Endangered, Obscure and Revived Beer Styles

Talk Discussion in 'BeerAdvocate Talk' started by Immortale25, Jan 15, 2024.

  1. Immortale25

    Immortale25 Grand Pooh-Bah (3,549) May 13, 2011 North Carolina
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    All right, so the Style Availability? thread and the Why Do People Like IPAs? thread got me thinking about this.

    This starts with a key - Styles which seem to be endangered are Bold - Obscure Styles are Italicized - Styles which seem to be making a comeback are underlined - Beers that don't seem to be endangered, obscure or revived I've left in plain text

    I define endangered as any style which is not being made on a consistent basis anymore or ever has been
    I define obscure as being esoteric
    I define revived as once was obscure but is now trending in certain markets, or used to be lumped in with other styles but now stand on their own

    Speaking of certain markets, I admit my scope is generally based in the US but am doing my best to take into account the rest of the world when making these determinations

    From an objective angle, here is a list of all the Styles on this site that have less than 500 active examples in existence currently:

    Happoshu (107)
    Eisbock (124)
    Biere de Champagne (130)
    Sahti (141)
    Czech Amber Lager (144)
    Grodziskie (146)
    Kristallweizen (230)
    Czech Pale Lager (268)
    Roggenbier (293)
    Kvass (337)
    Braggot (360)
    Gruit (376)
    Wheatwine (390)
    Grisette (440)
    Imperial Pilsner (441)

    There are some obvious exceptions like any beer that's limited to its terroir as being a defining factor: Belgian Wild Ales. Also American Dark Wheat Beer (253) which is basically an American version of Dunkelweizen according to this site and Smoked Porter (374) which can be combined with Rauchbier (765) without too much argument. I've also left out Malt Liquor (339) and European Strong Lager (599) for reasons which should be obvious. If you have reasons as to why either of them should be included in the discussion, I'm all ears

    To catch some outliers, here's a list of all the styles on this site that have between 500 and 1000 active examples currently in existence:

    Czech Dark Lager (501)
    Brett Beer (543)
    English Strong Ale (557)
    Chile Beer (561)
    Imperial Red Ale (569)
    English Pale Mild Ale (596)
    Japanese Rice Lager (631)
    Old Ale (771)
    Foreign/ Export Stout (769)
    Weizenbock (816)
    Belgian Dark Ale (838)
    California Common (917)
    Brut IPA (950)

    Endangered - I think we can all agree that Biere de Champagne (with the exception of DeuS), Roggenbier, Braggot, Wheatwine, Imperial Pilsner, Brut IPA (one source I saw went so far as to declare it completely dead) and with the fall of Anchor and its Steam beer, California Common are all no longer made on a consistent basis and some pretty much never were. If you disagree, which of these have you seen lately in your market? Do you think any of these styles have the potential to be revived? If so, why?

    Obscure - I think we can all agree that Happoshu, Eisbock, Sahti, Kristallweizen and Gruit are all quite obscure with maybe Kristallweizen being the least obscure since plenty of large German breweries of course do make it on a consistent basis, but only 3 American breweries (Sixpoint, New Glarus and Sierra Nevada) have taken a stab at producing any on a semi-large scale. If you disagree, which have you seen lately in your market?

    Revived - Again, the scope of this is really only pertaining to the US beer market and include styles that used to be lumped in with other styles such as Czech Pale Lager being lumped in with Czech Pilsner. Regardless, I've seen that plus the Czech Dark and Amber Lagers becoming more prominent in my local market along with Kvass, Grodziskie and Grisette (which used to be lumped in with Saison) also seeming to pop up more and more in the past several years. I also see that, with the exception of Kvass, every one of these styles were added to the database only about a year and a half ago so they haven't gotten much of a chance, however Milkshake IPA was in that same group of additions and there are already 1250 entries for that, so my point remains. Do you think these styles will continue to grow in popularity or will they fade back into obscurity?

    Styles that don't seem to be any of the 3 but are falling out of favor or underrepresented:

    Belgian/White IPA - Even though there are 1716 active examples currently in existence on this site, this style seems to have severely dropped in favorability (at least in the US market). I think it's because Belgian beers in general have been steadily declining in sales in the US over the past decade. I personally am pretty upset about this because I think the marriage of Belgian yeast with a heavily hopped beer is glorious. There used to be awesome examples of this like Stillwater Why Can't IBU?, Green Flash Le Freak and Stone Cali-Belgique. Even brewers local to me like Burial and Haw River used to do some, but not anymore. The only ones seeming to be regularly brewed on a large scale anymore are Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Wild, Flying Dog Raging Bitch, Blue Point White IPA and Deschutes Chainbreaker though I hardly ever see them in my local market. While not endangered, it seems that it's one that most don't seem to care much about anymore and it makes me :slight_frown: Hell, I'd even like to see just some hoppy wheat beers like Boulevard 80-Acre but they just don't seem to do well anymore.

