A little beer guide

Utilize this guide to familiarize yourself with the different types of beer offered at 3 Sons Dogs and Suds and to help you enjoy your beer experience.  For even more information on the beer style, click on the name for some worthwhile reading.

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Abbey Ale – A fruity, strong ale made by secular brewers in Belgium and based on the products of the Trappist abbeys.

Alt – German for “old” or “traditional,” referring to the way beer was brewed in Germany prior to the 19thcentury. After a warm fermentation this hybrid was lagered for several months in ice-cold caves. This mellowed the fruitiness typical of top-fermented ale. This style has a pronounced bitterness, with subdued hop flavor and aroma compared to pils. Great with brie cheese, deli sandwiches, and hamburgers. The serving glass is similar to a highball glass and the ale’s temperature should be about 50 degrees F.

American Ale – This style can range from a golden to light copper color. American Ales are characterized by the American variety hops used to produce high hop bitterness, flavor, and aroma. Complimentary foods include steak, lamb, and hamburgers.

Barley Wine – Barley wine is not wine at all, but possesses many wine-like characteristics contributed principally by its high alcohol content, usually between 6 to 12% by volume. These beers are often aged for 18 months or more to mature the flavors and can be cellared for up to 25 years. Barley wines have a velvety texture, a fruity, smokey palate and a hint of acidity with a warm alcohol finish. Barley wine is a mean in itself and does not compliment food very well. Potential pairings include chocolate candy and various desserts. It should be served at room temperature.

Berliner Weisse – An acidic, light-bodied style of Wheat (weisse) Beer made in Berlin. Traditionally served in a large mouthed goblet and usually laced with either a dash of raspberry syrup or woodruff. Best served at 45 – 50 degrees F.

Biere de Garde – French beer characterized by a smooth, sweet, fruity, and earthy taste with a color which can range from a deep blond to a reddish brown. Typically, bieres de garde are brewed in the Northern region of France near the Belgian border, corked in wine bottles, and then aged from several months to several years. Complimentary foods include tarts, chicken, lamb, rabbit, onions, and squashes. Best served at 50 – 55 degrees F.

Bitter – This style is typically lightly carbonated with a bronze to deep copper color. Beers in this style are not as bitter as the name may suggest, but instead possess a floral-spicy palate derived from the fragrant English hops used. Bitters go great with rich meats including roast, lamb, pork, steak, duck, goose, and salmon. Best served in a pint glass at 54 – 55 degrees F.

Bock – Bocks are rich, malty, brown German lagers that are typically brewed in the fall or winter for consumption in the spring. American bocks tend to be lighter in body and color than their German counterparts. In all varieties, the hop flavor and aroma should be low. Serve in a stoneware mug at not less than 48 degrees F.

Brown Ale – South English Brown Ales are generally dark, sweet, and low in alcohol. The northern English versions are often drier and more potent. Both are made with softer water than pale ales. The Belgian style has a sweet-sour taste. American brown ale typically has more pronounced hop bitterness, flavor, and aroma. Pair with nutty stuffings, cheesy salads, beef vegetable soup, jambalaya, and lightly dressed green salads.

Serve in a pint glass at 55 degrees F.

Cider – Hard cider can range from light colored and sweet to dark and very dry. Before hops were cultivated as a preservative for beer, fruits and spices were used extensively to keep ber from turning into vinegar too soon.

Cream Ale – A very mild, sweetish style of ale made in the United States. Serve between 45 – 50 degrees F.


Doppelbock – In German, doppel means double, but that does not mean a doppelbock is double the strength of a normal bock. They were originally brewed by monks who wanted a full bodied, strong, “liquid” bread to drink during their Lenten fast. Complimentary foods include pastries and desserts, smoked duck, and cured ham. Serve at 50 degrees F.

Dortmunder – Any beer brewed in Dortmund, Germany. The city, however, is especially associated with the Export style.

Eisbock – The strongest of the Bock beers. Produced by lagering beer in very cold cellars at the freezing point of water, and removing some of the iced water, thereby increasing alcoholic strength of the beer.

ESB – Extra Strong Bitter – Extra Strong Bitter processes medium to strong hop qualities in aroma, flavor, and bitterness. The residual malt sweetness of this richly flavored, full-bodied bitter is more pronounced than in other bitters.

Gruit – A Scottish beer brewed with savory herbs to give the ale an exotic accent.

Holiday Ale – Holiday Ales usually refer to beers brewed to celebrate the winter holidays. This style is wide open for brewers. Many are dark, spiced, high in alcohol and work well as a winter warmer.

