This category contains the maltier to balanced, more highly flavored Belgian and French ales.
A pale, hazy Belgian wheat beer with spices accentuating the yeast character. A delicate, lightly spiced, moderate-strength ale that is a refreshing summer drink with its high carbonation, dry finish, and light hopping.
Very pale straw to deep yellow in color. The beer will be very cloudy from starch haze or yeast, which gives it a milky, whitish-yellow shine. Dense, white, moussy head. Head retention should be quite good.
Moderate bready maltiness, often with light notes of honey or vanilla. Light grainy, spicy wheat aromatics. Moderate perfumy-lemony coriander, often with a complex herbal, spicy, or peppery note in the background. Moderate zesty, citrusy-orangey fruitiness. A low spicy-herbal hop aroma is optional, but typically absent. Spices should blend in with fruity, floral, and sweet aromas and should not be overly strong.
Pleasant bready, grainy malt flavor, often with a honey or vanilla character. Moderate zesty, orange-citrusy fruitiness. Herbal-spicy flavors, which may include lemony coriander and other spices, are common should be subtle and balanced, not overpowering. A spicy-earthy hop flavor can be low to none, and never overshadows the spices. Hop bitterness is low to medium-low, and supports the refreshing flavors of fruit and spice. Refreshingly crisp with a dry finish, and no bitter or harsh aftertaste.
Medium-light to medium body, often having a smoothness and light creaminess. Effervescent character from high carbonation. Refreshing, from carbonation, dryness, and lack of bitterness in finish. No harshness or astringency. Should not be overly dry and thin, nor should it be thick and heavy.
One of a group of medieval Belgian white beers from the Leuven area, it died out in 1957 and was later revived in 1966 by Pierre Celis at what became Hoegaarden. After Hoegaarden was acquired by Interbrew, the style grew rapidly and inspired many similar products that are traceable to the Celis recreation of the style, not those from past centuries.
Unmalted wheat (30-60%), the remainder low color barley malt. Some versions use up to 5-10% raw oats or other unmalted cereal grains. Traditionally uses coriander seed and dried Curaçao orange peel. Other secret spices are rumored to be used in some versions, as are sweet orange peels. Mild fruity-spicy Belgian ale yeast.
Low bitterness level with a balance similar to a Weissbier, but with spice and citrus character coming from additions more so than the yeast.
8 - 20
2 - 4
1.044 - 1.052
1.008 - 1.012
4.5% - 5.5%
Commercial ExamplesAllagash White, Blanche de Bruxelles, Celis White, Hoegaarden Wit, Ommegang Witte, St. Bernardus Witbier.
Past RevisionWitbier (2015)
pale-color, spice, standard-strength, top-fermented, traditional-style, western-europe, wheat-beer-family
24B. Belgian Pale Ale
A top-fermented, all malt, average strength Belgian ale that is moderately bitter, not dry-hopped, and without strong flavors. The copper-colored beer lacks the aggressive yeast character or sourness of many Belgian beers, but has a well-balanced, malty, fruity, and often bready and toasty profile.
Amber to copper in color. Clarity is very good. Creamy, rocky, white head. Well carbonated.
Moderate bready malt aroma, which can include toasty, biscuity, or nutty notes, possibly with a touch of light caramel or honey. Moderate to moderately high fruitiness complements the malt, and is suggestive of pear, orange, apple, or lemon, and sometimes of darker stone fruit like plums. Low to moderate spicy, herbal, or floral hop character. Low peppery, spicy phenols optional. The hop character is lower in balance than the malt and fruitiness.
Has an initial soft, smooth, moderately malty flavor with a variable profile of toasty, biscuity, nutty, light caramel, or honey notes. Moderate to moderately high fruitiness, with a pear, orange, apple, or lemon character. Medium-low to low spicy, herbal, or floral hop character. Medium-high to medium-low bitterness, enhanced by optional low to very low peppery phenols. Dry to balanced finish, with hops becoming more pronounced in the aftertaste of those with a drier finish. Fairly well balanced overall, with no single component being high in intensity; malt and fruitiness are more forward initially with a supportive bitterness and drying character coming on late.
Medium to medium-light body. Smooth palate. Alcohol level is restrained, and any warming character should be low if present. Medium to medium-high carbonation.
Most commonly found in the Flemish provinces of Antwerp, Brabant, Hainaut, and East Flanders. A Spéciale Belge Ale (Belgian Special Ale) in Belgium.
