How to Start a Beer Festival
If your restaurant, bar, or brewery is interested in starting a beer festival in your town, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed and wondering where to start. There are many different things to consider when holding a beer festival. Where will you hold your event? How can you make it special or unique? How should you go about advertising the festival and selling tickets? What kind of equipment will you need on the day of the event? For the answers to these questions and helpful beer event ideas, keep reading our tips on how to start a beer festival.
Where Should You Hold Your Beer Festival?
Location, location, location! Choosing the perfect spot for your beer festival is very important. If you're holding the event during a warmer month, consider using a park, sports field, or air conditioned event center. If it's a colder time of year, you might choose a convention center, hotel, or indoor sports complex to keep attendees out of the elements. You'll also want to be aware of weather, and, if you hold an outdoor event, have a back-up plan ready in case it rains. Regardless, you should choose a high-traffic location that will draw the attention of passersby who don't already have tickets or know about the event.
One other thing: make sure you have plenty of bathrooms, as guests will be consuming lots of beer and won't want to wait in long restroom lines. Timing is also very important. You should always make sure your festival doesn't conflict with other events in the area, as this will negatively impact attendance.
Which Permits Do You Need for Your Beer Festival?
The amount of permits you'll need will vary based upon your state and town, but you'll probably need a temporary special event license. Additionally, you'll want to procure insurance that protects you against liability, should attendees be injured or choose to drink and drive. Special event licenses often limit the size or number of samples guests can consume, and some areas may also require you to serve food to counteract the effects of alcohol. Be sure to apply for permits well in advance, as securing them can be a very intricate and time-consuming process.
How Will You Sell Tickets to Your Beer Festival?
In addition to procuring licenses for your beer event, you'll also want to think about how you'll go about selling tickets. Choose a reliable ticketing service for attendees to purchase tickets ahead of time online or by phone, and decide whether guests will also be able to purchase tickets at the door.
Similarly, will you charge one flat fee, or will patrons pay per drink as they move from table to table? Charging a flat fee up front is usually your best bet, as it will slow down vendors if they have to make change or run credit cards for every guest. However, if the participating breweries disagree over what the flat fee should be, it's probably best to have patrons pay for each drink. You can also institute a voucher system where guests purchase tickets ahead of time and then exchange them for each beer.
How Will You Advertise Your Beer Festival?
When it comes to advertising your beer event, social media is your best bet. Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms to get the word out, and you might also consider advertising in newspapers, magazines, and even on local radio or TV stations. Putting up fliers at bars, bottle shops, breweries, and brewpubs is also a great way to draw in beer enthusiasts.
You could also send an email blast to different beer aficionado groups and give away free tickets to drum up interest. Another great way to attract attendees is to partner with drinking apps, some of which promote nearby beer festivals or provide discount codes for participants. Also, decide whether your event is 21 and over only or if families are also welcome. This information should be clearly advertised ahead of time, as it will help patrons decide whether or not to attend.
What Supplies Do You Need for Your Beer Festival?
When the big day arrives, there are several important supplies you'll need to keep the beer flowing all day. First, if you're providing the beer yourself (rather than leaving that up to the breweries), you'll need several kegerators to keep beer cold and ready to serve. You'll also want to have plenty of sampler glasses on hand for patrons to carry from table to table.
To save money, provide each attendee with one sampler glass they'll use throughout the festival. Concurrently, make sure to set up plenty of rinsing stations throughout the event for them to clean their glass between samples. Depending on your preferences and expectations, you may also want to obtain chairs, tables, and tents. General event management supplies like wristbands, crowd control materials, and safety products are necessary, too.
What Should You Do on the Day of Your Beer Festival?
To increase sales, consider offering beer-related merchandise like t-shirts, glassware, and other memorabilia at your festival. You can also create a customized souvenir for guests to take home to remember the event. Another option is to employ musical acts and local food trucks to keep patrons entertained and full of delicious food.
If attendees can bring children, you might also want to include areas where they can play. Finally, make you and your staff available throughout the day to answer questions and accommodate any concerns your guests may have. Providing this level of service will improve your patrons' overall experience and increase the likelihood they'll visit your business in the future.
Holding a beer festival in your town is a great way to improve your business's visibility and profits, while also introducing attendees to beers they've never tried before. When planning your event, be sure to consider elements like venue, timing, advertising, permitting, tickets, and what to do on the day of the event. Addressing these questions beforehand is crucial to the success of your beer festival and will increase the chances of it becoming an annual event.
