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Re: Beer Style Question


Walter Venables wrote:
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I guess I'm left unsure of what you feel is lacking in the BJCP style
guidelines. I think if they were any more specific they'd be
unreasonably so. They are vague on ingredients, but this is because
there are lot's of ways to get you to the same style. They are, in other
words, *guidelines* to what might be expected in the end product rather
than a roadmap to get you there.

There are a number of good books out there that delve into the specifics
of brewing to style in greater detail. "Designing Great Beers", many of
the Classic Styles books, etc. These may be more of what you're looking for.

Beer styles also aren't really like specific dishes -- there's usually
a good bit of variance within a single style. This is particularly true
of the eclectic Belgian styles, which strongly resist pigeonholing.

--
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Re: Beer Style Question



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I think you're taking the path of the discussion out to a bit of an extreme.

However, I can see where in particular what I wrote may appear to be way too
loose for what you're trying to learn. Going back to your original post, I'm
guessing that you're looking for info on what are the typical
characteristics of a certain style, and how do you replicate it in your
brewing.

I'll echo a couple other people's suggestions in a second, and add in an
additional resource or two, but before I do, I'll offer up this bit of
advice:

Still keep in mind that what's important is brewing beer that you enjoy
drinking, and that others enjoy drinking. It's really easy to get so caught
up in nailing such a tiny target that you can drive yourself crazy and lose
sight of what makes this enjoyable (although, there are some people who do
get enjoyment out of trying to hit a very precise target; if that's you, you
can safely ignore pretty much everything I'm saying on this subject). As you
read up and research various styles, pay more attention to the broad scope
of a style, rather than its finely tuned substyles. Learn about porter, what
makes it so, and don't worry so much about whether it's a robust porter or a
brown porter or a Baltic porter.

OK, some resources:

www.bjcp.org - judging criteria for beer competitions, and in my opinion a
reasonable balance between meaningful distinctions without getting too
narrow about it.

Ray Daniels' book "Designing Great Beers." When I did brew, I learned more
about how to craft a recipe than from any other source. Not just the basics,
but for various styles.

Michael Jackson's Beer Companion. FOr your purposes, I'd say this is better
than his World Guide, as the Companion is organized around styles, instead
of the World Guide's geography. He talks about the overall character, the
typical ingredients and processes, and gives good commercial examples.
(Well, mostly good; there are a few in there that frankly are way off, like
Alaskan Amber as a Düsseldorfer altbier.)

Lastly, and this is the best one,, both in terms of effectiveness as well as
enjoyment: drink. Find the good examples, and taste them. Take notes on them
if you want, and not what you get out of them. As you brew more, you'll
start to recognize those elements in your beer, start to learn how you got
those elements, and can make adjustments accordingly. And you can get to see
just how much range you can get in a given style.

-Steve



Re: Beer Style Question


Steve Jackson wrote:

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Good words of wisdom.

Re: Beer Style Question


I guess I feel that the sites I have found to be vague is that there are so
many types of malt, etc. out there to choose from how do you know what and
how much to use to use. None of the sites state the type of malt, etc. that
is best for a particular style. Do you just ignore the ingredients and worry
about the starting and ending S.G.'s?

This is where I am most confused. Too many ingredients to choose from and I
guess not enough knowledge.

Walter


--
"The speed of light is faster than the speed of sound. This explains why
some people appear to be bright until they open their mouth."



Re: Beer Style Question


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You need to look up actual brewing recipes.  Also, some breweries give
brewing info.  See Sierra Nevada Brewing.

nb

Re: Beer Style Question



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You probably need a good recipe resource.

Dick

Re: Beer Style Question


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   There are a lot of potential ingredients.  My advice is
to start simple, and use ingredients from the country the
recipe comes from.  E.g., use something like a nice Maris
Otter, a touch of British crystal, East Kent Goldings, and
a British-style yeast for a bitter. Use German pilsner malt,
a touch of German light crystal, and a good lager yeast for
a German pils.  Use the style guidelines for O.G., BU, and
some idea of additional ingredients that may be needed.
Start simple.  Brew as often as reasonable.  You'll soon
learn enough about the ingredients to get comfortable.
   Also, buy a book or two.  Don't just get a recipe book,
get something like Ray Daniels' _Designing Great Beers_.
You'll learn how to design your own recipes in whatever
style you like (except Belgians; for that get the recent
series of three books from the AHA, by Markowski, Hieronymus,
and Sparrow).
--
Joel Plutchak

"Things just fall apart." - Now They'll Sleep (Belly)

Re: Beer Style Question


Walter Venables wrote:
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I think you probably want a book with actual recipes. I like a number of
the Classic Styles books (all of which have recipes), although some of
these books are really better than others.

