Style Guidelines

Note: Many of these 37 Main Categories contain numerous beer styles — They are not individual sub-categories with their own respective set of Gold, Silver, Bronze awards. Example: “Category 1 – Standard American Beer” could have Awards presented to an American Light Lager(s), an American Lager(S), a Cream Ale(s), and/or an American Wheat Beer(s). “Category 1” will have 3 Medal-placements awarded, not 12.

1. Standard American Beer

1A - American Light Lager

A highly carbonated, very light-bodied, nearly flavorless lager designed to be consumed very cold. Very refreshing and thirst-quenching.

Vital StatsGuideline
IBU8 – 12
SRM2 – 3
Original Gravity1.028 – 1.040
Final Gravity0.998 – 1.008
ABV2.8% – 4.2%
1B - American Lager

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.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU8 – 12
SRM2 – 3.5
Original Gravity1.040 – 1.050
Final Gravity1.004 – 1.010
ABV4.2% – 5.3%
1C - Cream Ale

A clean, well-attenuated, highly carbonated, flavorful American “lawnmower” beer. Easily drinkable, smooth, and refreshing, with more character than typical American lagers, yet still subtle and restrained.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU8 – 20
SRM2 – 5
Original Gravity1.042 – 1.055
Final Gravity1.006 – 1.012
ABV4.2% – 5.6%
1D - American Wheat Beer

A pale, refreshing grainy, doughy, or bready wheat beer with a clean fermentation profile and a variable hop character and bitterness. Its lighter body and higher carbonation contribute to its easy-drinking nature.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU15 – 30
SRM3 – 6
Original Gravity1.040 – 1.055
Final Gravity1.008 – 1.013
ABV4% – 5.5%

2. International Lager

2A - International Pale Lager

A highly-attenuated pale lager without strong flavors, typically well-balanced and highly carbonated. Served cold, it is refreshing and thirst-quenching.

Vital StatsGuideline
IBU18 – 25
SRM2 – 6
Original Gravity1.042 – 1.050
Final Gravity1.008 – 1.012
ABV4.5% – 6%
2B - International Amber Lager

A smooth, easily-drinkable, malty amber lager with a flavorful caramel or toast character. Usually fairly well-attenuated, often with an adjunct quality and restrained bitterness.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU8 – 25
SRM6 – 14
Original Gravity1.042 – 1.055
Final Gravity1.008 – 1.014
ABV4.5% – 6%
2C - International Dark Lager

A darker, richer, and somewhat sweeter version of international pale lager with a little more body and flavor, but equally restrained in bitterness. The low bitterness leaves the malt as the primary flavor element, and the low hop levels provide very little in the way of balance.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU8 – 20
SRM14 – 30
Original Gravity1.044 – 1.056
Final Gravity1.008 – 1.012
ABV4.2% – 6%

3. Czech Lager

3A - Czech Pale Lager

A lighter-bodied, rich, refreshing, hoppy, bitter pale Czech lager having the familiar flavors of the stronger Czech Premium Pale Lager (Pilsner-type) beer but in a lower alcohol, lighter-bodied, and slightly less intense format.

Vital StatsGuideline
IBU20 – 35
SRM3 – 6
Original Gravity1.028 – 1.044
Final Gravity1.008 – 1.014
ABV3% – 4.1%
3B - Czech Premium Pale Lager

A refreshing pale Czech lager with considerable malt and hop character and a long finish. The malt flavors are complex for a Pilsner-type beer. The bitterness is strong and clean but lacks harshness, which gives a well-balanced, rounded flavor impression that enhances drinkability.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU30 – 45
SRM3.5 – 6
Original Gravity1.044 – 1.060
Final Gravity1.013 – 1.017
ABV4.2% – 5.8%
3C - Czech Amber Lager

A malty amber Czech lager with a hop character that can vary from low to quite significant. The malt flavors also can vary, leading to different interpretations and balances ranging from drier, bready, and slightly biscuity to sweeter and somewhat caramel-like.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU20 – 35
SRM10 – 16
Original Gravity1.044 – 1.060
Final Gravity1.013 – 1.017
ABV4.4% – 5.8%
3D - Czech Dark Lager

A rich, dark, malty Czech lager with a roast character that can vary from almost absent to quite prominent. Malty balance and an interesting and complex flavor profile, with variable levels of hopping that provides a range of possible interpretations.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU18 – 34
SRM17 – 35
Original Gravity1.044 – 1.060
Final Gravity1.013 – 1.017
ABV4.4% – 5.8%

4. Pale Malty European Lager

4A - Munich Helles

A gold-colored German lager with a smooth, malty flavor and a soft, dry finish. Subtle spicy, floral, or herbal hops and restrained bitterness help keep the balance malty but not sweet, which helps make this beer a refreshing, everyday drink.

Vital StatsGuideline
IBU16 – 22
SRM3 – 5
Original Gravity1.044 – 1.048
Final Gravity1.006 – 1.012
ABV4.7% – 5.4%
4B - Festbier

A smooth, clean, pale German lager with a moderately strong malty flavor and a light hop character. Deftly balances strength and drinkability, with a palate impression and finish that encourages drinking. Showcases elegant German malt flavors without becoming too heavy or filling.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU18 – 25
SRM4 – 6
Original Gravity1.054 – 1.057
Final Gravity1.010 – 1.012
ABV5.8% – 6.3%
4C - Helles Bock

A relatively pale, strong, malty German lager with a nicely attenuated finish that enhances drinkability. The hop character is generally more apparent and the malt character less deeply rich than in other Bocks.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU23 – 35
SRM6 – 9
Original Gravity1.064 – 1.072
Final Gravity1.011 – 1.018
ABV6.3% – 7.4%

5. Pale Bitter European Beer

5A - German Leichtbier

A pale, highly-attenuated, light-bodied German lager with lower alcohol and calories than standard-strength beers. Moderately bitter with noticeable malt and hop flavors, the beer is still interesting to drink.

