Monday, 26 October 2009
Another post about the itch that is beer styles
At the Conwy Feast beer tent on Saturday afternoon, a glass of Great Orme’s delectable Welsh Black, a 4% dark ale that one immediately assumes is a mild. A chat with the brewery’s founder Jonathan Edwards turns assumptions on its head though. A mild I presume, I say in the manner of Stanley greeting Livingstone, no comes the reply, a halfway house between a mild and a dark ale. CAMRA, naturally, accord it the status of a mild when it hands out the awards. We discuss the whole vagaries of the beer style question and eventually decide that it’s a good beer whatever pigeon hole one wants to put it in. It reminds me of Green Jack’s Jack the Ripper, which won Champion Winter Beer a couple of years ago, after triumphing in the barley wine sector, even though the brewery has described it as a tripel — so is a tripel a Belgian barley wine? It wasn’t the last time I looked. I always reckon that Malheur 12 has more in common with Anglo-American barley wines. The question to be asked is — is the whole issue of beer styles just there for the consumer or does it remain a valid way of dividing up the family of beer? I must confess I don’t have the answer, but it’s one of those things that bugs away at me whenever I write about a style.