"I don't brew to style! I'm brewing a lager, but... it's BLACK!"

"You're brewing a schwarzbier, then..."

So goes the opening of an episode from the Brewing Network's Sunday Session. Style has nearly always been around the block before. Some are direct descendants. Others are distant country cousins. A few are the product of drunken incest and ought to have been strangled at birth.

The question of style has bugged me for years. From way back when I used to add new brews into the ratebeer database; is it bitter or premium bitter? I didn't care for the differentiation then, I'm even less inclined now. IPA? Applied to everything from 3.6% dishwater to 10% bitter-riddled kettle juice. As for  Black IPA... annoyingly oxymoronic.

Yet I've learned to love the misinterpretation and  misuse. But the one conundrum remaining for me is this:

United States brewers are at the forefront of experimentation in beer - old styles revived and respun, trends dissected and restitched, envelopes pushed out of shape into Möbius strip territory. And what happens when they get a brew that dares to be different?

It's codified and parameterised and straight jacketed so it can be judged in the future. 

Born in the land of the free: shackled by BJCP. Don't brew to style. More importantly, don't make up the guidelines. Be free to brew what you wanna brew. Get loaded and have a good time...

and for the version of Black that still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, click here


  1. Unfortunately, there are WAY too many brewers that seem to make beer to please the judges rather than the consumer

  2. The US craft scene is an odd combination of utter disfunction and stunning brilliance. Sytle is part of the former.