Taking The Pils: Drinking Pils For The Next Session

session-the
For our 114th Session, our host will be Alistair Reece, who is Fuggled. For his topic, he’s opening up a bottle or bottles of pilsners, and states his goals quite simply in his announcement, all about Pilsners:

What I want folks to do is put down their IPAs, their Belgians, their sours, their barrel aged stuff, and hunt out a few pilsners to compare and contrast, whether they be Czech, German, Belgian, American, etc, etc. Try to get examples of Czech and German in particular to see the differences. Most of all though I just want people to re-discover what I consider the pinnacle of the brewing craft, so off hunting you go!

pilsner-urquell-czech

So before next Friday, pick up a couple of pilsners, or more, and get with the drinking and the tasting and the note-taking. Then come back by Friday, August 5, and report on the results of pilsner fact-finding mission. Post your findings, and then post a comment with a link to your post at the original Fuggled announcement.

elvgren_a1_pilsner

Session #109: Loving Porter

porter-worthy
For our 109th Session, our host is Mark Lindner, who is the Bend Beer Librarian, and writes the By the Barrel in Bend, Oregon. For his topic, he’s chosen the beer style Porter, and wants us to explore what he calls a “highly variable style.” Jon goes on to explain what he means by that in his announcement for the March Session:

porter

Porter

“The history of porter and the men who made it is fascinating, for it deals with the part that beer has played in the development of Western Culture. Conversely, of course, much of porter’s growth was the result of profound changes in the nature of British society. It is also a microcosm of how our industries have developed; events in porter’s history explain the structure of the modern brewing industry, not only in Britain, but in the other major Western countries.

Porter is intimately tied in with the Industrial Revolution, in which Britain led the world. Through the growth it enabled the brewers to achieve, it was instrumental in the development and technological application of a number of important scientific advances” (Foster, Porter, 17).

I am not talking about your long dead relative’s porter—although you might be—but about all of the variations currently and previously available. Hey, feel free to write about the porter of the future or some as-yet-unrecognized sub-style of porter.

There are English porters, Brown porters, Robust porters, American porters, Baltic porters, Imperial porters, Smoked porters, barrel-aged variants of most of the preceding, and so on.

With as many variations as there are it is hard to believe that porter is perhaps a neglected style. Then again, it did disappear for a while [see Foster, Porter, and others]. Of 14 beer people asked about overrated and underrated styles three of them said porter was most underrated and no one suggested it as overrated in our current market climate.

I would like you to sit down with one or more porters of your choosing. Pay a few minutes attention to your beer and then use that as a springboard to further thoughts on the style.

session_logo_all_text_200

One of Mark’s suggestions was to “[c]onstruct a resource along the lines of Jay Brooks’ Typology style pages,” so I figured the easiest thing to do this month was actually that. I chose Robust Porter for no better reason than I like them.

bdg_godSaveTheQueen_lg


Robust Porter

robust-porter Robust Porter is part of a family of beer, Porters, for which I have a personal bias. My son is named Porter. But it’s also a favorite style because I love the chocolate and sometime coffee notes that are usually smoother and less harsh than stouts. Deschutes Black Butte Porter was probably the one that really helped me love the style, but Anchor Porter and St. Bridget’s Porter from Great Divide are also early favorites.

What follows is information about robust porter, collected from a variety of sources. If you know of any additional resources about this type of beer, please let me know.

History

A stronger, more aggressive version of pre-prohibition porters and/or English porters developed in the modern craft beer era. Historical versions existed, particularly on the US East Coast, some of which are still being produced. This style describes the modern craft version. Note: This is the history for “American Porter,” which in 2015 replaced “Robust Porter.”
(BJCP1)

blackbutte
 
Origin: unitedkingdom

robust-porter

A Comparison of Style Ranges

Source SRM ABV O.G. F.G. IBU
BJCP1 (20A) American 22-40 5-6.5% Varies 1.008-1.016 25-50
Brewery DB 20-30 6.3-7.5% Varies 1.018-1.024 25-40
GABF2 (83) Robust 20-35 4.4-6% 1.045-1.060 1.008-1.016 25-40
Periodic Table7 (48) 30-40 4.8-6% 1.050-1.065 1.012-1.016 25-45
WBC6 (75) Robust 30+ 5.1-6.6% 1.045-1.1060 1.008-1.016 25-40

Yeast

 Ale
 Hybrid
 Lager
 Belgian
 Brettanomyces
 Lactobacillus
 Pediococcus
 Other

BJCP Description: 20A. American Porter1

Overall Impression: A substantial, malty dark beer with a complex and flavorful dark malt character.

Aroma: Medium-light to medium-strong dark malt aroma, often with a lightly burnt character. Optionally may also show some additional malt character in support (grainy, bready, toffee-like, caramelly, chocolate, coffee, rich, and/or sweet). Hop aroma low to high, often with a resiny, earthy, or floral character. May be dry-hopped. Fruity esters are moderate to none.

Color Range

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Appearance: Medium brown to very dark brown, often with ruby- or garnet-like highlights. Can approach black in color. Clarity may be difficult to discern in such a dark beer, but when not opaque will be clear (particularly when held up to the light). Full, tan-colored head with moderately good head retention.

Flavor: Moderately strong malt flavor usually features a lightly burnt malt character (and sometimes chocolate and/or coffee flavors) with a bit of grainy, dark malt dryness in the finish. Overall flavor may finish from dry to medium-sweet. May have a sharp character from dark roasted grains, but should not be overly acrid, burnt or harsh. Medium to high bitterness, which can be accentuated by the dark malt. Hop flavor can vary from low to high with a resiny, earthy, or floral character, and balances the dark malt flavors. The dark malt and hops should not clash. Dry-hopped versions may have a resiny flavor. Fruity esters moderate to none.

