Style Representations

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Passionaite-Liquid-Elixir, Feb 4, 2013.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Passionaite-Liquid-Elixir

    Passionaite-Liquid-Elixir Initiate (0) Jan 28, 2013 New York

    I want to bring up a question which has lingered in my mind for some time. I have just started to truly drink beer. By this I mean to take notes, logs, tasting, research, etc. But what I find difficult is what beers are truly representing the style its trying to make?
    I fall into the belief that beer brewing is just like an artist painting, building, or playing music, that's its just there take on it no matter how you look at it. We group painters by stating if they're modern or progressive, or whatever, and we group music by genres, rock, alternative, etc. But not all painters or musicians follow the "rules." So with beer How can I find, for example, of a true 'American Double' or Russian Imperial Stout, or Heffeweizen.

    Guidance? Thoughts? Comments?
  2. mintjellie

    mintjellie Defender (630) Oct 2, 2005 Ontario (Canada)

    Hefeweizen? Look at the well known traditional Bavarian ones. I've had Weihenstephaner, Franziskaner, Hacker-Pschorr, Schneider, Ayinger, Paulaner, and Erdinger. With the exception of Schneider, which is a little bit darker and maltier, they're variations on a theme. Erdinger, IMO, is the weakest amongst them though. Weihenstephaner is widely seen as the best of them, though I remember a best weissbier thread where Paulaner had it's fans as well.
  3. marquis

    marquis Crusader (759) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    Bear in mind that style guidelines are simply the writer's opinions.
    Beer exists over a vast spectrum and any attempt to tie down styles in neat compartments is an exercise in futility.Even with punlished guidelines very frequently there is more diversity within a style than between two neighbouring ones.
    It's also worth bearing in mind that much of what we call our beers began as simple names. That's why the same beer could be described differently at different times and/or in different locations.
    For example Caledonian Brewery's Edinburgh Strong Ale is sold in the USA as Edinburgh Scotch Ale.
    mintjellie, RichardMNixon and frazbri like this.
  4. jbertsch

    jbertsch Meyvn (1,110) Dec 14, 2008 Massachusetts

    I think as you continue further in your journey…researching, tasting, discussing… you'll discover what beers are widely considered great examples of certain styles. Looking at the “most popular” lists for each style here on BA is a great place to start if you haven’t see that yet. For example, here’s a list of hefewizens

    The thing to keep in mind however, is that some beers may be exemplary of its style, and some beers are simply icons within their style, and you’re more likely to hear about the latter. But some are both. For example, you mentioned Double IPAs. Many might say Russian River’s Pliny the Elder is THE example of a DIPA. While others may have another personal preference, most people can agree to Pliny’s cult status.

    Regarding the RIS style – many would probably agree that something like Old Rasputin is iconic given its value, wide availability, and flavor that pleases many. However, is it considered to be THE russian imperial stout? That question will give you a myriad of answers that will speak to everyone’s personal taste for that style.

    In other styles, like ambers, or brown ales, what’s “correct” may be seen as boring. What may score high in those categories may be something that’s overly hopped to appeal to today’s beer geek crowd…but isn't seen as traditionally correct.

    I’ll stop rambling. Can you tell I’m bored at work?
  5. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (525) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    THE Russian Stout is obviously Courage.
  6. mintjellie

    mintjellie Defender (630) Oct 2, 2005 Ontario (Canada)

    Isn't Courage supposed to be the modern descendant of the first RIS? Or something like that.

    Could it also be said that Pilsner Urquell is the same for bohemian pils? Even if the recipe has changed over time, its still the original golden lager right?

  7. jzeilinger

    jzeilinger Poo-Bah (5,415) Dec 4, 2004 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    For Saisons: Saison Dupont

    (Hands down, IMO.)
  8. Passionaite-Liquid-Elixir

    Passionaite-Liquid-Elixir Initiate (0) Jan 28, 2013 New York

    Thank you. That's what I thought that it really is impossible to categorize at such scrutiny to find a perfect match. But personally I have been on a dark beer rampage: RIS, Stouts, barrel aged, etc. I just wanted a guideline to look for in those styles. I wanted to find a common area in which all should have and if thy have something new and Exxon them I wanted to understand that that particular aroma or taste is due to the craftsmanship of the brewer.
  9. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (525) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    It is the descendent of the original.
  10. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poo-Bah (12,433) Mar 18, 2010 California

