Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Style? What Style?

I had a pang of nostalgia the other day. 

Said pang was, bizarrely, for the days when brewers were endlessly trying to out hop each other. Desperately trying to cram as much hop bitterness and IBUs in their beers, usually an IPA of some double or tripleness. It was a veritable humulus lupulus arms race back in the Noughties and early Twenty teens. I am sure this sounds odd to you if you've been following Fuggled for a while as I am something of a non-IPA drinker. It's not that I have anything against IPA per se, it's just that modern iterations of the brand style leave me disappointed, assuming of course IPA is actually still a style and not mere shorthand for "American Craft Beer".

As "IPA" became more nebulous, hazy, and fruity, so it correspondingly became less and less bitter, to the point where such beers may as well be Keystone Light with a shit load of modern hops and some flour chucked in for turbidity. I have considered doing such a project for my homebrew just to see what it would score at a competition...

Sadly, and this is purely anecdotal, I feel as though this flight from hop bitterness has started to affect other beer types. Recently I had a beer on tap, branded as a "German Pilsner" that had a mere 14 IBUs, 14?? Even though I take beer style guidelines with something of a pinch of salt, 12 IBUs in a German Pilsner is so far below the definition that it makes a mockery of it. According to the BJCP, a "German Pils", category 5D, has an IBU range of 22 to 40. Admittedly I like my pilsners on the more bitter side, north of 30 IBUs is my sweet spot, yay for my local brewery, Patch Brewing, and their 34 IBU Pylon Pilsner.

I remember a beer I used to very much enjoy, again a locally made lager, that got the reformulation treatment to become "smoother", which is basically short hand for "cutting back on the bittering hops". Sure it is still in the accepted parameters for the style, but to my mind has become a shadow of itself and lost some of its mojo.

If we are going to have style guidelines for various competitions and as a guide to consumers as to what they should expect from a beer, surely it would be helpful if breweries actually made their beers within those parameters? 

1 comment:

  1. Nope, that would be wrong. The systematised descriptions of beers must reflect what's actually being brewed, not what some one guy thinks ought to be brewed. If the style guidelines don't fit the real world then the guidelines need to be changed.


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