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!

american-mild-month

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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The ABCs Of Beer

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Today’s infographic, The ABCs of Beer, was created by graphic designer Lise Statelman who works for Kloudless in Berkeley, California. She made this poster in 2011, while still a student, “displaying 60 styles of beer organized into 5 categories with their respective color and bitterness ranges, alcohol content, and country of origin.”

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Click here to see the chart full size.

Varieties Of Beer Venn Diagram

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Today’s infographic is a Venn Diagram showing the basic divisions in beer styles, created by A Drinker’s Guide to Beer. I might have preferred “hybrid styles” to “mixed,” but it’s an interesting way to show that some varieties are neither an ale or a lager, but share elements of both.

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Click here to see the venn diagram full size.