A Good Beer Blog


Have you read The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer - A Rant in Nine Acts by Alan and Max yet? It's out on Kindle as well as Lulu.

Maureen Ogle said this about the book: "... immensely readable, sometimes slightly surreal rumination on beer in general and craft beer in particular. Funny, witty, but most important: Smart. The beer geeks will likely get all cranky about it, but Alan and Max are the masters of cranky..."

Ron Pattinson said: "I'm in a rather odd situation. Because I appear in the book. A fictional version of me. It's a weird feeling."


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Gary Gillman -

Well. Yes and no. Yes that there are probably too many self-appointed experts, and an element of egotism enters into any attempt to organize the wonderful and crazy world of beer (not that that alone is bad, without it, Michael Jackson would not have existed and we would not (I believe) be here today). No in the sense that, as an American poster on Pete's recent threads noted, I want to know what I'm ordering before I get it, and a detailed style scheme assists that.

Item: recently I ordered an "Irish-style russet ale" in a beer beer. It came smoked. I said to the server, the beer menu doesn't say it is smoked. He said, well, it's listed under the specialty section, and if it wasn't smoked, we'd list it as an amber style. Okay, I see.


Alan -

"I want to know what I'm ordering before I get it, and a detailed style scheme assists that."

I don't really agree as I have had too many experiences of thin stouts, bland Canadian IPAs and crap faux lambics to trust the label. With the cacophony of craft beers out there, I find too many of the styles referenced on the labels are about as useful as "tastes cold".

Bruce Ticknor -

I tend to agree with Alan on this one, Try a Kieth's IPA and then tell me about styles. What the label says has absolutely nothing to do with the fluid in the container. IPA is one of my favourite styles only I really don't know what that is. To me it is the flavour I remember from Labbatt's IPA of the 1960's but that was almost certainly not what an original IPA tasted like. I couldn't know what an original tasted like because (despite what my kids think) I wasn't there.
I do wish I had one of Stan's 'wayback machines' because I would love to find out what some of these beers I read about really did taste like.
Style is a moving target and so is meaningful only in the moment.

Tim -

Alan, I was going to argue in line with Gary that style, for my purposes, serves as a basic communication between brewer and drinker of how beer tastes. Your response made me consider the citrusy stouts and sweet saisons I've drank. Now, I'd say the best way to find out what a beer (or drink) tastes like is to ask your server or shop staff. Their earnest knowledge and willingness to proffer a sample is important.

Alan -

Yes, that is a good point if you have a system that allows for shopkeepers to hand out samples - unlike Canada for the most part.

But when I read "sweet saison" you gakked me right into another dimension where the memory of Three Floyd's Rabbid Rabbit lurks. Perfect example of a beer bought on reputation as well as the love of the style which was a total and utter let down. A beer that gives all the reason we need to create the International Style Conformity Confirmation Commission.

Gary Gillman -

Good point about samples. Some places give them and some don't though, and for some reason, I don't like asking for them. It's not logical really but I can't explain why.

In the end, it's up to the (craft) producers and retailers. I'm simply saying that it is in their interest to give as much information as possible on their products. Some consumers will glaze over it, others though will gain valuable information. It's always a balance. None of us likes the "beer bore", a type inhabits the areas behind the bar of some beer pubs. It is especially galling when they tell you wrong stuff, such as any kind of beer really should be cloudy to taste best and no one drank clear beer until glass containers became common.


Martyn Cornell -

In fact, as I point out here, we've only been talking about "beer styles" for a comparatively short time.