How to Start a Brewery
Breweries are popular with a variety of customers, whether they're a casual beer drinker, a craft beer enthusiast, or just looking for a place to spend Friday night. As the demand and popularity of beer continues to rise, so does the interest in new breweries. If you’re considering opening a brewery of your own, we’ve compiled a list of steps and tips to help guide you through the process and successfully open your own business. Shop All Brewery Equipment Click any of the tips below to read the section that interests you: Write a Brewery Business Plan Choose a Brewery Concept Determine the Cost of Starting a Brewery Secure Brewery Funding Apply for Permits and Licenses Choose a Brewery Location Buy Brewery Equipment Create a Draft List and Menu Advertise Your Brewery Host a Soft Opening Continue reading to learn about how to open your own brewery! 1. Write a Brewery Business Plan A business plan is one of the most important steps for starting any business. Not only does it act as a roadmap that guides you through the process of opening your business, but it is essential for securing funding from investors. A good business plan includes detailed information on your concept, market, business structure, and financial situation. For additional information on this topic, consider reading our piece on how to write a restaurant business plan. 2. Choose a Brewery Concept Your concept is what defines your brewery. It influences everything from how customers will identify you as a company, to the messaging you target in advertisements, to the type of employees you’ll hire. To identify your brewery concept, you’ll have to choose a name, identify your brand, and determine what type of brewery you want to operate. Naming Your Brewery Choosing a name for your brewery can be a daunting task, not just because there are so many options to choose from, but because your choice will define your company for years to come. As you go through the process of choosing a name for your brewery, keep in mind that a good name will share the following traits: Original: The first and most obvious step in choosing a name for your brewery is making sure that it isn’t already taken. Additionally, be careful not to choose a name that is too similar to an existing name. Not only will this help you to protect yourself and secure a trademark, but it can help to avoid lawsuits from other brands who might think you’ve infringed on their intellectual property. Memorable: Choose a name that your customers will remember. A good starting point is to aim for a name that’s easy to spell and pronounce. Furthermore, choosing a name that rolls off the tongue and is fun to say can help to make your name memorable. Reflective: The name you choose should reflect your company. Try to create a list of what distinguishes your brand from others, or what defines you as a company. For example, if your brewery is located in Boston, you might choose something that reflects the culture of New England Broad: Your brewery’s name should be able to have broad appeal and lend itself to a variety of branding opportunities, themes, and products. Choosing a name that is too specific can limit the number of opportunities you have, and by extension prohibit growth. Identify Your Brand Identifying a brand is an essential part of establishing yourself as a brewery. Your brand can help you to connect with potential customers, identify target markets, hire employees, and strategize the direction of your business. To identify your brand, start by determining your company values. Understanding what matters to your company and employees is a key part of your branding. Once you’ve done this, you can discover your target audience and the emotion behind your products. It’s not enough just to identify a brand and move on. Once you’ve determined your values, key demographics, and emotional impact, you have to make an effort to create continuity. This means following through on your promises and acting in accordance with the values of your company. Doing so will allow you to truly establish yourself in the industry, within the community, and with your employees. Choose a Type of Brewery The increased demand for beer has lead to innovation in the industry, and by extension, a variety of brewery types. Though they differ in size, scale, and impact, each brewery serves a specific function and can be effective given your goals. Nano Brewery: As its name suggests, a nano brewery is the smallest type of brewery. There isn't a set amount of beer that a nano brewery is allowed to produce until they officially scale up to micro-sized. Microbrewery: A microbrewery is defined as a brewery that produces less than 15,000 barrels of beer annually. These types of breweries are typically independently owned, and sell the majority of their products onsite rather than through beer distributors. Brewpub: A brewpub is a hybrid between a restaurant and a brewery. Most of their beer is brewed for the purpose of being sold to customers at their bar. Taproom Brewery: Taproom breweries are professional breweries which sell beer onsite and through distributors, yet don't offer restaurant services to guests. Often times, the taproom will be attached to the brewery itself. Regional Brewery: A regional brewery is defined as a brewery that produces between 15,000 and 6,00,000 barrels of beer per year. Breweries which exceed this level of output are recognized worldwide. Contract Brewing Company: A contract brewing company hires other breweries to produce their beer. The hiring company retains the responsibility of marketing and distributing the beer while the company they've hired is responsible for production and packaging. 3. Determine the Cost of Starting a Brewery Because there are so many different types of breweries, the cost of opening your own can vary quite a bit. Several factors including how much beer you plan on producing, the possibility of serving food and maintaining a dining room, and the size of the property you’ll be operating in can influence the price of your brewery. Below, we've listed the estimated costs of a brewery's various expenses. Brewery Equipment Cost: The amount you pay for brewing equipment ultimately depends on the size of your brewery and whether you buy it new or used. You can purchase brewing equipment with the smallest capacity for $100,000 or less if you buy it used, or pay up to $1 million or more for a brand-new, 30-barrel system. Furniture Cost: Depending on the style and level of quality you're looking for in your brewery, the price of. restaurant furniture in your restaurant can range from as low as $4,000 to as high as $15,000. Rent or Mortgage Payments: When you decide on retail space to operate your brewery out of, take into account how much space you’ll need. It’s essential to have enough space for your utilities and brewing equipment. Additionally, if you plan on operating a taproom, make sure there is enough space for guests to comfortably dine. Regardless, the cost of retail rent is determined by square foot and can range from anywhere from $10/square foot to as high as $30/square foot. What Is the Average Cost of Starting a Brewery? In total, the cost of opening a brewery can range from as low as $250,000 to upwards of $2 million. However, for a standard brewery, it's reasonable to expect that value to fall between the range of $500,000 and $1.5 million. The average cost of opening a brewery is dependant on a number of factors which vary based on your concept, location, needs, and preferences. 