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Craft beer styles

The most common beer styles

This is an overview and guide of the most common beer styles, in the words of national and Trøndelag craft beer expert Knut Albert Solem. Also, ask the breweries about their beers!

A style of beer originating in Düsseldorf, Germany. Top fermented, often with a strong malty character.

American Pale Ale/APA:
Light beers, brewed with American hops, which makes for a lot of bitterness. Varying alcohol content. Amber ale: A style of beer without a clear definition, often copper-colored beer with a good balance. Not extremely sweet or bitter.

Barley Wine:
Strong beers with a lot of malt. They can be very sweet, or they have a lot of hops to balance it out - the traditions are different in England and USA. Flavor bombs and alcohol bombs!

Bavarian Dunkel, once the most popular lager style in Norway. Brown lager.

Berliner Weisse:
Originally a beer style from Berlin with sharp acidity and low alcohol content. The ones brewed today are often mixed with juice or puree made from fruit and berries, and have varying alcohol content.

The beer style we know from English pubs. Low carbonation, moderate alcohol content, quite malty.

Black IPA/Cascadian IPA:
A lot of sweetness and caramel from dark malt combined with strong hops giving it both bitterness and aroma. Often easy to like.

Not clearly defined, can be brewed with Belgian, English or American yeast. Often a bright, light beer with an alcohol content below 4.7%.

Strong lager beer, in Norway traditionally with an alcohol percentage of 6.5%. Can be light or dark. Extra strong brews of this beer is called Dobbelbokk.

A nice combination of beer and mead Brown Ale: A wide range of beers with malty sweetness and a light brown color. Some are very sweet, others are balanced with bitterness from hops.

Brut IPA:
IPA brewed with an enzyme that breaks down complex sugar molecules so that they can be fermented. Makes for a dry beer without any residual sweetness.

Cold IPA:
IPA brewed like a lager beer in low temperatures. Often a well-balanced hoppy pilsner. Cream Ale: Light and mild beer with a moderate alcohol content and low bitterness.

Christmas Beer:
Traditionally a red/dark lager beer with a lot of malty sweetness and an alcohol content of 6.5%, but do have a look on the label. Usually dark beers that are often brewed with Christmas spices.

Dark beers, rich in malt and with a lot of aroma from Belgian yeast. Inspired by Belgian abbey beers. Often with an alcohol percentage of 6-8%. Dobbel IPA/Double IPA/Imperial IPA: Strong IPA with more of everything: malt, bitterness from hops, and alcohol. Often with an alcohol content of 8.5% and up.

Fruit beer:
Not a single style of beer but brewed with fruit, berries and aromatic herbs. Sometimes with just a hint of these ingredients, other times the flavors totally dominate the finished product.

Low alcohol sour beer brewed with salt and coriander, originating in Goslar, Germany. Today Gose is mostly brewed with fruits or berries.

Beer brewed with other herbs and spices than hops.

Light lager beer, like in Bayern. Low hoppy bitterness, often floral aromatic hops.

Imperial Porter/Imperial Stout:
Dark beer with great fullness, a lot of flavor and high alcohol content. A robust beer that is often barrel aged.

India Pale Ale:
Today often a pale beer with moderate sweetness and a lot of bitterness from hops, but it comes in many versions. In England an IPA can be another name for a Bitter.

Unfiltered pilsner, often fresh and full of flavor.

Kornøl/Koinnøl (Grain Beer):
Traditional Norwegian beer, more or less standardized and modernized. Often brewed with kveik, a Norwegian farm yeast. Kölsch: An top fermented beer originating in Cologne, Germany. Light and easy, a little fruity, and often with less carbonation than a pilsner.

A low alcoholic beverage brewed using rye bread. Commercial kvass is often extremely sweet. A popular beverage in Russia and The Baltics.

Kveik Beer:
Not really a category, but kveik beer is a beer brewed with traditional Norwegian yeast. In many dialects this brew is called kveik. This yeast has specific ‘brew-technical’ properties that yields a characteristic aroma.

Lagers come in light and dark versions. In Norway a light lager is usually synonymous with pilsner.

