Biere de Garde

24C. Bière de Garde

Overall Impression:
A fairly strong, malt-accentuated, lagered artisanal beer with a range of malt flavors appropriate for the color. All are malty yet dry, with clean flavors and a smooth character.

Aroma:
Prominent malty sweetness, often with a complex, light to moderate intensity toasty-bready-rich malt character. Low to moderate esters. Little to no hop aroma (may be a bit spicy, peppery, or herbal). Paler versions will still be malty but will lack richer, deeper aromatics and may have a bit more hops. Generally quite clean, although stronger versions may have a light, spicy alcohol note as it warms.

Appearance:
Three main variations exist (blond, amber and brown), so color can range from golden-blonde to reddish-bronze to chestnut brown. Clarity is brilliant to fair, although haze is not unexpected in this type of often unfiltered beer. Well-formed head, generally white to off-white (varies by beer color), average persistence.

Flavor:
Medium to high malt flavor often with a toasty-rich, biscuity, toffee-like or light caramel-sweet character. Malt flavors and complexity tend to increase with beer color. Low to moderate esters and alcohol flavors. Medium-low hop bitterness provides some support, but the balance is always tilted toward the malt. Darker versions will have more of an initial malty-sweet impression than paler versions, but all should be malty in the palate and finish. The malt flavor lasts into the finish, which is medium-dry to dry, never cloying. Low to no hop flavor (spicy, peppery, or herbal), although paler versions can have slightly higher levels of herbal or spicy hop flavor (which can also come from the yeast). Smooth, well-lagered character, even if made with ale yeast. Aftertaste of malt (character appropriate for the color) with some dryness and light alcohol.

Mouthfeel:
Medium to medium-light (lean) body, often with a smooth, creamy-silky character. Moderate to high carbonation. Moderate alcohol warming, but should be very smooth and never hot.

Comments:
Three main variations are included in the style: the brown (brune), the blond (blonde), and the amber (ambrée). The darker versions will have more malt character, while the paler versions can have more hops (but still are malt-focused beers). A related style is Bière de Mars, which is brewed in March (Mars) for present use and will not age as well. Attenuation rates are in the 80-85% range. Some fuller-bodied examples exist, but these are somewhat rare. Age and oxidation in imports often increases fruitiness, caramel flavors, and adds corked and musty notes; these are all signs of mishandling, not characteristic elements of the style.

History:
Name literally means “beer which has been kept or lagered.” A traditional artisanal ale from Northern France brewed in early spring and kept in cold cellars for consumption in warmer weather. It is now brewed year-round.

Characteristic Ingredients:
The “cellar” character commonly described in literature is more of a feature of mishandled commercial exports than fresh, authentic products. The somewhat moldy character comes from the corks and/or oxidation in commercial versions, and is incorrectly identified as “musty” or “cellar-like.” Base malts vary by beer color, but usually include pale, Vienna and Munich types. Darker versions will have richer malt complexity and sweetness from crystal-type malts. Sugar may be used to add flavor and aid in the dry finish. Lager or ale yeast fermented at cool ale temperatures, followed by long cold conditioning. Floral, herbal or spicy continental hops.

Style Comparison:
Related to the Belgian Saison style, the main difference is that the Bière de Garde is rounder, richer, malt-focused, and lacks the spicy, bitter character of a Saison.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.060 – 1.080
IBUs: 18 – 28 FG: 1.008 – 1.016
SRM: 6 – 19 ABV: 6.0 – 8.5%

Commercial Examples:
Ch’Ti (brown and blond), Jenlain (amber and blond), La Choulette (all 3 versions), St. Amand (brown), Saint Sylvestre 3 Monts (blond), Russian River Perdition

American Amber Ale

19A. American Amber Ale

Overall Impression:
An amber, hoppy, moderate-strength American craft beer with a caramel malty flavor. The balance can vary quite a bit, with some versions being fairly malty and others being aggressively hoppy. Hoppy and bitter versions should not have clashing flavors with the caramel malt profile.

Aroma:
Low to moderate hop aroma with characteristics typical of American or New World hop varieties (citrus, floral, pine, resinous, spicy, tropical fruit, stone fruit, berry, or melon). A citrusy hop character is common, but not required. Moderately-low to moderately-high maltiness (usually with a moderate caramel character), which can either support, balance, or sometimes mask the hop presentation. Esters vary from moderate to none.

Appearance:
Amber to coppery-brown in color. Moderately large off-white head with good retention. Generally quite clear, although dry-hopped versions may be slightly hazy.

Flavor:
Moderate to high hop flavor with characteristics typical of American or New World hop varieties (citrus, floral, pine, resinous, spicy, tropical fruit, stone fruit, berry, or melon). A citrusy hop character is common, but not required. Malt flavors are moderate to strong, and usually show an initial malty sweetness followed by a moderate caramel flavor (and sometimes other character malts in lesser amounts). Malt and hop bitterness are usually balanced and mutually supportive, but can vary either way. Fruity esters can be moderate to none. Caramel sweetness and hop flavor/bitterness can linger somewhat into the medium to full finish.

