It’s a great time to be a beer-lover in America. From the rise of craft beer to your good ol’ American classics, beer drinkers have never had so many options to choose from. We’re here to help guide you through them with our Beer Guide.

The Brewers Association lists well over 100 different styles of beer, but divides them up into three main styles:

Various mugs and glasses of beer

Stage Stop carries a large variety, from craft beers to domestics and imports, and new selections being added regularly. Contact us to check on availability.


Ales are top-fermenting beers, where the yeast rises to the surface of the fermenting wort and fermentation is carried out at traditionally higher temperatures.

Ales tend to be darker and cloudier in appearance with stronger, more full-bodied flavor and notes of fruit or spice.


Considered by some as the “gateway to craft beer”, blonde and golden ales are smooth and light and can have notes of honey, spices and fruit.   Try:

Cans or bottles of Laughing Sun I Love ND, Kona Big Wave, and Squatters Golden Ale


Pale Ales are golden to amber colored with balanced hops & malt flavor.   Try:

Cans or bottles of Sierra Nevada, Summit, and Meadowlark Badlands


India Pale Ales (IPA’s) are more hoppy, with double IPA’s being even hoppier. IPA’s tend to be more bitter but bold and full of flavor, often with notes of citrus and tropical flavors.   Try:

Stage Stop Beer Guide shows the many IPAs we carry


Bitter ales are gold to copper in color, light and mild with balanced hops & malt. They’re often fruity, nutty or toasty in flavor – similar to pale ales (more traditional to England).   Try:

Can of Bent Paddle 14 degrees ESB


Amber ales are copper to light brown in color, light to medium in body and brewed with amber malt. They’re balanced between malts & hops and often infused with chocolate, caramel & toasty malts.   Try:

Bottle of New Belgium Fat Tire and a can of Odell 90 Shilling


Altbiers are a longstanding German tradition from Rhineland. They’re similar to an amber, but made with a unique blend of malts, yeast and hops and extended conditioning that leaves a dry yet smooth and clean malty flavor. Altbiers are amber to dark brown in color, crisp and clean-tasting with full body.   Try:

Bottle of Alaskan Amber


Red ales are made with specialty roasted malts, giving them a sweeter, toasty or caramel flavor.   Try:

Bottles of Gray's Busted Knuckle and Lakefront Fixed Gear


Brown ales are dark amber to brown in color and tend to be more malty and rich with nutty, caramel or chocolate flavors.   Try:

Cans or bottles of Lift Bridge Fireside Flannel, Big Sky Moose Drool, Nebraska Brunette Nut Brown, and Bitter Root Barley Ridge Nut Brown


Black ales Made with caramel & dark roasted malts that are balanced with hops (typically citrus) – often caramel, chocolate or coffee flavors.


Strong ales tend to be tend to be malty (typically with barley) and have a higher alcohol content. They are often sweeter with some fruitiness.  Barleywines tend to be more bitter and complex with caramel, honey, molasses or toffee flavor.   Try:

Cans or bottles of Laughing Sun Sinister Pear, Stone Brewing Arrogant Bastard Ale, Big Sky Powder Hound, and Schell's Snowstorm


Porter ales are brewed with malted barley and are dark, dry, sweet and fruity.   Try:

Stage Stop carries a wide variety of porters, including Founders, Breckenridge Vanilla Porter, and Wasatch Polygamy Porter


Made with unmalted roasted barley, stout ales are dark and less sweet than a porter with higher alcohol content and a coffee flavor.   Try:

Bottles of Guinness and Gray's Oatmeal Stout


Traditionally Belgian, Trappist ales have been brewed for centuries at Christian monasteries in Belgium (but now include select other monasteries from other places around the world). True Trappists are top-fermented & aged inside an approved monastery, overseen by monks, and brewed not for profit but support of the monastery. Dubbels are strong, rich amber to copper in color and made using candi sugar, giving them a toasty caramel, chocolate or nutty flavor. Tripels are made using Pilsner malt. They are golden, cloudy and hoppier with a higher alcohol content and often a citrus flavor. Quadrupels are golden/amber to dark brown in color, heavy, maltier, and yeasty with the highest alcohol content. They are often dark fruity to molasses or bready and peppery in flavor.


Abbey ales are brewed in the style of Trappist beer, but not by an approved monastery.



