Sunday, 30 September 2007

Biting the carpet

Numbers, numbers, numbers. There have been more than enough of those this week. I like to think that I'm multifaceted. Schizophrenia is a more accurate diagnosis.

Deathly dull statistics, foaming at the mouth. Those are supposed to be the twin themes of this blog. One or the other is bound to piss off just about anyone. Guess which I have planned for today?

There's no real challenge in finding something that to give me that fashionable rabid dog look. A browse of any beer forum will provide a surfeit of stimuli.

Made up beer styles. That was the theme I'd chosen. Used to be a definite Soviet flag to the bull of my anger. But I've mellowed. My relationship with beer forums has traversed several phases: anger, disbelief, despair and, finally, amusement.

But it's a shame to let a theme go. So here is a selection of made up beer styles. What's a made up beer style? I would tell you, but I've already explained it in a response to a comment. You're just getting a list here:

Robust Porter
Dry Stout
Bohemian Pilsner
Flemish Red
Imperial anything (except Stout)

Feel free to contribute suggestions of your own.


Lachlan said...

OK, so how long does a 'made up style' have to be brewed for it to have 'historical basis'? If I were to invent a distinctly unique style tomorrow and next week every brewery was brewing it, would that count as a 'real' style by your definition?

I would definitely argue that Imperial IPA is a definable style, it just hasn't been around that long. Sure the name might have just started as a cutesy way to describe the beer, but the name of a style is just an identifier. Misuse of the word 'imperial' doesn't make it not a style.

Surely Bohemian Pilsner is just an English way of saying 12° svetly?

Quadrupel is a funny one though. And Jackson's distinction between 'Flemish Red' and 'Oud Bruin' always baffled me.

Elektrolurch said...

what about the whole Landbier/Kellerbier/Zwickel range? Most beer rating websites think of them as different,definable styles. So i would say they are somehow made up styles. Because in Franconia, they aren't exactly styles.....
Sure, brewers name their beers for example Landbier- BUT everything is a Landbier! Mönchshof LANDBIER is a pale Lager from a very big Brewery while Stadter Landbier is an amber lager from a tiny brewery, and both have a totally different profile- who would think of a style there.....
"Classic German Pilsener" is also a made up style, isn't it? or ,,Strong European Style Lager"

Ron Pattinson said...

Lachlan, Mike keeps trying to get me to open the bottle of BP IBST. I think it's only fair to share it with him.

My attempts at jokes. They don't always work. I was just trying to make a point about names being imposed from the outside. I didn't pick the examples at random, though I admit Imperial was a cheap shot.

I'm taking very good care of the TT.

Ron Pattinson said...

I'm totally with you their on landbier - I've had all sorts of different beers called that. Lagers aren't well understood.

Classic German Pilsener
Strong European Style Lager

I'll add them to my list. Good suggestions.

Lars Marius Garshol said...

Made-up styles? Aren't all beer styles made up? If it sounds like I don't really know what's meant by a "made-up style", then that's probably because I don't. Feel free to explain.

As for the examples you give. I don't know what Robust Porter is supposed to be, and I don't know that I've met any. So if you want to claim that style is bogus that's fine by me.

Dry Stout: This is Guinness, right? And pretty much Guinness only? As far as I'm concerned, this doesn't seem like much of a style.

Bohemian Pilsener: This is pilsener, right? As opposed to watered-down industrial pale lager. I think we can just call this pilsener.

Flemish Red: This I'm less sure of. Isn't this Flemish Sour Ale by another name? Stuff like Rodenbach, Duchesse du Bourgogne, etc. What's wrong with this style?

Quadrupel: There sure are a lot of beers in this category. Sweet, darkish, often cloudy Belgians with high alcohol. I might be convinced that the definition is a bit vague, though.

Imperial anything: These may not be historical styles, but they sure are useful terms. Buying what you think is a pilsener, because the bottle says pilsener, because Imperial Pilsener is considered a fake style so you can't put it on the bottle. Well. Not likely to be a nice experience, is it?

Ron Pattinson said...

Lars, ask a Belgian what a Quadrupel or Flemish Red is. They won't have the faintest idea what you're talking about as the names have been invented by non-Belgians.

It was Garrett Oliver who said Imperial should only be used for Stout.

Lars Marius Garshol said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lars Marius Garshol said...

I see now that you *did* explain what you meant by "made-up style", and in response to one of my comments, no less.

"By invented style, I mean one that has been coined by beer writers but has no historical basis."

That's fair enough, but I'm not sure this concept of "invented style" should be taken too far. Ok, so these styles are not historical. Fine. They can still be relevant today, though.

It seems fair to me to claim that Quadrupel and Flemish Red are invented styles. However, I can't see that this necessarily means the styles don't exist. As far as I can tell, they do exist.

Regarding Imperial: in that case, I guess Garrett Oliver is wrong. He might of course mean that it's the very concept of an Imperial Pilsener or whatever that's objectionable, but that's also wrong.

GenX at 40 said...

So, because I really know so little, is Flemish Red, Flemish Brown and Oude Brun all the one thing? That would smooth my furrowed brow if it were true.

During my brief residency in Holland (Aalsmeer, 1986) my first drink was Oude Brun and with a shot of genever. But the Oude Brun was Heineken and it was low alcohol. Am I recalling correctly?


Ron Pattinson said...

Question one: I would prefer to let a Belgian answer (what a chicken I am).

Question two: Dutch Oud Bruin is a completely different style to Belgian Oud Bruin. It's a dark, sweet, low-alcohol (2.5-3.5% ABV) lager. I've seen something similar in the 1910 Heineken records I glanced at. A dark beer of 9º Plato or so.

Talking of jenever, I'm just back from Ooievaar. Damn good stuff, real old jenever.

Stonch said...

I love getting annoyed about beer styles, and always pray someone will start talking about BCJP guidelines. That's when it gets funny.

Ron Pattinson said...

Stonch, you won't get me started on the BJCP. I think they are a wonderful organisation, bringing light where there was darkness. But I have my head under the covers.

Mike said...

The bigger question, it seems to me, is: what purpose do beer styles serve?

For home-brewers in brewing contests, they clearly are of great use. However, for the hundreds of millions of other people, what do they do?

If I find a new beer and like it, my question is not "what style is that?", but how can I find more beers that I will enjoy that much? Usually, I will try other beers from the same brewery. If that doesn't work, I might try other breweries in the same area.

But, one thing I will _never_ do is ask a foreigner which beer will I like.

Ron Pattinson said...

Mike, in Franconia lots of brewers don't tag any style onto their beer at all. If they do, it's often something very vague like Export or Dunkles. It doesn't seem to confuse the local drinkers in the least.

Elektrolurch said...

it doesn't confuse them because they often go the same place or just order a beer...;) I've been living in franconia for a year now, and most tiny breweries only sell one beer...So local drinkers just drink it and are happy with it....;) It is only difficult for an outsider. For example, i recently started to love dark franconian lagers with a lot of hoppy bitterness in the aftertaste, like Jean-Paul Trunk or Leupser Dunkel. The problem is, beers in this vein are rare and most local's can't recommend much in the vein because they usually stick to a small range of local brews... So it is difficult finding really enjoyable beers based on Style. Such beers may mostly label Dunkles, but some franconian brewers make a Dunkles that is more in the style of a munich dunkles-doesnt make things easier...

Ron Pattinson said...

Elektrolurch, never quite knowing what to expect is part of the fun in Franconia. I had all sorts of types of Dunkles: the hoppy type, the sweetish Munich type, but other ones, too. I like the variety.