Posts Tagged ‘Styles’

Are Styles Relevant?

Friday, September 4th, 2009

from theweeklybrew

rainbow_hippy

Last night I was reminded again how much we rely on styles to tell us if we will or wont like a beer. The Salem Beer and Wine group had their get together at Venti’s last night. One of the ladies in the group ordered a pils. It fit the style perfectly. By the time she was ready for the second one though the keg was gone and a new pils from a different brewery was in it’s place. The second pils was cloudy and opaque, over hopped, and had an almost banana/fruity yeast flavor to it. This, according to everyone at the table (myself included) was not a pils. We even talked to the bartender who pointed to the label that sure enough said pilsner.

Now was the second pilsner a bad beer? Absolutely not. Was it a bad pilsner? Heck yes. So the question is where should style come into play?

As a homebrewer I can guarantee that most of my beers are off style. My pale ale was out of the alcohol range it was supposed to be in. My Roggenbier is not even close to what a Roggenbier should be. My herbal saison? You guessed it, off style. This is because I happen to like these beers a different way then the guidelines say they should be. When your homebrewing though it’s not a major deal. Alot of commercial brews though seem to be going the same way. Brew what tastes good and slap it into the category it fits best in. The problem with this though is you get a situation like last nights. Someone orders a pilsner and gets something they didn’t expect, or necessarily want.

So where does that leave styles? For competitions styles are important. They set a benchmark for the beers. For many commercial brewers though styles aren’t benchmarks so much as loose guidelines. This makes it so the average Joe doesn’t know what he’s getting at times. Is it time to phase out style guidlines¬†for commercial brewing? Or should brewers make more of a good faith effort to meet style expectations?

Given the fact that styles have only become truly defined in the last 30ish years I’m not sure how I feel on this issue. All I know is that beer wasn’t a true pils.