A classic German Pilsener is very light straw or golden in color and well hopped. Perception of hop bitterness is medium to high. Noble-type hop aroma and flavor are moderate and quite obvious. It is a well-attenuated, medium-light bodied beer, but a malty residual sweetness can be perceived in aroma and flavor. Very low levels of sweet corn-like dimethylsulfide (DMS) character are below most beer drinkers’ taste thresholds and are usually not detectable except to the trained or sensitive palate. Other fermentation or hop related sulfur compounds, when perceived at low levels, may be characteristic of this style. Fruity esters and diacetyl should not be perceived. There should be no chill haze. Its head should be dense and rich.
Traditional Bohemian Pilseners are medium bodied, and they can be as dark as a light amber color. This style balances moderate bitterness and noble-type hop aroma and flavor with a malty, slightly sweet, medium body. Extremely low levels of diacetyl and low levels of sweet corn-like dimethylsulfide (DMS) character, if perceived, are characteristic of this style and both may accent malt aroma. A toasted-, biscuit-like, bready malt character along with low levels of sulfur compounds may be evident. There should be no chill haze. Its head should be dense and rich.
European Low-Alcohol Lager/German Leicht(bier)
These beers are very light in body and color. Malt sweetness is perceived at low to medium levels, while hop bitterness character is perceived at medium levels. Hop flavor and aroma may be low to medium. These beers should be clean with no perceived fruity esters or diacetyl. Very low levels of sulfur related compounds acceptable. Chill haze is not acceptable.
Münchner (Munich)-Style Helles
This beer should be perceived as having low bitterness. It is a medium-bodied, malt-emphasized beer with malt character often balanced with low levels of yeast produced sulfur compounds (character). Certain renditions of this beer style approach a perceivable level of hop flavor (note: hop flavor does not imply hop bitterness) and character but it is essentially balanced with malt character to retain its style identity. Malt character is sometimes bread-like yet always reminiscent of freshly and very lightly toasted malted barley. There should not be any caramel character. Color is light straw to golden. Fruity esters and diacetyl should not be perceived. There should be no chill haze.
Dortmunder has medium hop bitterness. Hop flavor and aroma from noble hops are perceptible but low. Sweet malt flavor can be low and should not be caramel-like. The color of this style is straw to deep golden. The body will be medium bodied. Fruity esters, chill haze, and diacetyl should not be perceived.
Beers in this category are reddish brown or copper colored. They are medium in body. The beer is characterized by malty aroma and slight malt sweetness. The malt aroma and flavor should have a notable degree of toasted and/or slightly roasted malt character. Hop bitterness is clean and crisp. Noble-type hop aromas and flavors should be low or mild. Diacetyl, chill haze and ale-like fruity esters should not be perceived.
Märzens are characterized by a medium body and broad range of color. They can range from golden to reddish orange. Sweet maltiness should dominate slightly over a clean hop bitterness. Malt character should be light-toasted rather than strongly caramel (though a low level of light caramel character is acceptable). Bread or biscuit-like malt character is acceptable in aroma and flavor. Hop aroma and flavor should be low but notable. Ale-like fruity esters should not be perceived. Diacetyl and chill haze should not be perceived.
German-Style Oktoberfest/Wiesen (Meadow)
Today’s Oktoberfest beers are characterized by a medium body and light, golden color. Sweet maltiness is mild with an equalizing balance of clean, hop bitterness. Hop aroma and flavor should be low but notable. Ale-like fruity esters should not be perceived. Diacetyl and chill haze should not be perceived. Similar or equal to Dortmunder/European-Style Export
European-Style Dark/Münchner Dunkel
These light brown to dark brown beers have a pronounced malty aroma and flavor that dominates over the clean, crisp, moderate hop bitterness. This beer does not offer an overly sweet impression, but rather a mild balance between malt sweetness, hop bitterness and light to moderate mouthfeel. A classic Münchner dunkel should have a chocolate-like, roast malt, bread-like or biscuit-like aroma that comes from the use of Munich dark malt. Chocolate or roast malts can be used, but the percentage used should be minimal. Noble-type hop flavor and aroma should be low but perceptible. Diacetyl should not be perceived. Ale-like fruity esters and chill haze should not be perceived.
These very dark brown to black beers have a mild roasted malt character without the associated bitterness. This is not a fullbodied beer, but rather a moderate body gently enhances malt flavor and aroma with low to moderate levels of sweetness. Hop bitterness is low to medium in character. Noble-type hop flavor and aroma should be low but perceptible. There should be no fruity esters. Diacetyl should not be perceived.
