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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Evolving GABF Style Guidelines

The Brewers Association has new style guidelines out, and in a couple weeks, I will return to them for some more meaty analysis.  For the moment, have a look for yourself (.pdf).  There are some significant changes to the methodology to go along with the usual adjustments and additions. 
  • There are now more "American-style" beers listed than beers from any other national origin.
  • There are 35 subtypes listed under the catch-all "hybrid" category, more than lager subtypes (30)
  • Bamberg gets a lot of love: four subtypes reference the city.  (No other city, including Munich, is listed more than twice)
  • Countries now referenced as origin points for styles: England, Scotland, Ireland, US, Germany, France, Belgium, Poland, Netherlands, Australia, Czech Republic, Austria (sort of--Vienna lager), and Japan--plus "Baltic-style," "Australasian," "Latin American," and "indigenous."

Australasian for bee-ahr.
The last thing I'll leave you with is this statement in the preamble to the rules.  It is, more than anything else, a distillation of the American view of brewing.  I have no problem with that as far as it goes--each country has very different brewing philosophies--but because the GABF and World Beer Cup are so influential, I do despair that this view should infect the thinking beyond our shores.
Each style description is purposefully written independently of any reference to another beer style. Furthermore, as much as it is possible, beer character is not described in terms of ingredients or process. These guidelines attempt to emphasize final evaluation of the product and try not to judge or regulate the formulation or manner in which it was brewed, except in special circumstances that clearly define a style.

Go have a look and share your thoughts.


  1. I don't understand the difference between a "strong pale ale" and an "India Pale Ale." That seems like a needless semantic split.

  2. I appreciate knowing a bit about ingredients and process. It helps me get a better sense of different malt contributions, hops, and all the rest. At some level it would bother me to be ordering a hefe-weizen and finding out it used a lager yeast. Of course, I think that particular chicken has already flown the coop.

  3. I guess CDA (Black "IPA") is still a fad.

  4. They should get the existing styles right before adding loads more new ones. They still can't get the colour of 60/- right, proving those who wrote the guidelines have never drunk a genuine Scottish example.

  5. "Furthermore, as much as it is possible, beer character is not described in terms of ingredients or process."

    Expected, but still frustrating. All I can really say about it is this: