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.

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Bernick’s Periodic Table

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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.

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Click here to see the chart full size.

Craft Beer Product Segmentation 2015: A Tale Of Two Charts

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It was the best of charts, it was the worst of charts. So begins every great story. This made me laugh like the Dickens this morning, as fellow beer writer Bryan Roth tweeted a chart showing “Craft Production in the U.S.” apparently as of August 2015.

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The data comes from IBISWorld, a company that identifies themselves as “one of the world’s leading publishers of business intelligence, specializing in Industry research and Procurement research.” Their website shows that they have offices in Los Angeles, New York, Melbourne, London and Beijing, although the chart claims they’re “Chicago-based.” The report is entitled “Craft Beer Production in the US: Market Research Report,” and was published in August of this year. If you want to buy yourself a copy, it costs between $925 and $1,595, depending on which purchase option you choose.

Hopefully, the chart was not created by IBISWorld, because besides mis-identifying where the company is located, as Roth points out, “the graphic designer who created alternating sized circles not dependent on their % share is bad at their job.” It’s a terrible chart, on so many levels. First, why use “stencil” as the font for the title in the red center circle? Why are the outer circles different shades of blue, for no apparent rhyme or reason. There’s no discernible pattern to that decision. Bock is the lightest color, at 3.9%, followed by Amber Ale at 10.9%, so you might be tempted to think the color is dependent on market share, lighter for lower and darker for higher percentages. But no, fruit beer is the lowest, at 3.5%, and is medium blue, while Lager, at only 8.6%, is the darkest blue on the chart.

Why are the black lines not emanating from the center of the middle? Instead, it looks like one of the webs from the 1980s video game “Tempest.” They all meet in an outer ring, too, except for Bock and Wheat Beer, which are curiously left hanging. But most egregious, the size of the circles are not even close to being proportional to the percentages expressed in them. The sizes appear to be nothing more than random, just like the color choices. So at first glance, it makes no sense and is, at best, confusing. At worst, it looks like it was designed by a five-year old, and frankly that may be overly insulting to toddlers.

Carla Jean Lauter, better known by her nom nom de plume, The Beer Babe, was similarly bothered by the chart, but decided to do something about it. She “fixed” it, making the bubbles proportional to their market share so the chart is easier to read and better represents the reality it’s trying to convey. She also chose the colors of the bubbles to be representative of the beer color of each style, even choosing pumpkin color for seasonal. As Lauter tweeted when she posted her version of the chart, “I feel better now.” Weirdly, so do I. It’s so much better.

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Session #100: One Hundred Beers You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

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It’s hard to believe we’ve doing this 100 months in a row, but it’s true. For our 100th Session, our host, Reuben Grey — who writes the Tale of the Ale — has decided to send us all on a quest to find the ark of the holy grail filled with lost beer styles, or something like that. Actually, for the June Session, the topic is “Resurrecting Lost Beer Styles,” which he describes below.

There are many [lost or almost lost beer styles] that have started to come back in to fashion in the last 10 years due to the rise of craft beer around the world.

If you have a local beer style that died out and is starting to appear again then please let the world know. Not everyone will so just write about any that you have experienced. Some of the recent style resurrections I have come across in Ireland are Kentucky Common, Grodziskie, Gose and some others. Perhaps it’s a beer you have only come across in homebrew circles and is not even made commercially.

There are no restrictions other than the beer being an obscure style you don’t find in very many places. The format, I leave up to individuals. It could be a historical analysis or just a simple beer review.

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Not content to follow directions, I recently spent way too much time thinking about beer color and creating several lists as a part of that. So I’m feeling whatever the opposite of listless is. Listical? Listful?

I have a love/hate relationship with beer styles. I think of them as both useless and necessary at the same time. And I’m hopeless when it comes to the instinct to categorize and organize everything, I can’t help but do it. I want to believe it’s simply human nature but I clearly have an advanced case of whatever disease causes people to catalogue, classify and codify the world.

I see beer styles as a dichotomy that will never be resolved. I understand both sides of the divide and think both are correct, and wrong, at least sometimes. The way we think about beer styles is a modern construct. Michael Jackson created the taxonomy that’s still with us (more or less) as a way to write about different beers around the world, and then Fred Eckhardt expanded on it and codified it for homebrewers, sealing its fate as the way we generally talk about beer styles. And I think it worked pretty well … for a while. It’s undoubtedly useful in judging and creating expectations. But I remember fifteen or so years ago Charlie Bamforth, my professor at U.C. Davis for the short course, telling us how beer styles don’t matter at all. And he was right, of course. They don’t. All that matters to a commercial brewery is that people like, and more importantly, buy the beer, no matter what “style” it is.

