Drekker Brewing Company

Fargo Brewing Company

Flatland Brewery

Junkyard Brewing Company

Kilstone Brewing

Growler Fills

Lakemode Liquors

Bottle Barn

Cashwise Liquors

Happy Harry's Bottle Shop

Tap Rooms

Fargo Taphouse

Front Street Taproom

The Frothy Stache

Get To Know Craft Beer Styles

Craft Beer

Unless you’re living under a rock, you know that the craft beer scene is on fire! There are so many good beers coming from local breweries like Exile Brewery, Confluence Brewery, Toppling Goliath and many more all across the country.

A craft brewery, or brewer, is small, independent and traditional. A craft brewer is classified when it’s annual production is about 6 million barrels of beer or less.

Some fun facts about the craft beer industry:

In 2013, craft brewers reached 7.8 percent volume of the total U.S. beer market.
Craft dollar share of the total U.S. beer market reached 14.3 percent in 2013
Retail dollar value from craft brewers was estimated at $14.3 billion, up from $11.9 billion in 2012

Domestic Beer

Domestic beer is the “big dog” breweries. The most commonly linked breweries to this term are Budweiser, and Miller-Coors. If you picture your favorite bar’s happy hour special, then you have an idea of what a domestic beer is. One convenient factor of domestic beers is that you can cook with them. I like to use these beers for grilling brats.

Some of the leading domestic beers in the United States include:

Bud Light
Coors Light
Miller Lite
Michelob Ultra Light
Natural Light
Miller High Life
Keystone Light

Fargo-Moorhead Breweries

Drekker Brewing Company

Fargo Brewing Company

Flatland Brewery

Junkyard Brewing Company

Kilstone Brewing

Proof Artisan Distillers

Draft, Craft, Domestic and Imported Beer

Let’s be honest, we’ve all had the experience when we’re either buying our first drink at a bar or you just forget and you have to ask, what a domestic, imported or craft beer is.

Here’s the difference between the three:

First things first when you order a beer you’re either going to get it from a bottle, can or a draft.

Draft Beer

The word draft comes from the English for the word “draught” which means ‘to pull’ from a cask with a hand pump.

A lot of people suggest that draft beer tastes better but often times it’s fresher because of the temperature and the way it’s packaged. That’s what helps maintain the freshness of the beer. 

Some other ways you might have heard draft beer:

On tap

Your craft, domestics and imported beers can all be on tap. You’ll most likely get your beer served in a nice pint sized glass.

Imported Beers

Imported beer is anything that is not created in the United States. Beer that has been brought in from other contries such as Mexico and Belgium. 

Some examples of imported beers are:

Labatt Blue
Guiness Stout
Bass Ale
Modelo Especial


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Explanation of Quantitative Style Statistics

Original Gravity (OG): The specific gravity of wort (unfermented beer) before fermentation. A measure of the total amount of solids that are dissolved in the wort, it compares the density of the wort to the density of water, which is conventionally given as 1.000 at 60 Fahrenheit.

Final Gravity (FG): The specific gravity of a beer as measured when fermentation is complete (when all desired fermentable sugars have been converted to alcohol and carbon dioxide gas). When fermentation has occurred, this number is always less than Original Gravity.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV): A measurement of the alcohol content in terms of the percentage volume of alcohol per volume of beer. Caution: This measurement is always higher than Alcohol by Weight (not included in this guide). To calculate the approximate volumetric alcohol content, subtract FG from OG and divide by 0.0075.

Example: OG = 1.050, FG = 1.012 ABV = (1.050 – 1.012) / 0.0075 ABV = 0.038 / 0.0075 ABV = 5.067 ABV = 5% (approximately)

International Bitterness Units (IBUs): 1 bitterness unit = 1 milligram of isomerized (exposed to heat) hop alpha acids in one liter of beer. Can range from 0 (lowest—no bitterness) to above 100 IBUs. Usually the general population cannot perceive bitterness above or below a specific range of IBUs (said to be below 8 and above 80 IBUs by some sources).

Bitterness Ratio (BU:GU): A comparison of IBUs (Bitterness Units) to sugars (Gravity Units) in a beer. .5 is perceived as balanced, less than .5 is perceived as sweeter and over .5 is perceived as more bitter. Formula: Divide IBU by the last two digits of Original Gravity (remove the 1.0) to give relative bitterness. Note: Carbonation also balances beer’s bitterness, but is not factored in this equation. This is a concept from Ray Daniels, creator of the Cicerone® Certification Program.

Example: pale ale with 37 IBUs and an OG of 1.052 is 37/52 = 0.71 BU:GU

Standard Reference Method (SRM): Provides a numerical range representing the color of a beer. The common range is 2-50. The higher the SRM, the darker the beer. SRM represents the absorption of specific wavelengths of light. It provides an analytical method that brewers use to measure and quantify the color of a beer. The SRM concept was originally published by the American Society of Brewing Chemists.