4. Secure Brewery Funding A key step in opening your brewery is to secure funding. While you may have money saved up, chances are you’ll still have to seek additional funding. Consider the following options as ways to acquire extra capital and continue the process of opening your brewery: Self-Funding: As was mentioned above, it’s possible to fund your brewery, at least in part, with your own money. However, due to the high cost associated with acquiring equipment, permits, and other expenses, you'll likely have to look for additional funding from outside sources. Investors: One possible source of funding can come through investors. With a good business plan and a strong meeting in which you pitch your plan to an investor or group of investors, they may consider giving you money to fund your brewery. Keep in mind that once they’ve invested, they’ll have a vested interest in your business and will likely want to stay informed. Loans: A variety of loan opportunities exist for people interested in opening a business. Among them are traditional bank loans, small business loans, and equipment loans. Crowdfunding: Crowdfunding is a relatively new yet effective method of securing funding. Websites such as GoFundMe let supporters donate money towards your brewery, allowing you to set funding goals and provide updates on business development. 5. Apply for Permits and Licenses To legally own and operate a brewery, or any business that produces or sells alcohol, you’ll have to apply for a liquor license. Depending on your production and serving needs, you have the option of applying for a limited license, which allows you to sell specific types or quantities of alcohol, or a full license. Cost of Liquor Licenses The cost and availability of liquor licenses can vary depending on what state you live in. In some instances, acquiring a license can cost you as low as $3,000, yet in others, it can cost upwards of $400,000. Additionally, many states require an application fee to be considered for a liquor license. In some states, such as Pennsylvania, there are only a set number of licenses in circulation, meaning that you may have to apply for a transfer or pay higher costs to acquire one. Cost of Restaurant Licenses Since many breweries choose to serve food as well as beer, you may want to investigate the cost of restaurant licenses and permits. A food service license certifies that your business meets all regulations and standards and has been deemed fit to serve food to customers. As with all fees, the amount you have to pay can vary depending on a number of factors. Nevertheless, it's safe to assume the cost will fall somewhere between the range of $100 and $1,000. Back to Top 6. Choose a Brewery Location Choosing a location for your brewery represents a significant investment. Therefore, you must consider a variety of factors to make the best decision for you and your brewery’s future. Consider the following details as you search for a location to start your brewery: Zoning: Your brewery location will be determined by local government zoning regulations. In most cases, breweries can only be located in zones designated for industry. Nevertheless, these regulations can vary depending on where you are, so check in with your local government before making a decision. Brewery Requirements: You won't be able to run a successful brewery if you choose a building that doesn't fit your needs. For example, if you plan on producing a large amount of beer, be sure to find a building where you’ll be able to efficiently carry out production. Building Space: Be sure to find a building that has enough space for you and your staff to comfortably work. Key factors to consider include storage space, space for equipment and machines, and possible dining areas for guests. Additionally, find a building that has adequate parking spots for your employees, guests, and yourself. Safety Precautions: As with any business, the most important thing to consider is safety. Make sure the building you choose will pass safety inspections and allow you to safely carry out day-to-day operations. 7. Buy Brewery Equipment A key step in starting a new brewery is investing in the right equipment and supplies to start brewing beers and serving customers. While the quality and amount of equipment you need will vary depending on the size of your business, there are a few essential categories of equipment and supplies that you'll have to buy before you can get to work. Beer Brewing Equipment: You can't start brewing beer if you don't have the right equipment. Be sure to invest in fermenters, boiling equipment, and brew kettles to make sure you’re ready to start making your own brews! Beer Bottling and Packaging Supplies: Bottling and packaging supplies can help to simplify the packaging process and make sure that every customer is satisfied with their order. Commonly used bottling and packaging supplies can range from equipment such as growler fillers to simple packaging products such as labels and beverage shippers. Keg Tapping, Dispensing, and Serving Equipment: If you plan on serving beer on-site, make sure you invest in your own keg tapping, dispensing, and serving equipment. This can include beer dispensers, tap towers, nitro infuser boxes, and pump keg taps. Refrigeration Equipment: It’s essential to invest in refrigeration equipment to keep your brews cool and refreshing. Depending on the size of your brewery, your refrigeration equipment can range from countertop bottle coolers to walk-in refrigerators. Keg Storage: Keep your brewery organized by shopping for keg storage products. Consider investing resources into keg racks to improve your storage capacity and stay organized. Additionally, purchase hand trucks and drum handling equipment to safely and efficiently transport kegs throughout your brewery. Beer Making Accessories: While they may not be required for the brewing process, beer making accessories can make your brewing experience easier and help you to further customize your brews. Consider buying your own test strips and meters, stock pots, and portion scales to upgrade your brewing experience. Beer Glasses: Keep your brewery stocked with a variety of beer glasses to accommodate any new brews you might plan on introducing. Examples of the different types of beer glasses include Belgian beer glasses, pilsner beer glasses, and IPA beer glasses. Beer Ingredients and Flavorings: Stock your kitchen with a variety of beer ingredients and flavorings to make sure you have everything you need to customize your brews. This includes honey, cocktail bitters, wood chips and chunks, liquid malt extract, and a variety of other products. 