; 
Lambics, some of which undergo secondary fermentation with added fruit; 
Spiced or Mulled Ales, traditional Christmas or New Year's drinks; Ale 
from northern Scotland flavored with heather. Many American 
microbreweries and brewpubs are experimenting with all sorts of 
interesting combinations of fruits and spices; these include spicy 
seasonal ales, fruited wheat beers, several hot pepper beers, and spruce 
beers. These types of ingredients are usually added to the brewing kettle 
at the same time as the finishing hops, but are sometimes added during 
fermentation, or even in the bottle.


	Yeast is a single-celled fungus. It has only one thing to do in 
life, which is to make more copies of itself. It does this very quickly 
and efficiently, doubling every two hours or so under the right 
conditions. Yeast consume the sugars in the wort and produce alcohol and 
carbon dioxide, in a process called fermentation. As soon as the wort
has been cooled down from the boil, a large amount of usually pure-culture
yeast is added to it. The initial phase of fermentation lasts several days
for ales, or several weeks for lagers. It is very vigorous-- the liquid
roils about from all of the gas being produced. The bulk of the sugar
in the wort is converted to alcohol and carbon dioxide at this stage.

	Fermentation is an anaerobic process. It may therefore be
surprising that primary fermentation can be carried out in vessels
that are either closed or open to the atmosphere. Open fermentation
is possible because the concentration of sugars is so high in the
wort. Yeast repress their respiration machinery in high sugar,
regardless of the presence of oxygen: they obtain sufficient energy
from the simpler, anaerobic pathway. In addition, the volume of
carbon dioxide dissolved in and above the fermenting wort is so great
that the environment is practically anaerobic at the height of
the process. Open fermentation is essential for some types of
yeast that require occasional or constant agitation to remain
suspended in the wort. The presence of oxygen may also affect
the levels of the highly flavored, minor byproducts of fermentation,
described below. On the other hand, closed fermentation allows a
greater degree of control and reproducibility over the quality of
the product. The choice is yet another variable that makes brewing
as much art as science.

	Primarily, two species of yeast are relevant to brewing: 
_Saccharomyces cerevisiae_, or ale yeast, and _Saccharomyces 
carlsbergensis_, or lager yeast (the latter was named for the Carlsberg 
Brewery in Copenhagen, where it was first isolated in pure culture; it 
also goes by the less romantic species name _uvarum_). The two are 
frequently called top-fermenting and bottom-fermenting yeast, 
respectively, referring to how the yeast are suspended in the wort
during primary fermentation. However, some strains of _cerevisiae_
disperse themselves throughout the fermenting beer in the manner of
_carlsbergensis_, somewhat muddying the distinction. Perhaps a better 
distinction is between warm and cold fermentation. Both species are happy 
at warm temperatures, but only _carlsbergensis_ can continue to ferment 
when the temperature falls much below 50 deg. F (10 deg. C). Herein lies 
the greatest difference between lager and ale. Apart from the familiar 
products of fermentation, alcohol and carbon dioxide, many other products 
are made in relatively low amounts. A list of them looks like the index 
of an Organic Chemistry textbook; suffice it to say that these things 
have very big names and are all associated with their own interesting 
tastes and smells-- buttery, appley, banana-like, clovey, citrussy, winey, 
and many more. The amount of these byproducts in the final beer is 
directly proportional to the temperature of fermentation: warm fermented
beers (usually ales) have loads of them, cold fermented beers (lagers)
not very much. Fermentation byproducts are thus an integral feature of
most Ales. Most Lagers, on the other hand, are virtually free of the
complexities from byproducts (ideally this allows the flavors and aromas
of the malt and hops to shine through on their own, but it also allows
for the production of some very bland, flavorless lagers).

	There is also variation in the amounts of byproducts secreted 
within each species-- i.e., not all ale yeast strains make the same
amounts or types of compounds, and not all lager yeast strains are
devoid of them. The ale yeasts used to produce Bavarian Wheat Beers
and many Belgian beers are especially noted for their flavorful and
aromatic fermentation byproducts; in contrast, the ale yeasts used
for many American Pale Ales and German Koelsch produce much more
"clean" tasting beer. Another difference between strains of yeast is
in their ability to metabolize different sugars: their attenuativeness.
A less attenuative strain will leave unfermented sugar in the final
product, giving it more body and residual sweetness. A more attenuative
strain will produce a lighter bodied, dryer beer. There are attenuative
and non-attenuative strains of both ale yeast and lager yeast.

	Since Louis Pasteur discovered yeast and the secrets of
fermentation in the mid-1800s, most beer styles have been fermented
using pure yeast cultures, or well defined mixed yeast cultures.
Two notable exceptions hearken back to the days of "anything goes"
fermentation.  The Lambic family of beers from the valleys around
Brussels, Belgium, are literally fermented by whatever happens to
fall into the open fermentation vessels. Surprisingly they are of
consistently fine quality, although the uninitiated are sometimes
taken aback by their sour, wine-like character. This character is
entirely location-dependent: risking this trick anywhere else is
generally disastrous, and attempts to culture the huge variety of
wild yeast and bacteria from Lambics have met with, at best,
limited success. A less daring example is Berliner Weisse, a
low-alcohol, light-bodied style of Wheat beer native to Berlin.
This beer undergoes a secondary fermentation using lactic acid
bacteria, imparting a stunning sourness that is usually muted
by the addition of sweet fruit or herbal syrups.


