There is a huge variety of styles that beer can come in. However, there are some basic characteristics that are used to define a style.They are as follows:
Beers styles have a certain appearance. There are three characteristics that make up the appearance of a beer. First and foremost is the Color. For example, when you pick up a stout, you expect it to be almost black, if not black. Next, is the level of carbonation. When you look at the beer the level of bubbling will vary by style. Finally, clarity is considered. For most homebrewers, clarity is hard to acheive. To get excellent clarity the beer will have to be filtered. For the most part, a little cloudiness isn't an issue. It is just a byproduct of some proteins remaining in suspension in the brew and it won't hurt the flavor.
The aroma also has three main components. The first is referred to as the Aroma and is the smell that comes from the grains used in the brew. The second component is the Bouquet and refers to the smell that is created by the hop additions. Finally, there is the odor. Odor is bad characteristic and is made up of any off smells that may be present.
Flavor is the final characteristic that defines the style and typically is the characteristic of a beer that most people are concerned with. What must be understood however, is that Appearance and Aroma are equally important to a beer.
That being said, the taste of a beer is again comprised of three components. Firstly, there is the Flavor. Flavor is exactly what you think it is. It refers to the overall way the beer tastes in your mouth. This will include the flavor from the malts, the hops, and any additives that may have been added such as fruits. Next there is the Mouthfeel. The most common explination of mouthfeel is the body of the beer. In other words, the actual way the beer feels on your tongue, such as bubbly or smooth. However, mouthfeel is described using the terms: light, medium, or full body. Finally, there is the Finish. This is also commonly called the after-taste, meaning the lingering taste in your mouth after you have swallowed the beer.