Vital StatsGuideline
IBU15 – 28
SRM1.5 – 4
Original Gravity1.026 – 1.034
Final Gravity1.006 – 1.010
ABV2.4% – 3.6%
5B - Kölsch

A subtle, brilliantly clear, pale beer with a delicate balance of malt, fruit, and hop character, moderate bitterness, and a well-attenuated but soft finish. Freshness makes a huge difference with this beer, as the delicate character can fade quickly with age.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU18 – 30
SRM3.5 – 5
Original Gravity1.044 – 1.050
Final Gravity1.007 – 1.011
ABV4.4% – 5.2%
5C - German Helles Exportbier

A golden German lager balancing a smooth malty profile with a bitter, hoppy character in a slightly above-average body and strength beer.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU20 – 30
SRM4 – 6
Original Gravity1.050 – 1.058
Final Gravity1.008 – 1.015
ABV5% – 6%
5D - German Pils

A pale, dry, bitter German lager featuring a prominent hop aroma. Crisp, clean, and refreshing, showing a brilliant gold color with excellent head retention.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU22 – 40
SRM2 – 4
Original Gravity1.044 – 1.050
Final Gravity1.008 – 1.013
ABV4.4% – 5.2%

6. Amber Malty European Lager

6A - Märzen

An amber, malty German lager with a clean, rich, toasty, bready malt flavor, restrained bitterness, and a well-attenuated finish. The overall malt impression is soft, elegant, and complex, with a rich malty aftertaste that is never cloying or heavy.

Vital StatsGuideline
IBU18 – 24
SRM8 – 17
Original Gravity1.054 – 1.060
Final Gravity1.010 – 1.014
ABV5.6% – 6.3%
6B - Rauchbier

A beechwood-smoked, malty, amber German lager. The expected Märzen profile of toasty-rich malt, restrained bitterness, clean fermentation, and a relatively dry finish is enhanced by a noticeable to intense smoke character.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU20 – 30
SRM12 – 22
Original Gravity1.050 – 1.057
Final Gravity1.012 – 1.016
ABV4.8% – 6%
6C - Dunkles Bock

A strong, dark, malty German lager beer that emphasizes the malty-rich and somewhat toasty qualities of continental malts without being sweet in the finish.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU20 – 27
SRM14 – 22
Original Gravity1.064 – 1.072
Final Gravity1.013 – 1.019
ABV6.3% – 7.2%

7. Amber Bitter European Beer

7A - Vienna Lager

A moderate-strength continental amber lager with a soft, smooth maltiness and a balanced, moderate bitterness, yet finishing relatively dry. The malt flavor is clean, bready-rich, and somewhat toasty, with an elegant impression derived from quality base malts and process, not specialty malts or adjuncts.

Vital StatsGuideline
IBU18 – 30
SRM9 – 15
Original Gravity1.048 – 1.055
Final Gravity1.010 – 1.014
ABV4.7% – 5.5%
7B - Altbier

A cold-conditioned, top-fermenting beer from Düsseldorf that has a cleaner and smoother palate than is typical for most ales. “Alt” refers to the “old” style of brewing (using top-fermenting yeast) that was common before bottom-fermenting lager brewing became popular.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU25 – 50
SRM9 – 17
Original Gravity1.044 – 1.052
Final Gravity1.008 – 1.014
ABV4.3% – 5.5%

8. Dark European Lager

8A - Munich Dunkel

A traditional malty brown lager from Bavaria. Deeply toasted, bready malt flavors without any roasty or burnt flavors. Smooth and rich, with a restrained bitterness and a relatively dry finish that allows for drinking in quantity.

Vital StatsGuideline
IBU18 – 28
SRM17 – 28
Original Gravity1.048 – 1.056
Final Gravity1.010 – 1.016
ABV4.5% – 5.6%
8B - Schwarzbier

A dark German lager that balances roasted yet smooth malt flavors with moderate hop bitterness. The lighter body, dryness, and lack of a harsh, burnt, or heavy aftertaste helps make this beer quite drinkable.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU20 – 35
SRM19 – 30
Original Gravity1.046 – 1.052
Final Gravity1.010 – 1.016
ABV4.4% – 5.4%

9. Strong European Beer

9A - Doppelbock

A strong, rich, and very malty German lager that can have both pale and dark variants. The darker versions have more richly-developed, deeper malt flavors, while the paler versions have slightly more hops and dryness.

Vital StatsGuideline
IBU16 – 26
SRM6 – 25
Original Gravity1.072 – 1.112
Final Gravity1.016 – 1.024
ABV7% – 10%
9B - Eisbock

A strong, full-bodied, rich, and malty dark German lager often with a viscous quality and strong flavors. Even though flavors are concentrated, the alcohol should be smooth and warming, not burning.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU25 – 35
SRM17 – 30
Original Gravity1.078 – 1.120
Final Gravity1.020 – 1.035
ABV9% – 14%
9C - Baltic Porter

A strong, dark, malty German lager beer that emphasizes the malty-rich and somewhat toasty qualities of continental malts without being sweet in the finish.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU20 – 40
SRM17 – 30
Original Gravity1.060 – 1.090
Final Gravity1.016 – 1.024
ABV6.5% – 9.5%

10. German Wheat Beer

10A - Weissbier

A pale, refreshing, lightly-hopped German wheat beer with high carbonation, dry finish, fluffy mouthfeel, and a distinctive banana-and-clove weizen yeast fermentation profile.

Vital StatsGuideline
IBU8 – 15
SRM2 – 6
Original Gravity1.044 – 1.053
Final Gravity1.008 – 1.014
ABV4.3% – 5.6%
10B - Dunkles Weissbier

A moderately dark German wheat beer with a distinctive banana-and-clove weizen yeast fermentation profile, supported by a toasted bread or caramel malt flavor. Highly carbonated and refreshing, with a creamy, fluffy texture and light finish.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU10 – 18
SRM14 – 23
Original Gravity1.044 – 1.057
Final Gravity1.008 – 1.014
ABV4.3% – 5.6%
10C - Weizenbock

A strong and malty German wheat beer combining the best wheat and yeast flavors of a Weissbier with the rich maltiness, strength, and body of a Bock. The style range includes Bock and Doppelbock strength, with variations for pale and dark color.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU15 – 30
SRM6 – 25
Original Gravity1.064 – 1.090
Final Gravity1.015 – 1.022
ABV6.5% – 9%

11. British Bitter

11A - Ordinary Bitter

Low gravity, alcohol, and carbonation make this an easy-drinking session beer. The malt profile can vary in flavor and intensity, but should never override the overall bitter impression. Drinkability is a critical component of the style.