India Pale Ale – IPA gained its name due to its popularity among British troops in colonial India. The high gravity of the beer allowed it to mature during its long voyage from England to India and the high hop bitterness worked as a preservative. The result was a golden to deep copper-colored ale with a full flavor and high hop bitterness. Complimentary foods include lamb, many spicy ethnic foods, and well-done steak or roast. Serve in a pint glass at 55 degrees F.

Irish Red Ale – Noted for its reddish color, full body, and sweetish, sometimes buttery palate.

Kolsch – Kolsch is an appellation for a beer originally brewed in the Kolin area before the lagering revolution. Again, like an Altbier or Steam beer, it is warm fermented and then aged at cold temperatures. Kolsch is characterized by a golden color and slightly dry, winey and subtly sweet palate. This style should have light body, with a low hop flavor and aroma with medium bitterness. Goes well with lightly smoked sausages. Best served cold at 48 degrees F.

Lager – In some countries the term “lager” is applied only to the most basic beers. In general, however, the term applies to any bottom fermenting beer.

Lambic – One of the most complex beer styles in the world. This style of beer is spontaneously fermented with wild yeast native to the Zenne Valley of Belgium. It is darn near impossible to duplicate this style outside of that particular valley. Typically, different vintages are blended together to mellow the younger version out. Most Lambic undergoes a secondary fermentation when fruit is added to the oak casks. The end product is reminiscent of a chardonnay, a manzanilla or even a dry vermouth. In fact, one of Lindeman’s lambics won a gold medal for “Best Wine” at a California wine and food festival in 1992. Serve in a champagne flute at 54-55 degrees F.

Light Ale – In England, an alternative name for bottled bitter. In Scotland, a dark ale of low gravity. “Light” does NOT mean a low-calorie beer.

Maibock – “Mai” in German means May. Traditionally made at the end of April or beginning of May to celebrate Spring. Maibocks are essentially light colored bocks with a malty character that is evident in both aroma and flavor. This style typically has a medium to full body with a low hop bitterness as most varieties of bock do.

Marzen – Ths beer was traditionally brewed in late March or early April and was aged until late September. These beers can range from golden to reddish brown. A sweet maltiness should dominate slightly over the clean, hop bitterness. The malt character should be toasted rather than strongly caramel. The hop aroma should be low but noticeable. Perfect for sweet spiced recipes, sweet tasting meets, pizza, pork, and Italian sausages. Best served in a stoneware mug at 48 degrees F.

Mild – An English term for lightly-hopped ale, usually of lower alcohol content and sometimes darker in color. Best served at 50-55 degrees F.

Munchener – The Munich brews are traditionally dark lagers with spicy-malty-coffeeish palate, but today includes pale lagers with a distinctively malty accent. Serve in a plain pint glass at 48 degrees F.

Munich Dark – A classic Munchener Dunkel should have a chocolate, roasted malt, bread-like aroma, and is well balanced by German hops. Match with bread, fried mushrooms, vegetarian chili, roast chicken, lobster, crab, or salmon.

Old Ale – An old ale is a medium-strong British dark ale. Old Ale’s name originated centuries ago because it was a mild ale that was aged a year or more before drinking. It was the mixture of expensive old ale with inexpensive mild that became the basis for the porter style. These beers are typically dark, rich, and sweet with notes of fruit and molasses. Best served at 50 degrees F.

Pale Ale – A fruity, copper-colored style of ale originating in England. Serve at 55 degrees F.

Pilsener – Bohemian – Originally brewed in the Bohemian city of Pilzen in 1842, Pilsner is the style others raced to imitate during the 19th century lagering revolution. These beers should be straw to deep gold in color with a distinctive flowering spicy hoppiness and a dry finish. Czech pilsners are more full-bodied and maltier than their German counterparts. Czech Pilsners compliment foods such as light fish, spicy foods, and lightly seasoned pork.

Pilsener – German – A classic German Pils is a very light straw color and well hopped with a good deal of hop bitterness and a moderate hop flavor and aroma. Typically lighter, drier, hoppier, more effervescent, and less smooth than a Czech-style Pilsner. Great with eggs benedict, spicy chicken, various white fish, and creamy dressed salads.

Porter – This style was born a mixture of inexpensive “green” beer such as mild or brown ale with an expensive aged beer. In 1730, a man named Harwood brewed a substitute for the mixture and advertised it as being richer and more nourishing than ordinary ale, and it was intended for porters and other heavy laborers. Porter is a very dark, top-fermented beer with a spicy, chocolaty character. Dark malt flavors dominate, yet porter is lighter in body and malt character than stout. Complimentary foods include venison, and various BBQ’d meats. Serve in a pint glass at 50 degrees F.