Mouthfeel:
Medium to medium-full body. Medium to high carbonation. Overall smooth finish without astringency. Stronger versions may have a slight alcohol warmth.

Comments:
Can overlap in color with darker American pale ales, but with a different malt flavor and balance. Regional variations exist with some being fairly mainstream and others being quite aggressive in hopping. Stronger and more bitter versions are now split into the Red IPA style.

History:
A modern American craft beer style developed as a variation from American Pale Ales. Known simply as Red Ales in some regions, these beers were popularized in the hop-loving Northern California and the Pacific Northwest areas before spreading nationwide.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Pale ale malt, typically North American two-row. Medium to dark crystal malts. May also contain specialty grains which add additional character and uniqueness. American or New World hops, often with citrusy flavors, are common but others may also be used.

Style Comparison:
Darker, more caramelly, more body, and generally less bitter in the balance than American Pale Ales. Less alcohol, bitterness, and hop character than Red IPAs. Less strength, malt, and hop character than American Strong Ales. Should not have a strong chocolate or roast character that might suggest an American brown ale (although small amounts are OK).

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.045 – 1.060
IBUs: 25 – 40 FG: 1.010 – 1.015
SRM: 10 – 17 ABV: 4.5 – 6.2%

Commercial Examples:
Deschutes Cinder Cone Red, Full Sail Amber, Kona Lavaman Red Ale, North Coast Ruedrich’s Red Seal Ale, Rogue American Amber Ale, Tröegs HopBack Amber Ale

Irish Red Ale

15A. Irish Red Ale

Overall Impression:
An easy-drinking pint, often with subtle flavors. Slightly malty in the balance sometimes with an initial soft toffee/caramel sweetness, a slightly grainy-biscuity palate, and a touch of roasted dryness in the finish. Some versions can emphasize the caramel and sweetness more, while others will favor the grainy palate and roasted dryness.

Aroma:
Low to moderate malt aroma, either neutral-grainy or with a lightly caramelly-toasty-toffee character. May have a very light buttery character (although this is not required). Hop aroma is low earthy or floral to none (usually not present). Quite clean.

Appearance:
Medium amber to medium reddish-copper color. Clear. Low off-white to tan colored head, average persistence.

Flavor:
Moderate to very little caramel malt flavor and sweetness, rarely with a light buttered toast or toffee-like quality. The palate often is fairly neutral and grainy, or can take on a lightly toasty or biscuity note as it finishes with a light taste of roasted grain, which lends a characteristic dryness to the finish. A light earthy or floral hop flavor is optional. Medium to medium-low hop bitterness. Medium-dry to dry finish. Clean and smooth. Little to no esters. The balance tends to be slightly towards the malt, although light use of roasted grains may increase the perception of bitterness slightly.

Mouthfeel:
Medium-light to medium body, although examples containing low levels of diacetyl may have a slightly slick mouthfeel (not required). Moderate carbonation. Smooth. Moderately attenuated.

Comments:
Several variations exist within the style, which causes the guidelines to be somewhat broad to accommodate them. Traditional Irish examples are relatively low in hops, are grainy with a slight roast dryness in the finish, fairly neutral in general. Modern export Irish examples are more caramelly and sweet, and might have more esters. American craft versions are often more alcoholic versions of the Irish export examples. An emerging Irish craft beer scene is exploring more bitter versions of traditional examples. Finally, there are some commercial examples that sound Irish but are essentially International Amber Lagers, with sweetish palates and little bitterness. These guidelines are written around the traditional Irish examples, with slight extensions for export Irish versions and modern craft Irish versions.

History:
While Ireland has a long ale brewing heritage, the modern Irish Red Ale style is essentially an adaptation or interpretation of the popular English Bitter style with less hopping and a bit of roast to add color and dryness. Rediscovered as a craft beer style in Ireland, today it is an essential part of most brewery lineups, along with a pale ale and a stout.

Characteristic Ingredients: Generally has a bit of roasted barley or black malt to provide reddish color and dry roasted finish. Pale base malt. Caramel malts were historically imported and more expensive, so not all brewers would use them.

Style Comparison:
A less-bitter and hoppy Irish equivalent to an English Bitter, with a dryish finish due to roasted barley. More attenuated with less caramel flavor and body than equivalent-strength Scottish ales.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.036 – 1.046
IBUs: 18 – 28 FG: 1.010 – 1.014
SRM: 9 – 14 ABV: 3.8 – 5.0%

Commercial Examples:
Caffrey’s Irish Ale, Franciscan Well Rebel Red, Kilkenny Irish Beer, O’Hara’s Irish Red Ale, Porterhouse Red Ale, Samuel Adams Irish Red, Smithwick’s Irish Ale

Scottish Export

14C. Scottish Export

Overall Impression:
A malt-focused, generally caramelly beer with perhaps a few esters and occasionally a butterscotch aftertaste. Hops only to balance and support the malt. The malt character can range from dry and grainy to rich, toasty, and caramelly, but is never roasty and especially never has a peat smoke character.

