October 23, 2018

Beer Style Guide - Hybrid Beers

Born out of necessity, tradition, or creativity, Hybrid Beers are half  lagers, half ales. Sometimes half ales, half lagers. Either way, they are a unique category that straddles the line separating the two worlds of beer. Hybrid beers can be a good choice for brewers who don't have the ability to lager, which usually requires refrigeration during secondary. Some hybrid style yeasts can ferment well into the ale yeast temperature range but still retain lager character and cleanness.


Kolsch beer embraces much of the technique of German lager brewing, but is made with an ale yeast. It is the beer of the German city of Cologne, where it is traditionally served in a special cylinder-shaped glass called a stange. Kolsch is often made with 100% Pilsner malt, but some homebrewers include a small amount of wheat, up to a pound or so per five gallon batch, for pale color and added fullness. The beer is very pale and very clear with a pleasant, slightly malty aroma. The flavor is clean and has a good amount of bitterness, which helps impart a dry finish and keeps the beer nicely drinkable. Though brewed with ale yeast, Kolsch beer is traditionally lagered for a few weeks to make a very clean final product.


The word Alt means old in German, and so the Altbier refers to an old style of beer, one that traces its lineage to the days before lager brewing in Germany. Alts are amber in color from the use of Munich or roasted malts and have a bit of richness in the malt flavors similar to a toned-down Dunkel or Bock. The beer is usually dry and has a good amount of bittering hops, with some examples showing fairly intense bitterness. A variation called Sticke or Secret Alt is bigger and bolder in flavor and alcohol.

California Common -

An American style of beer that was once common in California, this is also know as “steam beer.” Anchor Brewing’s Steam Beer rescued the California Common beer from extinction and is considered the modern examplar of the style. This style is fermented with an unusual lager yeast that is able to function at higher temperatures. The hop variety called Northern Brewer is often featured, which lends the beer a firm bitterness and some earthy, woody flavors. American hops such as Cascade are also commonly used. Crystal malts and other specialty grains are used, which imparts a reddish gold color to the finished pint.