While it’s easy to categorize most beers, there are plenty of brews that depart from established styles and carve out their own niches – and they’re especially fun to explore.
For example, some brewers use unusual ingredients (relative to typical modern ingredients) such as fermentable sugars and starches, while others include vegetables as flavor adjuncts. Several such specialty beers have become mainstream, like Pumpkin Ale, which is now its own style and is no longer considered exotic.
Hybrid beers, on the other hand, generally bridge the classic ale and lager definitions. The popular Kölsch and Altbier styles may be considered hybrids, due to their production methods, which use warm-fermenting ale yeasts followed by cold conditioning (lagering). The California Common/Steam Beer style may also classify as a hybrid, as it’s traditionally brewed using a lager yeast and then warm-fermented at ale temperatures.
Some additional hybrid styles are experiencing an increase in brewery and consumer attention, such as Cream Ale, which may be brewed using ale or lager yeast, and regardless, may be kräusened and cold conditioned – processes typically used only for brewing lagers.
As for the “other” designation, the proliferation of craft brewing continues to spawn new beers that defy conventional categories. This is their starting point for classification.