Vital StatsGuideline
IBU25 – 35
SRM8 – 14
Oiginal Gravity1.030 – 1.039
Final Gravity1.007 – 1.011
ABV3.2% – 3.8%
11B - Best Bitter

A flavorful, yet refreshing, session beer. Some examples can be more malt balanced, but this should not override the overall bitter impression. Drinkability is a critical component of the style.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU25 – 40
SRM8 – 16
Oiginal Gravity1.040 – 1.048
Final Gravity1.008 – 1.012
ABV3.8% – 4.6%
11C - Strong Bitter

An average-strength to moderately-strong British bitter ale. The balance may vary between fairly even between malt and hops to somewhat bitter. Drinkability is a critical component of the style. A rather broad style that allows for considerable interpretation by the brewer.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU30 – 50
SRM8 – 18
Oiginal Gravity1.048 – 1.060
Final Gravity1.010 – 1.016
ABV4.6% – 6.2%

12. Pale Commonwealth Beer

12A - British Golden Ale

A hop-forward, average-strength to moderately-strong pale bitter. Drinkability and a refreshing quality are critical components of the style, as it was initially a summer seasonal beer.

Vital StatsGuideline
IBU20 – 45
SRM2 – 5
Oiginal Gravity1.038 – 1.053
Final Gravity1.006 – 1.012
ABV3.8% – 5%
12B - Australian Sparkling Ale

A well-balanced, pale, highly-carbonated, and refreshing ale suitable for drinking in a hot climate. Fairly bitter, with a moderate herbal-spicy hop and pome fruit ester profile. Smooth, neutral malt flavors with a fuller body but a crisp, highly-attenuated finish.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU20 – 35
SRM4 – 7
Oiginal Gravity1.038 – 1.050
Final Gravity1.004 – 1.006
ABV4.5% – 6%
12C - English IPA

A bitter, moderately-strong, very well-attenuated pale British ale with a dry finish and a hoppy aroma and flavor. Classic British ingredients provide the most authentic flavor profile.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU40 – 60
SRM6 – 14
Oiginal Gravity1.050 – 1.070
Final Gravity1.010 – 1.015
ABV5% – 7.5%

13. Brown British Beer

13A - Dark Mild

A dark, low-gravity, malt-focused British session ale readily suited to drinking in quantity. Refreshing, yet flavorful for its strength, with a wide range of dark malt or dark sugar expression.

Vital StatsGuideline
IBU10 – 25
SRM14 – 25
Oiginal Gravity1.030 – 1.038
Final Gravity1.008 – 1.013
ABV3% – 3.8%
13B - British Brown Ale

A malty, caramelly, brown British ale without the roasted flavors of a Porter. Balanced and flavorful, but usually a little stronger than most average UK beers.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU20 – 30
SRM12 – 22
Oiginal Gravity1.040 – 1.052
Final Gravity1.008 – 1.013
ABV4.2% – 5.9%
13C - English Porter

Simply called “Porter” in Britain, the name “English Porter” is used to differentiate it from other derivative porters described in these guidelines.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU18 – 35
SRM20 – 30
Oiginal Gravity1.040 – 1.052
Final Gravity1.008 – 1.014
ABV4% – 5.4%

14. Scottish Ale

14A - Scottish Light

A low-alcohol, malty beer with light caramel, toast, toffee, and fruit flavors. A slight roast dryness offsets the residual sweetness in the finish, with the bitterness perceived only to keep the beer from being cloying.

Vital StatsGuideline
IBU10 – 20
SRM17 – 25
Oiginal Gravity1.030 – 1.035
Final Gravity1.010 – 1.013
ABV2.5% – 3.3%
14B - Scottish Heavy

A lower-alcohol, malty beer with light caramel, toast, toffee, and fruity flavors. A slight roast dryness offsets the residual sweetness in the finish, with the bitterness perceived only to keep the beer from being cloying.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU10 – 20
SRM12 – 20
Oiginal Gravity1.035 – 1.040
Final Gravity1.010 – 1.015
ABV3.3% – 3.9%
14C - Scottish Export

A moderate-strength, malty beer with light caramel, toast, toffee, and fruit flavors. A slight roast dryness offsets the residual sweetness in the finish, with the bitterness perceived only to keep the beer from being cloying.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU15 – 30
SRM12 – 20
Oiginal Gravity1.040 – 1.060
Final Gravity1.010 – 1.016
ABV3.9% – 6%

15. Irish Beer

15A - Irish Red Ale

An easy-drinking pint, often with subtle flavors. Slightly malty in the balance sometimes with an initial soft toffee or 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.

Vital StatsGuideline
IBU18 – 28
SRM9 – 14
Oiginal Gravity1.036 – 1.046
Final Gravity1.010 – 1.014
ABV3.8% – 5%
15B - Irish Stout

A black beer with a pronounced roasted flavor, often similar to coffee. The balance can range from fairly even to quite bitter, with the more balanced versions having a little malty sweetness and the bitter versions being quite dry. Draught versions typically are creamy from a nitro pour, but bottled versions will not have this dispense-derived character. The roasted flavor

Vital StatGuideline
IBU25 – 45
SRM25 – 40
Oiginal Gravity1.036 – 1.044
Final Gravity1.007 – 1.011
ABV4% – 4.5%
15C - Irish Extra Stout

A fuller-bodied black beer with a pronounced roasted flavor, often similar to coffee and dark chocolate with some malty complexity. The balance can range from moderately bittersweet to bitter, with the more balanced versions having up to moderate malty richness and the bitter versions being quite dry.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU35 – 50
SRM30 – 40
Oiginal Gravity1.052 – 1.062
Final Gravity1.010 – 1.014
ABV5% – 6.5%

16. Dark British Beer

16A - Sweet Stout

A very dark, sweet, full-bodied, slightly roasty stout that can suggest coffee-and-cream, or sweetened espresso.

