Thinking About Beer Color

color-wheel
I’ve always been fascinated by color, even as a child, and naturally, more recently, beer color. I understand how the color numbering systems came about, and their obvious utility, but I’m more interested in thinking about beer color, by which I mean how we describe a beer’s color using names for colors in the same way that we have more or less standardized descriptors for flavors and aromas. When it comes to the descriptors for beer’s aroma and flavors, we understand and acknowledge the importance of vocabulary, of having a standardized series of words to express what we’re tasting. Several years ago, my friend Fal Allen (who’s the brewmaster at Anderson Valley Brewing) started a list of Beer Tasting Terms that I expanded on which includes most of the more common descriptors and other terms used when tasting beer. Having everyone using and understanding the same language makes talking about those much, much easier. That’s why in the 1970s Morton Meilgaard created the Beer Flavor Wheel which has since been updated and maintained by the American Society of Brewing Chemists.
beer-color-line-of-glasses
But that brings us back to color. Color is generally expressed by numbers, first using the Lovibond scale (or Degrees Lovibond / °L) which has been mostly replaced by the SRM (Standard Reference Method) and the EBC (European Brewery Convention). SRM is the one most commonly used in the U.S., and it expresses beer color using a numbering system of 1-40, with the lower the number, the lighter the beer, and vice versa.

SRM_Beer_Color_Chart

And that works fairly well, especially for reviews or judging since it’s reasonably easy to determine if a beer hits its range for a particular style. So I have nothing against it, except that it’s not very elegant or poetic. I realize it doesn’t have to be, but I make my living writing. I love language. Words excite me. I love to linger at the paint chips and marvel at the imaginative names that people give to different shades of colors. Even as a child I remember being intrigued by the names on crayons, especially those with such descriptive names as “burnt sienna,” “midnight blue” or “atomic tangerine.” They’re so much more evocative than brown, blue or orange.

So when writing a beer review, I struggle to avoid using the same semi-standard color names over and over again, none of which have been set in stone, at least not to my knowledge. The most common four colors that one sees are Yellow, Amber, Brown and Black. And while that does express the range of beer color, it’s a bit too vague. Other scales include Straw, Yellow, Gold, Amber, Copper, Brown and Black with many more using modifiers to those like Light, Dark, Deep and occasionally Medium or Ruby.

In Randy Mosher’s latest book, Mastering Homebrew, he includes a chart with some basic beer color nomenclature.

mosher-beer-color

And that’s obviously better than just four colors, or even seven; although like taste, you probably don’t want too many. And keeping them fairly standardized makes sense since it helps communicate the colors more effectively, but I still can’t help but think that in terms of describing the beer that it’s too limiting. For example, I like to use “mahogany” to describe a beer that’s primarily brown but with some red in it, too. And while I think that does communicate the actual color better, it’s not clear to me where on the scale it would fall.

The elephant in the room, of course, is that like aroma and taste, none of us perceive color in exactly the same way. Some people are color blind, and while some see only black and white, in most cases it means that they see color differently than typical people do. My stepfather couldn’t see red, for example and when driving was fine with normal traffic lights but would often get tripped up if the lights were horizontal rather than vertical. Color blindness overwhelmingly effects men, with as many as 8% of the male population having some form of it, while only about 0.4% of women are color blind (at least for people of Northern European ancestry).

But for the rest of us, colors are something we learn very early in life and we can more or less agree on the basic colors, if not the more nuanced shades of colors. So where do the names for colors come from? We all can agree on the primary colors, the rainbow’s ROYGBIV. But it gets trickier when you start looking at the shades, say grass green, apple green, olive or avocado. Most people started noticing colors, like me, with crayons. A list of Crayola crayons reveals more than 200 named colors over the years, although a collector’s website lists 1,629 different colors. Wikipedia has their own list of colors, and also has a list of X11 colors. Then there are internet or web colors, with 6-digit hex codes, though many of them also have color names, and there’s another list of over 500 web colors. There are also alphabetical color lists like this one.

One of the most popular color systems is the commercial Pantone Matching System, which unfortunately primarily uses a numbering system to organize the majority of their colors, although names are assigned to some of them. I find them hard to use because of that, and because within Pantone there are so many ways they’re divided into collections and other ways of being displayed. Just take a look at a few third-party lists of their colors to get a feel for how many there are, and how unwieldy they are to use. There’s the Pantone® Matching System Color Chart, All Pantone C colors with HEX and RGB codes, a Pantone Color Table, and PANTONE® Colours. These are the ones used by a number of different professions and professional designers, but they can also be expensive.

What got me thinking about this was a post entitled The Color Thesaurus by new novelist Ingrid Sundberg on her blog. She writes that “[o]ne of my on-going word collections is of colors. I love to stop in the paint section of a hardware store and find new names for red or white or yellow. Having a variety of color names at my fingertips helps me to create specificity in my writing. I can paint a more evocative image in my reader’s mind if I describe a character’s hair as the color of rust or carrot-squash, rather than red.”

