Wheat BeerGruut, a Belgian wheat beer, can appear cloudy. Photo by Kriss Szkurlatowski | SXC.






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February 2005

Last Updated August 2018

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Beer

Beer Type

Page 4: Beer Types ~ F To K


This is Page 4 of an eight-page glossary of beer terms and beer type(s). Click on the black links below to visit other pages. Also see our many other food glossaries, chock-full of information about your favorite foods.

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Raspberry beer, usually made from lambic. See also fruit beer, below, and kriek.


Belgians pioneered fruit beer, ignoring the German Purity Law of 1516 that stipulated that beer could only be brewed with barley, hops and water (no one yet know about the wild yeast). Lambic styles were produced in flavors like cherry (kriek), peach and raspberry. Today they are made in dozens of flavors. Traditionally, the fruit was fermented with the grain. Modern breweries may use flavored extracts as a shortcut to the finished product (and, not surprisingly, they don’t taste nearly as good). Check the label or online to find those brewed with real fruit. Here’s more about fruit beer.



Gose (pronounced GOES-ah) is a German sour beer that is slightly tart. The style is more than 1,000 years old, and is traditionally brewed with coriander and salt. It is now experiencing a resurgence among craft brewers. It is light, refreshing, slightly sour. Enjoy it as an aperitif, or pair with fresh cheeses, asparagus, and light desserts. It is often confused with gauze (see below), another slightly sour, wheat-based beer; but they are unrelated. Here’s more about them.

One of the craft gose beers now on the market (photo courtesy Abita Beer).



As applies to fermenting alcoholic beverages, gravity refers to the relative density of the alcoholic beverage, compared to water. The measure is used by brewers and wine-makers.


A growler is a half gallon glass jug used to transport draft beer home from the tavern or brewery (32-ounce growlers are now available). While it was the only way to get beer home—short of brewing it yourself—the format has returned recently due to the desire of craft beer enthusiasts to take home fresh beer on tap from microbreweries. In the old days growlers had hinged porcelain gasket caps; today a screw-on cap is as likely (and less expensive). A properly sealed growler will hold carbonation indefinitely like any other sealed beer bottle. And it’s more “green” to buy beer in a growler than go through many smaller bottles or cans. Most places that sell growlers take them back for refilling.

A 64-ounce growler. Photo courtesy SimpleSteps.org.

Why “growler?” In the late 19th century, before the appearance of the glass jug, fresh beer was carried home from the local pub in a galvanized, lidded tin pail. Some claim that the sound made by the carbon dioxide escaping through the lid as the beer sloshed back and forth sounded like a growl.


Pronounced GOOZ, gueuze dry style of lambic, made without fruit. It is a spontaneously fermented lambic, that is a blend of several different years of barrel-aged beer. Called the “champagne of beer,” gueuze is kept in old oak barrels that have generational colonies of bacteria. These give gueuze its natural tart flavor; the beer is naturally effervescent. Like champagne, gueuze is bottled immediately after blending and undergoes a secondary fermentation using the active yeasts and sugars still remaining in the beer. Unlike most beer, a traditional, dry gueuze benefits from at least two years cellaring and can be cellared for twenty to thirty years, becoming more mellow and earthy over time.


A Medieval Belgian wheat beer, brewed today in a somewhat different recipe. The original was brewed with spices rather than hops; today’s gruut contains some hops along with coriander, bitter orange and orange peel.



A wheat beer (Hefeweizen is German for “yeast wheat”—Hefe is the word for yeast) in which the beer is not filtered before bottling. Thus, the yeast continue to act (known as bottle conditioning), and there may be sediment in the bottle. Also called Hefeweisse, Hefeweissbier and Weissbier. Some Weizenstarkbiers (high-alcohol wheat beers) are left unfiltered, and therefore are Hefeweizens. The body is crisp and effervescent.



Rather than a bottle of fire and brimstone, hell is simply the German word for “pale,” and indicates an everyday beer that is golden in color.