Aroma:
Low to medium maltiness, often with flavors of toasted breadcrumbs, lady fingers, and English biscuits. Low to medium caramel and low butterscotch is allowable. Light pome fruitiness in best examples. May have low traditional English hop aroma (earthy, floral, orange-citrus, spicy, etc.). Peat smoke is inappropriate.

Appearance:
Pale copper to very dark brown. Clear. Low to moderate, creamy off-white.

Flavor:
Entirely malt-focused, with flavors ranging from pale, bready malt with caramel overtones to rich-toasty malt with roasted accents (but never roasty) or a combination thereof. Fruity esters are not required but add depth yet are never high. Hop bitterness to balance the malt. No to low hop flavor is also allowed and should of traditional English character (earthy, floral, orange-citrus, spicy, etc.). Finish ranges from rich and malty to dry and grainy. A subtle butterscotch character is acceptable; however, burnt sugars are not. The malt-hop balance tilts toward malt. Peat smoke is inappropriate.

Mouthfeel:
Medium-low to medium body. Low to moderate carbonation. Can be relatively rich and creamy to dry and grainy.

Comments:
Malt-focused ales that gain the vast majority of their character from specialty malts, never the process. Burning malt or wort sugars via ‘kettle caramelization’ is not traditional nor is any blatantly ‘butterscotch’ character. Most frequently a draught product. Smoke character is inappropriate as any found traditionally would have come from the peat in the source water. Scottish ales with smoke character should be entered as a Classic Style Smoked Beer.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Originally used Scottish pale malt, grits or flaked maize, and brewers caramel for color. Later adapted to use additional ingredients, such as amber and brown malts, crystal and wheat malts, and roasted grains or dark sugars for color but not for the ‘roasty’ flavor. Sugar adjuncts are traditional. Clean or slightly fruity yeast. Peat-smoked malt is inauthentic and inappropriate.

Style Comparison:
Similar character to a Wee Heavy, but much smaller.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.040 – 1.060
IBUs: 15 – 30 FG: 1.010 – 1.016
SRM: 13 – 22 ABV: 3.9 – 6.0%

Commercial Examples:
Belhaven Scottish Ale, Broughton Exciseman’s Ale, Orkney Dark Island, Pelican MacPelican’s Scottish Style Ale, Weasel Boy Plaid Ferret Scottish Ale

Scottish Heavy

14B. Scottish Heavy

Overall Impression:
A malt-focused, generally caramelly beer with perhaps a few esters and occasionally a butterscotch aftertaste. Hops only to balance and support the malt. The malt character can range from dry and grainy to rich, toasty, and caramelly, but is never roasty and especially never has a peat smoke character.

Aroma:
Low to medium maltiness, often with flavors of toasted breadcrumbs, lady fingers, and English biscuits. Low to medium caramel and low butterscotch is allowable. Light pome fruitiness in best examples. May have low traditional English hop aroma (earthy, floral, orange-citrus, spicy, etc.). Peat smoke is inappropriate.

Appearance:
Pale copper to very dark brown. Clear. Low to moderate, creamy off-white.

Flavor:
Entirely malt-focused, with flavors ranging from pale, bready malt with caramel overtones to rich-toasty malt with roasted accents (but never roasty) or a combination thereof. Fruity esters are not required but add depth yet are never high. Hop bitterness to balance the malt. No to low hop flavor is also allowed and should of traditional English character (earthy, floral, orange-citrus, spicy, etc.). Finish ranges from rich and malty to dry and grainy. A subtle butterscotch character is acceptable; however, burnt sugars are not. The malt-hop balance tilts toward malt. Peat smoke is inappropriate.

Mouthfeel:
Medium-low to medium body. Low to moderate carbonation. Can be relatively rich and creamy to dry and grainy.

Comments:
Malt-focused ales that gain the vast majority of their character from specialty malts, never the process. Burning malt or wort sugars via ‘kettle caramelization’ is not traditional nor is any blatantly ‘butterscotch’ character. Most frequently a draught product. Smoke character is inappropriate as any found traditionally would have come from the peat in the source water. Scottish ales with smoke character should be entered as a Classic Style Smoked Beer.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Originally used Scottish pale malt, grits or flaked maize, and brewers caramel for color. Later adapted to use additional ingredients, such as amber and brown malts, crystal and wheat malts, and roasted grains or dark sugars for color but not for the ‘roasty’ flavor. Sugar adjuncts are traditional. Clean or slightly fruity yeast. Peat-smoked malt is inauthentic and inappropriate.
Style Comparison: Similar character to a Wee Heavy, but much smaller.

Vital Statistics: OG: 1.035 – 1.040
IBUs: 10 – 20 FG: 1.010 – 1.015
SRM: 13 – 22 ABV: 3.2 – 3.9%

Commercial Examples:
Broughton Greenmantle Ale, Caledonia Smooth, McEwan’s 70, Orkney Raven Ale, Tennent’s Special Ale