So she created a color thesaurus of colors, shades and their names. I’ve included the six of them that involve beer colors, but you can see the rest of them here. Not all of them are strictly beerish in their nomenclature, but perhaps it’s worth exploring to come up with a list that is.


color1-tan_revised
color2-yellow
color3-orange_revised
color4-red
color5-brown
color6-black

Here’s another hilarious list of 16 Creative Paint Color Names We Haven’t Seen — Yet that includes such colorful names as “Grandma’s Upholstery” and “Beer Belly.”

Fallout Shelter Brewing (which I think is a homebrewer’s personal site) has a very helpful chart of the HTML color codes for SRM Colors that includes 0 through 60, with halftones of .5 in between each, along with the codes for three different constrained path lengths, which he believes would show the beer as seen through a carboy, a pint glass or a tasting glass, respectively. Using the codes for the taster glass, primarily because they seemed to show a greater range of colors from lightest to darkest, I created a Beer Color Nomeclature Chart, which is below.

I then took the main range of colors, including the halftones only between 0 and 13 because after that as they become darker, differences become harder to make out or even notice. I then listed the SRM value and display a swatch of the color corresponding to the SRM number. The third column lists the common name known for that SRM number, if there is one, though having looked at numerous sources, you’ll probably not be surprised to learn that they rarely agree. So I made some choices, and also included some non-standard names there, but used italics to differentiate those.

In the final column, in order to make it more useful or understandable, I included a number of pieces of data, including:

  • BJCP beginning and ending colors for each listed style.
  • Cicerone beginning and ending colors for each listed style.
  • GABF beginning and ending colors for each listed style.
  • Beginning and ending colors for each listed style in Randy Mosher’s Tasting Beer.
  • Specific examples of beers where I was able to find their SRM, though I can’t be certain how correct the information is. In fact, I’ve found multiple sources for some beers that do not agree, for example I’ve found references to Pilsner Urquell having an SRM of 4.2 and 6. I think a lot of the differences stem from the fact that what the SRM numbers are is dependent upon how that color was calculated. I will gladly correct any if I can be shown some proof from a more reliable source or how the more correct number was arrived upon. There’s actually not a lot of information listing the exact SRM for many beers, at least not that I could find. If you know of any resources listing exact SRM for common and/or popular beers, please leave a comment or send me an e-mail. Thanks.

                         Beer Color Nomenclature Chart

Name Key: Plain Text = traditional name / Italics = non-traditional but used by someone on a list that I found researching this.
BJCP Key: b = range begins / e = range ends / Numbers correspond to BJCP styles.
Styles Key: Cicerone program: Range begins = Plain Text w/© / Range ends = Italics w/© (© for Cicerone) / Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher: Range begins = Plain Text w/® / Range ends = Italics w/® (® for Randy) / Brewers Association GABF 2014 Beer Style Guidelines: Range begins = Plain Text w/ß / Range ends = Italics w/ß (ß for BA) / No code = found on a list researching this.
Abbreviations: Amer. = American / Amer-Belgo = American-Belgo-Style / APA = American Pale Ale / A-S = American-Style / B-S = Belgian-Style / E-S = English-Style / EU-S = European Style / F-S = French Style / G-S = German-Style / No. = North / So. = South

SRM Color Beer Name Common Beer Style Ranges & Examples
0
 
White Water, Miller Clear
0.5
 
None Zima
1
 
Very Light Specialty Beerß/Specialty Honey Beerß; Carib Shandy Lager
1.5
 
None A-S Light (Low-Calorie)ß
2
 
Pale Straw b:1ABC/2A/15A/16A/17A/American Lager©ß/A-S Cream Aleß/A-S Ice Lagerß/Australasian, Latin American or Tropical-Style Light Lagerß/Berliner Weisseß/EU Low-Alcohol Lagerß/German Pilsner©/Leichtß/Light Amer. Wheat Beer w/o Yeastß/Malt Liquorß/Pilsner®/ Weissbier©/Witbier®©ß; Asahi Dry, Coors Light, Little King’s, Miller Lite
2.5
 
None b:6A/Cream Ale©; Beck’s, Budweiser, Heineken
3
 
Straw b:1D/2C/6BD/17DEF/18D/A-S Pilsenerß/American Wheat©/Belgian Golden Strong©/Blonde©ß/Bohemian Pilsnerß/G-S Kölschß/G-S Oktoberfestß/G-S Pilsenerß/ Goldenß/Goseß/Grodziskieß/ Helles©/Int’l-S Pilsenerß/Lambic©/So. G-S Hefeweizenß/So. G-S Kristal Weizenß; e:1A/17A; Bud Light, Hoegaarden, St. Pauli Girl, Tsingtao
3.5
 
