Specialty Beers

Specialty Beers


A very rare specialty beer thatís part of the Lambic family. Faros are usually golden to light amber in color, flabby in texture due frequently to the presence of residual sugar, sweet and fruity in the bouquet and flavor, and softly effervescent. Faros are doused with sugar, caramel, or molasses or any combination of those three additives. Frequently pasteurized to prevent the added sweetner from fermenting. Very few bottlings are available, not just in the U.S., but anywhere.


Another specialty beer, hay gold to amber in color, thatís considered a Lambic because itís a marriage of old and new lambics. What makes Gueuze (pronounced two ways, gerzz or goo-zah - take your pick) so unique, however, is not so much the blending of two different ages of Lambic as it is the secondary fermentation it undergoes right in the bottle thatís eventually purchased. That process, known in Champagne, France as methode champenoise, is the reason for the sustained effervescence. Bottle aging for Gueuze sometimes lasts as long as 6 to 9 months. It also has an abnormally long shelf life, upwards of five years in some cases.

Lambic, also Lambiek

A top-fermented, fruit-flavored, wheat beer style which originated in 15th century Belgium in a hamlet called Lambeek. Doubtless the worldís rarest beers, Lambics are typically acidic and fruity, but the fruit is not usually of the ripe or succulent kind and is more green, sour, and understated. The most common types of fruit employed include raspberries, peaches, red cherries, plums, and even cranberries. In a departure from all other types of beer, no yeast is injected into the wort. Natural airborn yeasts initiate fermentation. The brewing of Lambics can, in some cases, take years. 

Seasonal/Winter/Christmas Beers 

Special brews have long been produced for consumption during the winter solstice/Christmas holidays. These beers, which more often than not are ales, are frequently enhanced with spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, and ginger. Appropriate for the season, of little use past then.

Smoked Beer/Rauchbier 

Smoke beers can be either lagers or ales. The smoky aroma and flavor is derived from the drying of the barley malt in kilns. The brewers in Bamburg, Germany fire their kilns with beechwood for the smoke flavor. American brewers employ hickory, apple, alder, and maple woods while other brewers simply use peated malt. Admirers of single malt Scotches from the island of Islay might take note of smoked beers for their summer drinking. 

Steam Beer 

This idiosyncratic beer combines the ale and lager brewing processes, in that, it is a bottom fermenting beer fermented at temperatures that are normally utilized for top fermenting varieties. Germany has long espoused steam beers which they call dampfbiers, but itís been a San Francisco brewer, Anchor, who has championed the steam beer cause in the U.S.

All text from the Spirit Journal Beer Style Guide. (c) 2011 F. Paul Pacult. All rights reserved.