The Wine Connoisseur: Eight lesser-known beer styles

The Wine Connoisseur: Eight lesser-known beer styles

A pint of beer. Pixabay photo

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Although there are dozens of styles of beer produced globally, the most commonly consumed are those labeled “lager” and “ale.” Within these two categories are many lesser-known styles, some hundreds of years old that are well worth searching out. Eight that I recommend are:

Altbier (Germany): “Alt” refers to the “old” style of brewing (i.e., using top-fermenting yeast) that was common before bottom-fermenting lager brewing became popular in the mid-eighteenth century. They are copper-colored ales with a high barley and hops content. The traditional style of beer found in brewpubs in Münster and the Altstadt (“old town”) section of Düsseldorf.

Gose (Germany): An old-style beer that originated in the Middle Ages in the town of Goslar on the Gose River in Lower Saxony (Sachsen). Gose is a highly carbonated, tart, and fruity wheat ale with a citrusy, tangy, and salty flavor, low in bitterness with hints of coriander.

Kölsch (Germany) Light gold-colored ale brewed since the Middle Ages, but the beer now known as Kölsch was developed in the late 1800s. It is dry with a very subtle tart fruit and hop character. Kölsch is an appellation protected by the Kölsch Konvention (1986) and is restricted to the 20 or so breweries in and around Cologne (Köln).

Lambic (Belgium): A family of spontaneously fermented ales generally brewed near Brussels. They are often aged up to three years in barrels. Some ingredients added during the brewing process are brown sugar, cranberries, peaches, raspberries, sour cher¬ries, and wheat. Most of the beers are winy, distinctively sour, and somewhat acidic, almost resembling vermouth rather than beer. Some examples of lambic beers are Faro, Framboise, Gueuze, and Kriek.

Gueuze (Belgium): A lambic-type ale made by mixing one, two, and three-year-old lambic beers. It is moderately sour, acidic, and highly effervescent with aromas of apple, rhubarb, and leather.

Kriek (Belgium): A lambic-type ale that has been further fermented by adding sour or bitter black cherries to produce a dry beer with an unusual cherry flavor. Some similarity to a kir royale.

Rauchbier (Germany): An amber to dark-colored lager beer, with a smoky, bacon-like aroma and flavor. It is brewed by adding malt that was dried over smoking beechwood, before being brewed, making it intensely smoky. It is brewed in the city of Bamberg, in Franken.

Saison (Belgium): Translates to season. A sharply refreshing, amber-colored, summer seasonal ale that is fruity, moderately bitter, and has a slightly sour taste. It is brewed in Wallonia, the French-speaking part of Belgium.

Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need To Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on He consults and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at OR [email protected].