CAMRA BEER STYLE GUIDELINES
Original gravity ranges are used by CAMRA to determine beer styles, and alcohol by volume may vary from the typical ranges listed. Beers may vary from other specified features, include brewing adjuncts or have their own particular balances and still be classed as true to style. Bitterness is measured in European Bitterness Units (EBU).
Milds range from black to dark brown to pale amber in colour. Malty and possibly sweet tones dominate the flavour profile but there may be a light hop flavour or aroma. Slight diacetyl (toffee/butterscotch) flavours are not inappropriate. Alcohol levels are typically low. Pale milds have a lightly fruity aroma and gentle hoppiness. Dark milds may have a light roast malt or caramel aroma and taste, often with liquorice, chocolate or burnt flavours. The milds category includes Scottish 60 shilling beers; these have mild characteristics with a dominance of sweetness, smooth body and light bitterness.
Original gravity: less than 1043
Typical alcohol by volume: less than 4.3%
Bitterness 14 - 28 EBU
Ordinary bitters are typically brown, tawny, copper, or amber but can be paler. They have medium to strong bitterness, light to medium body and a light to medium malt character may be present. Hop character should be evident, typically being earthy, spicy or peppery, and diacetyl (toffee/butterscotch) should be minimised. Fruit should be light and not distract from hop character, although citrus fruit tastes are associated with some hop varieties. Light bitters or 'boys' bitters' are light bodied and low in alcohol but with evident hop character and bitterness; a light malt character may be present.
Original gravity: less than 1040
Typical alcohol by volume: less than 4%
Bitterness 20 - 40 EBU
STYLE: BEST BITTERS
Best bitters are more robust than ordinary bitters. They are typically brown, tawny, copper, or amber but can be paler. They have medium to strong bitterness, light to medium body but with a more evident residual maltiness. A strong hop character should be evident and diacetyl (toffee/butterscotch) should be minimised. Fruit should be limited, although citrus fruit tastes are associated with some hop varieties.
Original gravity: 1040 up to less than 1046
Typical alcohol by volume: 4.0-4.6%
Bitterness 20 - 40 EBU
STYLE: STRONG BITTERS
Strong bitters are full bodied and possess assertive hop qualities. They are typically brown, tawny, copper, or amber but can be paler. They have medium to strong bitterness. Residual maltiness may be more pronounced than in other bitters. Fruitiness may be medium to strong and can be estery, such as pear drops, although citrus fruit tastes are associated with some hop varieties. India Pale Ales (IPAs) are well-fermented strong bitters with little residual sweetness and high levels of earthy hops. American IPAs typically use citrus-flavoured hops. Black IPAs are IPAs produced with dark malts that add colour but little flavour.
Original gravity: 1046 or more
Typical alcohol by volume: 4.6% or more
Bitterness 25 - 80 EBU
STYLE: GOLDEN ALES
Golden ales are pale amber, gold, yellow or straw coloured with powerful aroma hop, low to strong bitterness, light to medium body and a strong hop taste, often with tart citrus fruit tastes creating a refreshing character. There should be little or no malt character or diacetyl (toffee/butterscotch).
Original gravity: no specific limits
Typical alcohol by volume: no specific limits
Bitterness 20 - 75 EBU
STYLE: SPECIALITY BEERS.
Speciality beers are produced with novel ingredients including fruits, herbs,
honey, cereals other than barley and flowers other than hops. This does not
include the use of small amounts of cereal adjuncts commonly used in standard
beer styles, for example for head retention. However, if recipes include non-
barley cereals specifically to impart a distinctive flavour, then these are classified as speciality beers but it is often difficult to characterise effects on flavour. The category includes cask-conditioned lagers, wheat beers and fruit beers. Other speciality beers may use specialist yeasts, including wild yeasts, or unusual balances of dark malts or hops, or be of very high gravity. Examples of groupings within this style are as follows:
● Lagers are usually yellow or straw coloured but can be darker. They are light to medium bodied with a light to medium hop character and a clean, crisp malt character. Produced traditionally with very lightly kilned malts, often providing sulphury flavours like cooked sweetcorn.
● Wheat beers have wheat in their grist and the spicy and fruity flavours arising from the activities of a wheat beer yeast. They are often dry and refreshing and may be served cloudy with yeast and/or protein haze.
● Herb beers are produced with little or no hop and have flavours of added herbs, either singly or in combination. They are often malty and strong in body or floral and light. Very strong alcohol versions may show Belgian beer characteristics and have very fruity flavours from specific Belgian yeast strains.
● Spice beers are produced with the addition of spices such as ginger and coriander. In some cases these can be extreme and dominate the character of the beer. Balancing factors of body, bitterness and fruit characters may be required to provide complexity.
● Tree sap beers are produced using the sugar from tree saps such as maple, birch, pine and spruce. They may include honey and show a dry character due to limited residual sugars. Balancing bitterness and floral character may be important and astringency may be dominant if contact with bark occurs.
STYLE: OLD ALES/STRONG MILDS
Typically black or dark brown but can be paler. Old Ales are full bodied with a malty richness. Fermentation characters such as fruity estery flavours should contribute to the flavour profile but considerable variation can occur within the style. Strong milds may be richer in caramel, or have a light roast malt character.
Original gravity: 1043 to less than 1065
Typical alcohol by volume: 4.3-6.5%
Bitterness 20 - 50 EBU
Porters are black or dark brown from the use of dark malts. They should have a full mouthfeel, firm roast malt character (often coffee-like) with raisin- or sultana-like fruit flavours and a pronounced finish through moderate bitter hopping.
Original gravity: 1040 or more
Typical alcohol by volume: 4.0 or more
Bitterness 20 - 50 EBU
Stouts are typically black. Dry stouts have an initial roast flavour with a distinctive dry roast, often coffee-like, bitterness in the finish. The dry roast character is often achieved by use of roasted barley and can dominate the flavour profile, masking other flavours. Some astringency and a medium to rich mouthfeel are appropriate. Imperial Russian stouts can have some or all of these characteristics with more intensity and much higher original gravities and alcohol levels than other stouts. Sweet stouts are distinctively sweet in taste and aftertaste through the use of lactose and may have a cloying body.
Original gravity: 1040 or more Typical alcohol by volume: 4.0% or more Bitterness 20 - 90 EBU
STYLE: BARLEY WINES AND STRONG OLD ALES
Barley wines range from amber to copper to tawny in colour and may have a high residual sweetness due to residual sugars. Alternatively some barley wines are fermented to dryness. Either way, look to see how the characteristics balance to provide a strong overall impression. In many barley wines, estery and ripe fruity characteristics, such as pear drop or strawberry, are counter-balanced by medium to assertive bitterness and extraordinary alcohol content. Strong old ales have similar characteristics but are typically dark brown or black and may have a very rich malty character with light roast malt as well as dark fruits, chocolate or coffee in aroma and taste.
Original gravity: 1065 or more Typical alcohol by volume: 6.5% or more Bitterness 30 - 75 EBU