What Beer "Style" Best Exemplifies the Ridiculousness of Having Styles?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by honkey, Mar 26, 2020.

  1. honkey

    honkey Zealot (583) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona
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    I've been on a bit of a rampage lately with people telling me they're brewing Italian Style Pilsners (my answer to the question in the topic). I ask them what makes their pilsner an "Italian" style and I keep getting told that it's like a German Pils, but it's dry hopped. That ignores the fact that German brewers have dry hopped Pilsners for "at least" 115 years. Textbooks from Weihenstephan from the early 1900's describe the process of dry hopping. Some people say that German brewers couldn't dry hop because it was outlawed by the Reinheitsgebot (false and the beer purity law that actually ruled in Germany never outlawed dry hopping, it outlawed adding advanced hop products post boil and it was later clarified that dry hopping was legal because of some confusion) but they also ignore that brewers in Germany have been breaking the purity law ever since it was written.

    To further the ridiculousness, there's basically two breweries in Italy that brew these dry hopped pilsners (using German malts and hops)... two examples of a beer "style" does not constitute a whole new style of beer.

    So in your opinion, what "style" best displays the silliness of continually adding new styles of beer?
  2. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (6,684) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania

    "Session IPAs" - they are mostly just crappy versions of an American Pale Ale.
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  3. honkey

    honkey Zealot (583) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona
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    I kind of knew this would be one of the first examples. I slightly agree, but only because of the execution of session IPA's. I think the difference is in the balance. One of the first beers I ever brewed was back in 2009 and as a 19 year old homebrewer, I was referencing homebrewing forums and resources constantly. There was a chart that showed gravity units to bitterness units and where the balance between malty and hoppy existed. I was big into hop bursting (still am actually) since I love hop flavor and aroma, but I'm not a big fan of bitterness and I brewed a "session IPA" that was nothing but late hop additions and a big dry hop amount that would be typical of an IPA at the time. It was skewed heavily on that chart to "extreme hoppy" and was 4.5% ABV. I shared that beer with a few brewers and I actually landed a brewing gig because of that beer. I think most session IPA's today really are just dry pale ales, but I do think there's a small amount that exist as something that's different from a pale ale.
  4. einhorn

    einhorn Aspirant (296) Nov 3, 2005 California

    I never got on board with the "black IPA" (aka the Cascadian dark ale)...just seemed odd.
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  5. Snowcrash000

    Snowcrash000 Poo-Bah (2,628) Oct 4, 2017 Germany
    Moderator Society Trader

    Blasphemy... :stuck_out_tongue:
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  6. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (2,636) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    @honkey, your post reminds me that every time I look at the beer styles list on this site (and maybe it's other lists too) that geographical naming of styles is needless, just like your Italian example. An example is the American Stout vs. English Stout. Does it really matter? I think not.
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  7. Snowcrash000

    Snowcrash000 Poo-Bah (2,628) Oct 4, 2017 Germany
    Moderator Society Trader

  8. honkey

    honkey Zealot (583) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona
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    I think the distinctions have become less apparent between English styles and American styles recently. There was a time where everything for American styles was basically taking English styles and pushing the boundaries with higher ABV, more hops, dryer finish, etc. and brewers used American malts, hops, and yeast strains. Today, I'd be willing to bet that more American brewers use yeast strains that are considered English strains (Boddington's yeast being so frequently used in hazy IPA's for instance) than ever before and that these styles have been subject to globalization.
  9. honkey

    honkey Zealot (583) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona
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    At least it was distinctive which is arguably the point of a style...? I used to brew one and I hated doing it. I just don't think it's a good style... The astringency of roasted malts with the bitterness of hops... Not my jam. I will say that I didn't dislike Wookie Jack, but that might be my least favorite Firestone Walker beer that I can recall.
  10. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (3,168) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
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    then you'll love this - I just bought a "polish style pilsner" today brewed by a local brewery. Not sure what that is ...
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  11. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (2,903) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
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    Here on Beer Advocate there are 5 different Porter styles and 7 different stout styles, seems like overkill. I think you could reduce 12 down to like 4-5 and include pastry and there would be enough differentiation that people could actually tell the primary differences.
  12. Sheppard

    Sheppard Meyvn (1,173) Mar 16, 2013 Virginia

    For me, probably sour IPAs. I think they try to take everything that is trendy in craft beer and treat it with excess to create a product that is generally not good. At a certain point, it feels like dry hopping with a trendy hop or the inclusion of that hop is just to help move the product. People like hops like galaxy. This beer isn't very good, but it's got galaxy in it. It'll move. It doesn't feel like it was organically a style people were clamoring for but rather an amalgamation of all that is trendy. A mash up of an IPA and a kettle sour sometimes with fruit, sometimes with lactose!
  13. honkey

    honkey Zealot (583) Aug 28, 2010 Arizona
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    Interesting example with Galaxy. As a brewer, that example shows exactly how consumers drive trends and also follow the lead of others. I think it has been 4 years since I've had a really good Galaxy beer. Growers for that hop tried to increase acreage without really increasing their ability to harvest the hop and as a result, the pick windows are far too big now. I think that's a problem for almost every hyped hop variety out of Australia and New Zealand. Today, all the Galaxy beers I try taste like they used a hop that was left too long on the vine and the sulphur compounds are through the roof. But people still drink Galaxy beers and think "tropical fruit." I think that's a great example of the power of suggestion.

