Considering that the America On Tap festival is coming to Seaside Park next week, you might want to broaden your knowledge of how to critique more than 100 craft beer varieties.  If you want to become a certified ale aficionado, here is a guide to the most common beer flavors:

Acidic: The term implies a sharper, almost tangy flavor without exactly having the characteristics of sourness.

Alcohol: Certain beers like bourbon barrel aged beers might feature a specific “boozy” taste as a primary part of the flavor. However, the taste of alcohol is generally considered to be an undesirable characteristic.

Banana:  Many German wheat beers are characterized by a strong banana flavor without having any actual fruit added to the recipe. The yeasty banana taste is usually produced during fermentation as a result of specific yeast strains used.

Caramel: Caramel derived from certain malts can cause a sticky, rich sweetness in the beer.

Cider: Belgian beers often have hints of cider or apple taste because Belgian yeast creates fruity tart flavors that mix with a light, simple malt base. Sour beers often have a tart apple flavor that becomes enhanced by their dry, acidic character.

Citrus: Citrus is the most common word that’s used to describe many American hop varieties. Typically used to describe West Coast hops, Pale Ales and IPAs are often described as citrusy.

Chocolate: Stouts and porters are typically described as tasting chocolate-y. Beers that are branded as chocolate-y typically use chocolate or chocolate flavoring, but dark malts produce hints of chocolate by themselves sometimes.

Coffee: Along with chocolate flavor, stouts and porters can also be characterized by a coffee flavor. Dark malts can also produce this flavor, but sometimes “coffee stouts” are brewed with actual coffee. Usually the name of the beer clears up this ambiguity.

Fruit:  The only ingredient in used in beer that doesn’t sometimes cause a fruity flavor is water. The fruity flavor can result from actual fruit being used in the brewing process, hop varieties imparting fruity flavors and yeast creating hints of fruit. Types of malts can also create dark fruity flavors as well.

Hoppy: Depending on the variety, hops can cause nearly endless kinds of flavors and smells. A key beer ingredient, hops can also control a beer’s bitterness. The amount of bitterness varies on how hops are used in the brewing process.

Rye: A dry, silky beer taste often results from rye malt. If it’s used as a large portion of the grain bill, it can also create a spicy flavor reminiscent of rye bread. When used with a lower percentage, rye malt can also create a sweet vanilla-like flavor.

Spice: Spices are common in pumpkin beers and winter warm-up beers that use orange peels and coriander in the recipe. Adding spices is considered to be one of he most common/easiest ways for brewers to experiment. There’s no real limit as to how many spices can be added to a beer.

Tart: Tartness is almost always associated with acidic, sour and dry beer flavors. It generally tastes like under-ripe fruit and green apple.

Wheat: Wheat doesn’t typically affect the actual flavor of the beer. It has a greater affect on the “body” of the beer, giving it a smooth, silky sensation. Moreover, the amount of protein in wheat causes a thick, fluffy feel to the beer. From a flavor perspective, wheat can add a slight tangy flavor, as well as a light sweetness.

Now that you’re an ale expert, make sure you remember this information if you attend America On Tap on Aug. 6 along Ocean Avenue in Seaside Park. There are still plenty of tickets available, $35 in advance and $45 at the door. For more information about the event, check out