Vital StatsGuideline
IBU20 – 40
SRM30 – 40
Oiginal Gravity1.044 – 1.060
Final Gravity1.012 – 1.024
ABV4% – 6%
16B - Oatmeal Stout

A dark, roasty, full-bodied stout with enough sweetness to support the oat backbone. The sweetness, balance, and oatmeal impression can vary considerably.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU25 – 40
SRM22 – 40
Oiginal Gravity1.045 – 1.065
Final Gravity1.010 – 1.018
ABV4.2% – 5.9%
16C - Tropical Stout

A very dark, sweet, fruity, moderately strong stout with smooth, roasty flavors, yet no burnt harshness.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU30 – 50
SRM30 – 40
Oiginal Gravity1.056 – 1.075
Final Gravity1.010 – 1.018
ABV5.5% – 8%
16D - Foreign Extra Stout

A very dark, rich, moderately strong, fairly dry stout with prominent roast flavors.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU50 – 70
SRM30 – 40
Oiginal Gravity1.056 – 1.075
Final Gravity1.010 – 1.018
ABV6.3% – 8%

17. Strong British Ale

17A - British Strong Ale

An ale of respectable alcoholic strength, traditionally bottled-conditioned and cellared. Can have a wide range of interpretations, but most will have varying degrees of malty richness, late hops and bitterness, fruity esters, and alcohol warmth. The malt and adjunct flavors and intensity can vary widely, but any combination should result in an agreeable palate experience.

Vital StatsGuideline
IBU30 – 60
SRM8 – 22
Oiginal Gravity1.055 – 1.080
Final Gravity1.015 – 1.022
ABV5.5% – 8%
17B - Old Ale

A stronger-than-average English ale, though usually not as strong or rich as an English Barley Wine, but usually malty. Warming. Shows positive maturation effects of a well-kept, aged beer.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU30 – 60
SRM10 – 22
Oiginal Gravity1.055 – 1.088
Final Gravity1.015 – 1.022
ABV5.5% – 9%
17C - Wee Heavy

Rich, sweet malt depth with caramel, toffee, and fruity flavors. Full-bodied and chewy, with warming alcohol. Restrained bitterness, but not cloying or syrupy.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU17 – 35
SRM14 – 25
Oiginal Gravity1.070 – 1.130
Final Gravity1.018 – 1.040
ABV6.5% – 10%
17D - English Barleywine

A strong and richly malty ale with a pleasant fruity or hoppy depth. A wintertime sipper with a full, chewy body and warming alcohol.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU35 – 70
SRM8 – 22
Oiginal Gravity1.080 – 1.120
Final Gravity1.018 – 1.030
ABV8% – 12%

18. Pale American Ale

18A - Blonde Ale

Easy-drinking, approachable, malt-oriented American craft beer, often with interesting fruit, hop, or character malt notes. Well-balanced and clean, is a refreshing pint without aggressive flavors.

Vital StatsGuideline
IBU15 – 28
SRM3 – 6
Oiginal Gravity1.038 – 1.054
Final Gravity1.008 – 1.013
ABV3.8% – 5.5%
18B - American Pale Ale

An average-strength, hop-forward, pale American craft beer with sufficient supporting malt to make the beer balanced and drinkable. The clean hop presence can reflect classic or modern American or New World hop varieties with a wide range of characteristics.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU30 – 50
SRM5 – 10
Oiginal Gravity1.045 – 1.060
Final Gravity1.010 – 1.015
ABV4.5% – 6.2%

19. Amber and Brown American Beer

19A - American Amber Ale

An amber, hoppy, moderate-strength American craft beer with a malty caramel 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.

Vital StatsGuideline
IBU25 – 40
SRM10 – 17
Oiginal Gravity1.045 – 1.060
Final Gravity1.010 – 1.015
ABV4.5% – 6.2%
19B - California Common

A toasty and caramelly, fairly bitter, standard-strength beer with an interesting fruitiness and rustic, woody hop character. Smooth and well carbonated.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU30 – 45
SRM9 – 14
Oiginal Gravity1.048 – 1.054
Final Gravity1.011 – 1.014
ABV4.5% – 5.5%
19C - American Brown Ale

A malty but hoppy standard-strength American ale frequently with chocolate and caramel flavors. The hop flavor and aroma complement and enhance the malt rather than clashing with it.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU20 – 30
SRM18 – 35
Oiginal Gravity1.045 – 1.060
Final Gravity1.010 – 1.016
ABV4.3% – 6.2%

20. American Porter and Stout

20A - American Porter

A malty, bitter, and often somewhat hoppy dark beer with a balanced, roasted, and frequently chocolatey character.

Vital StatsGuideline
IBU25 – 50
SRM22 – 40
Oiginal Gravity1.050 – 1.070
Final Gravity1.012 – 1.018
ABV4.8% – 6.5%
20B - American Stout

A fairly strong, highly roasted, bitter, hoppy dark stout. The body and dark flavors typical of stouts with a more aggressive American hop character and bitterness.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU35 – 75
SRM30 – 40
Oiginal Gravity1.050 – 1.075
Final Gravity1.010 – 1.022
ABV5% – 7%
20C - Imperial Stout

Traditionally an English style, but it is currently much more popular and widely available in America and internationally, where it is a craft beer favorite, not a historical curiosity.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU50 – 90
SRM30 – 40
Oiginal Gravity1.075 – 1.115
Final Gravity1.018 – 1.030
ABV8% – 12%

21. IPA

21A - American IPA

A decidedly hoppy and bitter, moderately strong, pale American ale. The balance is hop-forward, with a clean fermentation profile, dryish finish, and clean, supporting malt allowing a creative range of hop character to shine through.