    Weizenbock - Seeing a theme here. Though there are 816 active examples currently, it's easily the least represented in the Bock category with the exception of Eisbock. Again, it seems like wheat-based beers with estery yeast profiles just aren't people's jam as much as they were maybe 10 years ago. I personally love a good Weizenbock but, with the exception of the classic German imports, you just don't see anyone brewing any hardly ever. You could arguably call it obscure if you agree that Kristallweizen is obscure.

    English Dark Mild Ale - Again, I know if I go to England I might run into more of these, but even with 1349 examples logged on this site you just don't see this great style being taken on stateside hardly ever. NOLA Brown was technically an EDMA and was one of their initial flagships but is now discontinued

    Thank you for reading my long-winded and somewhat convoluted post. I know this is far from a perfect analysis of the data and that some of my assertions are anecdotal and/or subjective so feel free to throw rocks at it. And of course please chime in with any style(s) you think should be added. And no, I don't have a life :slight_smile:
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  2. NorsemanOne

    NorsemanOne Pooh-Bah (2,069) Sep 17, 2021 Utah
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    Love the research! :heart_eyes:Very enjoyable read too.
    Bring on the EDMA, I buy them or any mild/ESB/bitter I see because I want the style to persist.

    I'd agree from my limited view about your list, though I do have access to at least two different imperial pilsners and Wheatwines each hyper locally

    Can't wait to see what else people chime in with :beers:
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  3. puck1225

    puck1225 Grand Pooh-Bah (4,585) Dec 22, 2013 Texas
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    I believe your assessment is reasonable.
  4. MutuelsMark

    MutuelsMark Grand Pooh-Bah (3,003) Jan 23, 2015 Kentucky
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    Black IPAs, I don't see many at least in my area.
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  5. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Grand Pooh-Bah (3,850) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    The only thing that I see is that I think that Imperial Pilsner has only really disappeared as a term. I don't know if it was ever a thing in european brewing, but american brewers have continued to brew high strength pale lagers that emphasize hop flavors. They have shifted the emphasis from noble hops to modern north american aroma hops, but the beers are as common as ever.

    Most recently I've enjoyed a beer from Faction Brewing called Winter Pilsner that is a delicious beer that emphasizes Mosaic hop flavor and comes it at 6.8% (so arguably not quite Imperial, but certainly higher than is typical for traditional pilsner).

    I think they have largely been rebranded as IPL and, more recently, Cold IPA
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  6. Immortale25

    Immortale25 Grand Pooh-Bah (3,549) May 13, 2011 North Carolina
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    They definitely went through a period of being endangered but I've been seeing a lot more lately so I would count them as revived, at least in my local market
  7. Immortale25

    Immortale25 Grand Pooh-Bah (3,549) May 13, 2011 North Carolina
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    Agreed. I also feel like Brut IPA has similarly been replaced with Cold IPA, though it's my understanding there are differences in how they're produced while more or less resulting in the same flavor profile. I know @JackHorzempa can elaborate on that
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  8. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Grand Pooh-Bah (3,850) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    Yeah Brut IPA is a very specifically defined style that uses an enzyme to consume all of the extra sugar.

    Cold IPA is basically an approach to making hoppy lagers that seems like the most successful approach yet.
  9. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Grand Pooh-Bah (5,681) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    Pretty interesting review. I'll have to dig thru local breweries to see who, if anyone, is making some of these styles.

    Happoshu is a strange one to me, since it's technically a tax bracket in Japan. As such, there are some US beers that would be labeled as a "happoshu" in Japan, but since they are marketed and sold in the US, never receive that distinction. In other words, that 100-ish examples of the 'style' could be significantly higher.
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  10. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Grand High Pooh-Bah (8,245) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Society

    Maybe it's because I am a fan of the style and where I live (I've reviewed 50 beers in the style), I think it's actually a style that has seen a bit of a resurgence. Locally Forest & Main is leading the way, they almost always have one on cask or available in cans, and they have their annual "March Mildness" event. And a decent number of other local popular smaller breweries have brewed the occasional Dark Mild as well - Troubles End, Bonn Place, Free Will, Imprint, Tired Hands. Not to mention Yards with Brawler which is the most reviewed beer of the style.
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  11. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Grand Pooh-Bah (3,181) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Society

    There are various ways to produce a Cold IPA but for the 'Wayfinder' method it is a combination of:
    • Ferment with a lager yeast strain but warmer than normal (e.g., 60 degrees F)
    • Use a significant amount of adjunct (corn, rice) as part of the grain bill to produce a very fermentable wort - a beer with a low FG value which yields a very dry beer.
    Some breweries may choose to use an ale yeast strain (e.g., a Kolsch yeast strain) fermented cool (e.g., 60 degrees F) vs. a lager yeast strain.