Mouthfeel: Medium to medium-full body. Moderately low to moderately high carbonation. Stronger versions may have a slight alcohol warmth. May have a slight astringency from dark malts, although this character should not be strong.

Comments: Although a rather broad style open to brewer interpretation. Dark malt intensity and flavor can vary significantly. May or may not have a strong hop character, and may or may not have significant fermentation by-products; thus may seem to have an “American” or “British” character.

Characteristic Ingredients: May contain several malts, prominently dark malts, which often include black malt (chocolate malt is also often used). American hops typically used for bittering, but US or UK finishing hops can be used; a clashing citrus quality is generally undesirable. Ale yeast can either be clean US versions or characterful English varieties.

Style Comparison: More bitter and often stronger with more dark malt qualities and dryness than English Porters or Pre-Prohibition Porters. Less strong and assertive than American Stouts.

CraftBeer.com Description

robust-porter
robust-porter-2
robust-porter-3

GABF/World Beer Cup Description

75. Robust Porter
Robust Porters are very dark to black. Hop aroma is very low to medium. They have a roast malt flavor, often reminiscent of cocoa, but no roast barley flavor. Caramel and other malty sweetness is in harmony with a sharp bitterness of black malt without a highly burnt/charcoal flavor. Hop flavor is very low to medium. Hop bitterness is medium to high. Diacetyl should not be perceived. Fruity esters should be evident, balanced with all other characters. Body is medium to full.

Online Descriptions

Beer Advocate
Inspired from the now wavering English Porter, the American Porter is the ingenuous creation from that. Thankfully with lots of innovation and originality American brewers have taken this style to a new level. Whether it is highly hopping the brew, using smoked malts, or adding coffee or chocolate to complement the burnt flavor associated with this style. Some are even barrel aged in Bourbon or whiskey barrels. The hop bitterness range is quite wide but most are balanced. Many are just easy drinking session porters as well.
Rate Beer
Black or chocolate malt gives the porter its dark brown color. Porters are often well hopped and somewhat heavily malted. This is a medium-bodied beer and may show some sweetness usually from the light caramel to light molasses range. Hoppiness can range from bitter to mild. Porters, in relation to stouts of the same region, are typically more mild and less aggressively hopped.

robust-porter-1935

Glassware

pint-glass becker-pint nonic-pint tumbler seidel stein-ceramic
Pint Glass (or Becker, Nonic, Tumbler), Mug (or Seidel, Stein)3
Nonic Pint5

Food Pairing

bbq cheese-variety chocolate steak_meat prosciutto meatloaf scallops shepherds-pie souffle venison boar
Cuisine (Barbecue) Cheese (buttery; Brie, Gouda, Havarti, Swiss) General (Chocolate, Dessert) Meat (Beef, Smoked Meat, Grilled Meat)3
Aged Ham (prosciutto, Serrano, Bayonne), Meatloaf, Seared Scallops, Shepherd’s Pie, Soufflé, Steak, Venison, Wild Boar4
Roasted or Grilled Meats, Gruyere, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies5

Seasonality & Temperature

Season:
season-winter
Winter
Serving:
temp-45-50
45-50° F
Storage:
temp-40-45
40-45° F*
Beer 101:
Beer101-porter
Porter

48-robust-porter

Links About Porter

Further Reading

bp-porter

Commercial Examples of Robust Porter

Anchor Porter, Boulevard Bully! Porter, Deschutes Black Butte Porter, Founders Porter, Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, Smuttynose Robust Porter, Sierra Nevada Porter1
Iron Hill Pig Iron Porter, Rock Bottom Moonlight Porter, Deschutes Black Butte Porter5

Edmund Fitzgerald Bully Porter Bottle Label

Top 10 Examples

Beer Advocate

  1. Funky Buddha Morning Wood
  2. Hill Farmstead Everett Porter
  3. Perrin No Rules
  4. Funky Buddha Maple Bacon Coffee Porter
  5. Kane Sunday Brunch
  6. Funky Buddha Last Snow
  7. Jackie O’s Bourbon Barrel Black Maple
  8. Kane Mexican Brunch
  9. Hill Farmstead Birth Of Tragedy
  10. Ballast Point Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter

anchor-porter-logo

Rate Beer

  1. Smuttynose Robust Porter
  2. Cigar City Puppy’s Breath Robust Porter
  3. Greenbush Distorter Robust Porter
  4. AleSmith Robust Porter
  5. Reuben’s Robust Porter
  6. Ballast Point Homework Series Batch #6 – Robust Porter
  7. Big Sky Bobo’s Robust Porter
  8. Birbant Double Robust Porter
  9. Wisconsin #006 Porter Joe
  10. Cheshire Valley Robust Porter

schlitz-porter-label

Key to Sources

1 = BJCP 2015
2 = GABF 2015
3 = Beer Advocate
4 = Garrett Oliver’s Brewmaster’s Table
5 = Brewers Association / CraftBeer.com
6 = World Beer Cup Guidelines 2016
7 = The Periodic Table of Beer Styles 2001
8 = GotBeer.com

Key

* = Not recommended for extended aging, unless ABV exceeds average range

Announcing Next Typology Tuesday: Irish-Style Dry Stout

typology
Two months ago I tried to kick off Typology Tuesday with American Barleywine. Last month it was Bock. For the month of March, we’ll be highlighting Irish-Style Dry Stout.