8. Create a Draft List and Menu Once you’ve acquired equipment and established what kind of brewery you want to open, you’ll have to create a draft list and menu. A balanced draft list allows your guests to choose from a variety of beers and helps you to showcase your products. Consider keeping at least one of each of these types of beer characteristics on tap: Light: The definition of a light beer varies depending on where you are in the world. In general, it’s described as a pale beer that features has a reduced alcohol content or amount of calories. Additionally, light beers typically feature a lower amount of carbohydrates. Malt: Malt beers often feature a rich combination of flavors, often with a hint of sweetness or nuttiness. Despite what their rich flavors may suggest, malt beers come in a variety of colors and alcohol percentages. Roast: Roasted brews are often dark in color, are made from highly roasted malt grains, and are distinguishable by their rich flavors and deep colors. Common flavors of roasted brews include coffee and cocoa. Tart: Tart brews, as their names suggest, feature a sour, almost acidic taste. While many tart beers are lighter in color, it's possible for them to have medium or even darker shades. Their earthy and sometimes fruity taste differentiate them from other brews. Hoppy: A hoppy beer is defined by it’s prominent sweetness, bitterness, flavor, and aroma. You're likely to get the most intense flavors in hoppy beers, with the most common being pine, herbal, and fruity. High IBU: IBU stands for International Bitterness Units scale, and exists to measure a beer’s bitterness. A beer with a high IBU will be more bitter than one with a lower IBU. High ABV: ABV stands for Alcohol by Volume, and is a standard measurement to assess the strength of a beer. A higher ABV means that your beer is more alcoholic. Brewery Menu When creating your menu, it’s important to choose foods that pair well with beer. Consider adding the following foods to your menu if you plan on serving food in your brewery: French Fries Onion Rings Nachos Wings Mozzarella Sticks Sliders Chips and Dip 9. Advertise Your Brewery Before you open your new brewery, it’s essential to start advertising your new business to increase public awareness and drum up excitement for your grand opening. The cost of marketing can vary depending on which forms you use, but in general, the average small business spends 1-2% of their annual revenue on advertising. Consider using the following forms of advertising as you establish a marketing campaign for your new brewery: Print Advertising Billboards and Signage Radio Commercials Television Commercials Online Advertising Additionally, depending on your location, you may have the opportunity to enter into a beer festival. Events like these allow a variety of breweries to showcase their brews for a large number of people, and often feature music, entertainment, and food. 10. Host a Soft Opening Once everything is in place, it’s time to prepare for your grand opening. Before you officially open your doors to the public, consider hosting a soft opening. Not only does this allow you to continue generating excitement for your new brewery, but it allows you and your staff to prepare for what a normal work day will be like. Though it may seem like an intimidating task, the process of developing and opening your own brewery is possible to complete as long as you have a strong plan, stay prepared, and are ready to work hard. Follow the steps and tips outlined above to guide yourself through the process and successfully open your new brewery! Back to Top <aside class="pquote"> <blockquote> The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Please refer to our Content Policy for more details. </blockquote> </aside>
How to Set Up a Kegerator
After you've deliberated and chosen the best kegerator for your business, it's time to set up your beer dispenser and start serving fresh, cold beer! We've got step-by-step directions and an instructional video to help you through the process, allowing you to pour the perfect pint. Use our steps as a general guideline, but always refer to your equipment manual for the manufacturer's specific instructions. Shop All Beer Dispensers 1. Unpackage the Kegerator Remove all the packaging from your kegerator. If the unit has been transported on its side, let the unit stand upright for at least 24 hours before plugging it in. Move the unit to its final location and install it on a level surface. Make sure to provide clearance around the unit for ventilation, per the manufacturer's instructions. 2. Install the Draft Tower Once your kegerator is unpackaged and placed in its final location, you can begin installing the draft tower. Gather your materials and look for the circular opening on top of the unit. You'll need the following materials: Rubber washer Draft tower Beer line 4 mounting screws Air hose Tap faucet handle Follow these steps: Place a rubber washer on top of the circular opening. Feed the beer line down through the opening into the interior cabinet. Place the draft tower on top of the opening and secure it with 4 mounting screws. Feed the air hose into the draft tower from inside the cabinet. The air hose helps to keep the beer cold as it travels up the beer line. Screw the tap handle onto the tap faucet. Connect the tap faucet to the draft tower. 3. Connect Beer and Gas Lines You'll need two lines to set up your kegerator - the beer line and the gas line. The beer line connects to the keg by way of the keg coupler and delivers cold beer to the tap faucet. The gas line connects to the CO2 regulator on the CO2 tank, then also connects to the keg coupler. Depending on the manufacturer of your unit, you may need to purchase some of these required beer dispensing components separately. Refer to your kegerator manual for more information. You'll need the following materials: (2) Rubber washers Nut Keg coupler Beer line Gas line Beer keg CO2 tank CO2 regulator Follow these steps: Keep the tank upright at all times. Attach the beer line to the keg coupler, placing a rubber washer at the connection point. Attach the gas line to the CO2 regulator output barb and tighten screw clamp. Connect the other end of the gas line to the keg coupler and tighten screw clamp. Using a rubber washer and nut, attach the CO2 regulator to the CO2 tank. Screw the coupler onto the keg. When the coupler is fitted into place, push the coupler handle down to open the seal. Place the keg inside the kegerator. 4. Adjust the CO2 Regulator With your beer and gas lines in place, you're almost ready to start dispensing your customers' favorite beers. You'll just need to make some adjustments to your CO2 tank and regulator to release the gas and make sure it's at the correct pressure. Follow these steps: Turn the handwheel on the CO2 regulator to the left to open the air tank. Flip the shut-off valve on the regulator to ON. You should hear air enter the gas lines. Adjust the PSI so the pressure gauge reads between 10 and 15. Carefully place the CO2 tank into the cabinet and close the door. Now that your kegerator is in place and ready to use, set up a schedule to maintain your beer system and ensure your taps and beer lines stay clean. Inspect the CO2 levels on your tank regularly and check the PSI gauge to make sure the pressure is at the right level. With proper maintenance, your beer dispenser will provide many years of service.