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  12. dcotom

    dcotom Grand Pooh-Bah (5,453) Aug 4, 2014 Iowa
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    Late last year, I discovered two Iowa-brewed Roggenbiers: one from Gezellig in Newton and one from Allerton in Independence. TG's Dorothy's New World Lager (Decorah) is a California Common, widely available year-round. Lion Bridge Compensation is a year-round English Mild from Cedar Rapids, and PIVO (Calmar) makes a fantastic gruit It seems like I'm seeing more Grisettes as well, although not locally brewed. (Yet.)

    I would like to see more examples of English Mild and Grisette, as well as a Grodziskie now and then. And some cask ale, as long as we're wishing for stuff. :wink:
    ChicagoJ, NickSMpls and Immortale25 like this.
  13. Roguer

    Roguer Grand High Pooh-Bah (7,515) Mar 25, 2013 Connecticut
    Super Mod Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    @Immortale25 super cool post, and I love the taxonomy! You did really well to articulate your thoughts.

    As a caveat to one point, when you mention the availability of Milkshake IPAs, remember that on BA, that sub-style was only recently added, and many, many extant beers were moved into the style - and even then, what qualifies is debatable (for example, we don't have Sour IPA as a category here, and many of those would surely qualify just as easily as they could be listed under the NE IPA and American IPA sub-styles). In other words, it's not like there's 1250 Milkshake IPAs springing into existence.

    Belgian IPA definitely seems to be endangered to me. You can certainly still find it, but back in the day, your shelf offerings seemed to be mostly WC IPA, some EC IPAs, and a small handful of Belgian IPAs ... and now, it's a strong majority of NE IPAs with a handful of WC IPAs, and you're lucky if you can find anything else.

    Overall, this seems like a rather ethereal post, with changing tastes and consumption necessarily changing what falls into each category (think of the modern revival of Gose and Berliner Weisse ... only to see both styles perverted into "fruited kettle sour" by a horde of US brewers). Five years from now, your specifics may no longer match up perfectly, but the idea behind the thought experiment is super interesting. :slight_smile:
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  14. elNopalero

    elNopalero Grand Pooh-Bah (4,568) Oct 14, 2009 Michigan
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    I’m down to just faro in my elusive quest to try at least one of every style on BA, and I would have had that cleared if only I had the foresight to join this site sooner.

    Of the obscure, endangered, and revived styles on this list, I think I’ve seen and in many cases had at least one example during the previous 12 months.

    Grodziskie seems to be having a moment lately. I even found it in a smaller, non-hyped brewpub—not the sort of place that struck me as a trend-chaser, in other words.

    The last roggenbier I had was another curious development, as it came from a sustainable brewing program at a community college. Which is an encouraging sign that someone is going to keep it alive!

    They also had a California common, which I’ve seen here and there. New to me (but also a legit style) was the Kentucky Common I tried last March. I’ll be ready if that style ever gets added to our list!
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  15. dbrauneis

    dbrauneis Grand High Pooh-Bah (7,837) Dec 8, 2007 North Carolina
    Super Mod Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    Agreed - I think there are lots of examples of the style available in Japan - just not a lot of BA users either from Japan adding them to the site or visiting Japan and adding them to the site.

    Probably a similar situation with Kvass - you should be able to find more examples in Eastern Europe that don’t get exported to the US and hence have not made it onto BA.
  16. Jow13

    Jow13 Devotee (329) Apr 5, 2016 Massachusetts

    I love finding obscure styles.

    here in New England I’d say milds have bit of comeback. They definitely get made and pop up regular enough to grab off shelf or on tap.
  17. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Grand Pooh-Bah (5,291) May 30, 2005 Michigan
    Pooh-Bah Society

    One of my local breweries, Territorial Brewing, a German-inspired brewery, brewed a Lichtenhainer beer 9-10 years ago after they first opened, but since that style isn't listed here on BA I would have entered it under something else, which beer I can't find in their beer list now. They haven't brewed it since then, probably because it's an unique style and wasn't well received.
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  18. elNopalero

    elNopalero Grand Pooh-Bah (4,568) Oct 14, 2009 Michigan
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    Live Oak in Austin has brewed that style before, too. Someone correct me, but I think it might fit under grodziskie (on the style list, not as a taxonomy thing).
    steveh and PapaGoose03 like this.
  19. elNopalero

    elNopalero Grand Pooh-Bah (4,568) Oct 14, 2009 Michigan
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    For those of you traveling to San Francisco and looking for either of these styles, know that they can be found relatively easily. There’s at least one grocery store in Japantown that carries a few selections of Happoshu, and you’re likely to encounter several different varieties of kvass at the Ukrainian/Russian/Eastern European markets that line outer Geary. There’s at least one bakery that brews (ferments?) their own version of kvass in-house, if you’re looking for a more traditional experience.
    ChicagoJ, Immortale25 and PapaGoose03 like this.
  20. elNopalero

    elNopalero Grand Pooh-Bah (4,568) Oct 14, 2009 Michigan
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    Postscript: I love obscure styles! Searching and trying them is part of the fun!
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