Examples: Very Light (1-1.5), Straw (2-3 SRM), Pale (4), Gold (5-6), Light Amber (7), Amber (8), Medium Amber (9), Copper/Garnet (10-12), Light Brown (13-15), Brown/Reddish Brown/Chestnut Brown (16-17), Dark Brown (18-24), Very Dark (25-39), Black (40+)

Volumes of CO2 (v/v): Volumes of CO2 commonly vary from 1-3+ v/v (volumes of dissolved gas per volume of liquid) with 2.5-2.7 volumes being the most common in the U.S. market. Beer’s carbonation comes from carbon dioxide gas, which is a naturally occurring byproduct created during fermentation by yeast and a variety of microorganisms. The amount of carbonation is expressed in terms of “volumes” of CO2. A volume is the space the CO2 gas would occupy at standard temperature and pressure, compared to the volume of beer in which it’s dissolved. So one keg of beer at 2.5 volumes of CO2 contains enough gas to fill 2.5 kegs with CO2.

Apparent Attenuation (AA): A simple measure of the extent of fermentation wort has undergone in the process of becoming beer, Apparent Attenuation reflects the amount of malt sugar that is converted to ethanol during fermentation. The result is expressed as a percentage and equals 65% to 80% for most beers. Or said more simply: Above 80% is very high attenuation with little residual sugar. Below 60% is low attenuation with more residual sugar remaining. Formula: AA = [(OG-FG) / (OG-1)] x 100

Example: OG = 1.080, FG = 1.020 AA = [(1.080 – 1.020) / (1.080 – 1)] x 100 AA = (0.060 / 0.080) x 100 AA = 0.75 x 100 AA = 75%

Commercial Examples: List some U.S. brewery produced examples of this style.

The A-Z of Beer Styles

Use this alphabetical list of triggers as a guide to help you when describing possible characteristics of a specific beer style.


Ranges: not detectable, mild, noticeable, harsh

A synonym for ethyl alcohol or ethanol, the colorless primary alcohol component of beer.

Alcohol ranges for beer vary from less than 3.2% to greater than 14% ABV.

Sensed in aroma, flavor and palate of beer

Fusel alcohol can also exist in beer

Brewing and Conditioning Process

Brewers use a wide variety of techniques to modify the brewing process. Some of the variables they play with might include variable mashing, steeping, unique fermentation temperatures, multiple yeast additions, barrel aging and blending, dry hopping and bottle conditioned.

Carbonation (CO2): Visual

Ranges: none, slow, medium, fast rising bubbles

Carbonation is a main ingredient in beer. It lends body or weight on the tongue and stimulates the trigeminal nerves, which sense temperature, texture and pain in the face. Carbonation can be detected as an aroma (carbonic acid). It also affects appearance and is what creates the collar of foam common to most beer styles.

Carbonation can be naturally occurring (produced by yeast during fermentation) or added to beer under pressure. Nitrogen can also be added to beer, providing smaller bubbles and a softer mouthfeel compared to CO2.

Clarity: The degree to which solids in suspension are absent in beer; different from color and brightness.

Ranges: brilliant, clear, slight haze, hazy, opaque

Solids can include unfermented sugars, proteins, yeast sediments and more.

The degree to which solids are present in solution is referred to as turbidity.

Collar of Foam

Head Retention/Texture

Retention Ranges: none, poor (up to 15 seconds), moderate (15 to 60 seconds), good (more than 60 seconds)

Texture Ranges: thin, interrupted, foamy, fluffy, rocky, mousse-like

Color (SRM): See SRM under Quantitative above.

Country of Origin

The country from which a style originates

Food Pairing: Cheese, Entree, Dessert



Flavor and aroma ranges: citrus, tropical, fruity, floral, herbal, onion-garlic, sweaty, spicy, woody, green, pine, spruce, resinous

Bitterness ranges: restrained, moderate, aggressive, harsh
Hops deliver resins and essential oils that influence beer’s aroma, flavor, bitterness, head retention, astringency, and perceived sweetness. They also increase beer’s stability and shelf life.
Brewers today use well over 100 different varieties of hops worldwide. Hops grown in the U.S. contribute an estimated 30 percent to the global supply.


Flavor and aroma ranges:  bread flour, grainy, biscuit, bready, toast, caramel, prune-like, roast, chocolate, coffee, smoky, acrid
Malt has been called the soul of beer. It is the main fermentable ingredient, providing the sugars that yeast use to create alcohol and carbonation.

Malt is converted barley or other grains that have been steeped, germinated, heated, kilned (or roasted in a drum), cooled, dried and then rested.

A wide variety of barley and other malts are used to make beer, including pale malt (pilsner and pale two-row), higher temperature kilned malt (Munich and Vienna), roasted/specialty malt (chocolate and black) and unmalted barley. Wheat malt is commonly used as well.

Malt provides fermentable and non-fermentable sugars and proteins that influence beer’s aroma, alcohol, body, color, flavor and head retention.

Other Ingredients

Adjuncts are ingredients that have typically not been malted, but are a source of fermentable sugars.

Common adjuncts include: candy sugar, honey, molasses, refined sugar, treacle, maple syrup

Unmalted starchy adjuncts: oats, rye, wheat, corn/maize, rice

Note: Many of these grains can be malted to create unique flavors compared to their unmalted counterparts.