Vital StatsGuideline
IBU40 – 70
SRM6 – 14
Oiginal Gravity1.056 – 1.070
Final Gravity1.008 – 1.014
ABV5.5% – 7.5%
21B - Specialty IPA

Specialty IPA is a competition entry category, not a distinct style. Beers entered here are not experimental beers; they are a collection of currently-produced types of beer that may or may not have any market longevity. This category also allows for expansion, so potential future IPA variants (St. Patrick’s Day Green IPA, Romulan Blue IPA, Zima Clear IPA, etc.) have a place to be entered without rewriting the style guidelines. The only common element is that they have the balance and overall impression of an IPA (typically, an American IPA) but with some minor tweak.

 

Vital statistics vary by type, see individual styles.

 

Belgian IPA

A dry, hoppy IPA with fruitiness and spiciness of Belgian yeast. Often lighter in color and more attenuated, similar to a Belgian Tripel that has been brewed with more hops.

IBU50 – 100
SRM5 – 8
Oiginal Gravity1.058 – 1.080
Final Gravity1.008 – 1.016
ABV6.2% – 9.5%

 

 

Black IPA

A beer with the dryness, hop-forward balance, and flavor characteristics of an American IPA, but darker in color. Darker malts add a gentle and supportive flavor, not a strongly roasted or burnt character.

IBU50 – 90
SRM25 – 40
Oiginal Gravity1.050 – 1.085
Final Gravity1.010 – 1.018
ABV5.5% – 9%

 

Brown IPA

Hoppy, bitter, and moderately strong like an American IPA, but with dark caramel, chocolate, toffee, or dark fruit character as in an American Brown Ale. Retaining the dryish finish and lean body that makes IPAs so drinkable, a Brown IPA is a little more flavorful and malty than an American IPA without being sweet or heavy.

IBU40 – 70
SRM18 – 35
Oiginal Gravity1.056 – 1.070
Final Gravity1.008 – 1.016
ABV5.5% – 7.5%

 

Red IPA

Hoppy, bitter, and moderately strong like an American IPA, but with some caramel, toffee, or fruit character as in an American Amber Ale. Retaining the dryish finish and lean body that makes IPAs so drinkable, a Red IPA is a little more flavorful and malty than an American IPA without being sweet or heavy.

IBU40 – 70
SRM11 – 17
Oiginal Gravity1.056 – 1.070
Final Gravity1.008 – 1.016
ABV5.5% – 7.5%

 

 

Rye IPA

An American IPA with spicy, grainy rye malt. The rye gives a bready and peppery flavor, a creamier body, and a dry, grainy finish.

IBU50 – 75
SRM6 – 14
Oiginal Gravity1.056 – 1.075
Final Gravity1.008 – 1.014
ABV5.5% – 8%

 

White IPA

A fruity, spicy, refreshing version of an American IPA, but with a lighter color, less body, and featuring the distinctive yeast or spice additions typical of a Witbier.

IBU40 – 70
SRM5 – 6
Oiginal Gravity1.056 – 1.065
Final Gravity1.010 – 1.016
ABV5.5% – 7%

22. Strong American Ale

22A - Double IPA

An intensely hoppy, fairly strong, bitter pale ale without the big, rich, complex maltiness, residual sweetness, and body of an American Barleywine. Strongly hopped, but clean, dry, and lacking harshness. Despite showing its strength, drinkability is an important consideration.

Vital StatsGuideline
IBU60 – 100
SRM6 – 14
Oiginal Gravity1.065 – 1.085
Final Gravity1.008 – 1.018
ABV7.5% – 10%
22B - American Strong Ale

A grouping of beers with similar balance and profile rather than a distinct style. A category for a variety of stronger, bitter-and-malty beers that aren’t quite Barleywines.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU50 – 100
SRM7 – 18
Oiginal Gravity1.062 – 1.090
Final Gravity1.014 – 1.024
ABV6.3% – 10%
22C - American Barleywine

A very strong, malty, hoppy, bitter American ale with a rich palate, full mouthfeel, and warming aftertaste, suitable for contemplative sipping.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU50 – 100
SRM9 – 18
Oiginal Gravity1.080 – 1.120
Final Gravity1.016 – 1.030
ABV8% – 12%
22D - Wheatwine

A richly textured, high alcohol sipping beer with a significant grainy, bready flavor, and a sleek body. The emphasis is first on the bready, wheaty flavors with malt, hops, fruity yeast, and alcohol complexity.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU30 – 60
SRM6 – 14
Oiginal Gravity1.080 – 1.120
Final Gravity1.016 – 1.030
ABV8% – 12%

23. European Sour Ale

23A - Berliner Weisse

A very pale, refreshing, low-alcohol German wheat beer with a clean lactic sourness and a very high carbonation level. A light bread dough malt flavor supports the sourness, which shouldn’t seem artificial. A gentle fruitiness is found in the best examples.

Vital StatsGuideline
IBU3 – 8
SRM2 – 3
Oiginal Gravity1.028 – 1.032
Final Gravity1.003 – 1.006
ABV2.8% – 3.8%
23B - Flanders Red Ale

A sour and fruity oak-aged reddish-brown Belgian-style ale with supportive toasty malt flavors and fruit complexity. The dry, tannic finish supports the suggestion of a vintage red wine.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU10 – 25
SRM10 – 17
Oiginal Gravity1.048 – 1.057
Final Gravity1.002 – 1.012
ABV4.6% – 6.5%
23C - Oud Bruin

A malty, fruity, aged, somewhat sour Belgian-style brown ale with a caramel-chocolate malt flavor, and often substantial alcohol.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU20 – 25
SRM17 – 22
Oiginal Gravity1.040 – 1.074
Final Gravity1.008 – 1.012
ABV4% – 8%
23D - Lambic

A fairly sour, often moderately funky, wild Belgian wheat beer with sourness taking the place of hop bitterness in the balance. Traditionally served uncarbonated as a café drink.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU0 – 10
SRM3 – 6
Oiginal Gravity1.040 – 1.054
Final Gravity1.001 – 1.010
ABV5% – 6.5%
23E - Gueuze