None b:2B/6C/B-S Pale Strongß/Bohemian Pilsner©/Dortmunderß/G-S Leichtes Weizenß; Asahi Super Dry, Jever Pils, Labatt’s 50, Pyramid Wheat, Saison Dupont, Unibroue Blanche de Chambly, Wittekerke
4
 
Pale Gold b:1E/8A/18A/A-S Märzen&Oktoberfestß/Bamberg-Style Helles Rauchbierß/Bamberg-Style Märzen Rauchbierß/Bamberg-Style Weiss Rauchbierß/Belgian Blond©ß/B-S Tripelß/Bitter©/Coffee-Flavored Beerß/E-S Summerß/F&B-S Saisonß/G-S Heller Bockß/G-S Märzenß/Golden®/Japanese Sake-Yeast Beerß/Light Amer. Wheat Beer with Yeastß/Maibock®/Münchner Hellesß/Oktoberfest®/ Roggenbierß/Weizen®; e:1B/16A/American Lager©/A-S Amber Lager (Low-Calorie)ß/A-S Light (Low-Calorie)ß/Berliner Weisseß/Belgian Strong®/EU Low-Alcohol Lagerß/Int’l-S Pilsenerß/G-S Pilsenerß/Leichtß/Witbier®©ß; Berliner Kindl Weiss, Foster’s Lager, San Miguel
4.5
 
Deep Straw So. G-S Weizenbockß/Tripel©; e:18C; Paulaner Premium Pils, Sly Fox Pikeland Pils, Tugboat Rye Ale
5
 
None b:10A/16C/APA©/A-S Wheat Wineß/Australian Paleß/B-S Table Beerß/Best Bitter©/E-S Paleß/Field Beerß/Fruit Beerß/Herb and Spice Beerß/Imperial IPAß/IPA®/Int’l Paleß/Kuitß/Ordinary Bitterß/Pale Amer-Belgoß/Pumpkin Beerß/Saison©;
e:1D/2A/6ABC/8B/A-S Cream Aleß/Australasian, Latin American or Tropical-Style Light Lagerß/Cream Ale©/German Pilsner©/G-S Oktoberfestß/Helles©/Malt Liquorß; Full Sail Golden, Gaffel Kölsch, Duvel
5.5
 
None Bamberg-Style Helles Rauchbierß/Münchner Hellesß; Kingfisher Premium Lager, Westmalle Tripel
6
 
Deep Gold b:5AC/8C/16D/18D/APA®ß/A-S Amber Lagerß/A-S Strong Paleß/Amer. IPA©ß/B-S Gueuze Lambicß/B-S Lambicß/B-S Paleß/Best Bitterß/Bière de Garde®/Doppelbock©/E-S IPAß/E-S Pale Mildß/ESB©/Maibock©/Helles Bock©Scottish-Style Lightß; e:1C/1E/2BC/6D/A-S Lagerß/A-S Pilsenerß/American Wheat©/Belgian Golden Strong©/Blonde©/Bohemian Pilsner©/Dortmunderß/G-S Kölschß/Grodziskieß; Pilsner Urquell
6.5
 
None Cooper’s Sparkling Ale, Double Enghien Blonde Ale, Fraoch Heather Ale
7
 
Light Amber b:3B/14B/Belgian Strong®/F-S Bière de Gardeß/Märzen®©/Vienna Lager®; e:17DEF/18AC/Belgian Blond©ß/Bohemian Pilsnerß/E-S Summerß/Lambic©/Pilsner®/Tripel©; Barbar Belgian Honey Ale, Sea Dog Wild Blueberry Wheat, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
7.5
 
None Ithaca Apricot Wheat, Leffe Blonde
8
 
None b:14AC/16B/19B/Belgian Pale©/B-S Quadß/California Commonß/English IPA©/ESB®ß/Imperial IPA©/Saison/Scottish-Style HeavyßStrong Aleß; e:15A/A-S Ice Lagerß/Golden®/Weissbier©; Abita Purple Haze, Petrus Tripel
8.5
 
None Brains Traditional Welsh Ale, Paulaner Oktoberfest
9
 
Pale Amber b:9ABCD/B-S Dark Strongß/Dark Amer. Wheat Beer with Yeastß/Dark Amer. Wheat Beer w/o Yeastß/Dunkel Weizen®/Scottish Ale©/Scottish-Style Exportß/So. G-S Bernsteinfarbenes Weizenß; B-S Tripelß/E-S Pale Mildß/G-S Heller Bockß/Goseß/So. G-S Hefeweizenß/So. G-S Kristal Weizenß; Harpoon IPA, Worthington’s White Shield
9.5
 