Traditional German-Style Bock
Traditional bocks are made with all malt and are strong, malty, medium- to full-bodied, bottom-fermented beers with moderate hop bitterness that should increase proportionately with the starting gravity. Malt character should be a balance of sweetness and toasted/nut-like malt; not caramel. Hop flavor should be low and hop aroma should be very low. Bocks can range in color from deep copper to dark brown. Fruity esters should be minimal. Diacetyl should be absent.
German-Style Heller Bock/Maibock
The German word helle means light colored, and as such, a heller Bock is light straw to deep golden in color. Maibocks are also light-colored bocks. The sweet malty character should come through in the aroma and flavor. A lightly toasted and/or bready malt character is often evident. Roast or heavy toast/caramel malt character should be absent. Body is medium to full. Hop bitterness should be low, while noble-type hop aroma and flavor may be at low to medium levels. Bitterness increases with gravity. Fruity esters may be perceived at low levels. Diacetyl should be absent. Chill haze should not be perceived.
Malty sweetness is dominant but should not be cloying. Malt character is more reminiscent of fresh and lightly toasted Munichstyle malt, more so than caramel or toffee malt character. Some elements of caramel and toffee can be evident and contribute to complexity, but the predominant malt character is an expression of toasted barley malt. Doppelbocks are full bodied and deep amber to dark brown in color. Astringency from roast malts is absent. Alcoholic strength is high, and hop rates increase with gravity. Hop bitterness and flavor should be low and hop aroma absent. Fruity esters are commonly perceived but at low to moderate levels. Diacetyl should be absent
A stronger version of Doppelbock. Malt character can be very sweet. The body is very full and deep copper to almost black in color. Alcoholic strength is very high. Hop bitterness is subdued. Hop flavor and aroma are absent. Fruity esters may be evident but not overpowering. Typically these beers are brewed by freezing a Doppelbock and removing resulting ice to increase alcohol content. Diacetyl should be absent
Kellerbier (Cellar beer) or Zwickelbier - Lager
Traditional Version of Kellerbier: Unfiltered lagered versions of Germanic lager styles of beer such as Münchner-Style Helles and Dunkel, Dortmunder/European-Style Export, Bohemian-style Pilsener and German-style Pilsener. Kellerbier is noticeably less carbonated. Subtle or low levels of esters may be apparent. This is an unfiltered beer but it may be naturally clear due to settling of yeast during aging. They may or may not be clear. Exhibiting a small amount of yeast haze in the appearance is acceptable. Low to moderately low levels of yeast-generated sulfur compounds in aroma and flavor should be apparent, and low levels of acetaldehyde or other volatiles normally scrubbed during fermentation may or may not be apparent. The sulfur and acetaldehyde characters should contribute positively to the beer drinking experience. There should be no diacetyl detectable. Dry hopping is acceptable. Head retention may not be optimal. Contemporary Version of Kellerbier: Beers that are packaged or on draft which are unfiltered versions of other lager styles. These may share many attributes of traditional versions, but are generally fully carbonated, fully lagered, with full head retention and absent of acetaldehyde.
NORTH AMERICAN ORIGIN:
Light in body and very light to straw in color, American lagers are very clean and crisp and aggressively carbonated. Flavor components should b e subtle and complex, with no one ingredient dominating the others. Malt sweetness is light to mild. Corn, rice, or other grain or sugar adjuncts are often used. Hop bitterness, flavor and aroma are negligible to very light. Light fruity esters are acceptable. Chill haze and diacetyl should be absent.
American-Style Light (Low Calorie) Lager
These beers are extremely light colored, light in body, and high in carbonation. Calorie level should not exceed 125 per 12 ounce serving. Corn, rice, or other grain or sugar adjuncts are often used. Flavor is mild and hop bitterness and aroma is negligible to very low. Light fruity esters are acceptable. Chill haze and diacetyl should be absent.
American-Style Low-Carbohydrate Light Lager
These beers are extremely light straw to light amber in color, light in body, and high in carbonation. They should have a maximum carbohydrate level of 3.0 gm per 12 oz. (356 ml). These beers are characterized by extremely high degree of attenuation (often final gravity is less than 1.000 (0 ºPlato), but with typical American-style light lager alcohol levels. Corn, rice, or other grain adjuncts are often used. Flavor is very light/mild and very dry. Hop flavor, aroma and bitterness are negligible to very low. Very low yeasty flavors and fruity esters are acceptable in aroma and flavor. Chill haze and diacetyl should not be perceived.
