Ontario Craft Brewers Encyclopaedia

We have created this hub to help you navigate the complex and fascinating world of Ontario Craft Beer. The more you know, the more you will appreciate the many talents of all our brewmasters. Understanding what ingredients like malts, hops and yeast, to name a few, give to our flavour profiles is just the beginning. As simple as beer may seem, it is in fact a complex beverage that can produce a wide variety of flavours and aromas. Don't forget to use the OCB Style Guide as your map to help you discover what is your favourite style of beer.

Select a link below to do one of the following:

  • Get complete listings of the 577 OCB beers, ordered in different ways.
  • View our glossary of common beer terminolgy.
  • Search our database of beers using keywords, or search our glossary.


Ale is a type of beer brewed from malted barley using a top-fermenting brewers' yeast. This yeast ferments the beer quickly, giving it a sweet, full bodied and fruity taste. Most ales contain hops, which impart a bitter herbal flavour that helps to balance the sweetness of the malt and preserve the beer. Ales typically take 3 to 4 weeks to make, although some varieties can take as long as 4 months.

Amber Lager

Amber lager is a style of lager beer that takes its name from its colour, which is slightly darker and more orange in hue, than typical lagers.

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An alcoholic beverage, said to be the planet's second most popular beverage, made from malt sugars, flavoured with hops and fermented by selected yeast.

Blonde Lager

Blonde lager is a style of lager beer that takes its name from its colour, which is slightly yellower (blonder) in hue, than typical lagers.


A bock is a full flavoured, malty and dark beer traditionally brewed in winter to celebrate the coming spring, especially the festivals of Lent and Easter. Full-bodied and well-hopped, Bock is bottom-fermented and made from barley malt. Tradition has it that bocks once served as the sustenance for fasting monks. Bocks can range in colour from deep copper to dark brown.

Bog Myrtle

a.k.a. Sweet Gale. This ancient herb was used in brewing hundreds of years ago and offers bitterness, a sweet aroma and herbal spicy notes.

Bottom Fermenting

Strains of yeast, mostly used in the creation of lagers, that operate at the bottom of the vessel. This is in contrast to top-fermenting yeasts, used mostly for brewing ales. These yeasts typically ferment at much lower temperatures, around 10C (50F).

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Dark Lager

A style of lager that is darker in colour than traditional lagers. The roasted flavours of these beers are often complimented by hints of caramel or chocolate.

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The white foamy substance that forms on top of beer when it is poured.The head is mostly caused by Carbon Dioxide, or CO2, that forms during fermentation, but it is not the only factor. The surface needs to have organic properties to support the creation and retention of foam, or else the bubbles would dissipate. The density and longevity of the head are determined by the type of starch from which the beer was fermented. Wheat starch tends to produce larger and longer-lasting heads than barley starch.


Hops is a domesticated plant and a key ingredient in the brewing of beer. Hops balances the sweetness of the malt with bitterness, contributes a variety of flavours and aromas, and has an antibiotic effect that favors the activity of brewer's yeast over other microorganisms.

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The foamy rings that appear around the top of an empty beer glass. Lacing is generally considered the sign of a good quality draught beer, because its presence indicates that the beers head is holding longer and that the beer is full bodied and fresh.


Lager is one of the two main types of beer; the other being ale. Traditionally, lager is cold stored ("lagered") for at least three weeks before being served. It is a general term that includes several variations or styles, such as Pilsener, Vienna, and Mrzen. A lager is fermented at a much lower temperature than ale, and using a different yeast, which is bottom-fermenting.


A process in brewing beer in which the mash is separated into the clear liquid wort and the residual grain. Lautering usually consists of 3 steps: mashout, recirculation, and sparging.

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Malt is made by allowing a grain to germinate, after which it is then dried in a kiln and sometimes roasted. The germination process creates a number of enzymes that will be used to convert the starch in the grain into sugar. The malt therefore helps control the sweetness of a beer. Depending on the amount of roasting, the malt will take on a dark colour, which can strongly influence the hue and flavour of the beer.

Mash Tun

The vessel, usually copper or stainless steel in construction, in which mashing takes place. The vessel has a stirring mechanism to keep the temperature of the mash uniform, and a heating device.


Mashing is a process used in brewing and distilling, combining malted grain and water, and heating the mixture with pauses to allow the enzymes in the malt to break down the starch in the grain into sugars, typically maltose to create a malty liquid called wort.

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Invented in Pilsen, Czech Republic, this specific type of lager has a mild maltiness combined with a crisp, clean hop character and golden colour. Pilsner range from mild to very hoppy.


Rich and nourishing, this is a heavier brew of ale, with just a hint of sweetness. This deliciously thick top-fermented ale ranges from medium to full in body. Robust porters are black in colour and have a sharp, sweet, roast malt flavour. Generally brewed with soft water, porter's dark brown hue comes from roasting the barley before the brewing process begins.

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Seasonal Beers

A generic term applied to beers that are only brewed at certain times of the year, such as the Yuletide season. These beers often have a special quality suiting them to a particular time of year, or take advantage of seasonal ingredients, for example maple sugar in springtime.

Specialty Beer

Styles of beers, often experimental, that employ alternative grains, sugars, fruits, spices, hops and other atypical ingredients to porduce a specialized flavour and aroma. Ingredients in specialty beers may include fruits, honey, hemp, maple syrup, green tea, chocolate, and coffee.


Stout is a dark beer made using roasted malts or roast barley, and has a rich, pleasant, full-bodied character that can be nutty, caramel and chocolate-like. Smooth with low to moderate bitterness, stout can be sweet and rich, or dry, and was originally a variant of porter.

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Top Fermenting

Top-fermenting yeasts are used to create almost all ales. These strains of yeast form a foam on the surface of the beer while they're fermenting, and this is where the term top-fermenting comes from. These particular yeasts ferment at comparatively high temperatures, usually between 15-20C (60-68F), although some work at temperatures as high as 24C (75F). These yeasts tend to work quickly, and ales are generally ready to drink within three weeks after the beginning of fermentation, although some styles go through additional aging. Ale yeasts can be harvested from the fermenter, and stored for later use.

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Wheat Beer

Crisp, fresh, and light, wheat beer is brewed with a combination of malted barley and, wheat. This produces a paler colour than most all-barley ales but is very full on flavour. Like ales, wheat beer is usually top-fermented, and can be cloudy and effervescent.


A hot malty liquid formed as a result of the mashing process.

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Yeasts are microorganisms used in baking and brewing. Yeast microbes are probably one of the earliest domesticated organisms. Brewers yeast feeds on the sugars found in the brewing mash, causing the fermentation that produces the alcoholic content of beer. Yeasts in brewing are typically classified as top-fermenting (used mostly for ales) or bottom-fermenting (used mostly for lagers).

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