But two months in, I have to admit that there’s only a very small number of people interested in participating in the same way as the Sessions. As I said in the original post this was something I was interested in doing, and if there were others who felt similarly, then great. So given that it’s probably just me, instead of trying to make it one day, instead I’ll make an announcement on the first Tuesday, and then whoever wants to write about that style can do so whenever they want over the next month.

So anytime before April 5, write a post on Irish-Style Dry Stout. You can essentially write about whatever you like, with the only proviso being it should have something to do with the featured type of beer. After your post is published, please let me know it’s up so I can include it in the subsequent round-up. You can send me the URL to your post either by leaving a comment here, or even by including the hashtag #Typology in a tweet.

IrishStout

Next Session Raises A Glass Of Porter

session-the
For our 109th Session, our host will be Mark Lindner, who is the Bend Beer Librarian, and writes the By the Barrel in Bend, Oregon. For his topic, he’s chosen the beer style Porter, and wants us to explore what he calls a “highly variable style.” Jon goes on to explain what he means by that in his announcement for the March Session:

porter

Porter

“The history of porter and the men who made it is fascinating, for it deals with the part that beer has played in the development of Western Culture. Conversely, of course, much of porter’s growth was the result of profound changes in the nature of British society. It is also a microcosm of how our industries have developed; events in porter’s history explain the structure of the modern brewing industry, not only in Britain, but in the other major Western countries.

Porter is intimately tied in with the Industrial Revolution, in which Britain led the world. Through the growth it enabled the brewers to achieve, it was instrumental in the development and technological application of a number of important scientific advances” (Foster, Porter, 17).

I am not talking about your long dead relative’s porter—although you might be—but about all of the variations currently and previously available. Hey, feel free to write about the porter of the future or some as-yet-unrecognized sub-style of porter.

There are English porters, Brown porters, Robust porters, American porters, Baltic porters, Imperial porters, Smoked porters, barrel-aged variants of most of the preceding, and so on.

With as many variations as there are it is hard to believe that porter is perhaps a neglected style. Then again, it did disappear for a while [see Foster, Porter, and others]. Of 14 beer people asked about overrated and underrated styles three of them said porter was most underrated and no one suggested it as overrated in our current market climate. [Yes, I know that is from Thrillist; feel free to ignore it.]

I would like you to sit down with one or more porters of your choosing. Pay a few minutes attention to your beer and then use that as a springboard to further thoughts on the style.

Possibilities include:

  • Contrast and/or compare two or more of the styles
  • Contrast and/or compare two or more beers within/across porter styles
  • The history and development of the style
  • Your love/hate relationship with any porter style
  • Baltic porter – ale or Lager or a mixed fermentation?
  • Is hopping the only difference between English and American styles?
  • Food pairings with your favorite porter or style of porter
  • Review the porter(s) you are using as a creative springboard
  • Construct a resource along the lines of Jay Brooks’ Typology style pages, see for example American Barley Wine or Bock [I’ve already collected some of the information below for you.]
  • Recipe and procedures for brewing your version of a great porter

anchor-porter-logo

So what is your favorite porter? Or do you like them at all? What’s your take? You know what to do? To participate in the March Session, leave the link to your post in a comment to the original announcement on or before Friday, March 4. Or e-mail your URL at mark (.) r (.) lindner (@) gmail (.) com, or tweet your link with the hashtag #thesession and it wouldn’t hurt to add him, too, using @bythebbl.

younger-porter
Still my favorite Porter, so good he could even make Don Younger smile!

Bock

typology
In support of my newly hatched scheme to have a monthly discussion about different types of beer, Typology Tuesday, I offer the second style guide for Bock, which will be our second beer, to take place in February 2016.

be_bock


Bock

bock Bock is a traditional lager style that I’d never been too fond of, until at least, I drank it in Germany. I still prefer the bocks that have more restrained sweetness, and more nutty character, but I have grown to like them a lot more than I did when I was younger. Christopher Morley wrote “Oysters going out, the new brew of Bock beer coming in; so do the saloons mark the vernal equinox.” And although they signal spring, I tend to prefer them in late winter, just before the weather turns warmer, when the air is crisp and dry, but still very cool.

What follows is information about bocks, collected from a variety of sources. If you know of any additional resources about this type of beer, please let me know.

History

Originated in the Northern German city of Einbeck, which was a brewing center and popular exporter in the days of the Hanseatic League (14th to 17th century). Recreated in Munich starting in the 17th century. The name “bock” is based on a corruption of the name “Einbeck” in the Bavarian dialect, and was thus only used after the beer came to Munich. “Bock” also means “Ram” in German, and is often used in logos and advertisements (BJCP1)

 
 

SpatenBockArt

Origin: germany

bock

A Comparison of Style Ranges

Source SRM ABV O.G. F.G. IBU
BJCP1 (6C) Dunkles Bock 14-22 6.3-7.2% 1.064-1.072 1.013-1.019 20-27
Brewery DB 20-30 6.3-7.5% Varies 1.018-1.024 20-30
GABF2 (45A) Trad. Ger. 20-30 6.3-7.6% 1.066-1.074 1.018-1.024 20-30
Periodic Table7 (40) 15-30 6.4-7.6% 1.066-1.074 1.018-1.024 20-30
WBC6 (43A) Trad. Ger. 20-30 6.3-7.6% 1.066-1.1074 1.018-1.024 20-30

Yeast

 Ale
 Hybrid
 Lager
 Belgian
 Brettanomyces
 Lactobacillus
 Pediococcus
 Other

BJCP Description: 6C. Dunkles Bock1

Overall Impression: A dark, strong, malty German lager beer that emphasizes the malty-rich and somewhat toasty qualities of continental malts without being sweet in the finish.

Aroma: Medium to medium-high bready-malty-rich aroma, often with moderate amounts of rich Maillard products and/or toasty overtones. Virtually no hop aroma. Some alcohol may be noticeable. Clean lager character, although the malts can provide a slight (low to none) dark fruit character, particularly in aged examples.

Color Range

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Appearance: Light copper to brown color, often with attractive garnet highlights. Lagering should provide good clarity despite the dark color. Large, creamy, persistent, off white head.

Flavor: Complex, rich maltiness is dominated by the toasty rich Maillard products. Some caramel notes may be present. Hop bitterness is generally only high enough to support the malt flavors, allowing a bit of sweetness to linger into the finish. Well-attenuated, not cloying. Clean fermentation profile, although the malt can provide a slight dark fruit character. No hop flavor. No roasted or burnt character.

Mouthfeel: Medium to medium-full bodied. Moderate to moderately low carbonation. Some alcohol warmth may be found, but should never be hot. Smooth, without harshness or astringency.

Comments: Decoction mashing and long boiling plays an important part of flavor development, as it enhances the caramel and Maillard flavor aspects of the malt. Any fruitiness is due to Munich and other specialty malts, not yeast-derived esters developed during fermentation.

Characteristic Ingredients: Munich and Vienna malts, rarely a tiny bit of dark roasted malts for color adjustment, never any non-malt adjuncts. Continental European hop varieties are used. Clean German lager yeast.

Style Comparison: Darker, with a richer malty flavor and less apparent bitterness than a Helles Bock. Less alcohol and malty richness than a Doppelbock. Stronger malt flavors and higher alcohol than a Märzen. Richer, less attenuated, and less hoppy than a Czech Amber Lager.

CraftBeer.com Description

bock
bock-2
bock-3

GABF/World Beer Cup Description

43. Bock
A. Subcategory: Traditional German-Style Bock
Bocks are dark brown to very dark. Traditional bocks are made with all malt, and have high malt character with aromas of toasted or nut-like malt, but not caramel. Fruity-ester aromas should be minimal if present. Diacetyl aroma should not be perceived. Hop aroma is very low. Traditional bocks have high malt sweetness. Malt flavor character should be a balance of sweetness and toasted or nut-like malt, but not caramel. Hop flavor is low. Hop bitterness is perceived as medium, increasing proportionately with starting gravity. Fruity-ester flavors should be minimal if present. Diacetyl flavor should be absent. Body is medium to full.

Online Descriptions

Beer Advocate
The origins of Bock beer are quite uncharted. Back in medieval days German monasteries would brew a strong beer for sustenance during their Lenten fasts. Some believe the name Bock came from the shortening of Einbeck thus “beck” to “bock.” Others believe it is more of a pagan or old world influence that the beer was only to be brewed during the sign of the Capricorn goat, hence the goat being associated with Bock beers. Basically, this beer was a symbol of better times to come and moving away from winter.

As for the beer itself in modern day, it is a bottom fermenting lager that generally takes extra months of lagering (cold storage) to smooth out such a strong brew. Bock beer in general is stronger than your typical lager, more of a robust malt character with a dark amber to brown hue. Hop bitterness can be assertive enough to balance though must not get in the way of the malt flavor, most are only lightly hopped.

Rate Beer
The dark Bock has a deep copper to dark brown color. Medium to full-bodied, malt sweetness and nutty or light toasted flavors dominate. Hop flavor and aroma can be light to non-existent.

bavarian-bock-1876

Glassware

flute-1 pilsner pokal mug seidel stange tulip
Flute, Pilsener Glass (or Pokal), Mug (or Seidel, Stein), Stange (Slender Cylinder)3
Tulip5

Food Pairing

germany cheese-variety chocolate steak_meat deer chicken hummus monkfish cheese-swiss
Cuisine (German) Cheese (earthy; Camembert, Fontina) General (Chocolate) Meat (Game)3
Chicken Depends on the dish, but these suggestions are good if it’s by itself, Hummus, Monkfish4
Grilled Rib-Eye, Aged Swiss, Chocolate5

Seasonality & Temperature

Season:
467633357
Spring
Serving:
temp-45-50
45-50° F
Storage:
temp-40-45
40-45° F*
Beer 101:
Beer101-bock
Bock

40-bock

Links About Bock

Further Reading

bp-bock

Commercial Examples of Bock

Aass Bock, Einbecker Ur-Bock Dunkel, Great Lakes Rockefeller Bock, Kneitinger Bock, New Glarus Uff-da Bock, Penn Brewery St. Nikolaus Bock1
Great Lakes Rockefeller Bock, Tommyknocker Butt Head Bock, Troegs Troegenator Double Bock5

La-Trappe-bockbier new-glraus-uff-da

Top 10 Examples

Beer Advocate

  1. La Trappe Bockbier / Bierbrouwerij De Koningshoeven B.V.
  2. St. Nikolaus Bock Bier / Pennsylvania Brewing
  3. Great Lakes Rockefeller Bock / Great Lakes Brewing
  4. Aass Bock / Aass Brewery
  5. Millstream Schokolade Bock / Millstream Brewing
  6. Spaten Holiday Bock / Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu
  7. Schell’s Bock / August Schell Brewing
  8. Yule Bock / The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery
  9. New Glarus Uff-da / New Glarus Brewing
  10. Brewing Blondibock / Mammoth Brewing

pretty-things-st-winefreide

Rate Beer

  1. Pretty Things Lovely Saint Winefride
  2. Pretty Things Bocky Bier
  3. Calumet Bock
  4. New Glarus Uff-da Bock
  5. Maisel & Friends Marc’s Chocolate Bock
  6. La Trappe Bockbier
  7. Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock
  8. Svatý Norbert Podzimní Tmavé Pivo (Antidepressant)
  9. Full Sail Limited Edition Lager (LTD 06)
  10. U Tří Růží Klasterni Special Sv. Jilji No.1

frankfurter-bock

Key to Sources

1 = BJCP 2015
2 = GABF 2015
3 = Beer Advocate
4 = Garrett Oliver’s Brewmaster’s Table
5 = Brewers Association / CraftBeer.com
6 = World Beer Cup Guidelines 2016
7 = The Periodic Table of Beer Styles 2001
8 = GotBeer.com

