Hi there. Over the past few years I’ve enjoyed writing over 150 articles for you, I realized I’ve never made a complete list of my favorite beer styles.
This week, as we head into fall and inevitably winter, I’m going to touch on some classic and newer beer styles that I’ve been a fan of and have brewed over the years.
There are currently 121 official beer styles recognized by the Brewers Association, our professional governing and governing body.
I am fortunate to have worked as a beer judge for them for the past 15 years between the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup, the most important beer competitions in the world. During the judging contests, I certainly realized that I preferred certain styles of beer more than others.
So without further ado, my favorites, in no particular order:
Hefeweizen is my favorite beer all year round. The notes of banana and clove go very well with the slightly spicy flavors brought by the wheat in this beer.
My other choices are classic German lagers like pilsner and export lager. These light golden lagers taste clean and crisp with a floral aftertaste that lingers quite pleasantly on the palate.
My third favorite style of beer is the classic pale ale invented in the UK in the 1800s and perfected here in America on the West Coast. Lighter in body and hops than the hugely popular IPA that many people enjoy. This accessible 5%-6.2% beer is easy to drink, dry and refreshing.
My next go-to styles are classic British-style ales, including Brown Ale, Porter, and Stout. All slightly sweeter hoppy beers that run the gamut from cocoa to caramel to coffee notes. These beers are all great with food and have inspired the people of the UK for centuries.
Then come the fruit beers. Brewed in Belgium since the 1600s, these beers incorporate local fruit into a typically lighter beer that showcases the fruit. Cherries, raspberries, apples, chili peppers and blueberries are some of the popular fruits used.
One of my favorite and little known styles is called Rauchbier, which translates to “smoking beer”. These beers go through a process of smoking the malts over an open fire and the flavors imparted are quite strong and very unique. Hard to find in America, but I highly recommend looking for them at some of our best stocked local outlets.
Another gem I would recommend is called siason. This wheat-based beer was brewed on farms in Belgium with local ingredients like coriander, orange zest and grains of paradise in the fall, then aged through winter for springtime enjoyment.
The last beer is called lambic. This is a traditional sour beer that is often brewed with wild yeast and aged for three years, then blended with year-old sour beer and then fruit.
It should not be confused with the popular sour beers brewed today, as they undergo a souring process overnight, as opposed to the very long souring and aging process of lambic beers. These beers showcase deep character and often woody or earthy flavors and a very tart, sour finish. Brewed mainly in Belgium, these beers are highly prized by beer lovers around the world.
I hope some of my “biased” picks end up in your fridges. Please let me know if any make your favorites list.
Dave Hoops lives and works in Duluth and is a seasoned brewer and beer judge. Write to him at