    What was the original?
  11. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (525) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    Thrale's IBSt.
  12. RochefortChris

    RochefortChris Meyvn (1,236) Oct 2, 2012 North Carolina
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    I'm going to play the BJCP card and say that on their style guidelines they have numerous commercial epitome examples of beer styles.
    steveh likes this.
  13. Thickfreakness

    Thickfreakness Initiate (0) Oct 2, 2010 New York

    Le Coq Imperial Extra Double Stout is IMHO what the original RIS was/tasted like. Something tells me it only got better and became something like John Courage as time went on.
  14. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (525) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    Not really. The Le Coq/Harveys is an 1850's Barclay Perkins IBSt recipe.The 18th-century version would have been quite different, being 100% brown malt. Barclay Perkins were taken over by Courage in the 1950's and started brewing Russin Stout after Barclay's Park Street brewery closed in 1968.

    I was lucky enough to drink a 1977 Courage Russian Stout last year and it tasted remarkably like the Le Coq. Particularly the Brettanomyces chgaracter. Mind you, the Brettanomyces had an extra 40 years in the Courage.
  15. spicoli00

    spicoli00 Zealot (548) Jul 6, 2005 Indiana

    The Beer Judge Certificate Program publishes style guidelines which can be found here:

    Definitely the best resource and it includes a list of beers that represent each style. Though, with all the interesting craft beers coming out, some of the styles may be hybrids of the BJCP guidelines.
  16. marquis

    marquis Crusader (759) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    The BJCP guidelines have more than their share of critics and it's imperative to accept that these guidelines are merely opinions and interpretations.There's a sort of circular argument , begin with writing down your take on a particular style then use commercial brews which fit what you wrote as exemplars of the style! It's not unknown for the same beer , sold under different labels, to be placed in two separate styles.
    If you use anything other than very loose "rules" you will run into anomalies and contradictions because brewers didn't brew with styles in mind; the entire concept of styles didn't exist (except as loose overall names) until quite recently by which time the genie was out of the bottle.
  17. fujindemon74

    fujindemon74 Initiate (0) Nov 7, 2012 Pennsylvania

    Les Trois Mousquetaires Porter Baltique or Smuttynose Baltic Porter are THE baltic porters as far as I'm concerned.
  18. keithmurray

    keithmurray Meyvn (1,152) Oct 7, 2009 Connecticut

    For Baltic Porters, I gotta go with Zyweic porter. Cheap&tasty = iconic
  19. spicoli00

    spicoli00 Zealot (548) Jul 6, 2005 Indiana

    is there an alternative? dude is asking for guidance and BJCP is the most comprehensive style guide i have seen. Of course brewers are brewing with a style in mind. Otherwise, they'd just label everything ale or lager.
  20. tectactoe

    tectactoe Initiate (0) Mar 20, 2012 Michigan

    Consecrator is typically considered the doppelbock benchmark.
  21. tjensen3618

    tjensen3618 Initiate (0) Mar 23, 2008 California

    Pick up the book, Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher.
    He lists most styles and gives a few commercial examples for each. Those beers listed will give you a good idea of what the style is about, but even among those recommendations you'll find there is no definitive single beer when it comes to defining a particular style.
  22. marquis

    marquis Crusader (759) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    Yes, it's comprehensive.(except for the styles it ignores) But is it accurate or authoritative?- many would say not.It has some glaring faults and omissions.
    The styles we now know didn't arise from any conscious effort to brew "to style" , for one reason the whole concept was way in the future.Their brews were reactions to conditions and circumstances , names were often changed-so a beer could be sold as a porter at one time or place but a stout in another. Bitter, Pale ale and IPA were commonly used to describe the same beer.It's not possible to unravel all the background and come up with a definitive set of rules. Beer exists in a spectrum; like colours it's not possible to tie down where one ends and another begins without being arbitrary.
    Ranbot likes this.
  23. Ranbot

    Ranbot Zealot (505) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Some would say the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) creates too many beer styles, and often somewhat arbitrarily so that they are able to issue more awards at beer judging competitions. Brewers like getting awards, the BJCP likes giving out awards, the more award categories they make, the more beers/brewers can be given awards...everyone is happy! In fact, some might even say the BJCP is as much a marketing tool for brewers as it is an authority on beer styles.

