The 7 Main Categories of Beer: A Guide for Craft Beer Enthusiasts

The 7 Main Categories of Beer: A Guide for Craft Beer Enthusiasts

The 7 Main Categories of Beer: A Guide for Craft Beer Enthusiasts

The craft beer movement has revolutionized the beer industry, offering an endless array of styles and flavor profiles. Currently, there are seven primary categories of beer: crisp, hop, malt, roast, smoke, fruit and spice, and tart and funky. Understanding these categories can enhance your appreciation of beer and help you guide others in finding their perfect brew.

Various different craft beer styles and glassware.

1. Crisp

Crisp beers are light and refreshing, often described with terms like “Light Lager,” “Blond,” or “Golden Ale.” These beers are typically delicate and fruity, including styles like American Blond Ale, English Blond Ale, and Wheat and Cream Ales. For a sweet and fruity taste, malt-accented brews like Amber Ale, Pale Ale, Vienna Ale, and Oktoberfest fit the bill. Crisp beers can also be hoppier, with “brisk hoppiness” found in Pilsners and India Pale Lagers.

2. Hop

Hop-forward beers are known for their earthy, herbal flavors with a malty backbone. Styles like English Pale Ale and Belgian IPA are common examples. American Pale Ale and American Imperial Red Ale offer a blend of initial bitterness with caramel-fruity tones. For a zestier taste, look for American Pale Ale or American Fresh Hop Ale, which feature bold, herbal, and citrus flavors.

3. Malt

Malt beers often have fruity, nutty, and toasty flavors. Dark Lagers, English Brown Ales, and Doppelbocks are known for their toasty, nutty profiles. For fruit-forward and toffee flavors, explore Scottish Ales, Belgian Pale Ales, or English Strong Ales.

4. Roast

Roast beers are darker and often have coffee-like flavors. Styles like Brown Porter, Oatmeal Stout, and Imperial Brown Ale offer a soft, silky experience. For richer, fuller roasts, try Dark and Dry Stout, American Stout, or Robust Porter.

5. Smoke

Smoke-flavored beers evoke the essence of “chestnuts roasting on an open fire,” providing a toasted richness. Examples include Smoked Porters and Rauchbiers, which offer spicy, meaty flavors.

6. Fruit and Spice

Fruit and spice beers combine bright flavors like apples, pears, lemons, and bananas with spices such as vanilla, pepper, and coriander. Styles like Belgian Blond Ale, Kristalweizen, and Belgian Strong Blond Ale fit this category. There are also darker blends featuring flavors like figs, cherries, plums, nutmeg, and cinnamon, found in Belgian Dark Ale, Dubbel, and Dunkelweizen.

7. Tart and Funky

Tart and funky beers are sour and range from earthy to wine-like. These delicate brews often have a citrus twist, as seen in Berliner Weissbier and Faro. For wine enthusiasts, tart and funky beers like Wild Ale, Flanders Red Ale, Saisons, and Gueuze Lambics offer fruity and vinous profiles, making them some of the most wine-like beers available.


As the craft beer industry continues to evolve, understanding these seven categories can enhance your beer knowledge and give your establishment a competitive edge. Whether you’re a seasoned beer aficionado or a curious newcomer, exploring these diverse styles will enrich your craft beer experience.

Stay updated with the latest in craft beer trends by subscribing to our blog and following us on social media. Cheers to discovering your next favorite brew!

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