Created after a competition in 1904 to create a regional specialty beer to compete with imported British ales and continental lagers. De Koninck of Antwerp is the best-known modern example, making the beer since 1913.
Variable grist with pale, character, and caramel malts. No adjuncts. English or continental hops. Fruity yeast with low phenols.
Fairly similar to pale ales from England (11C Strong Bitter), typically with a slightly different yeast character and a more varied malt profile. Less yeast character than many other Belgian beers, though.
20 - 30
8 - 14
1.048 - 1.054
1.010 - 1.014
4.8% - 5.5%
Commercial ExamplesDe Koninck Bolleke, De Ryck Special, Palm, Palm Dobble.
Past RevisionBelgian Pale Ale (2015)
amber-color, balanced, pale-ale-family, standard-strength, top-fermented, traditional-style, western-europe
24C. Bière de Garde
Three main variations are included in the style: the blond (blonde), the brown (brune), and the most traditional amber (ambrée).
A family of smooth, fairly strong, malty, lagered artisanal French beer with a range of malt flavors appropriate for the blond, amber, or brown color. All are malty yet dry, with clean flavors. Darker versions have more malt character, while paler versions can have more hops while still remaining malt-focused beers.
Blond, amber, and brown variations exist, with the color varying accordingly: golden-blonde to reddish-bronze to chestnut brown. Clarity is brilliant to fair, but some haze is allowable. Well-formed head, generally white to off-white (varying with beer color), average persistence.
Prominent malty richness, often with a complex, light-to-moderate intensity, toasty and bready character. Low to moderate esters. Low spicy, peppery, or herbal hops optional. Generally quite clean, although stronger versions may have a light, spicy alcohol note as it warms.
Paler versions are still malty but lack richer, deeper aromatics and may have a bit more hops.
Medium to high malty richness, often with a toasty, biscuity, toffee, or light caramel character. Low to moderate esters and alcohol flavors. Medium-low hop bitterness, giving a malty balance to the palate and aftertaste. Medium-dry to dry finish, not sweet, cloying, or heavy. Low spicy, peppery, or herbal hop flavor optional.
Malt flavor, depth, richness, intensity, and complexity increases with beer color. Darker versions will have more of an initial rich malty impression than paler versions but should not seem roasted. Paler versions can have slightly greater hop flavor.
Medium to medium-light body, often with a smooth, creamy-silky character. Moderate to high carbonation. Moderate alcohol warming, but should never be hot.
Cellar, musty, moldy, or rustic character often mentioned in literature are signs of mishandled imports, not fresh, authentic products. Age and oxidation can also increase fruitiness and caramel flavors, but increase harshness. While caramel and fruit can be part of the style, do not confuse the oxidation character for the proper base beer.
Name roughly means beer for keeping. A traditional farmhouse artisanal ale from the area around Lille in Northern France, historically brewed in early spring and kept in cold cellars for consumption in warmer weather. Although documented to exist in the 1800s, Jenlain is the prototypical modern amber lager version first bottled in the 1940s.
Base malts vary by beer color, but usually include pale, Vienna, and Munich types. Crystal-type malts of varying color. Sugar adjuncts may be used. Lager or ale yeast fermented at cool ale temperatures, followed by long cold conditioning. Continental hops.
Calling this a farmhouse beer invites comparisons to Saison, which has a completely different balance – Bière de Garde is malty and smooth, while Saison is hoppy and bitter. Actually has more of a similarity in malt profile to a Bock.
Entrant must specify blond, amber, or brown Bière de Garde. If no color is specified, the judge should attempt to judge based on initial observation, expecting a malt flavor and balance that matches the color.
18 - 28
6 - 19
1.060 - 1.080
1.008 - 1.016
6% - 8.5%
Commercial ExamplesCh’Ti Blonde, Jenlain Ambrée, La Choulette Brune, Russian River Perdition, Saint Sylvestre 3 Monts Blonde, Two Brothers Domaine Dupage.
Past RevisionBière de Garde (2015)
amber-ale-family, amber-color, any-fermentation, high-strength, lagered, malty, pale-color, traditional-style, western-europe
Historical versions may have had some lactic sourness but this is absent in fresh modern versions. Spicing has some variety, but should not be overdone. Coriander of certain origin or age might give an inappropriate ham or celery character. The beer tends to be perishable, so younger, fresher, properly-handled examples are most desirable. An impression of sweetness is often due to low bitterness, not residual sugar. Most examples seem to be approximately 5% ABV.