    However, I agree with you that the BJCP is not a terrible place to look for style guidelines and examples of beers. I just wouldn't say they have the final say the matter. One should keep the BJCP's purpose and their incentives in mind.

    I would echo Marquis and urge people to resist the temptation of over-classifying beers. Beers exist multi-dimensional spectrum of malts, hops, roast, texture, additives, and more. Besides, you might miss a great beer just because it doesn't fall comfortably within some arbitrary style rules.
  24. spicoli00

    spicoli00 Zealot (548) Jul 6, 2005 Indiana

    Partially agree with this. Historically, some styles arose for the city or region where they were brewed. Pilsner comes to mind. Others indicate the style that it is, say schwarzbier (black beer) or rauchbier (smoked beer). The logistics of delivering the input ingredients meant early brewers had to use local ingredients. Similarly, the resulting beer could not really be transported out of the region. These are styles nonetheless and can be traced back in history. As beer evolved, was there some overlap in styles? Probably. But at some point it turns into a new style. You'll notice that BJCP calls them style guidelines not rules. Never said it was the bible. Again, just trying to help dude get a frame of reference. Drink what you like and call it what you want.
  25. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (525) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    If you think European brewers are brewing with BJCP styles in mind you're living in fantasy land.
  26. joelwlcx

    joelwlcx Initiate (198) Apr 23, 2007 Minnesota

    Irish dry stout: Guinness Extra Stout

    Y'all can keep your nitro bullshit.
  27. ledzeppelin4

    ledzeppelin4 Initiate (0) May 18, 2011 Illinois

    I thought Celebrator was? My bad. Speaking of German lagers, I find Ayinger's and Hacker Pschorr's Oktoberfest brews to be the benchmark(s) of the Marzen/Oktoberfest style. (Though I do enjoy Great Lakes's and Victory Festbier just as much, if not more than those brews.)
    TongoRad and Ranbot like this.
  28. tectactoe

    tectactoe Initiate (0) Mar 20, 2012 Michigan

    Lol, you're right, I'm an idiot. I get the names confused, I guess. But yeah, I meant to say Celebrator.

  29. Tashbrew

    Tashbrew Initiate (0) Dec 29, 2007 California

    Once upon a time not all that long ago...the BJCP and what is now the Brewers Association were sort of tied together and adopted the BJCP as the standard for guidelines. Though when the honeymoon was over they went their seperate ways.

    Rather than bash BJCP. I find that almost and I stress 'almost' all commercial breweries brew their beer in the way they choose and then find a category for the GABF or World Beer Cup using the guidelines now published annually by the Brewers Association. By far the most complete in the industry. These are continually updated and reflect the contemporary interpetation as well as historical.
  30. spicoli00

    spicoli00 Zealot (548) Jul 6, 2005 Indiana

    reading comprehension, i can have some?
  31. spicoli00

    spicoli00 Zealot (548) Jul 6, 2005 Indiana

    thanks Tash, I haven't seen this style guide. Nice alternative to the BJCP.
  32. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,346) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    BJCP is for homebrew competitions. Awards are given for the style, not substyles. The awards are given by the competition organizers, most often an local homebrew club.

    If you want a lot of styles and awards look at the BS guidelines for the GABF and WBC.
  33. Jmitchell3

    Jmitchell3 Initiate (0) Apr 2, 2013 Arizona

    Your point is well taken. For me this question of style representation is more about learning to be conversant in beer at large, and less about strictly classifying any given brew. Given the art metaphor, I think the same is true. The academics tend to ruin this idea by taking the classification systems to extremes, IMO.
  34. zac16125

    zac16125 Poo-Bah (1,805) Jan 26, 2010 South Carolina
    Beer Trader

    I wouldnt focus too much on the most popular by style lists, because many of the trendy (albeit excellent) but not necessarily standard of the style beers find there way onto that list. For example, a RIS brewed with cherries, cocoa nibs, cinnamon and aged in 4 types of barrels then blended together, may be very highly rated but its not a good example of the basic RIS style. Id seek out the well established, well known standards of the styles. The Beers of Fame list may be a good start.
    Jmitchell3 and TongoRad like this.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.