All About Ales


ALL beer styles fall within two major categories- ales and lagers. Once you wrap your head around the notion that imperial stouts are considered ales, you’re in good shape. Ales have been documented for over 5,000 years now. Ales have yeast that ferments at the “top” of the fermentation vessel, and typically at higher temperatures than lager yeast. Depending on brewing style, ales can be enjoyed when they are young (couples weeks) or very old (couple of years). Here’s a run down on the ale styles and the mighty Pittsburgh breweries that showcase them!

*Breweries are alphabetized (no favoritism n’at). Beers listed on website were included, if we didn’t mention one- let us know! This is not the encyclopedia for beer styles and will be continually updated and added to. Enjoy learning about our Awesome Ales from Pittsburgh breweries!

Amber/ Red Ale

  • Taste– malty, hops intensity ranges from low to high
  • Color– amber to deep red
  • Glassware– pint glass
  • Serving temperature – 45-50 F
  • Not recommended to be cellared for an extended amount of time
  • Fat Head’s Brewery– Bone Head Red (Imperial Red Ale)
  • Full Pint Brewing -All In Amber
  • Rivertowne Brewing– Rudolph’s Red (Imperial Red Ale)

American Pale Ale (APA)

  • Taste– great balance between malt and hops, clean, hop focused
  • Color-pale golden to amber
  • Glassware-pint glass or mug
  • Serving temperature-40-45 F
  • Not recommended to be cellared for an extended amount of time
  • Church Brew Works- Pipe Organ Pale Ale
  • East End Brewing– Pedal Pale Ale
  • Fat Head’s Brewery– Trail Head
  • Penn Brewery– Allegheny Pale Ale

Barley Wine (American)

  • Taste– intense, fruity, sweet (bitter sweet sometimes)
  • Color– amber to dark brown
  • Glassware– pint glass or snifter
  • Serving temperature- 50-55 F
  • Can be cellared for years under proper conditions
  • East End Brewing-Gratitude

Belgian Trippel 

  • Name “tripel” comes from adding 3 times the amount of malt
  • Taste– spicy, powdery yeast, fruity/estery with a sweet finish
  • Color– bright yellow to gold
  • Glassware– snifter or goblet
  • Serving temperature– 45-50 F
  • Can be cellared for long periods of time under proper conditions
  • Church Brew Works– Millennium Trippel
  • East End Brewing– Ugly American
  • Fat Head’s Brewery– Head Trip

Black Ale

  • Taste-malty, light to moderate roasty notes, hopped generously
  • Color-dark brown to black…dur
  • Glassware– pint glass or mug
  • Serving temperature- 40-45 F
  • Not recommended to be cellared for an extended amount of time
  • Fat Head’s Brewery– Black Knight Schwartzbier

Black and Tan

  • Brewery or bartender will layer a dark ale with a light ale or lager
  • Color– black and tan haha
  • Glassware– pint glass, mug
  • Serving temperature-45-50 F
  • Go ask your Pittsburgh brewers for one of these and see what they come up with!

Blonde Ale (American)

  • Taste– very malty, light fruitiness, light/moderate hops (tastes similar to German Style Kolsch)
  • Color– pale yellow to deep gold
  • Glassware– pint glass or mug
  • Serving temperature- 40-45 F
  • Not recommended to be cellared for an extended amount of time
  • Rivertowne Brewing- Babbling Blonde

Brown Ale (American)

  • Taste– matly, nutty, caramel, drier than English brown ales
  • Color– deep amber to dark brown
  • Glassware– pint glass or mug
  • Serving temperature- 45-50 F
  • Not recommended to be cellared for an extended amount of time
  • East End Brewing– Fat Gary Nut Brown Ale
  • Full Pint Brewing– Little Brown Ale
  • Hop Farm Brewing– One Nut Brown
  • Penn Brewery-Nut Roll Ale

Chile Beer

  • Ales with the addition of various hot pepper juice, oils, or actual peppers
  • Taste– hotness can range from a subtle spiciness or pepperiness to hotter than Hades
  • Color– light colored to golden
  • Glassware– pint glass or mug
  • Serving temperature– 40-45 F
  • Not recommended to be cellared for extended amount of time
  • East End Brewing– Rojo Ahumado Collab with Lavery PCBW2014
  • Full Pint Brewing– Name TBA PCBW2014

