Specialty, Hybrid & Other
Though the many major style categories establish framework in which many beers exist, the beer world includes other distinct styles, flavors and aromas that often depart from traditional brews and carve out their own niche—and they’re just as fun to explore. For example, some brewers use unusual ingredients like fermentable sugars and starches, while others include vegetables as flavor adjuncts. Many such “specialty beers” have become mainstream, such as Pumpkin Ale—no longer considered “unusual”—and is now its own style.
Hybrids, on the other hand, generally bridge the classic ale and lager definitions in some way. The popular Kölsch and Altbier styles may be considered hybrids, due to their use of warm-fermenting ale yeasts followed by cold conditioning (lagering). The California Common/Steam Beer style may also classify as a hybrid, as it is traditionally brewed using lager yeast, yet it’s warm-fermented at ale temperatures. Somewhat less common hybrid style descriptions follow. Cream Ale, for example, may be brewed using ale or lager yeast, and regardless may be kräusened and cold conditioned—processes typically only used for brewing lagers.
As for the “other” designation, the proliferation of craft brewing continues to spawn new beers that defy conventional, existing style categories. This is their starting point for classification. So sit back and open your mind to the future of brewing adventure.
Stemmed tulip and large wine glasses are good choices for some higher alcohol versions of these beer styles, including American Wild Ale, Fruit Beer and Herbed / Spiced Beer, which are full of aromatics and are truly sipping and savoring beers. This applies to some Rye Beers as well. A flute may be ideal for occasions where a Wild Ale or high-gravity Fruit Beer is being served as an aperitif or digestif. The pint, nonic and beer mug are very much viable standbys for these styles and make great first choices for all others discussed in this section.
Give these beers a firm pour to release the aromatics for your enjoyment.