ATJ has provided us with an excellent brief essay, a four paragraph musing on the potential for one municipality to have a style of beer... or perhaps of brewing. It got me thinking about the factors which we use to construct style systems. Place, as he shows, is a biggie when it comes to good beer but for the most part time, say, is not. When I think of pop music I can think of The Black Keys and understand that their instrumentation, simplicity and use of falsetto certainly hardens back to T Rex forty years ago. That the new is from Ohio and old the UK is largely irrelevant in terms of their overlap.
Can we do that with beer? Double and triple imperial IPAs are certainly an echo of the second half of the last decade. Malty amber US craft that might now be considered ambitionless in fact fit squarely in the 1980s and '90s. When I taste those sorts of beers I am drawn into my own past. The vintage recreations we see more and more attempt to legitimately style themselves on eras and flavours now past recollection.
What else? Beer can be styled to meet the demands of a trend. There would be none of these odd cherry saison things without hipsters to buy them. There would have been no DDDIIPAs without the now faded interest in and exploration of "X-Treme" the best part of a decade ago. And economic stability. These are economic good times relatively speaking. Beer choice tightens in hard times just as measures might not be so skimpy. Beer ingredients themselves can come in and out of fashion. I have seen sneers flash solely on the words "crystal malt" despite their promise of dried fruit nutty delight. People now only dare mention Fuggles amongst the trusted.
The elements of styles. I could go for a full pint of dot com bubble Texas brown most days but I doubt I could find it. Because I am out of style. Or at least that one.