Different Types of Beer
There are over 9,000 craft breweries in the United States, proving that craft beer is bigger than ever. If you're interested in opening a bar or starting your own brewery, it's important to understand the different types of beer and their unique flavors. We break down the most popular beer types so you can talk about craft beer like a pro, make recommendations, and brew your own styles. Shop All Brewery Equipment Click below to learn about the different types of beer: Pale Lager and Pilsner Dark Lager German Bock Brown Ale Pale Ale India Pale Ale Porter Stout Belgian-Style Ale Wheat Beer Wild & Sour Ale Specialty Beer Types of Beer Here are some of the most common types of beer you'll encounter: Pale Lager and Pilsner Dark Lager Brown Ale Pale Ale India Pale Ale Porter Stout Belgian-Style Ale Wheat Beer Wild & Sour Ale Specialty Beer Beer Styles The types of beer can be broken down into hundreds of different styles, all with unique flavors, colors, and aromas. Two characteristics that are used to describe styles of beer are alcohol by volume (ABV) and international bitterness unit (IBU). What Is ABV? ABV stands for alcohol by volume and represents the percentage of alcohol in the beer. The amount of alcohol in the brew can actually affect the taste of the beer. Beers with a higher ABV have a more bitter flavor. In very strong beers, the alcohol can numb the tongue and neutralize the taste, so additional flavors are added to compensate. Brewers use ABV to achieve the perfect balance between sweetness and bitterness. What Is IBU? IBU stands for international bitterness unit and is a measurement of the number of bitter flavor compounds in a beer. The IBU scale starts at zero and has no upper limit, but most beers fall between 5 IBUs and 120 IBUs. Anything higher than 120 can't be detected by the average palate. Types of Beer List Below, we identify the different types of beer and offer tips for food pairings. Don't forget to choose the right beer glass for each style so you can enhance the drinking experience for your guests: Types of Pale Lagers and Pilsners Pale lager and pilsners are golden-colored beers that are light in flavor and low in alcohol content. This style of beer became popular in what is now modern Czech Republic and Germany. American Lager American lager is light in flavor, color, and alcohol content, and it's often produced in large quantities. ABV: 3.2-4.0% IBU: 5-15 Examples: Budweiser, Coors, Pabst Blue Ribbon Pairs With: American cuisine, spicy food Serving Temperature: 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit German Helles German helles is maltier than a traditional pilsner and features a bright gold color. ABV: 4.8-5.6% IBU: 18-25 Examples: Victory Helles Lager, Stoudt's Gold Lager Pairs With: German cuisine, pork, brie Serving Temperature: 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit German Pilsner German pilsner is pale gold in color with a medium hop flavor and a slight note of maltiness. ABV: 4.6-5.3% IBU: 25-40 Examples: Troegs Sunshine Pils, Sierra Nevada's Nooner Pilsner Pairs With: German cuisine, poultry, fish, spicy cheese Serving Temperature: 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit Czech or Bohemian Pilsner Czech or bohemian pilsner is a straw-colored beer with a noticeably bitter hop flavor. These beers can sometimes have a floral aroma. ABV: 4.1-5.1% IBU: 30-45 Examples: Lagunitas PILS, Dogfish Head Piercing Pils Pairs With: Spicy food, Asian cuisine, sharp cheddar cheese Serving Temperature: 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit Back to Top Types of Dark Lagers Dark lager is malty and smooth with toasted caramel flavors. These beers tend to have mid-range alcohol content and lower bitterness profiles. Amber American Lager Amber lager features prevalent malt flavors with varying levels of hoppiness. This beer is also characterized by a darker color, caramel aroma, and smooth taste. ABV: 4.8-5.4% IBU: 18-30 Examples: Yuengling Lager, Samuel Adams Boston Lager Pairs With: American cuisine, poultry, beef, cheddar Serving Temperature: 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit Oktoberfest Named for the Oktoberfest celebration in Munich, Oktoberfest is a full-bodied beer with a rich, toasted flavor and a dark copper color. ABV: 5.1-6.0% IBU: 18-25 Examples: Paulaner Oktoberfest-Märzen, Victory Brewing Company Festbier Pairs With: German cuisine, meat and vegetables, spicy cheese Serving Temperature: 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit German Schwarzbier Schwarzbier is a dark beer that is surprisingly light in flavor. Schwarzbiers are less malty than would be expected but still boast a slight sweetness. ABV: 3.8-4.9% IBU: 22-30 Examples: Shiner Bohemian Black Lager, Guinness Black Lager Pairs With: German cuisine, spicy food, muenster cheese Serving Temperature: 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit Vienna Lager Vienna lager is reddish in color with a sweet malty flavor. These beers boast a subtle hop flavor and crisp drinkability. ABV: 4.5-5.5% IBU: 22-28 Examples: Dos Equis Amber Lager, Great Lakes Eliot Ness, Blue Point Toasted Lager Pairs With: German cuisine, Mexican cuisine, pork, spicy cheese Serving Temperature: 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit Back to Top Types of German Bocks German bocks are heavy on malty flavor, making them sweet and nutty. Bocks have lower alcohol levels, while doppelbocks, weizenbocks, and maibocks move up the alcohol scale. Traditional Bock The bock is a malty, sweet beer with a toasty flavor and a dark copper color. ABV: 6.3-7.5% IBU: 20-30 Examples: Samuel Adams Winter Lager, Great Lakes Rockefeller Bock Pairs With: German cuisine, meat and vegetables, chocolate, Camembert cheese Serving Temperature: 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit Doppelbock Doppelbocks are stronger than the traditional style and boast a higher alcohol content and a fuller body. ABV: 6.6-7.9% IBU: 17-27 Examples: Troegs Troegenator Double Bock, Samuel Adams Double Bock Pairs With: Heavy foods like red meat, pork, or ham, sharp cheeses Serving Temperature: 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit Weizenbock Weizenbocks are wheat bocks and can take on fruity, malty flavors. ABV: 7.0-9.5% IBU: 15-35 Examples: Victory Brewing Company's Moonglow, Southern Tier Brewing Company's Goat Boy Pairs With: German