SRM in Beer (Standard Reference Method) Explained

SRM, which stands for Standard Reference Method, is a color scale used to determine the color of beer. It’s a system that measures the degree of darkness in a beer’s color, ranging from pale straw to deep black. Brewers use the SRM scale to produce beers with a specific color or hue.

The SRM scale ranges from 1 to 40+. Beers with a low SRM score, such as light lagers, have a pale straw color, while those with a high SRM score, such as stouts, have a dark brown or black color. In general, the higher the SRM score, the more malt flavor the beer will have.

How is SRM Measured in beer?

The SRM of a beer is measured by shining a beam of light through a sample of it. First, the amount of light that passes through the beer is measured, and this measurement is used to calculate the SRM score.

Beer Style SRM Color Ranges

The SRM scale ranges from 1 to 40+, with each number corresponding to a specific color or hue. The following are the different color ranges in SRM beer:

1-2 SRM: Straw

3-4 SRM: Pale Gold

5-6 SRM: Deep Gold

7-8 SRM: Amber

9-13 SRM: Light Copper

14-17 SRM: Medium Copper

18-24 SRM: Medium Brown

25-40+ SRM: Dark Brown/Black

How SRM Affects the Flavor of Beer

The SRM score of a beer does indeed affect its flavor profile. Beers with a low SRM score, such as light lagers, tend to have a lighter body and a mild flavor. Beers with a higher SRM score, such as stouts, tend to have a heavier body and a more complex flavor profile.

The higher the SRM score, the more malt flavor the beer will have, and the lower the score, the hoppier or light-tasting the beer will be.

How SRM Effects the Brewing Process

The brewing process for SRM beer varies depending on the desired color and flavor profile. Brewers use different types of malted grains and hops to achieve a specific SRM score. 

Differnent colored beer next to each other besides the words SRM in Beer Explained.
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For example, brewers use pale malted grains and minimal hops to create a light beer with a low SRM score. Brewers use roasted malted grains and more hops for a beer with a higher SRM score, such as a porter or stout.

SRM Ranges of Popular Beer Styles

Pilsner – 2 to 5 SRM

Wheat Beer – 2 to 8 SRM

Pale Ale – 5 to 14 SRM

IPA – 6 to 15 SRM

Amber Ale – 10 to 17 SRM

Brown Ale – 18 to 35 SRM

Porter – 22 to 40+ SRM

Stout – 30 to 40+ SRM

What is the Highest SRM for Beer?

The highest SRM score for beer is 40+. Beers with an SRM score of 40+ are usually dark brown or black in color and are often referred to as “black beers.” These beers are typically brewed with roasted malted grains and have a heavy body and complex flavor profile.

Examples of beers with an SRM score of 40 include Russian Imperial Stouts, American Stouts, and Black IPAs. While beers with an SRM score of 40 may not be for everyone, they are beloved by many beer enthusiasts who appreciate their rich, bold flavor and unique characteristics.

Why Does SRM Matter in Beer

SRM is an essential factor in beer because it helps brewers create a specific appearance, flavor, and aroma. For example, the color of a beer can be a key indicator of its style and characteristics, and SRM allows brewers to measure and control the color of their beer with precision. This is important because the color of a beer can affect its perceived flavor and aroma.

For example, when it comes to light vs dark beer, the darker beers with a high SRM score tend to have a more robust and complex flavor profile than lighter beers with a lower SRM score. Additionally, SRM can help beer drinkers to identify and appreciate different beer styles and characteristics.

By understanding SRM and how it affects beer, drinkers can make more informed decisions when choosing a beer and appreciate the unique qualities of different beer styles.

Last Call

In conclusion, SRM is a method of measuring the color of the beer on what is referred to as the SRM scale. The SRM score of the beer can affect its flavor profile and body, and brewers use different types of malted grains and hops to achieve their desired SRM score.

The next time you order a beer, take a moment to appreciate its color and the brewing process that went into creating it. Then, get yourself an SRM scale and see if you can dial in your preference regarding where your favorite beers rank.

P.S. Be sure to pick up your gift from Big Robb and grab his top 5 favorite beer recipes from his brewpub. Details are on the side of the blog or at the bottom if you are on your phone. Cheers!

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