Cream Ale

  • Typically brewed as an ale although sometimes are finished with a lager yeast or lager beer mixed in
  • Taste– hop and malt flavor typically subdued, balanced
  • Color– golden
  • Glassware-pint glass or mug
  • Serving temperature– 40-45 F
  • Not recommended to be cellared for an extended amount of time

Dark Wheat Ale (American)

  • Americanized Dunkel Weizen
  • Taste-caramel malts, slightly toasted
  • Color– medium to dark brown
  • Glassware– pint glass, mug, weizen glass
  • Serving temperature-45-50 F
  • Not recommended to be cellared for an extended amount of time

Fruit Ales

  • A flavored beer, some breweries use real fruit or veggies (though most use an extract, or syrup)
  • Taste– malt flavor is typically hidden with a low hop bitterness to allow the fruit or vegetable to dominate
  • Color– very pale to black
  • Glassware-pint glass, mug
  • Serving Temperature– 40-45 F
  • Not recommended to be cellared for extended amount of time
  • Church Brew Works– Cherry Quadzilla (Belgian Ale Style)
  • East End Brewing-Lord Nordsberry (Belgian Ale Style)
  • Fat Head’s Brewery-Bumble Berry
  • Rivertowne Brewing– Hala Kahiki Pineapple Ale

Hefeweizen (German)

  • The “Hefe” prefix means “with yeast”- hence the unfiltered and cloudy appearance
  • Taste– yeast produces banana and cloves flavors with an often dry and tart edge, some spiciness. Some may taste bubblegum or apples. Little hop bitterness
  • Color– pale straw to golden
  • Glassware– weizen glass
  • Not recommended to be cellared for an extended amount of time
  • East End Brewing-Monkey Boy
  • Fat Head’s Brewery-Goggle Fogger

Imperial IPA 

  • Taste-intense, malty, alcoholic, intensely hop forward
  • Color-golden to amber
  • Glassware-snifter, tulip
  • Serving temperature 50-55 F
  • Can be cellared for long periods of time under proper conditions
  • Fat Head’s Brewery– Hop JuJu
  • Full Pint Brewing– Tri PA

Imperial Stout 

  • Some brewers add coffee and/or chocolate. Some are barrel aged in Bourbon/Whiskey barrels
  • Taste– richly roasted, cleaner alcohol flavors
  • Color-dark brown to black
  • Glassware– pint glass or snifter
  • Serving temperature- 50-55 F
  • Can be cellared for long periods of time under proper conditions
  • East End Brewing -Toaster
  • Fat Head’s Brewery-Bean Me Up Imperial Coffee Stout, Hippy  Sippy
  • Full Pint Brewing -Rye Rebellion
  • Hop Farm Brewing– Little Kulak
  • Rivertowne Brewing– All Aboard Anniversary Stout

India Pale Ale (IPA)

  • Taste-herbal and/or citrus, high bitterness, balancing malt backbone
  • Color-pale golden to reddish amber
  • Glassware-pint glass, mug
  • Serving temperature– 45-50 F
  • Not recommended to be cellared for an extended amount of time
  • East End Brewing-Big Hop, Big Hop Harvest
  • Fat Head’s Brewery– Head Hunter IPA
  • Full Pint Brewing-Chinookie, Hobnobber, Gus
  • Hop Farm Brewing– Hop Farm IPA
  • Penn Brewery- Overlook IPA
  • Rivertowne Brewing– Old Wylie’s IPA
  • Roundabout Brewing– Hyer-PA

Kölsch (German)

  • Originally brewed in Köln, Germany
  • Taste– hop bitterness is medium to slightly assertive, vinous (grape like from malts), dry flavor
  • Color– pale gold
  • Glassware– stange
  • Serving temperature– 40-45 F
  • Full Pint Brewing– 3-2-1 Win, King Kolsch
  • Penn Brewery-Cool River Kolsch

