When I jotted down my proposal for a Beer Drinker's Bill of Rights the other day, my intention was that it would be elaborated, that commentary needed to be provided on each section to see if the thing was valid. One of the key point for me is that beer is understandable or as section 4 states:
4. Beer, including its constituent elements, shall be explained and explicable to the drinkers of beer.Like any principle in any constitutional document there are a number of concepts rammed in there - or even extractable if the author didn't happen to consider the full implication. One concept that can be drawn from this is illustrated in an excellent observation Stan recently made upon the handy graph on a bottle's label so capably shown in his illustration above. Stan wrote:
...maybe they need a fourth scale - either ranging from "beginner" to "experienced" (my idea of bitter might be different than some) or "bland" to "intense." In either case all the blocks would be filled in for 100 gram. But wouldn't you love to see a similar chart — like brewing competitors would every come up with a standard — on the back of very bottle?Yes, I would. I think a Beaufort Scale of Beer is what we need as a mechanism to avoid the need to rely on whether a beer is "true to style" as many are not familiar with that system based on home brew judging. Scales should also be the consumer's point of view, not that of the marketer. That way we do not fall into the problem of boosterism, analogous to the 1990's rise of US cable TV business journalism where a market crash became a "correction" or the direction of a steep drop in stock price became describable as "sideways". There is, after all, still the occasional useful reference from the Australian Table Wine sketch (even as that country has become one of the most interesting producers in the world) such as "this is a bottle with a message in, and the message is 'beware'". Things can be bad and badness has to be included in any appreciation scales. We may also start to develop a means to describe value.
So what would such a system of scales look like? I like the dry-sweet continuum of richness but I think the mild-bitter one can be just a bit misleading as beers with similarly high levels of bittering, such as a pale ale or a stout, can have a different net bitterness based on other ingredients. So how about this for the first two scales:
dry 1..2..3..4..5 sweet
mild 1..2..3..4..5 astringent
absent 1..2..3..4..5 glommy
grainy 1..2..3..4..5 fruity
soft 1..2..3..4..5 mineral
Other scales are obvious like yeast intensity (absent to spoiled Balkan yogurt with spice), colour (Zima clear to blacker than the inside of a cow) and mouthfeel (thin water to molasses). There may also be a scale on singularity along the lines of "commodity to art" but that begs the question of the accessibility of art - the Mona Lisa or a Rothko - as well as the fact that there really are no tankers on the high seas loaded with bulk beer being traded as wholesale commodities. Yet those problems may make them excellent bookends.
But how about the sort of scale Stan suggests with his "beginner to experienced" suggestion. That really speaks to the subjective conclusion yet is very important. It sums up intensity and complexity but also takes into account the drinker's portfolio of past experience. It may need breaking out and having an additional conclusion as to the overall value proposition.
bland 1..2..3..4..5 complex
newbie 1..2..3..4..5 geek
saintly 1..2..3..4..5 avarice itself