8 BREWING & BEVERAGE INDUSTRIES BUSINESS So why am I doing it? Reading the BJCP’s opus, that is. As a writer on beer I have always believed that it serves brewers well to have an appreciation of beer styles and that they should know what the perimeters of any given beer style is. In addition, as a writer and a beer judge, it behoves me to learn (and in this case remind myself) what styles are, how a Helles differs from a Pilsner, how a Schwarzebier is not a stout and what a New England (or Vermont) IPA tastes like. This is not an argument for standing still, for just brewing the same thing time after time, just because that is what a brewer in, say, 1985 did (though the passage of time might give a beer style from 1985 a heritage status now). Beer styles do change, time takes its toll, legislation and taxation have effects, while a change in ingredients can also influence. Malt improves as does the malting regime; different hops become on-trend; there is a change in a brewery’s personnel, all of these factors affects the way a beer style develops. However, this doesn’t mean totally overturning the style tables — if you tasted Adnams Bitter in 1985 and Southwold Bitter now, some aspects of the beer might have changed but the two would have more in common than not. On the other hand, look at IPA and the way this has mutated. A few years ago we thought we knew what an IPA was — either a session beer from Greene King, a strong classic English-style IPA such as White Shield, or an American one from the likes of Stone, Goose Island and Victory. Now, the IPA style is a mirror splintered into a variety of pieces: fruit, West Coast, East Coast, NEIPA, English, sour, Belgian and — clinging on by its fingertips — black. Taking this metamorphosis of IPA as evidence some could argue that beer styles are redundant, that brewers brew what they brew. After all, if someone hadn’t decided that adding grapefruit to an IPA we wouldn’t have the fruit version of the style, for better or worse. Furthermore, this attitude can be a reflection of the streak of anarchy that seems to run through modern beer, anything goes. This is fine when you see the marvellous beers that come from the likes of Wild Beer and Burning Sky (both of whose head brewers, incidentally, spent years honing their skills working to style), but it can also result in such horrors as a lime and lemon IPA or — heavens forbid — glitter beer or a pastry stout. Am I being a fuddy-duddy, a party-pooper, unable to see that those who cast off the strictures of beer style bossiness are running free like a happy horse in a verdant meadow full of wild flowers? Surely all that we need to care about is whether a beer tastes good, even it’s got a full English or a packet of Ritz Crackers chucked in the mix. Brewhouse minds need to be open, and tolerant of what can be achieved when boundaries are broken and rules ignored. On the other hand, for me there is a halfway house between keeping to the concept of a style and going off at a brewing tangent. If you have a chat with quite a few brewers, especially those who trained at Herriot-Watt, you will get comments about some brewers not knowing what they are doing, especially when it comes to New England IPA or the current fad for milkshake beers. That is why I would like to see brewers understand a beer style before heading off into the wilderness. Or as Thornbridge’s head brewer Rob Lovatt once said to me, ‘I think you have to have experience to hit the right specs for beer styles, after all Heston Blumenthal had been trained as a chef before he made snail porridge. I believe that a lot of brewers cannot hit the specs for a style and so we get all kinds of odd beers. The reason why beer styles are successful is that they have been proven over time.’ The underlying message to me is that styles are there as a way of showing what brewers can do and what drinkers can expect; also a signpost for the drinker who wants to know what they are spending their money and time on. After all, for a beer to be popular it’s an accepted wisdom that consistency is essential unless you are a farmhouse or a sour-orientated brewery that has made a virtue of producing a beer that tastes different every time (which isn’t a bad thing as the beers of Cantillon in Belgium and several sour merchants in the UK demonstrate). And echoing Rob Lovatt’s comment and moving from the kitchen to the atelier, even Picasso learnt to draw before he went off and did the weird stuff. Adrian Tierney-Jones Voted ‘Beer Writer of the Year 2017’ by the British Guild of Beer Writers, Adrian Tierney-Jones is a freelance journalist whose work also appears in the Daily Telegraph, Original Gravity, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Inapub and Imbibe amongst many others. He’s been writing books since 2002 and they include West Country Ales, Great British Pubs, Britain’s Beer Revolution (co-written with Roger Protz) and his latest The Seven Moods of Craft Beer; general editor of 1001 Beers To Try Before You Die and contributor to The Oxford Companion to Beer, World Beer and 1001 Restaurants You Must Experience Before You Die. Chair of Judges at the World Beer Awards and also on the jury at the Brussels Beer Challenge, Dutch Beer Challenge and the Copa Latinoamericana de Cervezas Artesanales in Peru. Blogs at http://maltworms.blogspot.co.uk ADRIAN TIERNEY-JONES Called To the Bar BEER WRITER OF THE YEAR 2017 Understand your beer styles! My bedtime reading at the moment is divided between an Austrian novel whose Nobel prize-winning author was likened to Proust, and the style guidelines for the BJCP (Beer Judging Certificate Program). Even though the novel features dozens of characters flitting through 1920s Vienna, it is the style guideline that is the most tasking read, but both are ultimately rewarding. 8_Layout 1 15/05/2018 12:46 Page 1