--
(Replies: cleanse my address of the Mark of the Beast!)

Teleoperate a roving mobile robot from the web:
http://www.swampgas.com/robotics/rover.html
Coauthor with Dennis Clark of "Building Robot Drive Trains".
Buy several copies today!

Re: Beer Style Question


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The Ray Daniels book "Designing Great Beers" would be really good for this.
That's pretty much the kind of stuff he talks about.


John.

Re: Beer Style Question


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I can sympathise completely.  My recommendation is to do that which many
of us have had to do: a quarter of a century of devoted, focussed and
determined quaffing of ales, beers, lagers, stouts, etc. from draught,
bottled, and cash-conditioned in pubs, bars, at home, in the homes of
others, at home and abroad.

I feel that with such intense and thorough research, I am starting to
get the hang of what names people tend to use for what drinks.  I still
have a few questions, though, so my quest continues...

(And the only conclusion I have come to so far is that if it comes from
a large brewery, I probably won't enjoy it very much.)

--
Simon Reed, simon<at>s-and-j.co.uk or use the Reply-To address
So far brewed up five batches of home brew so very much a newbie.

Re: Beer Style Question


Walter Venables wrote:
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Get yourself some good recipe books, or Ray Daniels "Designing Great
Beers".  Look through the BJCP guidelenes, and when you see a beer style
that looks interesting, go gte some of the commercial examples of it
listed in the style guidelines.  Drink the beer while you read the
guidelines and try to see if you can taste what's mentioned there.
Then, look up various recipes for the style and see what components
contribute the flavors you tasted.

    ----------->Denny
--
Life begins at 60...1.060, that is.

Re: Beer Style Question



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Definitely. There is certainly a point of utter inaccuracy or absurdity,
where the name has little to nothing to do with what most people will
generally conceive of what a certain name represents. Like, oh, say
Cranberry Lambic.

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It's all about context, in my opinion. Yes, there are good reasons. If
you're looking for objective evaluation, or you're running a competition,
there are enormously good reasons to define things pretty firmly. But even
then, it's important to realize that there will always be a degree of
arbitrariness, such as very fine subdivisions of popular styles so as to
avoid having one category have 200 entries instead of a more typical 50 (to
make numbers up).

I do think that beer makers, home or commercial, should find names that are
in the right neighborhood of what they made. I'd be dismayed if I bought
something labeled hefeweizen and got a copper-colored hop bomb that smacked
me upside the head with centennials, even if the beer was brewed with wheat
and was bottle conditioned. But if someone gave me something they called a
bitter and it tasted to me more like a pale ale? Eh. Those two are so close
together that there's no good dividing line. And that occurs with a lot of
the style categories that are out there.

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I think you've come up with an excellent example of where context becomes
really important. If someone did go out of their way to point out that their
beer was an English IPA, and that's what I got, I might be a little
disappointed. If someone just gave me an IPA, and I found it to be one or
the other, frankly, that's fine with me. Unless I were judging or something
like that. Then the distinction matters more.

When I say just brew what's good, don't worry too much about what style it
fits, I'm talking in the context of everyday drinking, when you just want to
enjoy a good product. And I think in most cases, that's what people are
looking for commercially as well. Give me a name that gives me a reasonably
good expectation of what I'm going to get, and I'll decide from there
whether I like it or not. The real fine-tuned distinctions, and the
honest-to-god discussions I've heard from people who will say "well, it
tastes fine but I don't like it because it's not really a proper ____"
frankly gets in the way of simply appreciating a well-crafted beer.

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Totally agreed. The devil's in the details of how precise one needs to get
to achieve that.

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And I agree with that. Where I differ not necessarily with you, but with
those I've run into who think that these distinctions should apply in all
circumstances, is that it's necessary to define and evaluate things that
precisely all the time. I went through a stage of that when I first started
exploring good beer and when I started brewing my own. I don't know if it's
because I stopped brewing, or other factors, but most of the time now, I
just want to enjoy a good beer. And as long as you're not steering me wrong
by giving me something dramatically different than what the label says, as
long as you're giving me a good beer, I'll be happy.

-Steve



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