Key

* = Not recommended for extended aging, unless ABV exceeds average range

Announcing Next Typology Tuesday: Bock

typology
Last month I kicked off Typology Tuesday with American Barleywine. This month, if you want to play along, we’ll be talking about Bock, specifically traditional German bock. Always the last Tuesday of the month, February’s Typology Tuesday will take place on February 23.

So on or before February 23, write a post on Bock. You can essentially write about whatever you like, with the only proviso being it should have something to do with the featured type of beer. After your post is published, please let me know it’s up so I can include it in the subsequent round-up. You can send me the URL to your post either by leaving a comment here, or even by including the hashtag #Typology in a tweet. I’ll be bock.

Schaefer-Bock

Typology #1: American Barleywine

typology
This is the first in what I hope will become an on-going monthly exploration of different kinds of beer, known as Typology Tuesday. This month’s type of beer is American Barley Wine.
Old_Birdbrain_Lg
Barleywines are one of the first styles that I became enamored of when I first moved to California in 1985. Before that, I don’t remember being able to find many of them, even in New York City, where I lived in the late 1970s. I vaguely recall a bottle of Thomas Hardy, but wish I could remember how it tasted. In mid-80s Bay Area — specifically the South Bay — I discovered Liquor Barn, then still owned by Safeway. It had the best selection of beers I’d seen up to that point, even more than Brewski’s in the East Village. One of the beers that caught my eye early on was a little nipper, a mere 6.4 oz, of Anchor Old Foghorn Barleywine Style Ale. This I remember.

old-foghorn-duo

In fact, I still have a couple of the small bottles in my cellar, a more recent gift from a friend at Anchor. I’m not sure how old they are, but they bring back fond memories. After Anchor, Bigfoot was the other barleywine I started to see each year. It predated my emigrating to the left coast by two years, having debuted in 1983. Old Foghorn uses Cascade hops, while Bigfoot uses Chinook for bittering, but is finished with Cascade, Centennial, and more Chinook. Anchor was going for a more English style, but the Cascade hops upended that somewhat. Bigfoot has no such illusions, and goes straight for the throat with big hop character.

And there were many more, and growing, even in those heady early days in the latter half of the 1980s. In 1993, Dave Keene launched the Toronado Barleywine Festival, though it was a rather small affair. There were just three beers — barley wines from Anchor, Marin Brewing and Sierra Nevada — on a small table in the back of the pub. It quickly grew to national prominence, eventually including 60 or more different barley wines, with BJCP-certified judging. For a number of years, winning the Toronado Barleywine Festival was as prestigious as a gold medal at GABF. Keene knew he was on to something when San Diego brewers, whose beer was not even sold in the market, were begging to be included in the festival. Unfortunately, the logistics of double-blind judging of over 60 beers overwhelmed the available space and resources, and with the chaos that has become SF Beer Week, Dave stopped the judging portion of the festival in 2010, and this year suspended the festival altogether.

But it was the first niche festival I ever attended, I immediately loved the idea of featuring just one style of beer and being able to taste so many different example at one time. When I first started going to the Great American Beer Festival in 1992, one of my favorite things to do was to choose a style and then walk the hall and try every single example being poured. You could actually do that probably through the early 2000s, but increasingly only with less common styles. Nowadays it’s almost impossible unless you decided to focus on something particularly obscure.

But the barleywine festival was something special. I found the idea of a festival with only one kind of beer invigorating. It was always a thrill, and Dave was a gracious host and put on a hell of a party.

P1050485
Dave Keene in the back room of the Toronado during the barleywine festival in 2008.

P1020681
You could actually try all of the beers before they ran out, but you couldn’t do it alone. It took a group of dedicated people to stake out a table, and took hours of effort, perseverance and patience. I did actually accomplish that goal several times. Here, for example, are all of the barleywines we sampled at the festival in 2007.

P1020689
Judging the final round in 2007, sitting next to Jamil Zainasheff, who now owns Heretic Brewing.

Once I started judging at the festival, it became even more amazing, and was something I looked very forward to doing each year. In the early days, it was pretty easy to tell the difference between an English-style barleywine and an American one. Malt equaled English, Hops equaled American. Not always, but enough of the time to make it a pretty reliable rule of thumb. But then came the Double IPA, which shares quite a few similarities with American-style barleywine, and threw that into turmoil. Whenever a hoppy example of a barleywine was discussed, inevitably someone would suggest it was, or might be, an Imperial IPA rather than a barleywine. This often led to some heated discussions, some useful, some not so much. But it became less settled what the distinctions were, beyond the slight ingredient differences, primarily the malt build. They’re certainly more well understood today, but when it comes to tasting them, it’s still often fairly difficult to easily identify one from the other. It’s certainly still an issue when judging the style. It even came up earlier this month sampling 37 barleywines for the next issue of the Celebrator Beer News. But it’s hard to avoid that the style has had to evolve and the two — American barleywine and Imperial IPA — will continue to further divide so that the two styles will become (hopefully) more easily discernible through simple sensory analysis, a.k.a. drinking them.