None Bass Ale, Samuel Adams Boston Lager
10
 
None b:3A/7B/10B/17B/18B/19AC/Amber©/California Common©/Dubbel/Imperial Redß/So. G-S Dunkel Weizenß; e:17DEF/18AC;/B-S Pale Strongß/Light Amer. Wheat Beer with Yeastß/Light Amer. Wheat Beer w/o Yeastß/Maibock®/Weizen®; Edelweiss Dunkel Weissbier, Jenlain, Orval
10.5
 
None Boskeun, Shepherd Neame IPA
11
 
Red-Brown b:7C;e:5A; Amber®ß/A-S Barley Wineß/G-S Altbierß/Irish-Style Redß; Helles Bock©/IPA®/Maibock©; Whitbread Pale Ale
11.5
 
None Anchor Liberty Ale
12
 
Med. Amber b:11AC/15C/18E/22A/Belgian Dark Strong©/B-S Flanders Oud Bruinß/Brown&#174ß/G-S Doppelbockß/Mild©/No. Eng. Brown&#169/Old Aleß/Vienna Lagerß; A-S Amber Lager (Low-Calorie)ß/B-S Paleß/E-S Paleß/Oktoberfest®/Ordinary Bitterß/So. G-S Bernsteinfarbenesß; Grant’s Spice Ale
12.5
 
None Dutch-Style Kuitß
13
 
None b:7A; Bière de Garde®/B-S Gueuze Lambicß/B-S Lambicß/Dunkel Weizen®; Magic Hat #9, Noche Buena, Red Hook ESB, Smithwick’s Export
14
 
Light Brown b:4AB/5B/9E/15BD/A-S Dark Lagerß/British-Style Barley Wineß/Dunkel©/Scotch Ale©; e:3B/7B/8A/10A/14A/16BC/APA®©ß/A-S Amber Lagerß/A-S IPAß/A-S Strong Paleß/Australian Paleß/Belgian Pale©/Best Bitterß/Bitter©/California Common©/English IPA©ß/ESB®ß/Int’l Paleß/Märzen©/Saison©/Vienna Lager®; Affligem Tripel, Fuller’s London Pride, Spitfire Premium Ale
15
 
Deep Amber b:17C/Adambierß/A-S Brownß/Chocolate or Cocoa-Flavored Beerß; Bamberg-Style Märzen Rauchbierß/EU-S Darkß/Münchner Dunkelß/Scotch Aleß; e:14BC/Amer. IPA©/A-S Märzen&Oktoberfestß/A-S Wheat Wineß/Bock®/California Commonß/G-S Leichtes Weizenß/Imperial IPA©/Märzen®ß/Pale Amer-Belgoß/Scottish-Style Lightß; Kwak Pauwel, Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome
16
 
None B-S Dubbelß/Dark Amer-Belgoß; e:3A/8BC/17B/Best Bitter©/F-S Bière de Gardeß/Imperial IPAß; Anchor Steam, George Killian’s Irish Red, Wexford Irish Cream Ale
17
 
Chestnut b:4C/12C/Baltic Porter®/E-S Dark Mildß; e:7C/9ABC/10B/18B/Amber©/Dubbel©/Imperial Redß/Scottish Ale©; Aventinus Wheat-Doppelbock, Samuel Adams Boston Stock Ale
18
 
Dark Red-Orange b:5D/10C/Amer. Brown©/G-S Eisbockß; e:9D/Amber®ß/A-S Barley Wineß/Bamberg-Style Weiss Rauchbierß/British-Style Barley Wineß/ESB©/F&B-S Saisonß/Irish-Style Redß; Chimay Red, Dos Equis, Michelob Dark, Old Speckled Hen
19
 
None b:11B;e:7A/15D/16D/19C/G-S Altbierß/Scottish-Style Exportß/Scottish-Style Heavyß; Einbecker Ur-Bock, McEwan’s Export IPA, Negra Modelo
20
 
Brown b:12A/Bamberg-Style Bock Rauchbierß/British-Style Imperial Stoutß/Brown Porter©ß/Porter®/Oatmeal Stoutß/Smoke Porterß/Traditional G-S Bockß; B-S Quadß/EU-S Darkß/Japanese Sake-Yeast Beerß/Münchner Dunkelß; Alsopp Burton Ale 1879, Scaldis Noel
21
 
None Strong Aleß; Gulden Draak, Otter Creek Copper Ale, Paulaner Salvator, Samiclaus, St. Louis Framboise
22
 
None b:12B/13C/Robust Porter©; e:4A/5B/11C/17C/18E/19AB/22A/Belgian Dark Strong©/Brown&#174/Dark Amer. Wheat Beer with Yeastß/Dark Amer. Wheat Beer w/o Yeastß/No. Eng. Brown©; EKU Kulminator, Kentucky Common 1907, Lindeman’s Framboise, Red Nectar, Skull Splitter
23
 
