The style description is followed by information about alcohol and bitterness (EBU) levels and colour. The styles are listed in the order mild to strong.
Mild ale is a rather light style of ale that originated in the British Isles. Mild ale has a delicately malty and sweet flavour. It is also slightly fruity and well-balanced, because neither the maltiness nor the hops dominate. Mild ale may sometimes contain a little wheat malt. Sometimes mild ale also has spice, honey, fruit or berry notes.
2.5–6.0% • 15–30 EBU • pale yellow–copper–brown
Bitter, or bitter ale, was originally a British, mildly alcoholic ale style of beer that has a strong bitterness derived from hops. Bitter is brewed using pale malt as well as British Fuggles and Golding hops. The flavour is distinctly malty and delicately fruity, complemented by a delicious full hoppiness. The aroma has an earthiness derived from the hops as well as herbal and flowery notes.
3.2–3.8% • 25–35 EBU • yellow–light amber brown
ESB (Extra Special Bitter) is a British style of beer with a stronger alcohol content that ordinary bitter. This bitter style of ale also includes traditional special bitter, special old bitter and premium bitter. ESB is strongly hopped like ordinary bitter, but the hops are more distinct than in pale ale.
3.8–5.9% • 25–50 EBU • yellow–amber
– British style
British-style pale ale is made using British pale ale malt, which gives the beer a light nutty flavour. The beer has a sweet caramel malt base and its aroma also has nutty and biscuity notes. Pale ale has a milder hoppiness than bitter and ESB.
– Belgian style
Belgian-style pale ale is reminiscent of British pale ale, but it is more aromatic and has a stronger flavour. The flavour is typically fruity, spicy and soft. The aroma has delicate notes of toast, biscuit, plum, apple or syrup.
– American style
The roots of American-style pale ale are in British-style pale ale, but it is brewed using American hops, which impart citrus and flowery notes to the aroma. The maltiness of American pale ale is slightly lighter than that of its British cousin.
4.0–6.2% • 25–45 EBU • copper–bronze–red brown
Brown ale is a style of ale that originated in North-East England. The basic flavour of brown ales has caramel-malt, toffee and delicate dark-berry notes. The aroma often has hints of nut, biscuit or coffee. Brown ales are well-balanced in terms of their malt-hop ratio.
2.8–5.4% • 15–35 EBU • amber–dark brown
Ale is a beer that is hard to place in one of the other styles of ale. It may also be a lesser-known style of ale, such as the almost forgotten British dinner ale. This style of beer also includes American-style amber ale (red ale).
4.0–6.0% • EBU bitterness varies • colour varies
IPA (India Pale Ale) is a strongly hopped style of ale with a high alcohol content. This style arose from beers that were developed to withstand the long sea voyage to India. The flavour has a distinct maltiness, complemented by aromatic hoppiness, which leaves an overall impression of dryness. The aroma has notes of caramel malt breadiness, biscuit or toffee as well as traditional British hop earthiness, flower and grass.
5.0–7.5% • 40–70 EBU • golden yellow–copper
Old ale is a dark, full-bodied and sweetly malty style of ale. It is often strongly alcoholic. Old ale was originally brewed as a winter warmer. In flavour, old ale is sweetly malty. The aroma often has notes of caramel, nut or syrup and may often have hints of dried fruit and currant. The dark malts also impart a toasted, liquorice, cocoa and chocolate character. The aroma of old ale that has been aged for a long time may also have notes of sherry, port or madeira.
5.8–8.5% • 30–60 EBU • brown–dark brown
Strong ale is a malty, often sweet, medium-bodied style of ale. In flavour, strong ale is sweetly malty. The aroma often has notes of caramel, nut, syrup, dried fruit and currant. Scottish-style strong ales may also have a peaty or smoky character. Belgian-style strong ales might have notes of spice, cherry and plum.
5.0–10.0% • 17–35 EBU • amber–light brown
Golden ale originated in Belgium and is a strongly alcoholic style of ale. Its flavour is fruity, spicy and alcoholic. The aroma may have notes of pear, apple and plum, and also often pepper and other spices. Aromatic hops give golden ale a perfumed and flowery character.
7.5–10.5% • 25–35 EBU • yellow–golden yellow
Abbey beer or bière d'abbaye or abdijbier is a style of ale originally brewed by monks in monasteries. Abbey beers are strongly alcoholic and sweetly fruity with notes of rum and aromatic hops.
– blonde (pale)
The aroma is spicy and herbal. It may also have delicate perfume, pear and citrus notes.
6.0–7.5% • 15–30 EBU • yellow–amber
– brune (dark)
The aroma has notes of caramel, chocolate or coffee imparted by dark malts, and also raisin, plum and cherry.
6.0–7.5% • 15–25 EBU • amber–brown
The aroma has notes of orange, citrus and sometimes banana. There may also be hints of spice, pepper and leather.
7.5–9.5% • 20–40 EBU • yellow–amber