Ideal “lawnmower beers,” these brews have a light body, dry finish, and generally a high level of carbonation, making them sessionable and refreshing. Intensity can vary somewhat, but they generally lie on the milder end of the flavor spectrum. Classic American, Light and International Pale Lagers are the most notable examples, but styles such are Cream Ale, American-style Wheat Beers and Kölsch also fit neatly into this flavor profile. Expect subtle to moderate bready or cracker-like malt flavors and clean to slightly fruity yeast aromas. Although hop aroma and bitterness are generally low, you may taste a faint herbal or grassy character.
These beers are supremely well-balanced and highly drinkable with intense, substantial flavor. Their balanced nature comes from skillful creation of off-setting levels of malt sweetness and hop bitterness - creating brews where neither dominate. Colors generally range from golden to pale amber. Malt profiles vary also, but often possess a moderate bread, biscuit or cracker-like flavor and a subtle sweetness that helps to provide a balancing counterpoint to a firm hop bitterness. A fairly wide range of styles can possess a Crisp & Balanced profile, but Pilsners (Czech, German and Modern American), Blonde Ales and some Pale Ales are common examples.
Whether they're yeast-derived or come from the use of fruit in the brewing process, expressive fruitiness is a hallmark of this flavor profile. The range of fruit flavors possible are only limited by nature and the imagination of the brewer. Apples, cherries, berries, citrus and tropical fruits are commonly used and you'll find them in a broad spectrum of beer styles - from wheat beers and pale lagers or amber ales and stouts. Fruit flavors can be very pronounced and easily recognizable, dominating the flavor of the brew, or they can be quite subtle and ambiguous, lending just an underlying level of complexity.
Get ready for hop-forward flavors! Pungent, New World hop varieties are often showcased and (depending on when and how they’re used in the brewing process) they can impart a broad array of aromas and bitterness. Although intensity can vary significantly, aromas range from citrus and pine to herbal to notes of tropical fruit, and are generally accompanied by a firm bitterness. Color, as well as malt flavor and intensity, can span a wide range, encompassing Pale Ales, IPAs, IPA variations (e.g. Session IPA, White IPA, Black IPA, Double IPA, IPL) and other hop-centric styles.
Malt-forward flavors are on-display here. Although intensity can vary widely, flavors ranging from caramel and toast to toffee and soft chocolate are prominent. Expect color to span amber to deep brown, and balance to skew toward malty sweetness rather than hoppy bitterness. A wide range of classic European ales and lagers (as well as American interpretations of these styles) fall into this profile, including rich, dark lagers from Germany and bready, fruity, amber and dark ales from the UK.
These beers can range from uniquely refreshing to downright bizarre and experimental. When sampling more intense examples, expect pungent, complex flavors that may challenge your palate. Although often distinctly sour, flavors can range from quenching tartness to puckering sourness. They can be quite clean, spritzy and highly drinkable, or deep, complex and decidedly funky. It's also quite common for fruit to be added to these styles. The sourness and accompanying “funky” flavors are generally derived from a combination wild yeast and acid-producing bacteria. Common flavors range from citrus, tropical fruit and spice to earthy, barnyard and compost.
Expect a combination of fruity and spicy flavors which may come from yeast and/or actual spices - like coriander, cinnamon or cloves. Color and malt flavor can range from pale and cracker-like to dark and rich with notes of dark fruits or toffee. Higher levels of carbonation can accentuate a dry finish and, although alcohol levels vary, many are relatively elevated. Many Belgian-style ales and seasonal spiced beers fall within this flavor profile.
These are dark-colored, generally malt-accentuated beers that vary in terms of overall flavor intensity, but all demonstrate some degree of roasted flavor that ranges from notes of toasted bread crust and nuts to dark chocolate and espresso. They get their dark color and deep, roasted flavors from the addition of highly-kilned grains. But it's important to point out that although some of these beers can have an elevated level of alcohol, darker does not necessarily mean stronger, so some examples can be quite sessionable.