None e:15B; Newcastle Brown Ale, Wild Goose Amber
24
 
Ruby Brown Geary’s Pale Ale, Hobgoblin Dark English Ale, Rodenbach Grand Cru, Thomas Hardy Ale
25
 
None b:13A/Dry Irish Stout©/G-S Schwarzbierß/Oatmeal Stout®
e:5C/9E/11A/15C/A-S Dark Lagerß/B-S Flanders Oud Bruinß/Doppelbock©/E-S Brownß/Mild©/Scotch Ale©/So. G-S DunkelWeizenß/Roggenbierß, Traquair House Ale
26
 
None A-S Brownß/Vienna Lagerß
27
 
None Beck’s Dark, Pete’s Wicked Ale
28
 
None e:4B/Dunkel©; Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel, Widmer Alt
29
 
None Newcastle Brown
30
 
Deep Brown b:13B/13DEF/Amer. Stout©/Foreign Stout®©/Imperial Stout©/Robust Porterß; e:4C/5D/12AC; Bamberg-Style Bock Rauchbierß/Bock®/Brown Porter©/G-S Doppelbockß/G-S Schwarzbierß/Old Aleß/Scotch Aleß/So. G-S Weizenbockß/Traditional G-S Bockß; Saku Estonian Porter, Schlenkerla Rauchbier
31
 
None Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale
32
 
None Tröegs HopBack Amber Ale
33
 
None Gouden Carolus
34
 
None E-S Dark Mildß; BridgePort Old Knucklehead
35
 
None A-S Blackß; e:10C/11B/12B/Adambierß/Amer. Brown©/B-S Dark Strongß/E-S Imperial Stoutß/Brown Porterß/Robust Porter©; Anchor Porter, Theakston’s Old Peculiar
36
 
None B-S Dubbelß; George Gale Prize Old Ale, Rogue Old Crustacean Barley Wine
37
 
None Tilburgs Dutch Brown Ale
38
 
None Sierra Nevada Porter, St. Sixtus Abbey Ale
39
 
None Sapporo Black Beer
40
 
Black A-S Imperial Porterß/A-S Imperial Stoutß/A-S Stoutß/Baltic-Style Porterß/Cream or Sweet Stoutß/Foreign-Style Stoutß/Irish-Style Dry Stoutß; e:13ABCDEF/Amer. Stout©/Baltic Porter®/Dry Irish Stout©/
Foreign Stout©/Imperial Stout©/Oatmeal Stout®/Porter®
50
 
Black Imperial Stout®; B-S Table Beerß/Chocolate or Cocoa-Flavored Beerß/Coffee-Flavored Beerß/Field Beerß/Fruit Beerß/G-S Eisbockß/Herb and Spice Beerß/Pumpkin Beerß; Guinness Draft, Reichelbräu Eisbock
65
 
Black Foreign Stout®; ABC Extra Stout
80+
 
Black A-S Blackß/A-S Imperial Porterß/A-S Imperial Stoutß/A-S Stoutß/Baltic-Style Porterß/Cream or Sweet Stoutß/Dark Amer-Belgoß/Foreign-Style Stoutß/Imperial Stout®/Irish-Style Dry Stoutß/Oatmeal Stoutß/Robust Porterß/Smoke Porterß/Specialty Beerß/Specialty Honey Beerß; Bell’s Expedition Stout,
Mendocino Black Hawk Stout, North Coast Old Rasputin

And here’s a more thorough list of words for the basic beer colors that I cobbled together from a variety of sources. White is included not because beer is white, but because the very light colors of some beers fall into the range of off-white, colors like light straw veer between yellow and white, as do other very pale hues. I tried to avoid colors that would never be found in beer, but as many, if not most, would, it’s still a pretty broad list. Some might never work, whereas others maybe only for a very few beers. But the goal is to start a conversation about color, and to inspire a sense of playful poetry when it comes to describing it, as we do in enjoying it. So I wanted to include as much as possible rather than try to be too exclusive.

