International Pale Lager

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2A. International Pale 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
IBUs: 18 – 25 FG: 1.008 – 1.012
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

American Wheat Beer

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1D. American Wheat Beer
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.
Comments: Different variations exist, from an easy-drinking fairly sweet beer to a dry, aggressively-hopped beer with a strong wheat flavor. American rye beers should be entered in the Alternative Fermentables specialty category.

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
IBUs: 15 – 30 FG: 1.008 – 1.013
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

Cream Ale

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1C. Cream Ale
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
IBUs: 8 – 20 FG: 1.006 – 1.012
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

American Lager

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1B. American Lager
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
IBUs: 8 – 18 FG: 1.004 – 1.010
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