Beer style origins

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Pard, Jun 19, 2020.

  1. Pard

    Pard Initiate (0) Jun 19, 2020

    Where did the common beer styles originate?
     
    beertunes likes this.
  2. officerbill

    officerbill Zealot (504) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    Hey Pard, welcome to BA.
    That's waaaay too broad a question. Beer styles have appeared, disappeared, and been modified all around the world for millenia, with some modern styles bearing little, if any, resemblance to the beer that name originally referred to.

    This guide from craft beer.com gives an overview of the many, many styles that have originated around the world.

    See which ones you're particularly interested in and come on back.
     
    draheim, traction, Pard and 7 others like this.
  3. dcotom

    dcotom Poo-Bah (2,449) Aug 4, 2014 Iowa
    Society Trader

    Check out the BA Beer Styles page. It's a good starting point.
     
    draheim, HopBelT, beertunes and 4 others like this.
  4. John123will

    John123will Initiate (88) Jun 27, 2018 Indiana

    Gruit beers always have interested me because I've never actually seen any at the store or on tap and they seem to be the "starting point" for modern hopped beers. Its also interesting to consider that gruit beers were brewed for a much longer period of time than hopped beers yet they are now very rare to find.
     
    kemoarps, Ceddd99 and StoutElk_92 like this.
  5. marquis

    marquis Champion (801) Nov 20, 2005 England

    I have seen many lists of beer styles but most contain things which I disagree with. As with a great deal of beer literature a lot of it is copied /regurgitated unresearched material.
    For example, look up English Bitter. This is simply the name given to Pale Ale when served on draught. If exactly the same beer is bottled it will be labelled as Pale Ale.
    Even CAMRA lists these as two separate styles.
     
    rtrasr, traction, rocdoc1 and 4 others like this.
  6. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (2,972) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
    Society Trader

    NEIPA originated in Vermont with the Alchemist. Is there any other style? I'm confused. Sorry, just trying to add some humor on a Friday. OP pleaes don't take any offense.
     
  7. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (2,712) May 30, 2005 Michigan
    Society

    Inquisitive brewers were created as soon as brewing science was defined. Brewers just like to experiment for new and hopefully better beers and new styles are created.
     
    dcotom and officerbill like this.
  8. SLeffler27

    SLeffler27 Poo-Bah (2,329) Feb 24, 2008 New York
    Society Trader

    Way back in the latter decades of the 20th Century...

    An ambitious and meticulous young man began cataloging beer. Early style definitions were simple. Beer I, er/ahh, he found in his father’s refrigerator, were deemed “Dad’s” beer, and beer known as Bass or Killian's were deemed “GoodStuff.” Over time the world opened up and and other people expanded on the intricacies of this system until eventually we came to have a list of over 100 distinct styles. Eventually, given enough time some day we will hopefully have hundreds of thousands of finely nuanced styles. Maybe, and we can only hope, our descendants will be able to proudly distinguish one style for each batch of beer brewed.

    Or in fewer words, “I don’t know.”

    And on a serious note, I would like to know if our modern system really does owe it’s origins to Michael Jackson (the one who didn’t sing or drink Pepsi).
     
  9. DEdesings57

    DEdesings57 Zealot (591) Aug 26, 2012 New Jersey
    Trader

  10. Pard

    Pard Initiate (0) Jun 19, 2020

    [QUOt: 6941039, member: 1260887"]Hey Pard, welcome to BA.
    That's waaaay too broad a question. Beer styles have appeared, disappeared, and been modified all around the world for millenia, with some modern styles bearing little, if any, resemblance to the beer that name originally referred to.

    This guide from craft beer.com gives an overview of the many, many styles that have originated around the world.