Other: fruit, herbs, roasted (unmalted) barley or wheat, spices, wood

Oxidative/Aged Qualities

Can come from hops, malt or yeast. Only listed where appropriate for the specific style.

Aroma/Flavor: almond, blackcurrant, E-2-nonenal (papery/cardboard), honey, metallic, sherry, sweat socks, others
Color: Beer darkens over time due to oxygen ingress.


Palate refers to the non-taste sensations felt on the mouth and tongue when tasting a beer. The palate of a beer can be sensed as:

Ranges: low, medium(-), medium, medium(+), high


Ranges: drying, soft, mouth-coating, sticky

Palate Carbonation

Ranges: low, medium, high


Ranges: short (less than 15 seconds), medium (up to 60 seconds), long (more than 60 seconds)


Storage of draught beer should remain at 38° F to retain the level of carbonation created during fermentation.

The service temperature of beer has an impact on the sensory aspect of a beer.

In general, a beer will exhibit an increase in perceived aromas and flavors if served warmer than a beer that is served at a cooler temperature.
A general rule of thumb calls for ales to be served at a warmer temperature (45-55° F) than their lager counterparts (40-45° F).


Common taste descriptors: chalk, flint, sulfur and more
Beer is mostly water, which makes water quite an important ingredient. Some brewers make their beer without altering the chemistry of their water sources. Many do modify the water to make it most suitable to deliver the beer characteristics they hope to highlight. It provides minerals and ions that add various qualities to beer.
Common minerals: carbonate, calcium, magnesium, sulfate

Yeast, Microorganisms and Fermentation Byproducts

Yeast eats sugars from malted barley and other fermentables, producing carbonation, alcohol and aromatic compounds. The flavor of yeast differs based on yeast strain, temperature, time exposed to the beer, oxygen and other variables.
Types of Yeast:

Ale: Saccharomyces Cerevisiae (ester driven). Commonly referred to as top fermenting yeast, it most often ferments at warmer temperatures (60-70F).

Lager: Saccharomyces Pastorianus (often lends sulfuric compounds). Commonly referred to as bottom fermenting yeast, it most often ferments at cooler temperatures (45-55F).

Weizen Yeast: Common to some German-style wheat beers and is considered an ale yeast.

Brettanomyces:  wild yeast with flavors like barnyard, tropical fruit, and more.

Microorganisms: (bacteria) Acetobacter (produces acetic acid), Lactobacillus/Pediococcus (produce lactic acid), others

Byproducts of Fermentation

For a robust spreadsheet on many byproducts or agents in beer see Flavor Components in Beer (PDF)

Common byproducts of yeast fermentation:


Aromas (volatiles): apple, apricot, banana, blackcurrant, cherry, fig, grapefruit, kiwi, peach, pear, pineapple, plum, raisin, raspberry, strawberry, others

Common esters include:

Isoamyl acetate (common from weizen ale yeast): banana, pear

Ethyl acetate: nail polish remover, solvent

Ethyl hexanoate: red apple, fennel


Common phenols include:

4-vinyl guaiacol: clove, cinnamon, vanilla
Chlorophenols: antiseptic, mouthwash
Syringol: smoky, campfire
Tannins/Polyphenols: velvet, astringent, sandpaper

Other fermentation byproducts

Common byproducts include (when acceptable to style):

4-ethyl-phenol: barnyard, mice
4-ethyl-guaiacol: smoked meat, clove
3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol: lightstruck
2,3-butanedione (Diacetyl)
Dimethyl sulphide (DMS)
Hydrogen sulphide

What is Craft Beer? What is a Craft Brewer?

Today is the best time in U.S. history to be a beer lover. The average American lives within 10 miles of a brewery, and the U.S. has more beer styles and brands to choose from than any other beer market in the world.

The definition of “craft beer” is difficult, as it means many different things to many different beer lovers. Thus, craft beer is not defined by However, our parent organization, the Brewers Association, does define what it means to be an American craft brewer: A U.S. craft brewer is a smaller producer (making less than six million barrels of beer a year) and is independently owned. This definition allows the Brewers Association to provide statistics on the growing craft brewery community, which accounts for 99 percent of America’s 4,600+ breweries.

Visit for the complete craft brewer definition and details on the craft beer industry market segments: brewpubs, microbreweries and regional craft breweries.

Why Craft Beer?

Craft beer is enjoyed during everyday celebrations and is viewed by many as one of life’s special pleasures. Each glass displays the creativity and passion of its maker and the complexity of its ingredients. Craft beer is treasured by millions who see it as not merely a fermented beverage, but something to be shared, revered and enjoyed in moderation (see Savor the Flavor).

In the food arts world, craft beer is a versatile beverage that not only enhances food when expertly paired with a dish, but is also often brought into the kitchen as a cooking ingredient. Because of this, you will see suggested food pairings for each style in this guide. If you would like to geek out even further on beer and food pairing, check out’s Beer & Food Course (a free download).