Hops (Humulus lupulus) are climbing plants, much like a grape vine. Without hops, there would be no beer as we know it. Hops are used to impart beer’s bitter, tangy flavor and help to stabilize and preserve the beer. Hops were cultivated in Bavarian and elsewhere from the 8th or 9th century, but are not mentioned as a bittering agent for beer until perhaps the 11th century. Prior to then, brewers used a variety of bitter herbs and other plants to achieve the desired results. Today, craft brewers are so sensitive to the flavors yielded by hops from different terroirs that they purchase hops grown in particular areas to impart specific flavors to their beers.  Fresh hops must be used within hours of havesting to get the most from their oils.

The cone-like blossoms on hops (called seed cones or strobiles) contain the tannins, which help preserve and clarify beer and are the essential ingredients that impart aroma, dryness and bitter flavors. Photo by Lucky Starr | Wikimedia.


International Bittering Unit, a comparative measure of the amount of bitters in a beer.



See eisbier.



A bigger, bolder version of a brown ale, with a higher ABV—7% or more.



An opaque black stout that was originally brewed by Thrale’s Brewery in London, England for export to the court of the Tsar of Russia. It is very rich, with powerful malt flavors, hints of dark fruits and often, chocolate notes. The high alcohol content (generally 9% to 10%) was originally intended to preserve it during the long journey, as well as to provide fortitude in the cold Russian climate. Also known as Imperial Russian Stout or Russian Imperial Stout.

Brown-black with a creamy coffee head, Imperial Stout is complex and high in alcohol. Photo courtesy Stone Brewing Co.


The pale ales of the early 18th century were lightly hopped, but by the mid-18th century they evolved;  most were manufactured with coke-fired malt, which produced an even paler ale via less smoking and roasting of barley in the malting process. One particular variety of pale ale was called October beer. It was well-hopped and then cellared for two years. In the 19th century, the British living in the Indian Empire drank ale from England, largely because the Indian water supply had microbes that caused digestive problems to humans not raised on it. But not all beer could hold up on the long journey in a hot ship’s hold. IPA had the level of alcohol (7%-8%) and hops (which act as a preservative) to withstand the voyage of up to six months.


India Pale Ale  along with some hops. Photo courtesy Homebrewers Association.

Today, transportation problems have been solved and there’s plenty of bottled water for travelers in foreign lands. The IPA style has evolved (or devolved, in the case of British IPAs, to 5.5% ABV), but are still highly hopped. American IPAs tend more toward old style. Serve an IPA with robust food: red meat and strong cheese.

See also Juicy & Hazy & Juicy IPA, below.


Here’s more about IPA, including the different American IPA styles: East Coast, West Coast and New England.


See red ale.

In 2018, The Brewers Association officially established three new types of IPA. Previously referred to as New England-style IPA, the treatment of hops creates tropical aromas and flavors. The three new styles are Juicy & Hazy Pale Ale, Juicy & Hazy IPA and Juicy & Hazy Double IPA. Here’s more about them.



An unfiltered lager with a high hop content and low carbonation.

  Juicy & Hazy IPA Beer
New IPA styles: Juicy & Hazy (photo courtesy The Brewers Association).

A beer that is, or formerly was, produced in a monastery or convent. See also abbey beer and Trappist bier.


Beer in the style of the city of Koln (Cologne), Germany; it can legally be produced only in the Koln-Bonn metropolitan area. Kölsch is a top-fermented beer producing a light, refreshing (but dry) pale golden ale with soft, layered flavors that have a delicate fruitiness and a prominent hoppiness. It is usually served in tall, slender glasses. Kölsch can be paired with cervelat, a mildly seasoned, mildly smoked, semi-dry sausage.


Cherry beer, usually based on lambic, with 5% to 6% alcohol by volume.


A German filtered wheat beer. Kristall is the German word for crystal, so indicates that the beer will be clear, not cloudy (as opposed to a Hefeweizen, which might have sediment). It is often served with a slice of lemon on the rim of the glass, or in the glass, similar to the lime served with Mexico’s Corona beer. Also known as Kristall Weissbier.

  Cherry Kriek

Cherry kriek with Brie, figs and grapes. Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.


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