It’s easy for (almost) anyone to tell the difference between a stout and a helles lager, but an imperial stout vs a stout vs a porter gets trickier. On top of that many brewers are equal thirds beer lover, mad scientist, and nerd. So these two things have led to the creation of the Standard Reference Method, usually referred to as SRM. Which is perhaps one of the most boring and “unbeer” sounding things possible but I find it interesting. More after the jump!
SRM is simply a scale for measuring the color of a beer. The color of the beer is the 2nd or 3rd thing we see from the beer; after bottle/tap handle and before/after/same time as the head. This leads to color playing an important role in our initial judgement of the beer. When I pass a stout to my wife she almost always says “oh no, not another dark beer” but she’s getting better about that. On the other hand many people get excited about a nice amber IPA or a straw colored heffewiezen.
There is some complicated math and science behind finding the specific number for each beer, but next time you’re at a bar trying to impress some new friends you’ll be safe enough knowing that 2 is yellow and 40 is black. Here’s a chart and some local examples.