		When you pour out the filtered beer of the
		   collector vat,
		It is like the onrush of the Tigris and Euphrates.
		Ninkasi, you are the one who pours out the filtered
		   beer of the collector vat,
		It is like the onrush of the Tigris and Euphrates.

	(From the Hymn to Ninkasi, ca. 1800 BC)

	While a few ales are ready for consumption after primary
fermentation, most styles of beer undergo some sort of conditioning,
secondary fermentation, and/or aging prior to being consumed.

	Secondary fermentation is performed mainly to settle out the
beer prior to bottling or kegging. The remaining residual sugars are
fermented at this stage. It is always done in tightly sealed containers
to avoid contamination and to ensure an anaerobic state in the now
low-sugar environment.

	Cask conditioned, or "Real" ales are usually consumed soon after
the primary fermentation, but undergo a brief secondary stint in the cask
from which they will be dispensed. After they are transferred to the cask,
"finings" are added. Finings are materials which bind up yeast and
coagulated proteins and carbohydrates, and then settle out, leaving
the beer clear. They can be made from seaweed, the swim-bladders of
fish, gelatin, or plastics. Finings do not come out in the final product,
and so do not affect its flavor. Real Ale is not kept under pressurized 
carbon dioxide in the fashion of European and American kegged beer, and 
so must be consumed very quickly after the cask is opened, lest it 

	Beers may also be "bottle conditioned." At the time of bottling, a 
small portion of unfermented beer is added to the whole. This allows for 
a short burst of fermentation in the bottle, which naturally carbonates 
the beer. These beers can be identified by the yeast sediment at the 
bottom. Some beers, notably Hefe-Weizen, are filtered prior to bottling, 
and are then charged with fresh yeast at the time of bottling; these 
yeast will be more active than the dormant yeast from the fermented beer, 
and also may have different properties more desirable for the bottle.

	All lagers and a few ales undergo a cold conditioning, or lagering 
stage. The beer is stored at near-freezing temperature for several weeks 
to several months. During this time, undissolved solids precipitate out 
of the beer, and many residual fermentation byproducts from the primary 
fermentation are broken down. The result is a "cleaner" tasting and 
appearing beer.

	Most beer styles should be consumed as quickly as possible; as a 
general rule, age is deleterious to beer. Six months to one year is the 
maximum age for average beers. The exceptions that prove the rule are the 
strong beer styles: the Barleywines, Dopplebocks, Imperial Stouts, and a 
handful of others. These beers tend to start out with a rather syrupy 
quality, and the huge amounts of malt and hops used to make them start 
out as being separate and overbearing. With age, the beer will dry out 
and the hops and malt will blend into a nice balance. Usually a year or 
two is enough, but some continue to improve for five years or more.

	The above paragraphs apply to traditionally brewed beers. Of 
course, in this age of advertising hype, fast foods, and preservatives, 
most large scale brewers employ short cuts, and the quality of the beer 
usually suffers as a result. Most mass-produced beer is filtered and/or 
pasteurized. This kills or removes any living yeast. The result is a more 
consistent product, but one with a shorter shelf-life: live yeast in beer 
scavenge excess oxygen and prevent oxidation, the primary life-shortening 
factor for beer. Another short cut is force-carbonation. A sure sign of 
this is a fast soda-pop rush of fizz, followed by a completely flat beer. 
Most brewers of popular ultra-light lagers will take extreme short cuts 
at the lagering stage, sometimes shortening the conditioning time to only 
a week or two. These money saving steps do not necessarily ruin the taste 
of the product, and examples of fine beers exist which employ them. 
However, they are certainly unnecessary from a quality standpoint, and 
often come hand-in-hand with poor ingredients, poor craftsmanship, and 
bland to poor taste. Perhaps falling back to the traditions of the
nineteenth century BC is a bit extreme, but there is a lot to be said
for sticking to the traditions perfected in the nineteenth century AD!



	In Parts III - V of the Styles FAQ, objective 
criteria for each style are provided in a table of the following format:

ORIGINAL GRAVITY 	(given as a range of specific gravities)
COLOR			(qualitative description and range in SRM units)
BITTERNESS 		(range in International Bittering Units)
ALCOHOL CONTENT 	(range in % by volume)
COMMERCIAL EXAMPLE	(as widely available as possible)

This appendix will describe these criteria.