P1010533
The barleywines at the Toronado Barleywine Festival in 2013.

American Barley Wine

typology
In support of my newly hatched scheme to have a monthly discussion about different types of beer, Typology Tuesday, I offer the first style guide for American Barley Wine, which will be our first beer for January 2016.

wine-of-beer


American Barley Wine

American Barley Wine is one of my favorite styles, and I really miss the days when I judged it for the Toronado Barleywine Festival in San Francisco. Several times I’ve had the pleasure of judging barley wine at both the World Beer Cup and GABF, especially one year when my table did three rounds of barley wine in a row, including the final medal round. That table included Rich Norgrove, from Bear Republic, and George Reisch, from Anheuser-Busch. I love the complexity of barley wines, which make them great sipping, sharing beers. I think of it as one of the quintessential winter beers.

What follows is information about barley wines, collected from a variety of sources. If you know of any additional resources about this type of beer, please let me know.

History

Usually the strongest ale offered by a brewery, often associated with the winter or holiday season and vintage-dated. As with many American craft beer styles, derived from English examples but using American ingredients and featuring a much more forward hop profile. One of the first American craft beer versions was Anchor Old Foghorn, first brewed in 1975. Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, first brewed in 1983, set the standard for the hop-forward style of today. The story goes that when Sierra Nevada first sent Bigfoot out for lab analysis, the lab called and said, “your barleywine is too bitter” – to which Sierra Nevada replied, “thank you.” (BJCP1)

bass-no-1-barley-wine

Origin: usa, from unitedkingdom

am-barley-wine8

A Comparison of Style Ranges

Source SRM ABV O.G. F.G. IBU
BJCP1 (22C) American 10-19 8-12% 1.080-1.120 1.016-1.030 50-100
Brewery DB 11-22 8.4-12% Varies 1.024-1.028 60-100
GABF2 (89B) American 11-18 8.5-12.2% 1.090-1.120 1.024-1.028 60-100
Periodic Table7 (64) 14-22 8.4-12.2% 1.085-1.120 1.024-1.032 50-100
WBC6 (81A) American-Style 11-18 8.5-12.2% 1.090-1.120 1.024-1.028 60-100

Yeast

 Ale
 
 
 Belgian
 Brettanomyces
 Lactobacillus
 Pediococcus
 Other

BJCP Description: 22C. American Barleywine1

Overall Impression: A well-hopped American interpretation of the richest and strongest of the English ales. The hop character should be evident throughout, but does not have to be unbalanced. The alcohol strength and hop bitterness often combine to leave a very long finish.

Aroma: Hop character moderate to assertive and often showcases citrusy, fruity, or resiny New World varieties (although other varieties, such as floral, earthy or spicy English varieties or a blend of varieties, may be used). Rich maltiness, with a character that may be sweet, caramelly, bready, or fairly neutral. Low to moderately-strong fruity esters and alcohol aromatics. However, the intensity of aromatics often subsides with age. Hops tend to be nearly equal to malt in the aroma, with alcohol and esters far behind.

Color Range

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Appearance: Color may range from light amber to medium copper; may rarely be as dark as light brown. Often has ruby highlights. Moderately-low to large off-white to light tan head; may have low head retention. May be cloudy with chill haze at cooler temperatures, but generally clears to good to brilliant clarity as it warms. The color may appear to have great depth, as if viewed through a thick glass lens. High alcohol and viscosity may be visible in “legs” when beer is swirled in a glass.

Flavor: Strong, rich malt flavor with a noticeable hop flavor and bitterness in the balance. Moderately-low to moderately high malty sweetness on the palate, although the finish may be somewhat sweet to quite dry (depending on aging). Hop bitterness may range from moderately strong to aggressive. While strongly malty, the balance should always seem bitter. Moderate to high hop flavor (any variety, but often showing a range of New World hop characteristics). Low to moderate fruity esters. Noticeable alcohol presence, but well-integrated. Flavors will smooth out and decline over time, but any oxidized character should be muted (and generally be masked by the hop character). May have some bready or caramelly malt flavors, but these should not be high; roasted or burnt malt flavors are inappropriate.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied and chewy, with a velvety, luscious texture (although the body may decline with long conditioning). Alcohol warmth should be noticeable but smooth. Should not be syrupy and under-attenuated. Carbonation may be low to moderate, depending on age and conditioning.

Characteristic Ingredients: Well-modified pale malt should form the backbone of the grist. Some specialty or character malts may be used. Dark malts should be used with great restraint, if at all, as most of the color arises from a lengthy boil. New World hops are common, although any varieties can be used in quantity. Generally uses an attenuative American ale yeast.

Style Comparison: The American version of the Barleywine tends to have a greater emphasis on hop bitterness, flavor and aroma than the English Barleywine, and often features American hop varieties. Typically paler than the darker English Barleywines (and lacking in the deeper malt flavors) but darker than the golden English Barleywines. Differs from a Double IPA in that the hops are not extreme, the malt is more forward, and the body is fuller and often richer. An American Barleywine typically has more residual sweetness than a Double IPA, which affects the overall drinkability (sipping vs. drinking).

