Phylogeny of Beer
In order to make sense out of the various styles of beer, we have attempted to order some of the more common styles (certainly not all beer styles) in a rational way, based on our own understanding of beer as well as the BJCP guidelines. The result is the very non-authoritative graphic you see below. Roughly, the color of the beer is represented by the color of the circle, the bitterness is represented by the darkness of the green lettering (e.g. Double IPA ["DIPA"] is in very dark green), and the higher the ABV, the larger the circle. We used an amazing free graphics program called PiktoChart to make the image. Hopefully you like it!
A couple of points worth mentioning. First, the two broad categories of beer are ale (on the left/bottom) and lager (on the right). However, some people feel that wheat beers should be a third, independent category (traditionally they are classified as ale) - thus Wheat beers get their own, extra large label, but are placed at the bottom of the ale section. Second, there are many beers that don't fit neatly in one particular category - for instance, Saison. Is is Belgian? French? Both, actually. And, it's often brewed with wheat, making it a wheat beer as well. So we left it in between those three categories. Lastly, it is impossible to distill hundreds of years of brewing creativity into a two dimensional image - we get that. The purpose of this figure is to help people (including ourselves) understand different beer styles as they relate to each other.