Brewers association

Brewers Association Releases 2020 Beer Style Guidelines

Boulder, Colorado.March 17, 2020 — The Brewers Association, the nonprofit trade association dedicated to small, independent American brewers, has released its 2020 Beer Style Guidelines. Updated annually, the association’s guidelines reflect, wherever possible, historical significance, authenticity or high visibility in today’s commercial beer market, and are used by brewers and competition organizers of beer, including Great American Oktoberfest® and beer world cup®.

The Brewers Association has been providing descriptions of beer styles as a reference for brewers and beer competition organizers since 1979. The process takes into account feedback from the commercial brewing industry, judges, beer analysis and consultations with beer industry experts and knowledgeable beer enthusiasts as information resources.

In addition to hundreds of minor changes to several beer styles, the 2020 guidelines include the following style additions and significant style revisions:

Styling additions

  • Contemporary American Style Lager
  • Contemporary American Style Light Lager

Significant styling revisions

  • Former Emerging India Pale Ale: renamed Experimental India Pale Ale and transferred to the Hybrid/Mixed Lagers or Ales group
  • American-Style India Pale Ale and Imperial India Pale Ale, Juicy or Hazy India Pale Ale and Imperial India Pale Ale, and American-Style Black Ale: revised to assert distinctions between these styles and Experimental India Pale Ale
  • Contemporary Belgian-style spontaneous fermented beer: style name changed to remove reference to “Gueuze Lambic”
  • Session Beer: edited to reinforce the separation between beers designed to lower the alcohol content compared to classic versions and beers that fall under classic versions, defined as containing alcohol levels below 5.0%
  • Rye beer: Modified to reflect a wider range of mouthfeel and sensory attributes that arise from the use of many different varieties of rye malt
  • American-Style Session Indian Pale Ale: Moved to Hybrid/Mixed Lagers or Ales group

“The annual update keeps the guidelines accurate and relevant for today’s dynamic beer market,” said Chris Swersey, Head of Competition, Brewers Association. “For example, the Juicy Hazy categories were updated after two years to reflect trends in these popular categories. We are very grateful to have a working group of brewers who have engaged with us to ensure that these categories are well drafted.

The 2020 Beer Style Guidelines are available for download at

Contact: Jenelle Scott, on behalf of the Brewers Association, 970-963-4873 x224


About the Brewers Association

The Brewers Association (BA) is the nonprofit trade association dedicated to America’s small, independent brewers, their beers, and the community of brewing enthusiasts. The BA represents more than 5,600 American breweries. The BA Independent Craft Brewer Seal is a widely adopted symbol that differentiates beers from small independent craft brewers. The BA organizes events including the beer world cup®, Great American Oktoberfest®, Craft Brewers Conference® & BrewExpo America®, FLAVOR: An American Craft Beer and Dining Experience, Homebrew Con, National Homebrew Competition and American Craft Beer Week®. The BA publishes The new brewer® magazines, and Brewers publications® is the leading publisher of brewing literature in the United States. Beer lovers are invited to learn more about the vibrant world of craft beer at® and on homebrewing via BAs American Homebrew Association® and free Brewing Guru® mobile app. follow us on Facebook, Twitter and instagram.

The Brewers Association is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, orientation or marital/family status. The BA complies with the provisions of Executive Order 13672 and relevant rules, regulations and orders of the Secretary of Labor.