    See which ones you're particularly interested in and come on back.
    Thank you for the link and replying it sure does open more of my knowledge to the types of style . What if the question is below :

    Where did the common beer styles originate?
    a. Germany b. Belgium c. UK d. Bohemia
    e. All of the above
     
  11. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,537) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    From the above link:

    "Bohemian-Style Pilsener
    The Bohemian pilsener has a slightly sweet and evident malt character and a toasted, biscuit-like, bready malt character. Hop bitterness is perceived as medium with a low to medium-low level of noble-type hop aroma and flavor. This style originated in 1842, with “pilsener” originally indicating an appellation in the Czech Republic. Classic examples of this style used to be conditioned in wooden tanks and had a less sharp hop bitterness despite the similar IBU ranges to German-style pilsner. Low-level diacetyl is acceptable. Bohemian-style pilseners are darker in color and higher in final gravity than their German counterparts.".

    One beer style down and 100+ to go.

    Cheers!
     
  12. ovaltine

    ovaltine Poo-Bah (3,116) Apr 6, 2010 Indiana
    Society Trader

    In beer heaven, of course.

    Is this a trick question?
     
    traction, Roguer, rocdoc1 and 3 others like this.
  13. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,537) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Maybe?

     
    Redrover, traction, KentT and 3 others like this.
  14. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,005) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Of course, in the pre-craft era, pilsners were noted for their hop bitterness.
    [​IMG]
     
  15. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (7,290) Sep 24, 2007 Mayotte
    Society Trader

    Well, even before that, brewers weren't as much "experimenting" as using what they had available to them. Whatever grains, herbs, and spices were local to folks went into the beer.
     
  16. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,005) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Here's his earliest list of beer styles. Pretty short list by 2020 standards with some odd outliers --- despite some claims, he did NOT classify beers as "LAGERS" and "ALES".
    [​IMG]
    Some of the claims that Jackson's "to blame":wink: is based on the fact that he more of less popularized the term "style", where previously, at least in the US, they were often referred to as a "type", "class" or "variety" of beer. (The former term dating from the turn of the last century and still used by the TTB).
    [​IMG]

    I never saw much difference between the terms, and, again in the US, "style" had been commonly used by the US brewing industry in ads.

    [​IMG]
     
  17. billandsuz

    billandsuz Devotee (439) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    The actual common usage of beer styles as we know may come as a surprise.

    A guy named Michael Jackson is responsible for the formal idea of "Beer Styles". The term is only a few decades old. That is not to say that there were no beer styles prior to Michael Jackson's ground breaking book World Guide to Beer. Styles have been around since the brewer at the end of town attempted to win customers from the other brewer in town. But it was MJ that actually structured a system of descriptions, adopted some formal naming practices, invented some new naming principals and generally set everything in motion.

    Prior to his work a beer from Dormund was a Dortmund. A Helles was a Helles, etc. But if a Dortmund brewery attempted to make Helles (they wouldn't.. it is Germany after all) or a Munich brewer wanted to release a Dortmund style they would be at a loss. 300 years ago, no problem. Helles became a Helles and Dortmund a Dortmund because that is what the local conditions could make. So while MJ did not invent the styles his writing was the first to formally recognize the details of each style in one place and he is the one who is responsible for popularizing the conventions.
    No. It was decidedly not the BJCP, though they did adopt most of Michael Jackson's work.

    This is going to be controversial to many I know. But it remains true. Michael Jackson is responsible for our modern understanding of beer styles. If you have not read World Guide and the follow up Beer Companion be aware that both are so packed with information that your head might explode.

    Say a Thank You to Michael Jackson with today's pint. Or if you are the kind who despises the Style Nazi's, go to hell. Michael Jackson was a badass Mofo.
    Cheers

     
  18. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,368) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    E. All of the above.
    Each of those countries/regions have indigenous beer styles and other countries regions also have beer styles of their own!
     
    traction, Pard, Tripel_Threat and 2 others like this.
  19. SLeffler27

    SLeffler27 Poo-Bah (2,329) Feb 24, 2008 New York
    Society Trader

    A more informative question might be, “What were the progenitors, or what are the archetypal brands of each style?” Mind you there is no agreed upon convention of styles, so this is automatically a convoluted question.

    Hence it’s interest, IMACO (In My Arrogantly Conceded Opinion). I do hope this doesn’t become a popular acronym. Satire belongs to the eccentric after all.
     
    Roguer and PapaGoose03 like this.
  20. officerbill

    officerbill Zealot (504) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    So what if Benjamin Franklin didn't actually say
    It's still true.
     