A very refreshing, highly carbonated, pleasantly sour but balanced wild Belgian wheat beer. The wild beer character can be complex and varied, combining sour, funky, and fruity flavors.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU0 – 10
SRM5 – 6
Oiginal Gravity1.040 – 1.054
Final Gravity1.000 – 1.006
ABV5% – 8%
23F - Fruit Lambic

A complex, refreshing, pleasantly sour Belgian wheat beer blending a complementary fermented fruit character with a sour, funky Gueuze.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU0 – 10
SRM3 – 7 (varies w/ fruit)
Oiginal Gravity1.040 – 1.060
Final Gravity1.000 – 1.010
ABV5% – 7%
23G - Gose

A tart, lightly-bittered historical central European wheat beer with a distinctive but restrained salt and coriander character. Very refreshing, with a dry finish, high carbonation, and bright flavors.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU5 – 12
SRM3 – 4
Oiginal Gravity1.036 – 1.056
Final Gravity1.006 – 1.010
ABV4.2% – 4.8%

24. Belgian Ale

24A - Witbier

A pale, hazy Belgian wheat beer with spices accentuating the yeast character. A delicate, lightly spiced, moderate-strength ale that is a refreshing summer drink with its high carbonation, dry finish, and light hopping.

Vital StatsGuideline
IBU8 – 20
SRM2 – 4
Oiginal Gravity1.044 – 1.052
Final Gravity1.008 – 1.012
ABV4.5% – 5.5%
24B - Belgian Pale Ale

A top-fermented, all malt, average strength Belgian ale that is moderately bitter, not dry-hopped, and without strong flavors. The copper-colored beer lacks the aggressive yeast character or sourness of many Belgian beers, but has a well-balanced, malty, fruity, and often bready and toasty profile.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU20 – 30
SRM8 – 14
Oiginal Gravity1.048 – 1.054
Final Gravity1.010 – 1.014
ABV4.8% – 5.5%
24C - Bière de Garde

Three main variations are included in the style: the blond (blonde), the brown (brune), and the most traditional amber (ambrée).

Vital StatGuideline
IBU18 – 28
SRM6 – 19
Oiginal Gravity1.060 – 1.080
Final Gravity1.008 – 1.016
ABV6% – 8.5%

25. Strong Belgian Ale

25A - Belgian Blond Ale

A golden, moderately-strong Belgian ale with a pleasantly subtle citrusy-spicy yeast complexity, smooth malty palate, and dry, soft finish.

Vital StatsGuideline
IBU15 – 30
SRM4 – 6
Oiginal Gravity1.062 – 1.075
Final Gravity1.008 – 1.018
ABV6% – 7.5%
25B - Saison

A family of refreshing, highly attenuated, hoppy, and fairly bitter Belgian ales with a very dry finish and high carbonation. Characterized by a fruity, spicy, sometimes phenolic fermentation profile, and the use of cereal grains and sometimes spices for complexity. Several variations in strength and color exist.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU20 – 35
SRM5 – 14 (pale)
15 – 22 (dark)
Oiginal Gravity1.048 – 1.065 (standard)
Final Gravity1.002 – 1.008 (standard)
ABV3.5 – 5.0% (table)
5.0 – 7.0% (standard)
7.0 – 9.5% (super)
25C - Belgian Golden Strong Ale

A very pale, highly attenuated, strong Belgian ale that is more fruity and hoppy than spicy. Complex and delicate, the dry finish, light body, and high carbonation accentuate the yeast and hop character. Sparkling carbonation and effervescent, forming a rocky white head.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU22 – 35
SRM3 – 6
Oiginal Gravity1.070 – 1.095
Final Gravity1.005 – 1.016
ABV7.5% – 10.5%
22D - Wheatwine

A richly textured, high alcohol sipping beer with a significant grainy, bready flavor, and a sleek body. The emphasis is first on the bready, wheaty flavors with malt, hops, fruity yeast, and alcohol complexity.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU30 – 60
SRM6 – 14
Oiginal Gravity1.080 – 1.120
Final Gravity1.016 – 1.030
ABV8% – 12%

26. Monastic Ale

26A - Belgian Single

A blond, bitter, hoppy table beer that is very dry and highly carbonated. The aggressive fruity-spicy Belgian yeast character and high bitterness is forward in the balance, with a soft, supportive grainy-sweet malt palate, and a spicy-floral hop profile.

Vital StatsGuideline
IBU25 – 45
SRM3 – 5
Oiginal Gravity1.044 – 1.054
Final Gravity1.004 – 1.010
ABV4.8% – 6%
26B - Belgian Dubbel

A deep reddish-copper, moderately strong, malty, complex Belgian ale with rich malty flavors, dark or dried fruit esters, and light alcohol blended together in a malty presentation that still finishes fairly dry.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU15 – 25
SRM10 – 17
Oiginal Gravity1.062 – 1.075
Final Gravity1.008 – 1.018
ABV6% – 7.6%
26C - Belgian Tripel

A strong, pale, somewhat spicy Belgian ale with a pleasant rounded malt flavor, firm bitterness, and dry finish. Quite aromatic, with spicy, fruity, and light alcohol notes combining with the supportive clean malt character to produce a surprisingly drinkable beverage considering the high alcohol content.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU20 – 40
SRM4.5 – 7
Oiginal Gravity1.075 – 1.085
Final Gravity1.008 – 1.014
ABV7.5% – 9.5%
26D - Belgian Dark Strong Ale

A dark, complex, very strong Belgian ale with a delicious blend of malt richness, dark fruit flavors, and spicy notes. Complex, rich, smooth, and dangerous.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU20 – 35
SRM12 – 22
Oiginal Gravity1.075 – 1.110
Final Gravity1.010 – 1.024
ABV8% – 12%

27. Historical Beer

27A - Historical Beer: Kellerbier

The original Kellerbier is a Märzen-type lager from the Franconia region of Germany, but other traditional versions are based on Munich Helles and Dunkel lagers. Variations based on Pils are a more modern invention with a wider international following and higher production.

 

Vital statistics same as base style.