But where all these different beers came from has to do with geography, climate, agriculture and culture. Place is the single most important factor in having created so many different types of beer. Every local area had its own unique, or a mostly unique variation, of beer that took advantage of what the brewers had on hand, be it the grain, hops or other flavors they could get, what the local water was like, the local customs, and the politics or culture itself. What we call traditional beer styles today are simply the winners, the local or regional styles that survived industrialization and displaced more local styles as breweries grew larger and expanded their reach. Beer, slowly at first, and then much more rapidly, became commodified, became all the same, especially in the U.S., but all over the world to a greater or lesser extent. Popular regional, national and global brands displaced local ones and many of those can now be considered “lost,” if not entirely forgotten.

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A favorite line from Elvis Costello’s 1977 song “I’m Not Angry” is “there’s no such thing as an original sin.” And I think that applies to beer styles, too. Just about everything has been tried before, and we fool ourselves that modern beers are more innovative. That’s not to take away from brewers trying to make distinctive beers, whether by trying to break tradition or finding beers that have become extinct or nearly so and resurrecting them, so to speak, or more often making a modern interpretation. I think these are all good developments. I’m not sure we need another IPA, so I find it much more interesting that brewers are exploring different flavors in an effort to stand out and make their mark in the beer world. So I’m not as interested in opining if they’re styles or not, I just want to taste them.

So for this Session, still feeling listful, I decided instead to do some searching around to simply find how many old, mostly forgotten types of beer I could find. As I said, I came up with the title before I even knew if I could find 100. It took maybe an hour to go past the century mark, and in the end, was no problem at all. And that tells us quite a bit about how much the landscape of beer was changed by industrialization and the consolidation of the industry worldwide. When beer became very much the same, the local, more unique beers were lost. We saw the same thing happen with food, too, which spawned the artisanal movements for better cheese, meats, chocolate, heirloom fruits and vegetables, etc.
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So the list of 100 beers below is not strictly all extinct beers, but also includes beers nearly so, ones that are starting to come back, beers that are only made by a very few breweries and some so ancient we don’t know much about them beyond their names. The beers are from all over the compass. I gathered them from a variety of sources, mostly websites and a few books in my library. When I say you’ve probably never heard of them, chances are you know the names of at least a few of them. You could probably test your beer geek quotient by how many you recognize.

  1. Aarschotse Bruine
  2. Adambier
  3. Black Cork
  4. Black or Spruce Beer
  5. Bremer Bier
  6. Brett-Fermented Stock Ale
  7. Breyhan or Broyhan
  8. Burton Ale
  9. Chicha
  10. Citronenbier (Lemon Beer)
  11. Cock Ale
  12. Coirm
  13. Colne Spring Ale
  14. Cöpenicker Moll
  15. Dampfbier
  16. Danziger Bier
  17. Deutsches Porter
  18. Devonshire White or Devon White Ale
  19. Duckstein
  20. Dutch Black Buckwheat Beer
  21. Ebla
  22. Eilenburger Bier
  23. Einfachbier
  24. Erfurter Bier
  25. Erntebier (Harvest Beer)
  26. Fern Ale
  27. Fränkische Biere
  28. Gale Ale
  29. Garlebischer Garley
  30. Geithayner
  31. Gotlandsdrickå
  32. Grodziski (a.k.a. Grodziskie or Grätzer Bier)
  33. Grout Ale
  34. Hamburger Bier
  35. Heather Ale
  36. Hellesroggen
  37. Hogen Mogen
  38. Hosenmilch
  39. Humming Ale
  40. Jopenbier
  41. Kash or Kás
  42. Kashbir
  43. Kashdu
  44. Kashdùg
  45. Kashgíg or Kashgíg-dùgga
  46. Kash-sur-ra
  47. Kassi
  48. Kennett Ale
  49. Kentucky Common
  50. Keptinus Alus
  51. Kiszlnschtschi
  52. Kodoulu
  53. Kotbüsser Bier
  54. Koyt
  55. Kushkal
  56. Kuurna
  57. Kvass
  58. Leipziger Stadtbier
  59. Lichtenhainer
  60. Light Bitter
  61. Light Mild
  62. Lübecker
  63. Makgeolli
  64. Merseburger
  65. Moskovskaya (Old Moscow Brown Ale)
  66. Mum or Mumme
  67. Münster Beer
  68. Naumburger
  69. Pennsylvania Swankey
  70. Peeterman
  71. Potsdamer Bier
  72. Preusishce Bier
  73. Purl
  74. Rheinländische Bitterbier
  75. Rostocker Bier
  76. Ruppiner Bier
  77. Sahti
  78. Säuerliche Bier
  79. Scotch Ale
  80. Seef
  81. Sloe Beer (Schlehenbier)
  82. Sour Bock
  83. Sour Ofest
  84. Sour Old Ale
  85. Stein Beer
  86. Stingo
  87. Stitch
  88. Strong Pale Mild
  89. Sußbier or Einfachbier
  90. Uitzet or Uytzet
  91. Ulushin
  92. Vatted Old Ale
  93. Vatted Porter
  94. Weizenschalenbier
  95. West Country White Ale
  96. Wettiner
  97. Windsor Ale
  98. Winter Warmer
  99. Wurzner
  100. Zerbster