	Specific gravity is the density of a solution relative to water. 
For example, if a gravity is given as 1.050 it means its density is 1.05 
times as high as distilled water. For beer, this measures the amount of 
sugar, larger carbohydrates, proteins, etc., dissolved or otherwise 
permanently suspended in the liquid. Prior to fermentation it is called 
ORIGINAL GRAVITY, and sugar is the largest component. After fermentation 
it is called Terminal Gravity and is mostly composed of everything else. 
Original gravity is determined solely by the amount of malt, grain 
adjuncts, or sugar used in brewing. A high original gravity usually means 
that the beer will end up with more alcohol in it when it's done 
fermenting, and may also mean it will end up having a more full body or 
some residual sweetness. See the sections above on MALT and YEAST for 
more information.

	Gravity may also be expressed in degrees Plato, particularly in 
Europe. This measures exactly the same thing in exactly the same way, 
it's just expressed with a different number. To get degrees Plato from 
Specific Gravity, take the numbers AFTER the decimal point and divide by 
four. So our beer of Original Gravity 1.050 would start at 12.5 degrees 
Plato. The "28" in the strong dopplebock EKU 28 is its starting gravity 
in degrees Plato; so, you could also express it as OG 1.112. Also note 
that OG's are often given without the decimal point-- e.g., 1050 instead 
of 1.050.

	Below are listed increasing original gravities, and some of the 
styles represented by each range:


< 1.030		Some low calorie and low alcohol beers, Berliner

1.030 - 1.040	British Mild Ale, standard Bitter, some Light Lagers

1.040 - 1.050	Most every-day BEERS: Standard Ales, Porters, Stouts,
		Pilsners and other Lagers, and Wheat Beers

1.050 - 1.065	Generally sweeter, richer, or darker versions of
		standard beers-- eg, Special Bitters, India Pale Ale, 
		some Stouts, German Dark Lagers, Vienna and Maerzen

1065 - 1.075	Bock, British Old Ale or Strong Ale, Dubbel
		and other strong Belgian Ales

> 1.075		Doppelbock, Barleywine, Trippel and other very strong 
		Belgian Ales, Imperial Stout


	Color in beer is almost exclusively determined by malts and other 
grains. For a handful of styles, syrups and fruits may also contribute. 
See the section above on MALT for more information. Color is measured in 
several different ways, yielding non-convertible units. In the United 
States, color is expressed in Standard Research Method (SRM) units, 
roughly equivalent to the Degrees Lovibond familiar to homebrewers. In 
Europe, color is measured in European Brewery Congress (EBC) units. The 
conversion between the two is only linear for very pale beers (SRM = 
[0.38 x EBC] + 0.45]). For anything darker than, say, Pilsner Urquell, 
this formula is no longer accurate, and it is not used by professional 
brewers and maltsters. Unfortunately, consistent numbers are only 
readily available in SRM units, so these are presented in this FAQ.

	There is also a subjective component in determining color; 
therefore, in the descriptions of color, two different names may be
given for the same absolute SRM value- like "Deep Copper" for one beer
style, but "Dark Brown" for another. Below are the rough guidelines
use for the descriptions in Parts III - V:


2	 	Pale Yellow			Belgian White

3		Yellow				Munich Helles

4 - 5 		Gold				Bavarian Weizen

6 - 10		Amber				Pale Ale

10 - 15		Copper				Maerzen

15 - 25		Deep Copper/ Dark Brown		Brown Ale

25 - 40		Very Dark, but not Opaque	German Black Beer

> 40		Opaque Black		 	Stout


	Bitterness is measured directly as the amount of isohumolones 
contained in the beer. Isohumolones are the bittering component from the 
resins in hops (see the HOPS section above). One part per million 
isohumolone is defined as 1 International Bittering Unit (IBU). Below are 
listed ranges of IBU, and some styles for which these levels would be 


5 - 20		Wheat Beers, English Mild Ale, North American Light Lager

20 - 30		German Lagers, Bock, Brown Ales, Sweet Stout, English Bitter

30 - 40		German Pils, Pale Ales, Dry Stout

40 - 50		Bohemian Pilsner, India Pale Ale

50 - 100	Barleywine, Imperial Stout


	There are two common ways of expressing alcohol content: as 
percent by weight and as percent by volume. Since alcohol has a density 
0.8 times that of water, % by weight is a smaller value than % by volume. 
To approximately convert the two, multiply or divide by 0.8. So, a beer 
that is 3.2% alcohol by weight is 4.0% alcohol by volume. This causes no 
end of confusion, since American beers can be discussed in both ways, and 
the rest of the world uses % by volume exclusively. This is responsible 
for the myth that American beer is weaker than the beer from your-
favorite-country. All percentages listed in this FAQ are % by volume. A 
table of alcohol contents would look identical to the table above for 
Original Gravities. For a VERY ROUGH guess at alcohol content, divide the 
three digits after the decimal point the the Original Gravity by 10; so, 
a beer of OG 1.050 will be around 5% alcohol, 1.070 about 7%, etc. 


FAQ written and maintained by:

Jon Binkley

Michael Stewart

(c) 1995, Jonathan Binkley and Michael Stewart

Jon Binkley