Beer Styles

Styles, Pairing, and Tasting Beer

Craft beers are defined as a small, independent brewer who follows the traditional brewing methods but with unique twists and innovative flavor combinations. From hard to find locally brewed craft beers, to exclusive regional beers to broad domestic brands or international beers, most WineStyles Tasting Station stores carry a unique offering of more than 100 craft beers.

Beer Styles Categories

Just like wine, each glass of a craft beer displays the passion and creativity of its maker and complexity of its ingredients. While wine is typically classified by varietals, craft beers are traditionally classified as Ales, IPA, Lagers, Pilsner, Stouts or Ports. To simplify the tasting experience, we have categorized them into six unique flavor profiles representing “beer styles” of Crip & Clean; Sour, Tart & Funky; Fruity & Spicy; Hoppy & Bitter; Malty & Sweet; Dark & Roasty.

crisp and clean style icon
  • Clean and refreshing on the palate, with a nice balance of hops and malt
  • Pale straw to deep gold in color
  • Pairs with flaky fish, grilled chicken, salads, sushi
fruity and spicy style icon
  • Balanced, refreshing, sweet or spicy notes
  • Light hazy gold to red in color
  • Pairs with savory desserts, cheese, fruit based dishes
malty and sweet style icon
  • Sweetness and deep notes of nuts, toffee, caramel, toast and dark fruit
  • Amber to dark in color
  • Pairs with cheddar cheese, burgers, sweet desserts
sour, tart and funky style icon
  • Tart, tangy, bretty
  • Pale straw to dark brown in color
  • Pairs with tangy, stinky cheeses like bleu and goat cheese, mussels and other seafoods with a squirt of fresh lemon and/or drawn butter
hoppy and bitter style icon
  • Light to strong malt, aggressively hopped
  • Pale golden to reddish amber in color
  • Pairs with spicy dishes, chicken, seafood, sweet desserts
dark roast style icon
  • Malty, smoke, chocolate and coffee flavors, well balanced hops
  • Dark in color
  • Pairs with shellfish, chocolate or creamed desserts

Beer Pairing

We’ve simplified the beer pairing process with common beer “styles” flavor profiles above. However, if you’d like to dive deeper into the reasons why certain foods taste better with certain beers, let’s explore the tastes together.

Burgers & Hot Dogs

Watching the big game? Hope you have a CRISP & CLEAN Pilsner in hand! Whether you’re tailgating, sitting in the stands or watching the game from your man cave, Pilsners’ refreshing bitterness go hand and hand with greasy burgers and dogs.

Spicy Foods

Indian Pale Ales are the perfect match for spicy foods. The bitter flavors of HOPPY & BITTER IPAs, will complement your chicken vindaloo or spicy buffalo wings.


A beautiful slice of rib eye pairs well with brown ales, bringing out the hints of fruit and nuts as a hearty companion.

Grilled Food

Consider pairing your barbecue with a MALTY porter or American Stout. The darker color and smokey flavors will savor the flavors of your barbecue master piece. If your BBQ recipe calls for a vinegar sauce, consider pairing it with a SOUR ale, such as a Belgian lambic or Flanders red ale.


Enjoying a dark chocolate cake for dessert? Consider pairing it with a DARK & ROASTY stout, alongside a scoop of vanilla ice cream. If you’d prefer to enjoy a cheesecake instead, consider pairing it with a FRUITY lambic beer.

How To Taste Beer

Beer glass in brewery

The temperature of a beer has an influence on a drinker’s experience; warmer temperatures reveal the range of flavours in a beer but cooler temperatures are more refreshing. Most drinkers prefer pale lager to be served chilled, a low- or medium-strength pale ale to be served cool, while a strong barley wine or imperial stout to be served at room temperature.

Drinking chilled beer began with the development of artificial refrigeration and by the 1870s, was spread in those countries that concentrated on brewing pale lager. Chilling beer makes it more refreshing, though below 59.9 °F the chilling starts to reduce taste awareness and reduces it significantly below 50 °F. Beer served unchilled—either cool or at room temperature, reveal more of their flavors.

Beer is consumed out of a variety of vessels, such as a glass, a beer stein, a mug, a pewter tankard, a beer bottle or a can. The shape of the glass from which beer is consumed can influence the perception of the beer and can define and accent the character of the style. Breweries offer branded glassware intended only for their own beers, to enhance the presentation and taste of their beers.

The pouring process has an influence on a beer’s presentation. The rate of flow from the tap or other serving vessel, tilt of the glass, and position of the pour (in the center or down the side) into the glass all influence the end result, such as the size and longevity of the head, lacing (the pattern left by the head as it moves down the glass as the beer is drunk), and turbulence of the beer and its release of carbonation.

Glasses of craft beer

Terms For Tasting

Acidic – having a taste of acid. A predominance of sourness.

Aftertaste – a palate sensation that occurs after the beer has been swallowed.

Aroma – fragrance, usually in a pleasant sense: applied to a beverage, it is the component of the odor that derives from the ingredients of the beverage. As opposed to the bouquet which is the result of by-products from the fermentation process.

Balance – the texture of a beer concerned with the harmony of various flavors and sensations.

Barley – a cereal grass with bearded spikes of flowers, and its seed or grain. Barley is the most suitable cereal grain for making malt beverages: It provides flavor, head, body and color.

Bitter – the tangy or sharp taste in beer that results from hops; without the bitterness a beer has no zest, with too much bitterness it is hard and biting.

Body – the mouth-filling property of a beer. Taken at its extreme, stout has a heavy or full body. Pale low-calorie beer may be thin or watery.

Enzyme – an organic substance that converts starch into soluble substances such as sugars.

Fermentation – the breakdown of complex molecules in organic compounds caused by the action of a ferment (such as yeast). In malt beverages, it is the decomposition of sugar into ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide.

Finish – that part of the palate sensation that occurs just before and during swallowing.

Hops – the dried ripe cones of the female flowers of a climbing-vine of the nettle family. The resin or extract from the cones is used for bittering and preserving beer.

Malt – barley that has been steeped in water to produce sprouting then kiln-dried.

Pasteurize – to subject to a temperature of 142 – 145 degrees Fahrenheit for thirty minutes to destroy disease-producing bacteria and to check fermentation.

Skunky – like the peculiar aroma of a skunk. A beer may smell and taste of skunk. A defect found usually in well-hopped beers and caused, it is believed, by photosynthesis.

Vinous – winy, winelike, fruited in a fermented sense.

Yeast – the ferment or fermenting agent, which turns the wort into beer. In particular, in beer making the yeast is the strain Saccharomyces cervisiae, or Brewer’s yeast.

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