Beer Style Guide
Real Ale is draught (or bottled) beer brewed from traditional ingredients; malt, hops, water and yeast, matured by secondary fermentation in the container from which it is dispensed, and served (usually through hand-pumps) without the use of carbon dioxide or nitrogen. Real Ale is also called Cask Conditioned Ale and is unlike Keg, Nitro-keg or Smooth beer in that it is a living thing. Original gravity ranges are used by CAMRA to determine a beer's style and alcohol by volume may vary from the typical ranges listed. Beers may also vary from other specified features or have their own peculiar balances and still be classed as true to style
Milds can range from black to pale amber in colour. Malty and possibly sweet tones dominate the flavour but there may be a light hop flavour or aroma. Slight toffee/butterscotch flavours are not inappropriate. Alcohol levels are typically low. Pale milds have a lightly fruity aroma and gentle hoppiness. Dark milds may have a light roast malt or caramel character in aroma and taste.
Typical alcohol by volume: less than 4.3%
Ordinary bitters are typically brown, tawny, copper, or amber but can be paler. They have medium to strong bitterness, light to medium body and a light to medium malt character. Hop character should be evident and diacetyl (toffee/butterscotch) should be minimized. Fruit should be light and not distract from hop character, although citrus fruit tastes are associated with some hop varieties. Light bitters or 'boys' bitters' are light bodied and low in alcohol but with evident hop character and bitterness; a light malt character may be present.
Typical alcohol by volume: less than 4%
Best bitters are more robust than ordinary bitters. They are typically brown, tawny, copper, or amber but can be paler. They have medium to strong bitterness, light to medium body but with a more evident residual maltiness. A strong hop character should be evident and diacetyl (toffee/butterscotch) should be minimized. Fruit should be limited, although citrus fruit tastes are associated with some hop varieties.
Typical alcohol by volume: 4.0-4.6%
Golden ales are pale amber, gold, yellow or straw coloured with a powerful hop aroma, low to strong bitterness, light to medium body and a strong hop character. Often citrus fruit tastes create a refreshing flavour. There should be little or no malt character or diacetyl. (toffee/butterscotch).
Typical alcohol by volume: less than 5.3%
Old Ales & Strong Milds
Typically black or dark brown but can be paler. Old Ales are full bodied with a malty richness. Fermentation characters such as fruity estery flavours should contribute to the flavour profile but considerable variation can occur within the style. Strong milds may be richer in caramel, or have a light roast malt character in aroma and taste.
Typical alcohol by volume: 4.3-6.5%
Stouts are typically black. Dry stouts have an initial malt and caramel flavour with a distinctive dry roast bitter finish. The dry roast character is achieved by use of roasted barley, which dominates the flavour profile, often preventing other flavours from appearing. Some astringency and a medium to rich mouth feel are appropriate. Sweet stouts are distinctively sweet in taste and after taste through the use of lactose and may have a cloying body.
Typical alcohol by volume: 4.0-8.0%
Porters are complex in flavour and are typically black or dark brown. The darkness comes from the use of dark malts, unlike stouts, which use roasted barley. Porters should have a full mouth feel and a pronounced finish through bitter hopping.
Typical alcohol by volume: 4.0-6.5%
Barley Wine & Strong Old Ale
Barley wines vary in colour and either have a high residual sweetness due to residual sugars, or are fermented to dryness. Either way, look to see how the characters balance to provide a strong overall impression. In many barley wines estery and fruity characteristics are counter balanced by medium to assertive bitterness and extraordinary alcohol content. Strong old ales have similar characteristics but are typically dark brown or black and may have a very rich malty character with light roast malt in aroma and taste.
Typical alcohol by volume: 6.5-12%
Strong bitters are full bodied and possess assertive hop qualities. They are typically brown, tawny, copper, or amber but can be paler. They have medium to strong bitterness. Residual maltiness may be more pronounced than in other bitters. Fruitiness may be medium to strong.
Typical alcohol by volume: 4.6-6.5%
Speciality beers are less specific than standard British cask beer styles and may be produced using one or more novel ingredients such as spices, fruits, herbs, honey, cereals other than malted barley and flowers other than hops.