Kvass (Russian)

  • Typically made from black or regular rye bread
  • Taste– often flavored with herbs or fruits to balance the bitterness
  • Color– golden to brown
  • Glassware– pint glass
  • East End Brewing-Kvass

Old Ale (English)

  • Full malt body with lots of character
  • Taste– bittering levels range significantly, expect common fruity, vinous, intense malts, and sharp alcohol characteristics
  • Color– rich dark amber to a very dark brown; almost black
  • Glassware– pint glass or snifter
  • Serving temperature– 50-55 F
  • Can be cellared for long periods of time under proper conditions
  • Roundabout Brewing– Heini’s Good Cheer

Porter (American)

  • Taste– toasty, highly variable flavor profile. Some brewers super hop the brew. Some use smoked malts, add coffee, or chocolate. Some are barrel aged in Bourbon/Whiskey barrels. The hop bitterness range is wide but most are well balanced
  • Color– dark brown to black
  • Glassware-pint glass or mug
  • Serving temperature– 45-50 F
  • Not recommended to be cellared for an extended amount of time
  • East End Brewing– Eye Opener Coffee Porter, Smokestack Heritage Porter
  • Fat Head’s Brewery– Battle Axe (Baltic), Up in Smoke Smoked Porter, Prohibition Pauly Robust Porter
  • Full Pint Brewing-Perc E Bust
  • Hop Farm Brewing– Fresh Pot of Porter

Pumpkin Ale

  • Beers with hand-cut pumpkins, puree, or pumpkin flavoring. Tend to be spiced with pumpkin pie spices, like: ground ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice
  • Taste– mild, with minimal bitterness, a malty backbone, with some spice often showcased
  • Color– orange, brownish
  • Glassware-pint glass
  • Serving temperature-45-50 F
  • Not recommended to be cellared for an extended amount of time
  • East End Brewing– Nunkin Ale (does not contain pumpkin-hence the name, but sure tastes like it does)
  • Fat Head’s Brewery– Spooky Tooth (Imperial)

Rye Beer

  • Contains a large amount of rye grain
  • Taste– moderate bitterness, the rye’s strong spicy and sour-like characteristics shine through
  • Color– golden to dark brown
  • Glassware-pint glass, stange
  • Serving temperature-45-50 F
  • Not recommended to be cellared for extended amount of time

Rye P.A

  • “Rye-P-A,” a take-off of the abbreviation for an IPA. The hop presence is pushed to the point where they resemble American IPA’s
  • Taste– spicy, earthy hops
  • Color– amber, brown
  • Glassware– pint glass, stange
  • Serving temperature-45-50 F
  • Penn Brewery– Rye IPA

Saison/ Farmhouse Ale

  • Traditionally brewed in the winter and consumed in the summer
  • Taste– fruity, lots of spice, medium bitterness, tiny bit of sweetness
  • Color– golden to amber
  • Glassware– pint glass, tulip
  • Serving temperature-45-50 F
  • Can be cellared for long periods of time under proper conditions
  • East End Brewing– Steel Valley Saison collab with Lavery Brewing PCBW2014
  • Hop Farm Brewing– Saison and the Currant

Scottish Ale

  • Traditionally these ales go through a longer boil in the kettle to caramelize the wort. This produces a deep copper brew with a higher level of unfermentable sugars
  • Taste– hop character is low, light floral or herbal, allowing malt profile to be center stage. Smoky characters are also common
  • Color- Amber to deep brown
  • Glassware– Pint glass, mug
  • Serving Temperature– 45-50 F
  • Not recommended to be cellared for an extended amount of time
  • Rivertowne Brewing- Maxwell’s Scottish Ale

Session Ales

  • Style of beer that contains no higher than 5 % ABV. Very drinkable because the malt and hop characteristics are well balanced. The purpose of a session beer is to allow the beer drinker to have multiple beers, within a reasonable time period or “session”, without overwhelming the senses or getting drunk
  • Taste– wide range
  • Color-straw pale to dark brown
  • East End Brewing– Rotation of Session- Gotta go to know!
  • Fat Head’s Brewery– Sunshine Daydream Session Ale