    SFACRKnight, traction, bmugan and 4 others like this.
  21. officerbill

    officerbill Zealot (504) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    Maybe this infographic will help
    [​IMG]

    Your questions are too broad. Just pick a style and ask where the modern interpretation originated.
     
    FBarber, traction, Roguer and 3 others like this.
  22. EmperorBatman

    EmperorBatman Initiate (119) Mar 16, 2018 District of Columbia

    Generally the most popular form of beer today universally is Lager, which has origins among the techniques of German brewers, who brought the style wherever they went starting in the mid-1800s. The American lager is a particular effort to recreate Pilsner or Helles using local ingredients on-hand in North America.

    Conversely, the most popular craft ale styles have origins in English brewing, namely with the Pale Ale and Porter in their most essential sense.
     
    Roguer and unlikelyspiderperson like this.
  23. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,537) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    While it is true that lager brewing originated in the area(s) of what is modern day Germany/Austria/Czech Republic the popular beers of today are Pale Lagers. These sorts of beers specifically originated with the 'invention' of the first Pale Lager: Bohemian Pilsner in the town of Plzeň in 1842. The beer of Pilsner Urquell was quite notably different from the lager beers brewed in Germany (Bavaria) of that time; those beers would have been dark in color with a differing malt and hop flavor.

    Cheers!
     
  24. officerbill

    officerbill Zealot (504) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    @Pard
    In the very broadest of categories (not styles) there are ales and lagers.
    Modern Ales, primarily, originated in the British Isles and Belgium; while lagers were developed in the regions north of the Alps (Bavaria->Bohemia).
    Then you have crossovers like kölsch from Cologne which, to the best of my knowledge, is an ale developed to taste like a lager and porters/stouts from England and Northern Europe which could be either ales or lagers depending upon who brewed it and who you ask :wink:.

    But getting into the origin of individual styles is too messy an approach do broadly. For instance, the British developed a style called an India Pale Ale; however, the IPA you order at a bar has no real resemblance to that beer. There's IPL, which has nothing to do with India or England, a growing number of “Imperial” beers, which have nothing to do with the Russian court, etc, etc.

    There are people here who can give you all the information you could ever want, but you'll need to narrow your scope.
     
    traction and PapaGoose03 like this.
  25. billandsuz

    billandsuz Devotee (439) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    The other side of this question is why styles? I attempted to describe my take on the modern idea of beer styles earlier.

    The origin of beer styles has always fascinated both of us (the andsuz part too) because it is where beer and culture intersect.

    We should be aware that brewers did not set out to make a certain beer. A certain style. Rather they were making the best beer possible with what was at hand. This meant everything had to conform to their limited conditions. It is really only a recent invention that beer could be anything other than a local beer.

    So thinking back 400 years, or even 100 years, most people never traveled much farther than a few miles from their place of birth. The same place their mother and father were born. Back into antiquity. Beer was what you had in your particular town or city. You probably knew of other beers that were darker or lighter or higher in alcohol but in general, you got the 2 or 3 beers that were available in your neighborhood (to this day Germans will disparage the beer across the river... "oh they make a fine hefe over there, but if you want a real hefe, this is where it is made". To you and me they are both excellent). The local brewer was exceptionally good at making the best beer possible with the local conditions.

    Yeast. Water. Malt. Hops. That is all with some minor exceptions. This variety of hops is what you'l be using. This yeast is what will ferment in these months of the year (and yeast did not even exist. It was a magic froth, Berme. God is Good). Etc. So that is how the styles originated.

    For example, it is well known that Helles was what Munich settled with. They wanted Pilsner, but because the water was not as soft they could only get to a Helles. Or the Dublin brewers that were making Stout. They were not going to make a light lager. No mountain caves to lager in, and the water was not right . And so on.

