Every year since 1979, the Boulder, Colorado-based trade organization, Brewers Association (BA) has issued new guidelines that serve as a resource for brewers, beer judges and competition organizers, and recognize the ever-evolving diversity of beer styles around the world.
They also point to brewing trends that are gaining momentum.
“Craft brewers in the US and around the world continue to push the boundaries of beer by reviving long lost styles and by innovating in new beer flavor spaces,” said Chris Swersey, competition manager, Brewers Association…
And although there are no new style additions in 2022, there are many significant revisions and clarifications, especially in the following categories…
- Experimental India Pale Ale
- Session Beer
- Session India Pale Ale
- Standardized verbiage in Juicy or Hazy Styles
- Traditional Belgian-Style Gueuze
- Bohemian-Style Pilsener
- American Lager categories
- American-Style India Pale Lager
- Specialty Beer
- Chili Beer
A few examples of significant updates include adding several hybrid India Pale Ale styles to the Experimental IPA category.
The BA also modernized its Session Beer and Session IPA categories, adjusting the lower end of the ABV (alcohol by volume, essentially the strength of the beer) downward to 0.5%, as brewer interest in lower ABV beers has increased over the past two years.
And responding to brewer and judge feedback, the Brewers Association also standardized language on Juicy or Hazy IPA Styles, adding verbiage about “hop burn.”
Believed to be caused by prolonged contact time between the vegetative matter of hops and the beer, Hop burn wasn’t a thing during earlier eras of traditional IPA brewing, but has become very common with the emergence of the Hazy IPA.
The Beer Style Guidelines are a direct product and blend of historical significance, traditional authenticity, and popularity in the current craft beer consumer market.
Adding in a style or modifying an existing style of beer is taken very seriously by the BA and can only be done after extensive expert consultation, research, and analysis of market factors. The process takes in to account an array of elements over a long period of time.
Another consideration when adding or modifying a style guideline is that commercially available examples of a beer style are always in flux and may not represent historical versions of the style.
“With so many diverse beers being made, we rely on expert feedback to help identify categories that need an update to ensure the Beer Style Guidelines remain as current and relevant as possible,” Swersey added “We are grateful for the feedback provided by drinkers, brewers, and judges alike from around the world which helps us compile this trusted resource.”
(All image credits: Brewers Association)