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Beyond the pale

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They’re all fizzy and yellow, but don’t be fooled: From crisp and hoppy to sweet and soft, light-colored beers have a full rainbow of flavors.

1. The delicate flower of summery beers, kölsches’ soft malt and fruity sweetness meet a clean, quietly dry conclusion.

2. Lemon and white pepper are the hallmarks of bubbly saisons, a traditional summer style born in rural Belgium.

3. Crisp as they come, pilsners—both American and German—show off grainy and sweet malts sliced clean by moderate bitterness.

4. Today’s American pale ale is a bright hop bomb with robust grassy, piney and grapefruit flavor, and just enough caramel sweetness to balance the sip.

5. While California commons (also called steam beers) look sunny, it’s off to the shady woods with its foresty, minty hops; firm toasted malt keeps the sip balanced.

6. Before Prohibition, cream ales were king (and as hoppy as modern pale ales!). Today, these crisp, not-hoppy-but-not-malty brews have a distinct corny flavor (from to-style adjuncts) and, often, delicate fruit esters like pear.

7. American blondes are all about the bread flavor (think toast, biscuit, or straight-up loaf); some grassy hops and a touch of bitterness add some kick.

8. Stronger than she looks, a Belgian blond’s round honey sweetness and soft lemon notes meet crisp bitterness and smooth alcohol in the finish.

9. A perfect daytime sipper, Helles lagers are hailed for their malt-forward grainy taste that doesn’t lean sweet; noble hops add just a touch of spice.

FYI: Kölsches, cream ales and blondes are hybrid styles, meaning they’re brewed with a lager yeast (like you’d expect to find in your favorite lawnmower beer), but at a higher temperature like ales, which can color their swallows with fruity notes.

 


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