Are some styles too "sacred" to tinker with?

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by jmcnamara, Sep 19, 2017.

  1. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    Was thinking about this on the way to work today. From my limited experience, it seems that brewers in general don't fiddle with the more European beers (pilsners, bocks, bitters, etc.) and stay more within the style parameters.
    But the "new world" brews seem to constantly push and adapt styles to create new hybrids (I'm looking at you IPA, with about 83 substyles it seems).
    I mean, i've seen sour IPAs and stouts, pale stouts, black IPAs, etc. But i've never seen the same for those other beers i mentioned.
    Why do you think this is? Or have you seen / drank otherwise?

    I should add I'm on the East Coast US, so this might be different elsewhere
     
  2. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I have committed crimes against the Reinheitsgebot.... I think it comes down to this: It's awfully hard to "tinker" with the classic styles. There's not much room around the style "Helles" to tinker and still have a helles. Bocks, Pilsners, Bitters, they're all classics because they're so damned good. What would a black Helles be? A Schwarzbier. A hoppy Bitter is an IPA. A seasoned Bock is a Christmas beer. We are looking at a snapshot of beer evolution, those styles have been around for centuries. Push any of them too far and they become something else and likely those avenues, for example making a Pilsner with American hops, have been explored and found to be dead ends. Not to say there aren't tweaks - my Helles recipe uses pale malt. I'd mention Belgians but most of the styles we call Belgian today are fairly recent, again, indicating that the newer the style, the more room for experimentation.
     
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  3. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    The best example of a beer that's an adulteration of a style is American "bock" beers. Mostly their just adjunct lagers with a little color in them. Around here, Shiner Bock is the best example as well as Zeigenbock which used to be extremely popular. Negro Modelo is another example. They're not true Bock beers by any means, but they're good beers. They're almost more like a Belgian Pale Ale but for the yeast and the adjunct.
    There's a local craft beer here that's a "lager" done up with American hops. Slightly fruity/citrus hop profile short of Pale Ale intensity. It's not always crystal clear. Bottom line is that it's a Blonde Ale done with a lager yeast (probably at low ale fermentation temp) for a very clean flavor profile. It's a really popular beer.
    One of the brewers in my club makes a "Kolsch" with rye in it...It's not a Kolsch flavor profile at all but he calls it that because he's using a German ale yeast.
    I think there's a little mixing and matching that happens, but those Helles/Pils/Lager/Bock style beers are iconic. Once you change something significantly, it's a different style beer.
     
  4. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    Good points the both of you.
    I'd also argue that a stout is a classic style, but there's at least half a dozen different types by the bjcp guidelines alone.
    And that's not to mention the barrel, chocolate, coffee, and whatever else you can add to them.
    To me, a CAP or other prohibition era beer is "modern", but I don't see people messing with those too much either.
    Maybe an India pale lager?but is that just a pils with a more complex malt bill and hops? Or is it just an IPA with a lager yeast?
    I think I made my own thread drift...:rolleyes:
     
  5. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I've done "IPL's" and Lagered Porters, "German Pale Ales", a lager.... I've made a Dunkel with Mexican Lager yeast. But none of those are the classics. But these experiments have either stayed within style (the Mexican Dunkel is still recognizably a dunkel, regardless of the yeast and the adjunct) or have drifted so far they are now something else. And it's important to realize that the brewers of the "classics" a hundred fifty years ago or so adapted to local conditions, giving us several of the styles we see today (light American lagers, cream ales, Kentucky Common, etc.).
     

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