GABF/World Beer Cup Description

American Barley Wines are amber to deep red/copper-garnet. Chill haze is allowable at cold temperatures. Fruity-ester aroma is often high. Caramel and/or toffee malt aromas are often present. Hop aroma is medium to very high. High residual malty sweetness, often containing a caramel and/or toffee flavors is present. Hop flavor is medium to very high. American type hops are often used but not necessary for this style. Hop bitterness is high. Complexity of alcohols is evident. Fruity-ester flavor is often high. Very low levels of diacetyl may be acceptable. Body is full. Characters indicating oxidation, such as vinous (sometimes sherry-like) aromas and/or flavors, are not generally acceptable in American-style barley wine ales, however if a low level of age-induced oxidation character harmonizes and enhances the overall experience this can be regarded favorably.

american-barley-wine-1864

Glassware

pint-glass-2 snifter
Pint Glass (or Becker, Nonic, Tumbler), Snifter3

Food Pairing

cheese-variety creme-brulee dark-chocolate cake-chocolate steak_meat
Cheese (sharp; Blue, Cheddar, pungent; Gorgonzola, Limburger) General (Dessert, Digestive)3
Crème brûlée, Oxtail4
Dark Chocolate, Strong Blue Cheeses5

Seasonality & Temperature

Season:
season-winter
Winter
Serving:
temp-50-55
50-55° F
Storage:
temp-45-50
45-50° F
Beer 101:
Beer101-barley-wine
Barley Wine

64A-barley-wine

Links About Barley Wine

Further Reading

bp-barley-wine

Commercial Examples of Barley Wine

Avery Hog Heaven Barleywine, Anchor Old Foghorn, Great Divide Old Ruffian, Rogue Old Crustacean, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, Victory Old Horizontal1

anchor-old-foghorn SierraNevada-Bigfoot-six

Top 10 Examples

Beer Advocate

  1. A Deal With The Devil / Anchorage Brewing
  2. Great / Alpine Beer
  3. Bourbon Barrel Aged Hi-Fi Rye / Flossmoor Station
  4. Brewer’s Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine / Central Waters Brewing
  5. Gratitude / East End Brewing
  6. AleSmith Old Numbskull – Barrel Aged / AleSmith Brewing
  7. Helldorado / Firestone Walker Brewing
  8. Blunderbuss Barleywine / Cambridge Brewing
  9. Tröegs Flying Mouflan (Bourbon Barrel Aged) / Tröegs Brewing
  10. Twisted Trace / Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery

Rate Beer

  1. Dragoon Lazarus
  2. North Coast Old Stock Cellar Reserve Brandy Barrel
  3. Lost Abbey The Angels Share – Bourbon Barrel
  4. AleSmith Old Numbskull – Bourbon Barrel Aged
  5. Goose Island Bourbon County Barleywine
  6. Emelisse White Label Barley Wine (Heaven Hill BA)
  7. Lost Abbey The Angels Share Grand Cru
  8. Firestone Walker Sucaba
  9. Three Floyds Behemoth Barleywine
  10. Hair of the Dog Fred from the Wood

art-barleywine

Key to Sources

1 = BJCP 2015
2 = GABF 2014
3 = Beer Advocate
4 = Garrett Oliver’s Brewmaster’s Table
5 = Brewers Association / CraftBeer.com
6 = World Beer Cup Guidelines 2016
7 = The Periodic Table of Beer Styles 2001
8 = GotBeer.com

Announcing Typology Tuesday: A Session About Styles

typology
So at the risk of annoying a great many people, I’ve decided to charge straight ahead this year into the hornet’s nest. I love the monthly Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, and was thrilled that it was saved last year and continues to soldier on. But I’ve also wished almost since the beginning that it was all about the beer, not that the broader topics aren’t interesting. On the contrary, they’re often very compelling and interesting, especially seeing how disparate people think about them.

But I’m also fascinated by the idea of beer styles, types or kinds of beer. How should they be codified, and of course the ever present question “should they be codified?” So I decided this year to make a conscious effort to think more about different kinds of beer and what makes them unique. And that’s the basic idea behind “Typology Tuesday,” a monthly exploration of different types of beer, with no hosts and me doing most of the work. If you want to join in that would be lovely, and it couldn’t be easier, and I really hope you will. All about Typology Tuesday is in greater detail below, and will also live permanently on a page where all of the previous Typology Tuesdays will be archived. While I won’t be asking for help hosting, there is plenty of opportunity to make suggestions, participate and help shape the inevitable ensuing debate.

Typology-Tuesday

What is Typology Tuesday?

 
Typology is “the study of types,” in this case, of course, I mean types of beer, or “Beer Typology.” I have a love/hate relationship with beer styles. In many ways I believe them to be unnecessary, especially for brewers. But for consumers, they can be quite useful, and provide some sense of consistency for ordering. If you’re thirsty for a hefeweizen or a pale ale, knowing what those are and what you’ll be getting if you order a frosty beverage calling itself by one of those names seems pretty important. And of course, for commercial and homebrew judging, putting like beers with other like beers makes the job of judging much easier and ultimately more fair.

It’s also a bit like music, specifically jazz, but all music, really. I grew up playing jazz (and classical) music, and there’s an almost rite of passage for up and coming artists to perform jazz standards, putting their own spin on songs already very well known. Anyone can do original tunes, designed to showcase a performer’s talents, usually written by that performer, but it takes real talent to be able to take someone else’s song and make it your own. And I think that translates to beer, as well. There are great original brews, but it in some ways it’s more impressive when a brewer makes something amazing within rigid guidelines that nails the style parameters. It’s great when you do something with no rules and no limitations, but it’s at least as impressive when you can create something original and amazing within a structured environment. Yes, rules are meant to be broken but Johann Sebastian Bach is just as marvelous precisely because his music stayed within the confines of baroque music. It took later musicians to break those rules and usher in the period of classical music. Without rules, neither movements would have happened. Instead it would simply have been a free-for-all.