 White
 Yellow
 Orange
Alabaster, Antique White, Arctic White, Ashen White, Beige, Birch Biscuit White, Bisque, Blanched Almond, Bleached White, Bone White, Buff, Canvas Beige, Chalk White, Champagne, Coconut White, Cotton White, Cream, Deep Peach, Dove White, Dutch White, Ecru, Eggshell, Flax, Flour White, Fog White, French Beige, Ghost White, Ivory White, Lace White, Light tan, Lily White, Linen, Marshmallow, Milk White, Mother-of-Pearl, Mushroom, Nude, Oat, Oatmeal, Off-White, Old Lace, Opal, Oyster, Paper White, Parchment, Peach, Pearl, Polar White, Porcelain, Powder White, Pure White, Sand, Sandstone, Seashell, Sheep White, Smoky Beige, Snow White, Sugar, Tan, Toothpaste White, Vanilla, Whey, White, White Smoke Banana, Bee Yellow, Bleached Blond, Blonde, Brass, Buff, Bumblebee, Butter, Buttercup, Buttermilk, Butternut Squash, Butterscotch, Canary, Champagne, Chardonnay, Citrine, Corn, Cornsilk, Cream, Custard, Dandelion, Dijon, Egg Nog, Egg Yolk, Flax, French Fry Gold, Gamboge, Gold, Golden Bronze, Golden Brown, Golden Yellow, Goldenrod, Honey, Lemon, Lion, Maize, Macaroni and Cheese, Macaroon, Marigold, Medallion, Mimosa, Mustard, Ochre, Old Gold, Pale Yellow, Papaya, Parmesan, Pineapple, Saffron, Squash, Stil de Grain Yellow, Straw, Sunglow, Sunset, Sunshine, Topaz, Tuscan Sun, Wheat, Xanthic, Yellow Amber, Apricot, Atomic Tangerine, Blood Orange, Bourbon, Burnt Orange, Candlelight, Candy Corn, Cantaloupe, Carnelian, Carotene, Carrot, Cheddar Orange, Cider, Construction Cone Orange, Copper, Copper Penny, Dark Orange, Fall Leaves Orange, Ginger, Golden Orange, Goldfish, Light Orange, Mandarin Orange, Mango, Marmalade, Melon, Orange, Orange Gold, Orange Juice, Orange Peel, Orange Soda, Orange-Red, Papaya, Peach, Peach-Orange, Persimmon, Pumpkin, Red Fox, Russet, Rust, Salmon, Sedona, Shocking Orange, Squash, Sunrise Orange, Tangelo, Tangerine, Tiger Orange, Yam
 Red
 Brown
 Black
Amaranth, Apple Red, Auburn, Autumn Leaf Red, Barn Red, Beet Red, Berry, Blood Red, Blush, Bordeaux, Brick, Burgundy, Cardinal Red, Carmine, Carnelian, Cerise, Cherry, Chestnut Red, Chili Pepper Red, Cinnabar, Claret, Copper, Crab Red, Cranberry, Crimson, Currant, Dark Cerise, Dark Red, Devil Red, Faded Rose, Fire Red, Flame, Garnet, Geranium, Grapefruit, Hibiscus Red, Indian Red, Ketchup, Ladybug Red, Lobster, Magenta, Maroon, Merlot, Orange-Red, Paprika, Pepperoni Red, Plum, Pomegranate, Poppy Red, Radish, Rare Steak Red, Raspberry, Red, Red Apple, Red Berry, Red Licorice, Red Pepper, Red Rose, Red Velvet, Redwood, Rose, Rosewood, Ruby, Ruddy, Russet, Rust Red, Sangria, Sanguine, Scarlet, Strawberry, Tawny Port Red, Tawny Red, Terra Cotta, Tomato Bisque, Tomato Red, Tuscan Red, Tyrian Purple, Vermillion, Watermelon, Wine Red Acorn Brown, Auburn, Autumn Leaf, Barbecue Sauce Brown, Bark, Biscuit, Biscotti, Black Bean, Branch Brown, Brass, Bronze, Brown, Brown Sugar, Brunette, Burly Wood, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Butterscotch, Cafe au Lait, Camel Brown, Cappuccino, Carob, Caramel, Cardboard, Chestnut, Chocolate, Cider, Cinnamon, Clay, Cocoa, Coffee Bean, Coffee, Cookie Brown, Copper, Dark Chocolate, Deer Brown, Deep Brown, Desert Sand, Dirt, Dun, Earth Brown, Earthenware, Fawn, Gingerbread, Golden Brown, Hazel, Henna, Hickory, Khaki, Latte, Leather, Liver Brown, Mahogany, Maple, Maple Sugar Brown, Meatball Brown, Milk Chocolate, Mink, Moccasin, Mocha, Mud, Nougat, Nut Brown, Nutmeg, Oak Brown, October Brown, Pancake Brown, Peanut, Peanut Butter, Peanut Shell, Pecan, Potato Brown, Pretzel, Raisin, Red Dirt, Redwood, Rich Earth, Root Beer, Rosewood, Ruddy Brown, Russet Brown, Rust, Saddle Brown, Sand, Sandy Brown, Semi-Sweet Chocolate, Sepia, Sienna, Sorrel, Spice, Steak Brown, Syrup, Tan, Tawny, Toast, Tortilla, Tweed, Umber, Walnut, Wheat, Whiskey Brown, Wood Black, Black Coffee, Black Cow, Black Licorice, Black Olive, Black Pearl, Black Pepper, Black Tar, Carbon Black, Caviar Black, Charcoal Black, Coal Black, Crow, Ebony, Eclipse Black, Fig, Grease, Ink Black, Iridium, Jet Black, Kettle Black, Licorice, Mica, Midnight Black, Mocha, Night, Obsidian, Oil, Onyx, Pitch Black, Raven Black, Sable, Slate, Smoky Black, Soot Black, Tar, Taupe, Tuxedo Black

So that’s a lot of different shades of colors in a few different families. It was just an exercise to see what were the more common names used for those colors. There are many, many more I did not include, though I did look at quite a few different sources.