American-Style Amber (Low Calorie) Lager
These beers are pale golden to amber in color, light to medium-light in body, and high in carbonation. Calorie level should not exceed 125 per 12 ounce serving. Corn, rice, or other grain or sugar adjuncts may be used but all malt formulations are also made. Malt and hop flavors are mild yet evident. Hop bitterness is evident and hop aroma may be negligible to evident. Light fruity esters are acceptable. Chill haze and diacetyl should be absent.
American-Style Premium Lager
This style has low malt (and adjunct) sweetness, is medium bodied, and should contain no or a low percentage (less than 25%) of adjuncts. Color may be light straw to golden. Alcohol content and bitterness may also be greater. Hop aroma and flavor is low or negligible. Light fruity esters are acceptable. Chill haze and diacetyl should be absent. Note: Some beers marketed as "premium" (based on price) may not fit this definition.
This classic and unique pre-Prohibition American-style Pilsener is straw to deep gold in color. Hop bitterness, flavor and aroma are medium to high, and use of noble-type hops for flavor and aroma is preferred. Up to 25 percent corn and/or rice in the grist should be used. Malt flavor and aroma are medium. This is a light-medium to medium-bodied beer. Sweet corn-like dimethylsulfide (DMS), fruity esters and citrus flavors or aromas should not be perceived. Diacetyl is not acceptable. There should be no chill haze. Competition organizers may wish to subcategorize this style into rice and corn subcategories.
American-Style Amber Lager
American-style amber lagers are light amber to amber or copper colored. They are medium bodied. There is a noticeable degree of caramel-type malt character in flavor and often in aroma. This is a broad category in which the hop bitterness, flavor, and aroma may be accentuated or may only be present at relatively low levels, yet noticeable. Fruity esters, diacetyl, and chill haze should be absent.
The American style of these classic German beers is distinguished by a comparatively greater degree of hop character. In general the style is characterized by a medium body and broad range of color from golden to reddish brown. Sweet maltiness should dominate over clean hop bitterness. The bitterness should not be aggressive or harsh. Malt character should be light-toasted rather than strongly caramel (though a low level of light caramel character is acceptable). Bread or biscuit-like malt character is acceptable in aroma and flavor. Hop aroma and flavor should be notable but at low to medium levels. Fruity esters should not be perceived. Diacetyl and chill haze should not be perceived.
American-Style Dark Lager
This beer's malt aroma and flavor are low but notable. Its color ranges from a very deep copper to a deep, dark brown. It has a clean, light body with discreet contributions from caramel and roasted malts. Non-malt adjuncts are often used, and hop rates are low. Hop bitterness is clean and has a short duration of impact. Hop flavor, and aroma are low. Carbonation is high. Fruity esters, diacetyl, and chill haze should not be perceived.
A true smooth cold-fermented and cold lagered beer, brewed with lager yeast. Black to very deep ruby/garnet in color. Overall, Baltic Porters have a very smooth lagered character with distinctive caramelized sugars, licorice and chocolate-like character of roasted malts and dark sugars. Roasted dark malts should not contribute bitterness, or astringent roast character. A low degree of smokiness from malt may be evident. Debitterized roast malts are best used for this style. Because of its alcoholic strength, aroma may include gentle (low) lager fruitiness (berries, grapes, plums, not banana; ale-like fruitiness from warm temperature fermentation is not appropriate), complex alcohols, cocoa-like, roast malt (and sometimes coffee-like roast barley, yet not bitter). Hop aroma is very low, though a hint of floral or sweet hop aroma can complement aromatics and flavor without dominance. Baltic Porters are not hop bitter dominated and expressed as low to medium-low. Baltic porters range from having medium to full body complemented with a medium-low to medium level of malty sweetness. No butterscotch-like diacetyl or sweet corn-like dimethylsulfide (DMS) should be apparent in aroma or flavor.
International Pilseners are straw/golden in color and are well attenuated. This medium-bodied beer is often brewed with rice, corn, wheat, or other grain or sugar adjuncts making up part of the mash. Hop bitterness is low to medium. Hop flavor and aroma are low. Residual malt sweetness is low--it does not predominate but may be perceived. Fruity esters and diacetyl should not be perceived. Very low levels of sweet corn-like dimethylsulfide (DMS) character, if perceived, are acceptable. There should be no chill haze.