    Eventually brewers discovers the thermometer. And Chemistry. And merchants shipped hops all over. And malting became more sophisticated (once thermometers and coke ovens were established). Then refrigeration arrived. And rail.
    But before all that, style was not a thing. You drank the same beer they made in town for centuries. And they made it the best they could.
    Cheers
     
  26. KentT

    KentT Aspirant (224) Oct 15, 2008 Tennessee

    Like x 1000 for this post. I will dig out the 45 RPM single by Clean Living on Vanguard and play it in your honor from Tennessee. A hoisting of a Virtual Pint to your honor!!!
     
    officerbill and JackHorzempa like this.
  27. bsp77

    bsp77 Poo-Bah (2,318) Apr 27, 2008 Minnesota
    Society

    This seems to be trolling based on the unusually astute multiple choice question
     
  28. marquis

    marquis Champion (801) Nov 20, 2005 England

    Michael Jackson regretted simplifying styles by treating Porters as Ales when of course they had a completely separate history.
    By not making the mistake of classifying beers into Ales and Lagers,( he knew full well that Kolsch is top fermented lager for example) his classification makes a lot more sense.
     
  29. Urk1127

    Urk1127 Meyvn (1,379) Jul 2, 2014 New Jersey

    I was lucky enough to try Fraoch Heather Ale and it was really wild it tasted like flower soda. It would be nice to see brewers use more non traditional ingredients and use more wild plants
     
  30. Pard

    Pard Initiate (0) Jun 19, 2020

    Thank you! spot on you got the right answer ~!
     
  31. Crusader

    Crusader Disciple (318) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    The problem here is that some people seem to think that simply looking at today's beer market, assuming that nothing has changed, and drawing conclusions about the past is a good idea. The status quo is seen as immutable and a window through which the past is best understood. If Czech lager beers today are less bitter than German Pilsners, then that must mean that this relationship has persisted since they came into existence. If German pilsners today are drier than Czech lager beers then that too must be a relationship that has persisted throughout their existence. In extension a more bitter Czech lager beer might get called akin to a German pilsner, and a fuller bodied German pilsner might be called akin to a Czech pilsner. If those people better realized, or more readily acknowledged, how much has happened since the 1840s there would be less confusion in these matters.
     
  32. SLeffler27

    SLeffler27 Poo-Bah (2,329) Feb 24, 2008 New York
    Society Trader

    Good point, and one which applies to so many aspects of our current society.

    Take for example the word “silly.” What does it mean today, vs. over time? As per on Line Etymology Dictionary, this word moved from "happy" to "blessed" to "pious," to "innocent" (c. 1200), to "harmless," to "pitiable" (late 13c.), "weak" (c. 1300), to "feeble in mind, lacking in reason, foolish" (1570s). Further tendency toward "stunned, dazed as by a blow" (1886).

    The same is certainly true of sense perception, and thus beer styles, regardless of when “styles” were first codified in and way similar to what we now recognize.
     
  33. Crusader

    Crusader Disciple (318) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    At worst it leads us to make stuff up in order to maintain a consistent or coherent understanding of a particular topic. Rather than us accepting complexity and idiosyncracy as inherent to the study of history.
     
  34. marquis

    marquis Champion (801) Nov 20, 2005 England

    This was less true in the big cities, in London for example Beers and Ales were both available from many sources, particularly from places near to navigable water. Beer was shipped abroad for centuries before refrigeration.
    But having said that, there were 30000 commercial breweries in the UK serving a population of 30 million in 1870 :slight_smile:
     
  35. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,179) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Trader

    But by '93's Beer Companion, Jackson had already transitioned to categorizing by: ale, lager, porter, wheat and lambic (and unfortunately included Kölsch in the "ale" category).

    I personally don't subscribe to the first part of the quote above, and I'll add my thoughts on Jackson below, but beer wasn't just a local product "100 years ago or even 400 years ago." In the late middle ages, with the rise of private commercial breweries, some cities became known for beer production and exportation. Just look at Hamburg in the 1300s. As scale rose, in the 1800s, yeast, barley, and hops (and techniques too) were traveling in large amounts to brewers from various parts of the world.

    I'm with you and for the life of me, I just can't understand all of the arguments about Jackson "inventing" beer styles.