Stout (American)

  • Taste-roasty, burnt flavors, although highly variable flavor profile. Some brewers hop the stout or add coffee and/or chocolate. Some are barrel aged in Bourbon/Whiskey barrels. The hop bitterness range is wide but most are balanced
  • Color-dark brown to black
  • Glassware-pint glass, mug
  • Serving temperature-45-50 F
  • Not recommended to be cellared for an extended amount of time
  • Church Brew Works has rotating stouts- gotta go to know!
  • East End Brewing– Black Strap Stout, Chocolate Covered Cherry Stout, Homewood Reserve
  • Fat Head’s Brewery– Oompa Loompa Chocolate Cream Stout
  • Full Pint Brewing– Night of Living Stout
  • Penn Brewery– Chocolate Meltdown
  • Roundabout Brewing– Irish Coffee Stout

Strong Ale (Belgian)

  • Catch all style category for beers from 7.0 percent ABV and above
  • Taste– similar to barley wines and old ales
  • Color– light amber and dark brown
  • Glassware– pint glass, snifter, mug
  • Serving temperature– 50-55 F
  • Can be cellared for long periods of time under proper conditions
  • East End Brewing– Illustration Ale
  • Fat Head’s Brewery– Sorcerer (dark strong), Zeus Juice (golden strong), Pimp My Sleigh (dark strong)
  • Roundabout Brewing– Trompe le Monde (golden strong)

Weizenbock (German)

  • More “powerful” dunkel weizen, translates to “wheat strong”
  • Taste– pronounced estery alcohol character, more complex malt
  • Color-straw pale to dark brown
  • Glassware– flute, weizen glass
  • Serving temperature– 45-50 F
  • Can be cellared for long periods of time under proper conditions
  • Fat Head’s Brewery– Alpenglow
  • Penn Brewery– Penn Weizenbock

Wheat Ale 

  • Americanized version of a Hefe Weizen
  • Taste-hop character (low to high) most are moderate in bitterness
  • Color-pale to golden range
  • Glassware– pint glass, mug, weizen glass
  • Serving temperature– 45-50 F
  • Not recommended to be cellared for extended amount of time
  • Aurochs Brewing– Aurochs White Ale (Belgian and Gluten Free)
  • East End Brewing-East End Witte (Belgian)
  • Full Pint Brewing– White Lightning (Belgian)
  • Penn Brewery-Penn Weizen
  • Rivertowne Brewing– Grateful White (Belgian)
  • Roundabout Brewing– Ginga Wheat

Wheatwine

  • American strong ale that is made with a larger portion of wheat malt
  • Taste– sweet, but light tasting. Wheat provides a subtle flowery and citrusy flavor. Strong alcohol presence gives the beer a warming affect
  • Color– ranges from cloudy gold to clear amber
  • Glassware-snifter, large wine glass
  • Serving temperature– 45-50 F
  • Can be cellared for long periods of time under proper conditions

Wild Ale (American) or Sour Beer

  • beers that are introduced to “wild” yeast or bacteria, such as: Brettanomyces, Pediococcus or Lactobacillus
  • Taste– sour, tart
  • Color– golden to dark brown
  • Glassware– flute, tulip
  • Serving temperature- 45-50 F
  • Can be cellared for long periods of time under proper conditions
  • Full Pint Brewing– Paw Paw Berlinner Weisse

Winter Warmers

  • Strong alcohol presence to warm the soul on a wintery day, big malt presence
  • Taste-strong and complex maltiness along with low to assertive hop characters, spices and other special ingredients are often added
  • Color-amber to black
  • Glassware- pint glass
  • Serving temperature- 45-50 F
  • Not recommended to be cellared for an extended amount of time
  • East End Brewing– Snow Melt
  • Full Pint Brewing– Festivus

So next time someone tells you that they don’t like beer- tell them to try ALL the styles of ales before they can make such a hasty comment. Then if they still don’t…there are always the lagers. Please stay tuned for our next segment on Lager Love. Big thanks to Beer Advocate for being such a great reference.

Cheers N’at
D&T

 

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