Traditionally Belgian, witbiers are unfiltered, pale, cloudy & crisp and made with wheat or oats & spiced with coriander orange peel or other spices/herbs.   Try:

Bottles of Alaskan White and Shock Top Belgian White


Weisse ales are a German style of wheat beer made with pale wheat and barley malts, at least 50% of which must be malted wheat. They are unfiltered, light & carbonated, often with notes of clove, banana, bubblegum or vanilla.   Try:

Bottles or cans of Bayern Dragon's Breath, Wasatch Apricot Hefeweizen, Nebraska EOS Hefeweizen, Meadowlark Treasure State, and Leinenkugel's Honey Weiss


Traditionally Belgian, saisons are light, golden orange and highly carbonated with citrus & fruity hop flavor. They are made with Saison yeast that gives them a uniquely spiced flavor.   Try:

Can of Lift Bridge Farm Girl Saison


Sour ales are made with wild bacteria and yeasts, where the bacteria turns sugars into acid to give sours their unique sour or tart taste. Sours vary widely in flavor.   Try:

Can of Laughing Sun Red Dwarf


Gose ales are German sour wheat beers that are most unique for being brewed with salt. Gose is brewed with at least 50% malted wheat with the addition of herbs (commonly coriander or cilantro), and salt. They tend to be spicy or lemony in flavor.



Traditionally Belgian, lambics are sour ales with mild carbonation and cloudy appearance, often fermented with fruits. They are made by spontaneous fermentation method in open vats with wild yeast & bacteria, then stored in barrels and aged for up to several years during fermentation.



Lagers are bottom-fermenting beers, where the yeast strains that are used work effectively at lower temperatures and ferment more slowly and less vigorously. Yeast precipitates to the bottom of the vessel early in its life cycle.

Lagers tend to be lighter and clearer in appearance with a smoother, crisper and refreshing flavor. They are the most commercialized beers in America (Budweiser, Miller, Coors, etc.).


Pilsners are a Bohemian lager brewed with pilsner malts and Saaz or Noble hop. They are light straw to golden in color with crisp, clean refreshing flavor.   Try:

Cans or bottles of Summit Dakota Soul, Lakefront New Grist, and Meadowlark Badlands


American-style lagers are straw to gold in color, light, clean, crisp & highly carbonated. They are often made with corn, rice, or other grain or sugar adjuncts.   Try:

Cans or bottles of Pabst Blue Ribbon, Founder's Solid Gold, Budweiser, Samuel Adams, Coors Banquet and Kona Longboard


Helles beers are German pale lagers that are similar to a pilsner but more full-bodied, malty and bready. They are golden in color with sweetness that is balanced by spice and bitterness of the hops.


Amber lagers are medium-bodied with caramel or toasty malt flavor. They include varieties such as Dortmunder, Vienna, Marzen & Oktoberfest.


Dortmunder beers are crisp and malty German lagers that come as a cross between a Helles and German Pilsner. They are deep golden in color and can include caramel, biscuit or toffee flavor.


Vienna beers are Austrian lagers brewed with Vienna malt, made using a hot-air kilning process and lager yeast. They are reddish amber in color with crisp, toasty flavor and caramel sweetness.


Marzens are similar to Vienna lagers but are made using malt kilned to a higher degree. They are less hoppy and slightly sweeter than a Vienna, reddish amber in color, and slightly bready, toasty or caramel in flavor.


The style currently served in Munich, Germany during Oktoberfest is a pale, golden Vienna-style lager similar to a Dortmunder. In America, Oktoberfest is a Marzen, the style that was originally served in the early years after Oktoberfest was first founded in Germany in 1810. They are brewed with Munich & caramel malts and are amber in color and sweet in flavor. 


Kellerbiers and Zwickelbiers are a German tradition dating back to the middle ages. They are unfiltered and smooth with a balance between yeast, hops & malts. These lagers are unique for being unpasteurized and conditioned in an oak cask that is open to the environment – often served directly from the cask. Kellerbier (cellar beer – brewed at cooler temperatures) tends to be hoppier and aged longer than Zwickelbier. Zwickelbier tends to be darker and weaker.


Dunkel or dark lagers are amber to dark reddish brown and made with dark roasted malts for a rich malty flavor, often with notes of bread, nuts or chocolate.


Rauchbiers are smoky-flavored lagers made with malt smoked directly over a fire (often beechwood).