27A - Historical Beer: Kentucky Common

A clean, dry, refreshing, slightly malty dark beer with high carbonation. Mild-tasting, with light toast and caramel flavors, served very fresh as a sessionable saloon beer.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU15 – 30
SRM11 – 20
Oiginal Gravity1.044 – 1.055
Final Gravity1.010 – 1.018
ABV4% – 5.5%
27A - Historical Beer: Lichtenhainer

A sour, smoked, lower-gravity historical central European wheat beer. Complex yet refreshing character due to high attenuation and carbonation, along with low bitterness and moderate sourness.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU5 – 12
SRM3 – 6
Oiginal Gravity1.032 – 1.040
Final Gravity1.004 – 1.008
ABV3.5% – 4.7%
27A - Historical Beer: London Brown Ale

A luscious, sweet, malty, low-alcohol dark brown ale, with caramel and toffee malt complexity and a sweet-tasting finish.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU15 – 20
SRM22 – 35
Oiginal Gravity1.033 – 1.038
Final Gravity1.012 – 1.015
ABV2.8% – 3.6%
27A - Historical Beer: Piwo Grodziskie

A low-gravity, bitter, oak-smoked historical central European wheat beer with a clean fermentation profile and no sourness. Highly carbonated, dry, crisp, and refreshing.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU20 – 35
SRM3 – 6
Oiginal Gravity1.028 – 1.032
Final Gravity1.006 – 1.012
ABV2.5% – 3.3%
27A - Historical Beer: Pre-Prohibition Lager

A bitter and hoppy pale American adjunct lager, often with a robust, corny flavor profile, although more crisp and neutral-tasting versions exist.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU25 – 40
SRM3 – 6
Oiginal Gravity1.044 – 1.060
Final Gravity1.010 – 1.015
ABV4.5% – 6%
27A - Historical Beer: Pre-Prohibition Porter

A historical American adaptation of English Porter by German immigrants using American ingredients, including adjuncts.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU20 – 30
SRM20 – 30
Oiginal Gravity1.046 – 1.060
Final Gravity1.010 – 1.016
ABV4.5% – 6%
27A - Historical Beer: Roggenbier

A Dunkles Weissbier made with rye rather than wheat, but with a greater body and light finishing hops. The rye gives a bready and peppery flavor, a creamy body, and a dry, grainy finish that blends with the distinctive banana-and-clove weizen yeast character.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU10 – 20
SRM14 – 19
Oiginal Gravity1.046 – 1.056
Final Gravity1.010 – 1.014
ABV4.5% – 6%
27A - Historical Beer: Sahti

A sweet, heavy, strong traditional Finnish farmhouse beer usually with rye and juniper, and a banana-clove yeast character.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU0 – 15
SRM4 – 22
Oiginal Gravity1.076 – 1.120
Final Gravity1.016 – 1.038
ABV7% – 11%

28. American Wild Ale

28A - Brett Beer

Intended for beer with or without oak aging that has been fermented with Sacch and Brett, or with Brett only.

Variable by base style.

28B - Mixed-Fermentation Sour Beer

Intended for beer fermented with any combination of Sacch, Lacto, Pedio, and Brett (or additional yeast or bacteria), with or without oak aging (except if the beer fits instead in 28A or 28D).

Variable by base style.

28C - Wild Specialty Beer

Intended for variations of a Base Style beer from style 28A, 28B, or 28D. These variations may include the addition of one or more Specialty-Type Ingredients; aging in non-traditional wood varieties that impart a significant and identifiable wood character (e.g., Spanish Cedar, Amburana); or aging in barrels previously containing another alcohol (e.g., spirits, wine, cider).

Variable by base style.

29. Fruit Beer

29A - Fruit Beer

A pleasant integration of fruit with beer, but still recognizable as beer. The fruit character should be evident but in balance with the beer, not so forward as to suggest an artificial product.

 

OG, FG, IBUs, SRM and ABV will vary depending on the underlying base beer, but the fruit will often be reflected in the color.

29B - Fruit and Spice Beer

Use the definitions of Fruit in the preamble to Category 29 and Spice in the preamble to Category 30; any combination of ingredients valid in Styles 29A and 30A are allowable in this category. For this style, the word ‘spice’ means ‘any SHV’.

OG, FG, IBUs, SRM and ABV will vary depending on the underlying base beer, but the fruit will often be reflected in the color.

29C - Specialty Fruit Beer

A Specialty Fruit Beer is a Fruit Beer with some additional ingredients, such as fermentable sugars (e.g., honey, brown sugar, invert sugar), sweeteners (e.g., lactose), adjuncts, alternative grains, or other special ingredients added, or some additional process applied. A Specialty Fruit Beer can use any style within the Fruit Beer category as a base style (currently, 29A, 29B, or 29D).

OG, FG, IBUs, SRM and ABV will vary depending on the underlying base beer, but the fruit will often be reflected in the color.

30. Spiced Beer

30A - Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer

Often called Spice Beer, regardless of whether spices, herbs, or vegetables are used.

OG, FG, IBUs, SRM and ABV will vary depending on the underlying base beer, but the fruit will often be reflected in the color.

30B - Autumn Seasonal Beer

Autumn Seasonal Beers are beers that suggest cool weather and the autumn harvest season, and may include pumpkins, gourds, or other squashes, and associated spices.

OG, FG, IBUs, SRM and ABV will vary depending on the underlying base beer, but the fruit will often be reflected in the color.

30C - Winter Seasonal Beer

Winter Seasonal Beers are beers that suggest cold weather and the Christmas holiday season, and may include holiday spices, specialty sugars, and other products that are reminiscent of the festive season.

OG, FG, IBUs, SRM and ABV will vary depending on the underlying base beer, but the fruit will often be reflected in the color.

31. Alternative Fermentables Beer

31A - Alternative Grain Beer

An Alternative Grain Beer is a standard beer (Classic Style or not) with additional or non-standard brewing grains (e.g., rye, oats, buckwheat, spelt, millet, sorghum, rice) added or used exclusively. Gluten-free (GF) beers made from completely gluten-free ingredients may be entered here, while GF beers using process-based gluten removal should be entered in their respective base style categories.