cuisine, poultry, chocolate Serving Temperature: 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit Maibock Maibocks are more pale and hoppy than traditional bocks, although the malt flavor is still present. ABV: 6.0-8.0% IBU: 20-38 Examples: Capital Maibock, Hofbrau Maibock, Smuttynose Maibock Pairs With: Italian and German cuisines, fish, shellfish, asiago, Swiss cheese Serving Temperature: 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit Back to Top Types of Brown Ales Brown ales feature malty overtones and tend to have toasty, caramel flavors. They typically feature mid-range alcohol content and hop bitterness. American Brown Ale American brown ale is a dark beer without the bitterness of porters and stouts. This style boasts a dark caramel color and a medium to full-bodied profile. ABV: 4.2-6.3% IBU: 25-45 Examples: Brooklyn Brown Ale, Sierra Nevada Tumbler Autumn Brown Pairs With: American cuisine, heavy foods like beef stew, red meat Serving Temperature: 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit English Brown Ale English brown ale features a nutty malt flavor with a caramel aroma. ABV: 4.0-5.5% IBU: 15-25 Examples: Newcastle Brown Ale, City Star Brewing's Bandit Brown Pairs With: American cuisine, heavy foods, red meat, poultry, gouda cheese Serving Temperature: 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit Back to Top Types of Pale Ales Pale ales are generally hoppy but lower in alcohol content than IPAs. They are typically light, drinkable beers. American Amber Ale American amber ale is a malty, medium-bodied beer with a caramel flavor and amber color. ABV: 4.4-6.1% IBU: 25-45 Examples: Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale, Stone Brewing Company's Levitation Ale Pairs With: American cuisine, meat, fish, blue cheese Serving Temperature: 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit American Pale Ale American pale ale is a medium-bodied beer with a noticeable hop flavor and a light copper color. ABV: 4.4-5.4% IBU: 30-50 Examples: Sierra Nevada Brewing Company's Pale Ale, Smuttynose Shoals Pale Ale Pairs With:Seafood, poultry, cheddar cheese Serving Temperature: 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit Blonde Ale Blonde ales balance the flavors of malt and hops nicely, and they often have a fruity aroma. ABV: 4.1-5.1% IBU: 15-25 Examples: Victory Brewing Company's Summer Love, Flying Fish Brewing Company's Farmhouse Summer Ale Pairs With: Italian cuisine, spicy food, fish, pepper jack cheese Serving Temperature: 35-40 degrees Fahrenheit English Bitter English bitters are named for the bitter flavor that the hops present. They have fruity flavors and lower alcohol content. ABV: 3.0-4.2% IBU: 20-35 Examples: Sharp's Brewery's Doom Bar Bitter, Surly Brewing Company's Bitter Brewer Pairs With: Fried food, fish, feta cheese Serving Temperature: 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit English Pale Ale Also known as "extra special bitters," English pale ales have a strong hop flavor that is balanced by sweet malt. ABV: 4.5-5.5% IBU: 20-40 Examples: Black Sheep Ale, Flying Fish Extra Pale Ale Pairs With: American and English cuisines, meat, English cheeses Serving Temperature: 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit Back to Top Types of India Pale Ales (IPAs) IPAs (short for India pale ales) boast strong hop bitterness with piney and floral flavors. These beers also have high alcohol contents. American IPA American IPAs have more hops, big herbal or citrus flavors, and high bitterness compared to pale ale. ABV: 6.3-7.5% IBU: 50-70 Examples: Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA Pairs With: American and Indian cuisines, meat, poultry, fish, gorgonzola cheese Serving Temperature: 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit Imperial or Double IPA Imperial or Double IPAs are American IPAs, but with a stronger flavor, hop bitterness, and a higher alcohol content. ABV: 7.0-14.0% IBU: 65-100 Examples: Russian River Brewing Company's Pliny the Elder, Lagunitas Maximus Pairs With: American cuisine, meat, fish, sharp cheddar Serving Temperature: 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit English IPA English IPAs are similar to the American style, but with a weaker hop flavor and lower alcohol content. ABV: 5.0-7.0% IBU: 35-63 Examples: Goose Island India Pale Ale, Shipyard IPA, Samuel Smith’s India Ale Pairs With: American and Indian cuisines, fish, parmesan cheese Serving Temperature: 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit Back to Top Types of Porters Porters are all dark in color, and they feature flavors reminiscent of chocolate, coffee, and caramel. They tend to be more chocolatey than brown ales, and less coffee-like than stouts. American Imperial Porter American imperial porters are dark in color, but lacking in burnt malt taste. They also boast a malty sweetness. ABV: 7.0-12.0% IBU: 35-50 Examples: Sierra Nevada Brewing Company's Porter, Stone Smoked Porter Pairs With: American cuisine, barbecue, meat, asiago cheese Serving Temperature: 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit English Brown Porter English brown porter is similar to the American style but usually with a lower alcohol content and less malt sweetness. ABV: 4.5-6.0% IBU: 20-30 Examples: Shipyard Longfellow Winter Ale, Arcadia London Porter Pairs With: American and English cuisines, meat, chocolate, fontina cheese Serving Temperature: 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit Robust Porter Robust porters are stronger and more bitter than a brown porter and feature a subtle caramel flavor. ABV: 5.1-6.6% IBU: 25-40 Examples: Smuttynose Robust Porter, Thomas Hooker Imperial Porter Pairs With: American and English cuisines, heavy foods like stew, colby cheese Serving Temperature: 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit Back to Top Types of Stouts Stouts are dark beers that are similar to porters but with stronger roasted flavors. This style also features mid to high alcohol levels. American Stout American stouts feature malt flavors working to create strong chocolate and coffee notes, but without overpowering hop bitterness. ABV: 5.7-8.9% IBU: 35-60 Examples: Highland Black Mocha Stout, Bell's Kalamazoo Stout Pairs With: Heavy foods, meat, oysters, chocolate, brie cheese Serving Temperature: 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit American Imperial Stout American imperial stouts are strong dark beers with a malty flavor and a deep black color. ABV: 7.0-12.0% IBU: 50-80 F Examples: Dogfish Head Brewery's Worldwide Stout, Stoudt's Fat Dog Imperial Stout, Bell's Java Stout Pairs With: Heavy foods, poultry, aged cheddar Serving Temperature: 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit Oatmeal Stout As their name suggests, oatmeal stouts feature oatmeal in their malt blend. This adds smoothness and sweetness to the beer. ABV: 3.8-6.0% IBU: 20-40 Examples: Young's Oatmeal Stout, Troegs Java Head Stout Pairs With: Meat, shellfish, chocolate, Camembert