The Brewers Association (BA), the not-for-profit trade group dedicated to promoting and protecting America’s small and independent craft brewers, released its annual Beer Style Guidelines for 2016. Constructed yearly by the BA, these guidelines serve as a reference tool for beer experts and judges, highlighting and celebrating beer styles from around the world.
More than 100 total changes were made to this year’s version. Of note, eight new styles were added, creating 152 total. This represents a net increase of seven over the 145 shown in 2015. The additions for 2016 include:
Breslau-Style Pale Schöps and Breslau-Style Dark Schöps – Schops are historic ale styles (the early Prussian city of Breslau is now called Wroclaw and is located within Poland), brewed perhaps as early as the 1300s, and by the 1600s documented as predominantly wheat based.
Contemporary Gose – Recognizing the huge diversity in modern brewer interpretations arising from and diverging from traditional Leipzig-Style Gose.
Specialty Saison – Recognizing the huge diversity in modern brewer interpretations arising from and diverging from Classic French & Belgian-Style Saison.
Finnish-Style Sahti – Traditional Finnish style with juniper and bakers’ or bread yeast.
Swedish-Style Gotlandsdricke – traditional Swedish style with juniper, birchwood smoke notes and baker’s or bread yeast.
European-Style Dark Lager – separating these beers from their Munich Dunkel Lager cousins.
Pumpkin/Squash Beer – a new style to emphasize perception of pumpkin and/or squash aromas and flavors, without spicing.
Significant reworks of existing styles, based on brewer and judge comments, or based on the creation of new styles, include the following:
- American-Style India Pale Ale
- American-Style Black Ale
- Kellerbier or Zwickelbier Ale
- Leipzig-Style Gose
- Classic French & Belgian-Style Saison
- Pumpkin Spice Beer – Reworked the old Pumpkin Beer category, which entries exhibit predominantly spice aromas and flavors, but no necessarily pumpkin or squash
- Specialty Beer – Clarified that the hallmarks of this style have to do with unusual fermentables, and further clarifies that nuts provide flavor and aroma far more than fermentables, such that nut-containing beers are best characterized as Field Beer
- Brett Beer – Numerous updates and clarifications, especially with respect to beers fermented with (relatively) flavor neutral Brettanomyces which taste like non-Brett beers
“The Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines continue to serve as the authoritative resource on world beer styles for brewers and beer lovers alike,” said Chris Swersey, competition manager, Brewers Association. “This year’s update includes the addition of several exciting historic beer styles along with many revisions that keep the Guidelines relevant and current.”
The task of creating a realistic set of guidelines is always complex. The beer style guidelines use sources from the commercial brewing industry, beer analyses, and consultations with beer industry experts and knowledgeable beer enthusiasts as resources for information.
The 2016 beer style guidelines are available for download at BrewersAssociation.org.