How much fun would it be to try every one of them? Beer, of course, is a global drink and is the third most-consumed liquid (after water and tea) so I suspect the number of lost beers is far greater than this, and probably numbers in the hundreds, or possibly thousands, depending on how you differentiated them. Should we try to catalogue them all? Now that would be a real fool’s errand, but it would be fun to try.

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Our Centenary Session Searches For Lost Styles

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What a long, strange trip it’s been. The upcoming Session will be our 100th monthly outing, and our host will be Reuben Grey, who writes the Tale of the Ale. For this momentous occasion he’s sending us all on a quest to find the ark of the holy grail filled with lost beer styles, or something like that. Actually, for the June Session, the topic is “Resurrecting Lost Beer Styles,” which he describes below.

There are many [lost or almost lost beer styles] that have started to come back in to fashion in the last 10 years due to the rise of craft beer around the world.

If you have a local beer style that died out and is starting to appear again then please let the world know. Not everyone will so just write about any that you have experienced. Some of the recent style resurrections I have come across in Ireland are Kentucky Common, Grodziskie, Gose and some others. Perhaps it’s a beer you have only come across in homebrew circles and is not even made commercially.

There are no restrictions other than the beer being an obscure style you don’t find in very many places. The format, I leave up to individuals. It could be a historical analysis or just a simple beer review.

So that’s your quest: to find the holy grail of lost beer styles.

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So don your fedora, grab your tasting whip, and get cracking. To participate in the June Session, leave a comment to the original announcement, with whatever you’ve uncovered during your adventures, on or before Friday, June 5.

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Go Mild For The Next Session

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For the 99th Session, our host is Alistair Reece, who writes the Fuggled blog. He’s also the founder of American Mild Month, which will take place for the first time this May. Intended as a companion to May is Mild Month, which is a month-long promotion of mild ale sponsored by CAMRA in Great Britain, there’s also a Facebook page and so far he’s gotten 45 breweries to commit offering a mild ale during the month. So for the May Session, the topic is “Localising Mild,” which he describes below.

Each May CAMRA in the UK encourages drinkers to get out and drink Mild Ales. This May is the first, as far as I am aware, American Mild Month, which has 45 breweries, so far, committed to brewing mild ales. Of those 45 breweries some are brewing the traditional English dark and pale mild styles, while a couple have said they will brew an ‘American Mild’, which American Mild Month describes as:
a restrained, darkish ale, with gentle hopping and a clean finish so that the malt and what hops are present, shine through

An essential element of the American Mild is that it uses American malts, hops, and the clean yeast strain that is commonly used over here. Like the development of many a beers style around the world, American Mild is the localisation of a beer from elsewhere, giving a nod to the original, but going its own way.

That then is the crux of the theme for The Session in May, how would you localise mild? What would an Irish, Belgian, Czech, or Australian Mild look like? Is anyone in your country making such a beer? For homebrewers, have you dabbled in cross-cultural beer making when it comes to mild?

The first Friday of May is also the first day of May. May Day, or International Workers Day, and it is apt that a beer style closely associated with the industrial regions of England should be the theme for the Session. Have at it folks!

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So don’t go crazy, don’t go wild, instead this May go mild. To participate in the May Session, leave a comment to the original announcement on or before Friday, May 1.

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