Variable by base style.

31B - Alternative Sugar Beer

An Alternative Sugar Beer is a standard beer (Classic Style or not) with added sweeteners, including fermentable sugars (e.g., honey, brown sugar, invert sugar, molasses, treacle, maple syrup, sorghum), unfermentable sugars (e.g., lactose), sugar alcohols (e.g., sorbitol), and any other sweetener (natural or artificial) that affects the flavor profile. The beers may or may not have any residual sweetness; it depends on the type of sugar, but flavor contributions are expected.

Variable by base style.

32. Smoked Beer

32A - Classic Style Smoked Beer

Intended for smoked versions of Classic Style beers, except if the Classic Style beer has smoke as an inherent part of its definition (of course, that beer should be entered in its base style, such as Rauchbier).

Varies with the base beer style.

32B - Specialty Smoked Beer

A Specialty Smoked Beer is either a smoked beer based on something other than a Classic Style (a Specialty-Type style, or a broad style family such as Porter rather than a specific style), OR any type of smoked beer with additional specialty ingredients (fruits, vegetables, spices) or processes employed that transform the beer into something more unique.

Varies with the base beer style.

33. Wood Beer

33A - Wood-Aged Beer

This style is intended for beer aged in wood without added alcohol character from previous use of the barrel. Bourbon-barrel or other beers with an added alcohol character should be entered as 33B Specialty Wood-Aged Beer.

Variable by base style.

33B - Specialty Wood-Aged Beer

This style is intended for beer aged in wood with added alcohol character from previous use of the barrel. Bourbon-barrel or other similar beers should be entered here.

Variable by base style.

34. Specialty Beer

34A - Commercial Specialty Beer

This style is intended for reproductions or interpretations of specific commercial beers that don’t fit within defined styles. Beers entered here do not need to be exact copies. The beer should be judged as to how well it fits the broader style represented by the example beer, not how well it is an exact copy of a specific commercial product. If a Commercial Specialty Beer fits another defined style, do not enter it here.

OG, FG, IBUs, SRM, and ABV will vary depending on the declared beer.

34B - Mixed-Style Beer

This style is intended for beers in Existing Styles (previously-defined Classic Style beers or Specialty-Type Beers) that are either:

  • A combination of Existing Styles that are not defined previously in the guidelines, including combination of Specialty-Type Beers not otherwise allowable elsewhere.
  • A variation of an Existing Style using a non-traditional method or process (e.g., dry-hopping, ‘eis’-ing, stein bier) for that style.
  • A variation of an Existing Style using a non-traditional ingredient (e.g., yeast with a non-traditional profile, hops with a different character than described in the Base Style).
  • Out-of-spec variations of an Existing Style (e.g., ‘imperial’ versions, ‘session’ versions, overly-sweet versions, etc.).

This style is intended for beers that can’t be entered in previously-listed styles first, including (and especially) the declared Base Style of beer. However, if the unusual method, process, or ingredient results in a beer that now fits within another defined style, the beer should be entered there. Note that some styles already allow for different strengths (e.g., IPAs, Saisons), so those variations should be entered as the appropriate Base Style.

Bear in mind that a poorly-made, faulted beer should not be used to define a new style. Drinkability should always be maintained, while allowing for creative new concepts.

OG, FG, IBUs, SRM, and ABV will vary depending on the declared beer.

34C - Experimental Beer

This is explicitly a catch-all category for any beer that does not fit into an Existing Style description. No beer is ever “out of style” in this style, unless it can be entered in another beer style first. This is the last resort for any beer entered into a competition. With the broad definition for previous styles, this style should be rarely used.

OG, FG, IBUs, SRM, and ABV will vary depending on the declared beer.

35 - New England IPA

35 - New England IPA

An American IPA with intense fruit flavors and aromas, a soft body, and smooth mouthfeel, and often opaque with substantial haze. Less perceived bitterness than traditional IPAs but always massively hop forward. This emphasis on late hopping, especially dry hopping, with hops with tropical fruit qualities lends the specific ‘juicy’ character for which this style is known.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU25 – 60
SRM3 – 7
Original Gravity1.060 – 1.085
Final Gravity1.010 – 1.015
ABV6% – 9%

36 - Catharina Sour

36 - Catharina Sour

A refreshing fruited sour wheat beer with a vibrant fruit character and a clean lactic acidity. The restrained alcohol, light body, elevated carbonation, and lack of perceived bitterness allows the fresh fruit to be highlighted. The fruit is often, but not always, tropical in nature.

Vital StatGuideline
IBU2 – 8
SRM2 – 6
Oiginal Gravity1.039 – 1.048
Final Gravity1.004 – 1.012
ABV4.0% – 5.5%

37 - No to Low-Alcohol Beer

37 - No to Low-Alcohol Beer

No to Low Alcohol Beer is any beer (lager, ale or other) produced in a manner that the final product contains between 0.0% to 0.5% ABV. To allow for accurate judging the brewer should identify the classic beer style being elaborated upon. Beer entries not accompanied by this information will be at a disadvantage during judging. The goal should be to reach a balance between the style’s character and the low alcohol content. Drinkability is a character in the overall balance of these beers. Beers in this category must not exceed 0.5%ABV.

 

Vital StatGuideline
IBUVariable by base style
SRMVariable by base style
Oiginal Gravity Variable by base style
Final Gravity Variable by base style
ABV0.0% – 0.5%

38 - Low-Alcohol Beer

38 - Low-Alcohol Beer

A Low-Alcohol Beer is any beer (lager, ale or other) produced in a manner that the final product contains between 0.6% to 2.5% ABV. To allow for accurate judging the brewer should identify the classic beer style being elaborated upon. Beer entries not accompanied by this information will be at a disadvantage during judging. The goal should be to reach a balance between the style’s character and the low alcohol content. Drinkability is a character in the overall balance of these beers. Beers in this category must not exceed 2.5%ABV.

Vital StatGuideline
IBUVariable by base style
SRMVariable by base style
Oiginal Gravity Variable by base style
Final Gravity Variable by base style
ABV0.6% – 2.5%
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