cheese Serving Temperature: 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit Milk Stout Lactose sugar adds a smooth sweetness to milk stouts. ABV: 4.0-7.0% IBU: 15-25 Examples: Young's Double Chocolate Stout, Lancaster Brewing Company's Milk Stout, Samuel Adams Cream Stout Pairs With: Mexican cuisine, beef, chocolate, ice cream, cheddar Serving Temperature: 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit Irish Dry Stout Irish dry stouts are dark beers; black in color with a bitterness that comes from roasted barley. ABV: 3.8-5.0% IBU: 30-40 Examples: Guinness Draught, Murphy's Irish Stout, Beamish Irish Stout Pairs With: Heavy food like beef and stew, barbecue, burgers Serving Temperature: 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit Back to Top Types of Belgian Styles Belgian beers are known for their spiced fruity flavors and high alcohol content. Despite their high ABV, belgians are usually low in bitterness. Belgian Pale Ale Belgian pale ale contains a toasted malt flavor that is subtle enough to not overpower the taste of the hops. ABV: 4.0-6.0% IBU: 20-30 Examples: Weyerbacher Brewing Company's Verboten, Samuel Adams Belgian Session Pairs With: American cuisine, fried food, fish, salad, tangy cheeses Serving Temperature: 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit Belgian Dubbel Belgian dubbels feature rich and malty flavor with a spicy, fruity note. ABV: 6.3-7.6% IBU: 20-35 Examples: Chimay Premiere, Blue Moon Winter Abbey Ale, Flying Fish Abbey Dubbel Pairs With: American cuisine, barbecue, meat, Limburger cheese Serving Temperature: 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit Belgian Tripel Belgian tripels are lighter-bodied beers with a slight hoppy bitterness and a high alcohol content. ABV: 7.1-10.1% IBU: 20-45 Examples: Victory Golden Monkey, Weyerbacher Merry Monks Pairs With: Pasta dishes, meat, poultry, gouda cheese Serving Temperature: 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit Belgian Quadrupel Belgian quadrupels are dark brown, full-bodied beers that exhibit flavors like brown sugar and fruit. They also have a very high alcohol content. ABV: 7.2-11.2% IBU: 25-50 Examples: Weyerbacher QUAD, Brewery Ommegang Three Philosophers Pairs With: Smoked meat, goose, brie cheese Serving Temperature: 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit Belgian Strong Dark Ale Belgian strong dark ale features a very high alcohol content with complex fruity flavors. ABV: 7.0-15.0% IBU: 20-50 Examples: Bell's Brewery's Hell Hath No Fury Ale, Dogfish Head Brewery's Raison D'Etre Pairs With: American cuisine, barbecue, blue cheese Serving Temperature: 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit Belgian Saison Saisons (also known as farmhouse ales) have earthy notes and a medium hop flavor. ABV: 4.4-6.8% IBU: 20-38 Examples: Samuel Adams Rustic Saison, Dogfish Head Brewery's Noble Rot, Victory Brewing Company's Helios Pairs With: Indian and Asian cuisine, poultry, seafood, parmesan cheese Serving Temperature: 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit Back to Top Types of Wheat Beers As you might have guessed, wheat beers use wheat as their malt. They're generally lighter in color and alcohol content. Their tangy flavors go great with fruit and brewers often add seasonal fruits to wheat beer. American Pale Wheat American pale wheat beer is pale in color, lower in alcohol content, and has a light bready flavor. ABV: 3.5-5.6% IBU: 10-35 Examples: Blue Moon Summer Honey Wheat, Shipyard Summer Ale Pairs With: Mexican cuisine, spicy food, poultry, mozzarella cheese Serving Temperature: 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit Belgian Witbier Witbier gets its name from its white color and has a light, fruity flavor to match. ABV: 4.8-5.6% IBU: 10-17 Examples: Hoegaarden White Ale, Dogfish Head Brewery's Namaste, Blue Moon Belgian White, Victory Brewing Company's Whirlwind Witbier Pairs With: Seafood, poultry, pork, salad, soft cheeses Serving Temperature: 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit Berliner Weisse Berliner Weisse is tart, sour beer with a pale color. Sometimes raspberry syrup is added to dull the sour taste. ABV: 2.8-3.4% IBU: 3-6 Examples: Dogfish Head's Festina Peche, Freetail Brewing Company's Yo Soy Un Berliner Pairs With: German cuisine, ham, salad, soft cheeses Serving Temperature: 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit Dunkelweizen Dunkelweizen is a darker version of a Hefeweizen. These beers have a malty flavor with hints of banana. ABV: 4.8-5.4% IBU: 10-15 Examples: Samuel Adams Dunkelweizen, Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse Dunkel Pairs With: German and Indian cuisines, fish, goat cheese Serving Temperature: 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit Hefeweizen Hefeweizen is a light-colored wheat beer with a crisp taste that can sometimes have hints of cloves or apples. ABV: 4.9-5.6% IBU: 10-15 Examples: Sierra Nevada Kellerweis Hefeweizen, Magic Hat Circus Boy Pairs With: German cuisine, seafood, fish, brick cheeses Serving Temperature: 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit Back to Top Types of Wild & Sour Ales Wild or sour ales are typically very low in alcohol, and feature tart, sour flavors that come from (safe) bacteria in the brew mash. American Sour American sour beer packs a wild punch from the bacteria used in the fermentation process. ABV: Varies IBU: Varies Examples: Samuel Adams American Kriek, Weyerbacher Riserva Pairs With: Fruit, strong cheese Serving Temperature: 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit Belgian Fruit Lambic Belgian fruit lambics are brewed with fruit to make an intense sweet and sour flavor. ABV: 5.0-8.9% IBU: 15-21 Examples: Upland Brewing Company's Raspberry Lambic, Dogfish Head Festina Lente Pairs With: Fruit, salad, chocolate, soft cheese Serving Temperature: 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit Flanders Red Ale Flanders red ale evokes a malty, fruity flavor underneath a strong sour taste brought on by Lactobacillus bacteria during fermentation. ABV: 4.8-6.6% IBU: 5-18 Examples: New Belgium Lips of Faith La Folie, The Lost Abbey's Red Poppy Ale Pairs With: Meat, blue cheese, cheddar cheese Serving Temperature: 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit Belgian Gueuze Gueuzes are aged beers that give off a very strong sour flavor. ABV: 6.2-8.1% IBU: 9-23 Examples: Brouwerij Boon's Boon Gueuze, The Bruery's Rueuze Pairs With: Strong cheeses Serving Temperature: 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit Back to Top Types of Specialty Beers Beers made with additional spices, flavorings, or fruits are called specialty beers. Any lager or ale can be made into a specialty beer by adding ingredients to enhance the flavor. American Black Ale American black ales are dark in color and feature a malty, roasted flavor with medium to high hop bitterness. This style is sometimes called a black IPA. ABV: 6.0-7.5% IBU: 50-75 Examples: Lagunitas