So that dichotomy may seem contradictory but its push/pull nature is, I think, a necessary one. Perhaps it’s like Schrödinger’s cat. Beer styles, or whatever we call them, both matter and don’t matter simultaneously. It’s as if they were in different dimensions and matter on some levels, while not in others. I think that’s why we can never definitely say they do or don’t matter, because it just depends; depends on the circumstances, or the context.

When Stan started The Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, in early 2007, many of those early Sessions were about specific styles. But bowing to the wisdom of crowds, the topics have veered off in many directions, only occasionally coming back to stylistic topics, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I even wrote An Open Letter To “The Session” in a vain attempt to steer us back in a stylistic direction, but more people were interested in a wider range of subjects. In the end, I’m just really happy that people are still interested in participating in the Sessions, and that it’s still continuing on.

But I find myself returning time and time again to the subject of beer styles; what they mean, why they are (or aren’t) important and how they should be classified. Are there too many, not enough or are we simply going about organizing them in the wrong way. I know there will be those who think the exercise is futile, and that we should not even try to continually categorize different kinds of beer. But I’m wired that way, and I know I’m not the only one. I love to organize things, feel fairly compelled to do so, and can’t help but feel it’s an essential part of my humanness. As humans, I think we all tend to categorize and organize our surroundings, to a greater or lesser extent, and I think I’m probably on the high end of that spectrum.

So I want to make more of a concerted effort to explore the nature of different kinds of beers, how they can, or should, be organized, divided, dissected and shuffled around, preferably with one in my hand. And that’s the idea behind “Typology,” “Beer Typology” and “Typology Tuesday.” To talk about different kinds of beers, what makes them unique, and where they fit into the taxonomy of all beers is my goal. I’d love to have your help, and include different voices in the journey. Obviously, this is not for everyone, and if the idea fills you with contempt and scorn, please restrain the impulse to bludgeon me with acrid criticism and walk away. Above all else, I want to have fun trying to better understand beer’s diversity, and while that certainly doesn’t preclude critical thinking, criticism and disagreements, they needn’t be disagreeable in and of themselves, especially with an ultimate goal of enjoyment with education. 2016 marks my 25th year working at some level in the beer industry and writing about beer, and even though I know more than I did in 1991, I still feel like there’s a lot to learn and more of a journey ahead of me than behind.

I hope I’m not alone in wanting to better understand beer at both the individual level and the wider and widening landscape of beers, plural. I hope that there will be others who share that desire to keep learning, to keep drinking, to keep wondering.

How to Participate in Typology Tuesday

 
If you write a beer or beer-related blog, please consider joining me on this project about beer styles or types of beer. It couldn’t be easier. It will be sort of like The Session, but also a little different and, hopefully, even a little easier. First of all, there will be no hosts, so you’re off the hook there.

As the name implies, Typology Tuesday will take place on a Tuesday, in this case I’ve chosen the last Tuesday of each month, which should make it at least a few days before the regular Session, and in some cases will provide a week or more in between them. This also gives you the weekend to pick up a beer or beers in a particular style or type and try them, and then another day or two to do your write up about those beers or whatever else you want to contribute. Plus, I’m a big fan of alliteration; just can’t get enough.

The topic for each month will be announced at the beginning of the month, probably no later than the first weekday, but I’ll try to have the schedule up at least a few months ahead on this page for anyone who wants more advance warning. And the topics themselves will simply be the type of beer to highlight and talk about. When the announcement is made, I’ll also provide a style guide using multiple resources to create a page that include lots of information about the type of beer being featured for that month. Use it as a jumping off point, or follow the links provided to delve deeper, or ignore it altogether. Your choice.

Then on or before that day, write a post on that style, type, kind or whatever of beer. You can essentially write about whatever you like, with the only proviso being it should have something to do with the featured type of beer. After your post is published, please let me know it’s up so I can include it in the subsequent round-up. You can send me the URL to your post either by e-mail to Jay (.) Brooks (@) gmail (.) com or by leaving a comment on the original announcement post, or even by including the hashtag #Typology in a tweet.

I would encourage each participant to use the Typology logo for your posts because it lends consistency to all of our efforts and makes it easy for readers to know and understand that your post is part of a larger project. But it’s by no means mandatory. They’re free to use, of course, but please don’t hotlink to them. Instead, please download them and host them on your server or use a photo hosting website like Flickr or Photobucket.


That’s the basics, I’ll also archive each session in a similar format as I’ve done with the Sessions. The first type of beer for the last Tuesday in January — January 26 — will be American Barley Wine.

I’ll also create a sort of style guide for each kind of beer that I’ll publish concurrently with the announcement of each month’s style. Look for the one on barley wine later today. Drawn from a variety of sources, it will hopefully be a resource to get you thinking about that particular kind of beer and get your mental juices flowing with what you want to say about it. That should also give you several weeks to think about the style of beer up for discussion and even learn more about it ahead of time.

Almost anything is fair game. You could simply review beers in the style. You could discuss its history, how it’s changed over time, or why it shouldn’t be considered a separate style at all. It’s up to you, I only ask that you make it relevant to the discussion about each particular kind of beer, and keep the discussion civil and respectful.

That’s about it. If you have any questions, leave a comment or send me a note. I hope to see everybody’s first posts in about three weeks.

typology-logo

Bernick’s Periodic Table

periodic-table
Several companies produce a Periodic Table of Beer Styles poster. Here’s another one, and another, and still one more. They all look more or less the same, and convey almost the exact same information. But yesterday I came across a new one, done by Bernick’s, a distributor in Minnesota, that in addition to most of the usual info, also added the preferred glass for each style. Although they did drop final gravity and any color range information. Still, it’s nice to see someone try to change it up a little. They also added some gold wreaths to indicate the best-selling varieties.

Print
Click here to see the chart full size.