Bocks are German lagers that are strong, smooth and malty.  They are brewed with pale malt and extensively lagered (kept in cold storage). Bocks are usually dark amber to dark brown in color with higher alcohol content. Doppelbocks are a stronger version of the bock, originally made by monks in Munich. They have a toasted bread flavor and copper to dark brown in color. Helles Bocks or Maibocks are lighter in color and more hoppy than a bock with lightly toasted or bready flavor. Eisbocks are the strongest of the bocks, made by chilling a doppelbock to the point that ice forms and then removing the ice, leaving a higher alcohol content and more concentrated flavors. They are reddish copper to dark brown and malty with toast, caramel or chocolate flavor and dark fruit esters.   Try:

Bottles of Shiner Bock, Rogue Dead Guy Ale, and Bayern Bakken Bock


Light lagers are traditionally American and lower in calories and carbohydrates. They are dry and light in color and flavor. Light lagers are made with high amounts of adjuncts like corn or rice to lighten the beer.   Try:

Bottles of Michelob Ultra, Coors LIght, Miller Lite, and Bud Light


Ice beers are pale lagers that have undergone some degree of fractional freezing during production, giving them a slightly higher alcohol content and a cheaper price. Try:

Can of Natural Ice


Malts are sweet lagers brewed with little fermentation and low alcohol content.  


The hybrid or mixed-style category include beers that can be made as either an ale or a lager (or have properties of both) and have unique characteristics.


Kolsch beers are light, pale & easy-drinking with properties of both an ale and a lager. They are fermented with ale yeast but finished in cold temperatures like a lager, often with notes of fruit.


Cream ales are similar to a Kolsch. They are cold fermented ales that are light bodied and lightened with adjuncts like rice, wheat or corn. In contrast to the name, they are not “creamy” but light and pale.


Sessions are beer that is low in alcohol content and can be drank in large quantities with less intoxication. They have a maximum of 5% ABV and easy drinkability with balanced malts & hops. Try:

Cans or bottles of Surly Xtra-Citra Pale Ale, Founders All Day IPA, and Golden Road Wolf Pup Session


American wheat beers are made with at least 50% wheat and fermented with either ale or lager yeast. They can range from light to dark and lightly hazy to cloudy, depending if they are bottled with yeast or not. These wheat beers often have notes of fruit, flowers or spice, though dark versions may have chocolate, caramel, toffee or biscuit flavor. Try:

Bottle of Goose Island 312


Fruit beers are made with fruit added as an adjunct or for flavor. They can be an ale or lager. Try:

Cans of Golden Road Mango Cart, Pineapple Cart, Palisade Pineapple and Melon Cart, and bottles of Leinenkugel's Berry Shandy and Grapefruit Shandy


Coffee beers are those that incorporate coffee in any form with methods ranging from adding coffee grounds during fermentation or adding cold-brew coffee after the beer is finished. Try:

  • Surly – Coffee Bender
Can of Surly Coffee Bender


Herb or spice beer is flavored from roots, seeds, flowers, vegetables or fruit. They are clear to hazy and exhibit a spicy and/or herbal character.


Chocolate or cocoa beer is any beer made with dark chocolate or cocoa in any form. Try:

  • Boulder Beer – Shake Chocolate Porter
Can of Boulder Beer Shake Chocolate Porter


Honey beers are made with honey as a fermentable sugar.


Rye beers are brewed with rye as part of the malt. They are light gold to copper or dark brown and hazy to cloudy. Darker ryes may have chocolate or caramel flavor, while lighter versions have tones of banana and clove. Try:

Can of Meadowlark Ole Gus Scotch Rye


Bretts are brewed with a type of wild yeast called Brettanomyces that gives them a tart and uniquely “horsey”, “goaty” or leathery flavor along with notes of spice or fruit. They vary widely in color with darker versions having a roasted malt, chocolate or caramel flavor. Unlike Lambics, Bretts do not incorporate bacteria in the brewing process.


Hop beers are brewed with freshly harvested hops. They have a prominent fresh hop flavor reminiscent of green grass or fresh-mowed hay or grass.


Aged beers are those that have been aged for more than one year in bottles, cans, kegs or other non-wooden vessels. They often take on a fruity or sherry-like flavor that is balanced.


Wood and barrel-aged beers are those that have been aged in a wooden barrel or in contact with wood. These beers take on unique attributes of the wood or liquids previously stored in contact with the wood (used whiskey, wine, port, tequila, rum or sherry barrels, etc.).


Smoke beers include any style of beer that incorporates smoke.