Say No to Style Loyalty in 2016

Ninety-nine styles of beer on the wall, ninety-nine styles of beer …

Your Saturday Six-Pack Series is back.IMG_9876

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Coke or Pepsi. Bud, Miller, or Coors. Many a craft beer aficionado has railed against brand loyalty, criticizing the consumption of advertising over what’s in the bottle. And rightly so.

But a specter haunts the craft beer world –– the specter of style loyalty. A chicken in every pot and an IPA in every fridge is one thing. Entire lineups of IPAs, though?

Hops: Not a bad thing.

Hops: Not a bad thing.

That’s something altogether different. Double IPAs! Triple IPAs! (Session IPAs!) Fruit-infused IPAs! Enjoy-by IPAs! And just plain old IPAs! Hopheads, rejoice. Ah, America. The land of choice.

Lost in the figurative and sometimes very literal buzz(feed): the craft beer mosaic is comprised of over a hundred styles of beer.

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Is your beer diet heavy on the hops? (I know – we all need our veggies.) Here’s a little throw-down for the next time you’re at your favourite bottle shop. Make it a point to try a style you’ve never had before –– lest they all disappear from shelves in the not-so-distant future, subsumed by a rising tide of IPA and a few other beer styles surfing shotgun.IMG_0899Go ahead, go for that cream ale! No one’s looking. While you’re at it, grab that Rodney Dangerfield of beers, the lowly brown ale. Like Mikey in the Life cereal commercials of yore, you might just like it.

By now you’re probably feeling an overwhelming urge to toss a few IPAs into your cart, and maybe a bourbon barrel-aged stout because, you know, it’s so damn cold out there. But resist and pick up a Pils instead.

Czech style

Czech style

Still a few more to go. Craft beer drinkers cannot live on barley alone. Variety is the spice of life, and wheat beers are the spice of the zymurgical arts – which is just another way of saying life. Take your pick: Belgian Wit, American wheat beer, and Weissbier, which itself comes in all sorts of different varieties.

Word on the street is that porters, too, are now underrated. We need to remedy that situation forthwith. As homebrew meister Jamil Zainasheff once quipped, “Who’s your Taddy?” If you don’t know, there’s another bottle for your cart.

So that’s five beer styles toward your Saturday six-pack. Venture out of your geographical comfort zone with that last beer. Japan is famous for its saké, so it’s no surprise to find beers containing that otherwise-disdained adjunct, rice. Like gin? Try Finland’s contribution to the wonderful world of beer styles, Sahti, the mash of which is filtered through a bed of juniper twigs. (Sorry to get your hopes up, gin lovers. Sahti tastes nothing like gin. All the more reason to try it.)

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That still leaves over a hundred different styles of beer. What are some of your favourite underrated beer styles?

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Related Tempest Articles:

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Your Saturday Six-Pack, Vol.5): Saisons

Augurs of Spring: Wheat Beers Belgian, German, and American

Let Us Now Praise Famous Lagers: Your Saturday Six-Pack (Vol.3)

A Taste of Oklahoma in Six Glasses

Brown Beers Get No Luvin’: Your Saturday Six-Pack (Vol.2)

Images: F.D. Hofer

© 2016 A Tempest in a Tankard and F.D. Hofer. All Rights Reserved.

5 thoughts on “Say No to Style Loyalty in 2016

  1. Peter

    I am open to trying new styles, but this is tough when you don’t know what’s in the bottle. Many beer labels provide little or no information about the contents. For example, look at the labels from “Magic Hat”. It’s basically one hippie-dippie label after another, with nothing about the beer. How hard is it to give OG, FG, ABV, IBU, and SRM?

    BTW, you brought up “cream ale”. This is not one of my favorite styles, but the cream ale at Pelican Pub and Brewery (Oregon) is outstanding.

    Reply
    1. A Tempest in a Tankard Post author

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment! I can empathize with your frustration when it comes to trying new beers, especially when so many one-offs and special releases these days represent a minor investment. But I suppose that’s a topic for another day.

      I guess a more positive way of putting “say no to style loyalty” would be “say yes to beer diversity.” Sure, we have access to more beer styles than ever. Ironically, though, even as the craft beer community resuscitates “forgotten” styles (Gose, Grätzer, Berliner Weisse, or what have you), other styles that don’t fit the taste paradigm of the moment are in danger of sliding into obscurity. Mild ale or southern English brown ale are cases in point. I’m not even sure I’d have all that easy a time finding them in the UK these days.

      As for that cream ale? It’s not up there on my list of go-to beers either, but as you point out with Pelican Pub and Brewery, the occasional brewpub offers intriguing interpretations of this subtle beer. And I often seem to surprise myself by coming away happy that I ordered one for my sampler set. Glad I can (still) find some occasionally. Cheers!

      Reply
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  3. Rachel Dugas

    Love cream ale! Also: geuze is making an appearance; loving summer weather to bring out the berliner weisses…waiting for a hefeweizen resurgence maybe (it seems its hayday was 3 years ago)…and love anything sour especially darks spurs, and if you haven’t tried it – Sour Stouts are all the rage for me currently. Almanac truthful statement – is a nice place to start.

    Reply
    1. A Tempest in a Tankard Post author

      One of the nice things about living in Austria is that sour beers haven’t really taken off yet. Why nice? I can get Gueuzes that’d cost over 15 bux at home for about 5 euros here. I’m heading off in May to visit a good friend who lives in Brussels, which means more Gueuze, Lambic, and everything else Belgian. Fortunately, Hefeweizens show no sign of diminishing in popularity over this way, but I probably won’t find sour stouts again till I’m back on the other side of the pond for a visit.

      Reply

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