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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Beer Styles, Slight Return

Because cranks like company, I direct your attention to Tom Cizauskas, whose rant about proliferating beer styles was much to the same tune as mine.
Styles, historically, were not necessarily legal codifications but measures of provenance. Of course there were purity laws, and tax laws, and monopolistic grants. But it was what the local water, what the local economy, what the land, and what exigency would bear and allow to flourish that determined 'style'.

A beer is what the brewer says it is, as tempered by the success the brewer has in sharing that 'belief' with a drinker. But is it a style?

Styles, now, at least in the US, seem to be determined by formalistic minutiae, and, once in place, fiercely defended by the killer phrase "not to style."
Amen, brother. Do tell.


  1. I agree, a style should serve only to tell the consumer roughly what she is getting when she buys. This, the brewer should define anyway she pleases knowing that consumers will be depending on this definition to provide some real info.

    Styles are not about beer competitions, purity of provenance on any other such nonsense.

    It seems a handful of broad styles should serve the objective above - with the brewer filling in whatever other necessary info she sees fit to provide.

  2. The brewers association is comprised of brewers. Brewers use awards to market their beer. The more styles the more awards, the more awards the more winners.