    I really like Martyn Cornell's work, but in his piece: "Michael Jackson and the invention of beer style," I respectfully feel like he's let the "researcher of minutiae" in him take charge at the expense of seeing the picture for what it is. He states:
    Even without @jesskidden ’s evidence to the contrary illustrated here, I'm mainly left with the reaction of: "a rose by any other name." So what if they called them "varieties" before? Take the list of types in the quotes 1977 image above. It's a list of names that already existed: porter, Kolsch, lambic, etc. Names that conveyed meaning before Jackson’s work. Names that indicated “type,” “style,” or whatnot. Meanings described in his writing. The joy of his work is that he's a guide and enthusiast… not a builder. On the first page of “Amber, Gold & Black,” Cornell states that that book is devoted to the “history of the different styles of beer produced in Britain.” I don’t know how one can reconcile that statement with the concept that Jackson invented beer styles. Cornell’s idea of history obviously reaches further back than the 1970s.

    I am certainly a fan of Jackson's work, but there's already so much value in it as it is that I don't need to invent more value. Some might say Jackson honed the definitions. Even if one believes this, I don't see this as inventing styles. I don’t think differentiating between “styles” and “types” justifies the claim either. I can only buy into the notion that he “formalized” them if the argument is convincingly laid out - something I have never seen. If anything, his writing is loose in my eyes. Some might say it was the act of collecting various types in one work. Is this not an element of Wahl and Henius, or Lacambre too? Some might argue that Jackson actually invented some "styles" rather than the concept of style, but these actions were due to a specific desire to expand style categories for competitions - with things like "robust porter." Look how well that's aged. If you are fabricating things like robust porter, you’re building a house with a poor foundation and the results will potentially follow. Is this notion of "inventing styles" simply a reflection of the culture of rating beers "to style" against some sort of narrow document in a competition?

    At the risk of getting ridiculous, it’s believed that the Egyptians named different beer types and classified them according to things like alcohol strength, flavor, and color. We’re obviously talking about a different culture and set of beverages, but the point being that classifying beer is nothing new or revolutionary… despite the tendency for people to want to think that the defining element of this craft era is “innovation.” Classification is nothing new. Stout, Hefeweizen, India pale ale, Scotch ale, Berliner Weisse… these things meant something before and after Jackson’s writing. That meaning isn’t set in stone of course. How specific the meaning and how static the meaning varies, but this variability is intrinsic. Styles come and go. Definitions change.

    Some materials worth considering below:
    - 1899 advertisement from Brussels listing (and therefore distinguishing): faro, lambic, gueuze. Pic below.
    - Retailer Willam Whiteley price list from 1913. Not only does this single page feature plenty of UK beer styles still on our minds today: pale ale, IPA, mild, amber, strong ale, stout (with subtypes: nourishing, oatmeal, invalid, brown, double, etc.), but it also features examples of UK brewers turning to German production methods to deliberately produce and sell Pilsener Lager and Munich Lager (“Bock” was also produced in the UK by then). Link.
    - 1956 Watneys ad that claims that more people drink it “than any other brown ale” - comparing itself to other beers of it’s type and highlighting that consumers understand the categorization. Pic below.

    @patto1ro - Forgive me for bugging you a bit lately, but as someone who has dedicated lots of energy investigating how brewers and authors categorized beer in the past, I’m curious what your take on all this is.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  36. officerbill

    officerbill Zealot (504) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    Then you haven't seen the updates styles page? :grin::beers:
     
    zid likes this.
  37. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (561) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    If not called beer styles as such, there was certainly classification of beer before Michael Jackson. The oldest beer competition, that held at the Brewers' Exhibition in the UK - which started in the 19th century - had classes for entries. Classes based on style and strength.

    But the further you go back, the more vague it all becomes. With beers mostly named after where they were brewed and probably not styles with consistent characteristics as we would expect today.

    Personally, I'd say modern beer styles started with Porter.
     
  38. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,179) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Trader

    Interesting. Why? Because of its reach and reputation?
     
    FBarber likes this.
  39. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (561) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    Because types of beer were mostly incredibly local or very vague before Porter.
     
    FBarber, unlikelyspiderperson and zid like this.
  40. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,368) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    When do you put the beginning of "Porter"?
     
    zid likes this.