Finally, below is a Color Nomenclature Chart, a list of the same beer colors as the first chart, but with the html hex codes for each along with the color’s name, if known, or if there even is one. If not, I tried to find the closest match. I looked through numerous color websites and databases to find the names for the colors below based upon their web hex code. A few were easy, but most were not easy to find. With 8-bit (2^8=256 colors), 16-bit (2^16=65,536 colors), and 24-bit (2^24=16,777,216 colors) having so many available colors, it’s not terribly surprising that no one has given them all names. It would be like naming every star. The last column then is color names that were close to the code for the one shown, and may provide better names.

Since the colors themselves are not perfect, and many systems exist for displaying them, being exact isn’t really necessary so the goal is to find descriptive names that most people will recognize and understand which describe the color of the beer. Maybe the best approach to use the most iconic or classic beer as the name. For example, perhaps if Orval is SRM 10, then SRM 10’s color should be called Orval. There are a number of ways we could go, and below is one idea, that there are already some names for most colors that exist, and here are some of them.


                         Color Nomenclature Chart

Code Key: The six-digit code is the HEX code data to display a color using the internet.
Color Key: Recognized name or the closest recognized name I could find.
Alternate Names Key: These color names have codes very close to the listed code. If there’s no parenthetical name, then the color name was also an exact match for the code. If there is a parenthetical name, then it was not an exact match, and I’ve listed the company that makes that named color.

SRM Code Color Alternate Color Names
0
 ffffff
White Bright White, Pure Brilliant White
0.5
 fbf0cb
Champagne Barely Dawn (Kelly-Moore), Grapefruit (Taubmans)
1
 f7e1a1
Candleglow Sandwisp, Butter Up (Sherman Williams)
1.5
 f4d380
Broadway Lights Yellow (Chrysler), Sunbonnet (ICI), Katydid (Taubmans)
2
 f0c566
Cream Can Firefly (Benjamin Moore)
2.5
 edb950
Casablanca Ronchi, Yellow Coneflower (Pittsburgh)
3
 e9ad3f
Tulip Tree Dried Mustard (Cloverdale)
3.5
 e5a231
Fire Bush Ocker (Caparol)
4
 e19726
Buttercup Amberger (Caparol), Pencil Yellow (Devoe)
4.5
 dd8d1d
Zest Dixie, Golden Bark (Dulux), Butterscotch Tempest (Devoe)
5
 d98416
Golden Bell Gamboge, Desert Sunset (GM)
5.5
 d57b11
Meteor Amber 65 (Caparol)
6
 d1730c
Dark Goldenrod Ochre
6.5
 cd6c08
Indochine Red Stage, Sticky Toffee (Plascon)
7
 c86505
Alloy Orange Oxidrot 7s (Caparol)
7.5
 c45e03
Tawny Oxidrot 8s (Caparol)
8
 c05801
Rose of Sharon Burnt Orange (Marston & Langinger)
8.5
 bc5200
Ruddy Brown PMS167 (Pantone), Mahogany
9
 b74d00
Mahogany Rust
9.5
 b34800
Fire Rust
10
 af4300
Orange Terra Warmth (Dutch Boy)
10.5
 ab3f00
Dark Orange India O (Caparol)
11
 a73b00
Chinese Red Rotor Bolus (Caparol)
11.5
 a33700
Quora Rotor Bolus (Caparol)
12
 9f3400
Sangria Rufous
12.5
 9b3000
Dark Orange-Red A7 (Trumatch)
13
 972d00
Totem Pole Oregon, Dark Red, Schwedenro/Schwedenrot (Caparol)
14
 8f2800
Peru Tan Dark Red, Kobe, Rotbraun (Caparol)
15
 882300
Red Beech Sienna, Grand Canyon Brown (GM)
16
 811f00
Maroon Kenyan Copper
17
 7b1b00
Pueblo Oxidrot+Feuerrot 1/1 (Caparol)
18
 741800
Cedar Wood Amber Fire (Chrysler), Kardinal Braun (Caparol)
19
 6e1500
Barn Red Oxidrot Dunkel (Caparol)
20
 681200
Rosewood Oxidrot (Caparol), Red (Ford, Chrysler)
21
 631000
Dark Red Oxidrot (Caparol)
22
 5e0e00
Red Oxide Prune, Persian Plum, Burgundy (Ford)
23
 590c00
Rustic Red Bulgarian Rose, Murano (Caparol), Mohawk Maroon (Ford)
24
 540b00
Burnt Maroon Indian Tan, Grenadin 35 (Caparol), Crimson Red (Chrysler)
25
 500900
Pheasant Red Dark Diamond Bright Red (Ford), Pimento Red (Chrysler)
26
 4c0800
Brown Pod Medium Rosewood (Ford), Cordovan Brown (Chrysler)
27
 480700
Temptress Regis Red (Ford), Dark Beech Firemist (Chrysler)
28
 440600
Dark Sienna Chestnut (Ford)
29
 410500
Black Bean Dark Cordovan (Ford)
30
 3d0500
Dark Bronze Dark Champagne (Ford), Piedmont Maroon (Chrysler)
31
 3a0400
Chocolate Carmine, Seal Brown, Maroon (Ford)
32
 370400
Autumn Maple Imperial Maroon (Chrysler), Sunset Maroon (AMC)
33
 340300
Dark Cabernet Dark Maroon (Ford)
34
 320300
Titian Maroon Victoria Plum (GM)
35
 2f0200
Sepia Black Tyrian Purple, Brown (Ford)
36
 2d0200
Dark Gold Wing Coppertone (Ford)
37
 2a0200
Zinnwaldite Brown Midnight Wine (Ford)
38
 280100
Diesel Maroon Deep (AMC), Amarone (Alcro)
39
 260100
Licorice Dark Vivid Red (AMC)
40
 240100
Black Morocco Red, Oporto Maroon (GM)
50
 160000
Smoky Black Black Magic (Homebase), Velvet Maroon (Ford)
65
 0d0000
Coal Black Black Diamond (GM), Granada Black (GM)
80+
 000000
Moonlight Black Ebony, Jet Black (RAL), Panther Black (Ford)