NightTime, Founders Dark Penance, Victory Yakima Glory Pairs With: Aged cheeses, seafood, chocolate Serving Temperature: 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit Barrel-Aged Beer A barrel-aged beer is any type of beer that has been aged in a wooden barrel. Sometimes these barrels have been used to hold bourbon, wine, or other spirits, adding to the flavor of the beer. ABV: Varies IBU: Varies Examples: Allagash Curieux (Bourbon Barrel-Aged Tripel), Great Lakes Barrel-Aged Blackout Stout, Narwhal Imperial Stout (Barrel Aged) Pairs With: Varies Serving Temperature: 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit Chocolate Beer Chocolate or cocoa can be added to any style (lager or ale) to form a delicious chocolate beer. ABV: 2.5-12.0% IBU: 15-40 Examples: Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock, Shenandoah Chocolate Donut Beer, Yuengling Hershey's Chocolate Porter Pairs With: Varies Serving Temperature: 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit Coffee Beer Coffee beer is typically a porter or stout with added coffee flavor. This flavor can be achieved by steeping coffee beans in water or the beer mixture. ABV: 2.5-12.0% IBU: 15-45 Examples: Samuel Adams Black & Brew Coffee Stout, Sierra Nevada Coffee Stout, Stone Brewing Company’s Coffee Milk Stout Pairs With: Meaty stew, hard cheeses Serving Temperature: 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit Fruit and Vegetable Beer Any type of beer can be infused with fruit and vegetable flavors, so flavors will vary greatly. ABV: 2.5-12.0% IBU: 5-50 Examples: Samuel Adams Rebel Grapefruit IPA, Modern Times Beer’s Fruitlands Sour Cherry Gose, Weyerbacher’s Imperial Pumpkin Ale Pairs With: Salad, brie cheese Serving Temperature: 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit Gluten Free Beer Gluten free beer is brewed with fermentable sugars and grains that do not contain gluten. These beers vary in color, flavor, and alcohol content. ABV: Varies IBU: Varies Examples: Wicked Weed Brewing’s Gluten FREEk, Widmer Brothers Brewing Company’s Omission IPA, Lakefront Brewery’s New Grist Gluten-Free Pilsner Pairs With: Varies Serving Temperature: Varies Herb and Spice Beer Herb and spice beer is any lager or ale that has added flavors from roots, herbs, or other spices. Many pumpkin spice and seasonal fall beers are examples of this style. ABV: 2.5-12.0% IBU: 5-40 Examples: Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch, Rogue Ales’ Juniper Pale Ale, Small Town Brewery’s Not Your Father’s Root Beer Pairs With: Varies Serving Temperature: 45-55 degrees Fahrenheit Honey Beer Honey beers are ales or lagers that are brewed with honey to add sweetness and unique flavor. ABV: 2.5-12.0% IBU: Varies Examples: Boulder Beer’s A Honey of a Saison, Samuel Adams Honey Queen, Burial Beer Company’s The Keeper’s Veil Honey Saison Pairs With: Salad, light creamy cheeses Serving Temperature: 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit Pumpkin Beer Pumpkin beer is brewed with fresh pumpkin and common fall spices. These beers are increasingly popular and can be made with lagers, ales, and sour beers. ABV: 2.3-5.0% IBU: 5-70 Examples: Elysian Brewing Company’s Night Owl Pumpkin Ale, Weyerbacher Brewing Company’s Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale, Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale Pairs With: Poultry, soft creamy cheeses Serving Temperature: 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit Rye Beer Rye beer often features malty, roasted flavors, with lower hop bitterness. Rye beers can be made as ales or as lagers, and will either take on a sweet or spicy flavor. ABV: Varies IBU: Varies Examples: Founders Red’s Rye IPA, Great Lakes’ Rye of the Tiger IPA, The Bruery’s Sour in the Rye Pairs With: Spicy meat, creamy cheeses Serving Temperature: 45-55 degrees Fahrenheit Session Beer Any style of beer can be brewed as a session beer, as sessions are simply less strong, more drinkable beers that are perfect for summertime consumption. ABV: 3.5-5.0% IBU: 10-35 Examples: New Belgium Brewing’s Slow Ride Session IPA, Samuel Adams Rebel Rider Session IPA, Victory Brewing Company’s Swing Session Saison Pairs With: American cuisine, spicy food Serving Temperature: 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit Smoke Beer Smoke beer is any beer that is brewed with malt that has been kilned over an open fire. The smoke adds a noticeable, but not overpowering flavor, which is inspired by traditional German rauchbier. ABV: Varies IBU: Varies Examples: Ithaca Beer Company's Gorges Smoked Porter, Goose Island Beer Company’s Prairie Smoke, Denver Beer Company’s Smoked Lager Pairs With: Roasted vegetables, hard cheese Serving Temperature: 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit Back to Top Lager vs Ale Most types of beer are classified as either lagers or ales. Lagers are made with yeast that ferments at the bottom of the beer mixture, and ales are made with yeast that ferments at the top. Besides the yeast used to make lagers and ales, there are spontaneously fermenting yeasts, which produce wild or sour beers. Pale Ale vs India Pale Ale Although often confused with each other, pale ales and India pale ales have some distinct differences. Pale ales tend to have a softer less-bitter taste, while India pale ales usually have a strong hoppy taste. Additionally, India pale ales tend to have a slightly higher alcohol content than pale ales do, further contributing to their stronger taste. Top Fermenting Beers The yeast that is used in ale production ferments throughout the beer and settles at the top of the liquid. It has a higher tolerance to alcohol and ferments at warmer temperatures when compared to the yeast that’s used to make lager. IPAs, stouts, and wheat beers are all examples of top fermenting ales. Bottom Fermenting Beers The yeast used in lager production is more fragile than what’s used to make ale, and it settles at the bottom of the liquid vessel after fermentation. It needs to ferment more slowly and at cooler temperatures than the yeast that’s used in ale production, and it has a lower tolerance to alcohol. Pilsners, bocks, and Okerberfests are all examples of bottom fermenting lagers. Spontaneous Fermentation Beer Lambics and sour beers are made with a process called spontaneous fermentation. This type of fermentation occurs when beer is exposed to wild bacteria and yeast. These beers originated in Belgium, but brewers all over the world have found ways to manipulate this process to create sour, funky-tasting beers of their own. The American sour, Belgian gueuze, and Flanders red ale are all examples of spontaneously fermented beers. Back to Top Now that you know more about the different types of beer that are out there, hopefully you are inspired to add something unique to your beer list. Use this guide to help you and your servers feel more confident about recommending beers to customers, or maybe even create a menu that is centered on perfect beer pairings.