A picture is worth a thousand words
I love all beer. But I do love some beer better than others. A good bitter or IPA for summer, a amber or Oktoberfest for fall and a stout for winter.
I don’t claim to be a master brewer but my beer is usually pretty good (way better than the average grocery store beer--admitidly a low standard). I have only entered 1 competition and came away with two certificates for four entries – my best Stout losing because it was somehow entered in the IPA category. Anyway, in entering, I had to categorize my beer. There were more categories than I could have imagined and it was hard to really tell the differences in a list or table format, so I created the following chart that I think is better than any style guide I have seen published. It captures four dimensions: sweetness, bitterness, alcohol content and color. The first two are plotted on the axes with precision. The size of each dot is proportional to alcohol content. The color is badly approximated by me in excel as best as I could do. I hope to upgrade that later.
Sweetness is measured in Real Terminal Extract (calculated from the FG and OG published by the Beer Judge Certification Program (http://www.bjcp.org/styles04/04/). Bitterness is measured in IBUs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Bitterness_Units_scale ). A good beer has balance between sweetness and bitterness. For balance and RTE see http://beercolor.netfirms.com/balance.html.