I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with this or what the ultimate goal might be. This started a couple of weeks ago as what I thought would be a short post about some beer color names, but grew and grew until it became the bloated colossus you see before you. It ended up being more of an exploration of color in general and beer color more specifically. There’s no doubt that the SRM and other numbering systems for color and their ranges work pretty well. But I think it’s always worth contemplating if anything can be made better and, if so, how. My bias obviously is for more descriptive words instead of numbers, and there’s no doubt that bias is personal. But I also can’t believe I’m the only one who prefers poetry to mathematics.

What happens next is entirely dependent upon how much interest this generates, which will reveal if my geekery about beer color is a solitary quirk, or whether any other like-minded color nerds are out there. Just making it this far and reading this sentence will undoubtedly mean you’re probably one of us, as I suspect the rest will have jumped ship after the first few colorful passages. This paragraph is like the teaser after the credits that many movies show after most of the audience has left the theatre. I always stay to the end of the credits of every movie I see, and that should tell you quite a bit about me. But if you’re reading this, then you’re most likely ready to take the next step with me. Drop me a note or comment here and we’ll see what happens. Chromanerds unite!

UPDATE: Here’s another beer-related color that I recently came across on a listical entitled 17 Of The Most Beautiful Colors You Never Knew Existed. #3 is Drunk Tank Pink, and is accompanied by this description. “This particular shade of pink has been used to calm people after it was tested and proven in psych studies to achieve some degree of tranquility.”

drunk-tank-pink

Beer 101 Poster

poster
This would make a great Father’s Day gift, if only I had found it sooner. This beautiful-looking poster was created by Russell van Kraayenburg for Chasing Delicious. It’s in their Kitchen 101 section, which is a series of educational culinary infographic posters. The Beer 101 poster is available in several sizes, including 8.5 x 11, 12 x 18 and 24 x 36. It’s not perfect. I didn’t look at every single beer on it, but they did call IPAs “Indian Pale Ale.” Given that for each of the 72 beers, they show color, carbonation, head characteristics, suggested glass, food pairing, alcohol range, hoppiness, maltiness, fruity esters and adjuncts, it’s an ambitious job. There’s bound to be things we can quibble with, but overall it seems to be a nice job, and it certainly packs a lot of information into its attractive design.

Beer-101-poster

The Effect Of Color On Taste

color
I’ve seen several different studies examining the effect of the color of food or a beverage on how it tastes. But this is the first one I’ve seen where they’ve looked at the color of the room in which the tasting is held. This study used wine, but it would undoubtedly be the same for beer, or any other drink. It certainly makes sense that your environment would effect the experience of tasting. Or as this short article in Drinks Business puts it, the “environment in which you experience a wine has a ‘profound’ effect on how you will perceive it to taste.” The study, conducted by Charles Spence, a professor of experimental psychology at Oxford University, concluded that “Lighting and music can act as digital seasoning for food and wine.” I”m not quite sure about sound, but perhaps. Anyway, it brings up all sorts of possibilities about how we taste, and where. I’d certainly like to see more of this kind of research.

colored-rooms
Be careful what room you drink in, especially what color it is.