A light bock beer, traditionally brewed during the spring fast. Mild: English style similar to a bitter, but with low bitterness or aroma from hops. Low alcohol content.

Milkshake IPA:
A hazy IPA brewed with lactose and flavors like vanilla, tropical fruit, chocolate or peanut butter.

New England IPA/NEIPA:
Fruity IPA with lots of hops. Unfiltered and meant to be enjoyed fresh. Often with hints of grapefruit.

October Beer:
A version of pilsner with a bit more color, and often also with a higher alcohol content.

Old Ale:
English beer style that is traditionally barrel aged and clearly tastes like it. Medium to high alcohol content, often with complex flavors.

Pale Ale:
Not clearly defined, but a light or golden beer with less hoppy bitterness than an APA or an IPA. In Norway often with a moderate alcohol content.

Pastry Stout (Kakestout):
Stout with strong flavors and depth, often with a high alcohol content. Flavors of chocolate cake, cinnamon buns or other sweet pastries.

Light lager beer. The breweries have their own recipes, and the use of hops can vary a lot. In Norway it is usually below 4.7% alcohol for tax reasons.

Dark varieties of malt yield dark colors and characters. Can have a lot of both sweetness and bitterness, often with hints of chocolate and coffee.

Rye Beer:
Beer brewed with a specific amount of rye malt, which can yield characteristic notes of flavor.

Smoked Beer/Rauchbier:
Beer brewed with smoked malt on the basis of for example a porter or a lager. The smoked malt is usually imported, but Norwegian smoked malt is up and coming, especially in Trøndelag.

Belgian beer style with a pronounced character that is both fruity, spicy and fresh. Often times a light beer, with varying alcohol content.

Scotch Ale/Wee Heavy:
Beer with heavy notes of malt and caramel, often with an alcohol content of 6% and up. Session IPA: IPA with lower alcohol content, but of a hoppy character. In Norway that means IPA you can buy in the store, as the alcohol content 4.7% or less.

Single Hop:
IPA or Pale Ale brewed using only one kind of hops – normally you would use a mix of several kinds of hops when brewing.

Summer Beer:
From the big Norwegian breweries: this means an easy to drink beer in a pilsner style.

Stjørdal Beer (Malt Beer):
Strong beer from the Trøndelag region of Stjørdal; brewed using very smoky malt. Traditonally a home brew, but there are versions of this beer for sale. Brewing regulations from the northern part of Trøndelag state that in order to make this kind of beer properly you need to soak the grain in the creek for three days, then three days in the burlap sack, three days on the window sill, and three days in the heat before you brew with it!

Brewed with dark, roasted malt that yields an almost black color and flavor notes of toasted bread and coffee. There are many variations in depth, flavor and alcohol content.

Sour Beer:
Often brewed with yeast and cultures from Belgium, inspired by beer styles like Lambic or Flanders Red Ale. It can be barrel aged and is often brewed with fruits or berries. Sour beer comes in many forms.

Trappist Beer:
Beer brewed in the Trappist Monasteries, first in Belgium and now in many other countries. To be labelled a Trappist Beer it’s supposed to be brewed within the walls of the monastery, but often using modern brewing equipment, staffed by the laity but supervised by monks.

Light and strong beers of Belgian varieties. Often easy to drink, but beware of the alcohol content which can be very well camouflaged!

Very strong beer, inspired by Belgian abbey beers. A lot of malt, sweetness and alcohol. Often with an alcohol content of 10% and above.

South-German wheat beer. Brewed with a special kind of beer often yielding notes of banana and citrus. There are several versions: Hefeweisse is unfiltered, Kristallweisse is filtered, Dunkelweisse has some dark malt, and Weissenbock is the high-alcohol version.

West Coast IPA:
IPA with malty sweetnss and strong bitterness from hops.

Wheat beer:
Beer brewed with wheat malt, the most known versions of these are the German Weissbier and the Belgian Wit, but there are also American style wheat beers. Wheat malt often yields a round and soft mouthfeel.

Belgian style wheat beer. Unfiltered and hazy. Often spiced with orange peel and coriander. Moderalte alcohol content.