Rauchbier – These German “smoke beer” lagers were made famous in the city of Bamberg in northern Bavaria. The smoke character was originally a byproduct of the ancient practice of drying malt over oak or beechwood fires. Complimentary foods include BBQ foods, and smoked and sweet meats. Serve in a pint glass at 50 degrees F.

Rye – One of the newest beer styles appearing in the United States and Europe. Rye malt is even more difficult to filter than wheat so only a small portion is used (10-30%). These beers typically have a pumpernickel flavor.

Saison – A medium-strong, faintly sour summer ale from Belgium which is sometimes seasoned with spices and herbs. Serve at 50 degrees F.

Schwarzbier – “Schwarz” in German means “black.” Schwarzbier is a dark German lager that has bittersweet, dark chocolate notes in addition to the typical roasted malt flavors you would find in a dark lager. These beers are typically darker, more robust, and less delicate than their Munchener dunkel cousins.

Scotch Ale – The four different sub-categories of Scottish ales are light, heavy, export, and strong. These sub-categories also go by their archaic designations of 60, 70, 80, and 90 shilling respectively. The first three are roughly the counterparts to the English bitter, but with more of a malt accent. Serve in a pint glass or thistle at 55 degrees F.

Steam Beer – There are many theories why Steam beer has the name it does, ranging from the 19thcentury use of steam power in breweries, to the high temperature of the primary fermentation, and even the popular theory of the sound the beer made when casks of the lively beer were broached. Nonetheless, it is technically the only classic beer style to originate in the United States. Like Altbiers, Steam beer goes through a high temperature primary fermentation as an ale does and then are lagered in cold temperatures. The difference is that lager yeast is used instead of ale yeast. This produces a very fruity and mellow lager. Also called California Common. Serve at not less than 45 degrees F.

Stout – Dry – The darkest and most intimidating of brews. This dark, heavy, opaque ale has a high percentage of roasted grains. Stout styles include dry, sweet, Imperial, and Oatmeal. Irish style stout is typically of the dry type with a distinctive dry-roasted bitterness in the finish. English stouts have less roasted bitter flavor and more full-bodied mouthfeel than Dry stouts. Imperial typically exceed 8 % alcohol by volume and were originally brewed for export to the Baltic countries. Oatmeal stout has a full flavor and smooth profile that is rich without being grainy. Pair dry stouts with seafood; sweet stouts with fruit desserts; oatmeal stouts with chocolate cake or pudding, and Imperial stouts with Russian Rye bread, caviar, wild game, and Christmas pudding. Best served in a pint glass at room temperature (61 degrees F).

Stout – Imperial – In Briatin, a very strong stout originally brewed from 1760 to World War I. Present day Russian stout is non-pasturized and matured in casks for two months, then bottle-aged for a full year. Also called Imperial Russian stout or Imperial Stout.

Stout – Oatmeal – A style of stout brewed with oatmeal. Oatmeal was used for nutritive qualities as well as its ability to impart fullness of body and flavor.

Stout – Sweet – The English version of stout as opposed to the dry stout of Ireland. It has a slightly lactic flavor, full-bodied mouthfeel and is less alcoholic than dry stout. Also called Milk Stout.

Trappist Ale – Strong, fruity, sedimented ales made by Trappist monks in Belgium and the Netherlands. Some have an almost port like character. Serve in a goblet at room temperature (61 degrees F).

Vienna – This style of beer is pale red to deep amber in color, light to moderately hopped, and malty. This style is probably one of the world’s best food accompaniments along with wheat beers. It I perfect for sweet tasting meats, potatoes, sausages, chicken, pork, and is also one of the few beers that matches with tomato based dishes. It is best served in a stoneware mug at 48 degrees F.

Weizenbier – Bock – This is the heaviest and darkest variety of Wheat Beer, ranging from a deep, reddish amber to black, but usually much lighter in body and intensity than the standard all-barley bock.

Weizenbier – Dunkel – A dark wheat beer. A bit maltier than the lighter “hefe-weizen,” but still retains the clove, apple, banana characteristics of Bavarian wheat beer.

Weizenbier – Flavored – A wheat beer flavored with fruit typically.

Weizenbier – Kristall – Kristall is German for the word “clear.” A Kristall Weizen is a filtered wheat beer.

Weizenbier – mit Hefe – A wheat beer with a yeast sediment in the bottle.

Witbier – A traditional wheat beer originally brewed in the Belgian towns of Hoegaarden and Louvain. Flavored with various spices such as Curacao orange peel and coriander.