    As far as Sour IPA's, I haven't tried many of them... If someone creates a sour wort and they use hops in the boil, you have sour and bitter which just don't work well together in my opinion. I do love dry hopped kettle sours (actually have one fermenting right now) and my belief is that if you're using a fruity tasting hop, that you should try to match the acidity of the beer to the acidity of the fruit that the hop resembles. I'd never put lactose in that though
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  14. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (5,431) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
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    So many, how to choose?
    • American Imperial Pilsner. Where is the American Pilsner counterpart? So a 5% Pilsner HAS to be Bohemian or German, can't be American apparently? Should just be American Pilsner, don't need imperial. Really don't need imperial anything, the ABV states it well. OK, keep RIS.
    • So, a Pumpkin Stout could be a Pumpkin Ale, a Fruit and Field, a Herb and Spice, or a Stout. Or even a Winter Warmer. Who decides? Obviously we don't really need Pumpkin Ale.
    • Eisbock (ice-bock) is made by slightly freezing and skimming the ice to make it stronger. No real requirements for the makeup of the beer itself. Essentially it's a process, not a style, since you can make an Eisbock out of most any base beer. Or just brew it strong.
    • Rauchbier, Smoke Beer, and Smoked Porter. Do we really need all three? Make a decision. Lose Smoke Beer.
    • Winter Warmer, Pumpkin Ale, Herb and Spice - lot's of overlap here, never mind that they are usually some other distinct style that just happens to be marketed as a winter beer. Jettison Winter Warmer.
    • Don't get me started on Chile Beer.
    That's just first pass.
    #14 bbtkd, Mar 26, 2020
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2020
  15. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Savant (982) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    Do we need American and Russian Imperial Stouts either. IMO it should just be Imperial Stouts but if you feel the need for a national name the Russians got there 1st so they win.
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  16. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (2,612) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    At the Real Ale Fest in Chicago one year a visiting Englishman asked me why we called it Russian Imperial Stout. He said it was either Imperial or Russian Stout -- using both together was redundant.

    Since he was from the land where the style (sorry) originated I've always remembered that and headed his lesson.
  17. Hops_n_Malts

    Hops_n_Malts Initiate (30) Jun 14, 2019 Kentucky

    Milkshake IPAs. What the hell, man.
  18. thesherrybomber

    thesherrybomber Initiate (165) Jun 13, 2017 California

    First it was the hops arms race, followed by barrel aging everything, finally adding weird flavors to everything

    Now it just seems everyone is mixing styles, methods, etc. and giving it a new name
  19. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,394) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Can you please provide more details here? Specifically what hops were used to brew that beer.

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  20. Sheppard

    Sheppard Meyvn (1,173) Mar 16, 2013 Virginia

    I was just pulling out a trendy hop. I was just using galaxy as an example of a hop that is just a buzz word that people think is good. I have had a similar experience to you as far as not having had a good galaxy beer since...2017?
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  21. Longhorn08

    Longhorn08 Aspirant (235) Feb 4, 2014 Texas

    Oyster Stout
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  22. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (3,168) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
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    So I found it on the shelf and picked it up just to give it a try. Did some more digging tonight and it looks like the "polish style pilsner" comes from the hops used. Per the website its brewed using: "premium european pilsner malt, munich malt and polish lubelski hops".
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  23. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (7,078) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
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    Is that the Cashmere Pulaski?
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  24. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (7,019) Sep 24, 2007 Liechtenstein
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    I still say using IPA for that Murky, New England-style beer is wrong. Call it something else, cuz they ain't IPAs.
  25. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,394) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Well, IMO there is the 'answer' to your question on why they are marketing this beer that way. Having stated that it comes down to how much you are a 'believer' in the aspect of terroir as regards hops. I have been told these hops are genetically the same as Saaz hops but since they are grown in Poland vs. the Czech Republic they could indeed be noticeably different. Does this 'justify' using a different descriptor of "Polish Pilsner"? Well,...

