Cream ale is a North American specialty that is somewhat of a hybrid in style. Despite the name, many brewers use both ale and lager yeasts for fermentation, or more often, just lager yeasts. This style of beer is fermented like an ale at warm temperatures, but then stored at cold temperatures for a period of time, much as a lager would be. The resultant brew has the unchallenging crisp characteristics of a light pale lager, but is endowed with a hint of the aromatic complexities that ales provide.
These brews are golden to light copper in color with a more subtle overall character and lighter body than typical pale ales. English ale fruitiness will probably not be observed. However, the most important qualification is that they are brewed domestically and will have less body and hop and malt character than a pale ale from the same brewery.
This is a subcategory of the bock style. Doppelbocks are extra strong, rich and weighty lagers characterized by an intense malty sweetness with a note of hop bitterness to balance the sweetness. Color can vary from full amber to dark brown and alcohol levels are potently high, typically 7-8 percent ABV.
Bocks are a specific type of strong lager historically associated with Germany and specifically the town of Einbeck. These beers range in color from pale to deep amber tones, and feature a decided sweetness on the palate. Bock styles are an exposition of malty sweetness that is classically associated with the character and flavor of Bavarian malt. Alcohol levels are quite potent, typically 5-6 percent ABV. Hop aromas are generally low, though hop bitterness can serve as a balancing factor against the malt sweetness. Many brewers choose to craft these beers for consumption in the spring (often called Maibock) or winter, when their warmth can be fully appreciated.
eers listed in this category are brewed or fermented using a single-hop variety, and typically are brewed as part of a series to highlight individual characteristics of the hop.
Sometimes referred to as stock or keeping ales, old ales are eponymously named for being aged months, or even years, through bottle conditioning or bulk storage in wooden tuns. Originally brewed before the Industrial Revolution as a complement to mild ales, old ales are medium-to-full bodied, malt-driven ales that range in color from amber to very dark brown.
Spiced winter ales are popular hybrids among U.S. craft brewers. Typically, they are strong ales that have had some spice added during the brewing process. True to their name, they make ideal sipping beers with which to ward off winters chills and get a dose of seasonal spices.
Barley wine is the evocative name coined by British brewers to describe an extremely potent ale that can range from golden copper to dark brown in color. Barley wines are characterized by extravagant caramel malt flavors and bittering hops that prevent the malt sweetness from cloying. Rich and viscous, they can have in their most complex manifestations winey flavor profiles, with a hint of sweetness. Some examples are vintage-dated and can improve with extended bottle age.
Strong ales are sometimes referred to as old ales, stock ales or winter warmers. These beers are higher alcohol versions (typically between 5.5-7 percent ABV) of pale ales, though not as robust or alcoholic as barley wines. Usually a deep amber color, these brews generally have a sweet malty palate and a degree of fruitiness. If bottle-conditioned, strong ales can improve for several years, in some cases eventually obtaining sherrylike notes.
Irish ales are characterized by their reddish color, malt accents, slightly sweet palate and low hopping. They are not generally bitter if true to style and in this they reflect the historical fact that the Irish have never taken to huge amounts of hops in their traditional beers. In their native land they have long played second fiddle to stout, and before that, porter.