  26. DrumKid003

    DrumKid003 Aspirant (239) Aug 10, 2013 Oklahoma

    Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous is still the only beer I wish they would bring back, and I think it would fit well with their current IPA-centric portfolio. A local does a a Black IPA/Cascadian Dark Ale (Night Terror) that I have bought cases of since they opened up. It is the third highest rated beer out of 15 from them that I have had behind: Industry Standard and Left Luggage.
  27. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Zealot (548) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

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  28. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (3,168) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
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  29. Mister_Faucher

    Mister_Faucher Savant (978) Dec 3, 2014 Washington

    I actually agree with this. I've had quite a few recently and probably the worst I've had in the last month or so is from Fat Orange Cat 'Sweet Jane Blues'. Hard style to nail correctly.
  30. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,935) Mar 12, 2009 New York
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    I regret being able only to like OP once. There are too many ridiculous styles to name in a single post. I'm of the opinion that more than half of all style names are confusing, non-descriptive, and superfluous.
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  31. bret27

    bret27 Defender (638) Mar 10, 2009 California

    I recently had “strawberry illa” by full circle. It was exactly what was advertised. Strawberry milkshake. However, that is actually a gross combination with ipa. (Does it seem like strawberry milk would be great mixed with any ipa?). It was my first milkshake ipa, and I had to drain pour it.
  32. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (1,738) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    @honkey, is Italian Pilsner actually a style? If so, on who's list of styles? (not here)

    I reject your subject statement. Having styles is not ridiculous.

    Some of the pseudo styles brewers invent for their marketing purposes ARE ridiculous, though.

    But, this has been going on for a long time, and has resulted in there being too many styles even on the recognized style lists (like here at BA) as brewers and their consumers demand special recognition for these "innovations." (case in point: NEIPA)
  33. beerwego

    beerwego Initiate (51) Dec 5, 2019

    For me, styles are merely a code to help find or narrow down to what I might be looking for. How closely a brewery adheres to the style means jack shit, so as long as the product delivers to my senses. I'm a little more judgey on the style if the beer hails from where it all began.

    Sour ale irks me to no end. It panders to the dopes who drop in on beer like its a fad and not man's answer to living happily. Sour ales are the sidekick to hazebro.

    Your example of Italian Pilsner, I have not heard of, and if its not using Italian ingredients, then I don't get it - but if someone tagged a beer as a So-Cal Pilsner, that in no way would irk me, as I would pretty much know what I'm getting into.
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  34. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,038) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    To me those are two words that really don't fit together well. I'd put them in the Gimmick Stout category.
  35. Longhorn08

    Longhorn08 Aspirant (235) Feb 4, 2014 Texas

    So every stout brewed with a special ingredient gets its own style???

    that’s exactly the point of the thread.
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  36. zeff80

    zeff80 Poo-Bah (11,583) Feb 6, 2006 Missouri

    I'm all over the place on this one. To some extent I agree. Italian Pilsner shouldn't exist. I don't see much difference between RIS and American Imperial Stout, and others.

    However, there are times I drink a beer, go to BA and don't like the style options here. Crown Valley's Pumpkin Stout shouldn't be in the same style as Schlafly Pumpkin Ale. A few styles need an "Imperial" option that is offered on Untappd, but not here.

    In the end, I don't feel strongly either way. My own personal beer list/spreadsheet is a bastardization of BA, Untappd and my own brain.
  37. Roguer

    Roguer Poo-Bah (4,761) Mar 25, 2013 Georgia
    Moderator Society Trader

    I'm going to say stouts in general (and there's a close parallel with pilsners, just not quite as bloated yet).

    Brewers are calling specific beers "pastry stouts" and "adjunct stouts." But those aren't really approved styles. "Coffee stout" is, again, a label applied by a brewer, but it's not a style here. Yet, putting a standard no-flavors-added stout against a stout with coffee against a stout with coffee, vanilla, cinnamon, lactose, and peppers ... wow. These beers are very much trying to impart different impressions.

    It goes further with English Milk / Sweet Stout. If you start adding in a bunch of other ingredients (vanilla, chocolate, etc.), when does it stop being an English Milk Stout?

    IMHO, we have either too few stout styles, or too many - but it's imbalanced one way or the other. Slapping additional labels onto stouts hasn't necessarily helped, because there aren't enough (official) styles to adequately describe everything going on, but there are just enough labels to capture some of what's going on. It makes trying to categorize a creative stout by style a challenge, to say the least.

    IPAs have had some of the same confusion (Imperial NE IPA? Milkshake IPA? Sour IPA? Session IPA? IIIPA?), but it's actually one of the better sorted out styles right now.

    TL;DR version: either you get extremely specific with sub-style labels, or you get extremely generic.
  38. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,970) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Mexican Lager.
    Japanese Rice Lager.

    Both are just standard adjunct lagers.
  39. YamBag

    YamBag Initiate (179) Feb 2, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Now they're called lo-cal IPAs. I wonder if these are using
    Do you think these are being dried out due to low mash temps or the use of the enzyme used in Brut IPAs or by other means?
  40. JayORear

    JayORear Champion (887) Feb 22, 2012 New York

    Can we rename this thread “Get Off My Lawn!”?