USA: Brewers Association releases its 2021 Beer Style Guidelines

The Brewers Association, the non-profit trade and lobbying organization for small and independent craft brewers in the US, has released their 2021 Beer Style Guidelines. These guidelines are a kind of brewer’s bible to how to classify their beers, reported on February 25.

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Source:  E-Malt News

This is the book that beer judges and beer competitions use to award medals and awards for beers exemplifying the top quality for their specific traits per style of beer.

The BA Beer Style Guidelines dates back to 1979, when Brewers Association and Great American Beer Festival founder Charlie Papazian and celebrated beer journalist Michael Jackson created the first guidelines.

The goal of the guidelines is to create a range that brewers can use to define their beers, judges can use for knowing what to look for when judging and to create a record of historically and regionally accurate beer styles for both the promotion and preservation of both new and historically significant beers.

The 2021 guidelines now include 158 different styles of beer, including four new classifications with no style deletions. The four new categories are Kentucky Common Beer, New Zealand-Style Pale Ale, New Zealand-Style India Pale Ale and Belgian-Style Session Ale. One name change was also noted this year with Belgian-Style Pale Ale renamed as Belgian-Style Speciale Belge. Here is a brief overview of the 4 new categories.

The Kentucky Common Beer is a style rooted in and around Louisville, Kentucky, from the Civil War era until Prohibition. The same hard water that helps give bourbon one of its unique qualities is a key component in this style of beer. Another common trait is the use of corn, either in grits or flake form, making up 25-35% of the total grist. The color is medium to deep amber, with a little haziness acceptable. Low in bitterness (15-30 IBU), sweet malt and corn flavors are primary with some floral and spicy notes from the hops. The alcohol level should be between 4.0%-5.5% alcohol by volume.

The New Zealand-Style Pale Ale and India Pale Ale are similar beers. Both range in color from a gold or straw light to a medium amber or copper darker version. Malt aromas and flavors should be very low to medium. Hop aroma and flavor should be pronounced, medium to medium high in the Pale Ale, high to intense in the India Pale Ale. These beers should be clean and hop forward, with the Pale Ale at 4.0%-6.0% ABV and 15-40 IBU, the IPA at 5.0%-6.0% ABV and 50-70 IBU.

The Belgian-Style Session Ale is a bit more of a catch-all style category. Perhaps the most specific parts to this category are the low amounts of alcohol (2.1%-5.0% ABV) and that the beer should not fall into a more specifically defined Belgian-Style category. Color can vary widely. Both the malt and hop aroma and flavors should be quite low, with neither really overpowering the other, nor standing out as a focus of the beer. Some brewers may make this style of beer from a second running of their malts from high gravity (high alcohol styles) beers, extracting any remaining sugars and starches. This style can include wood and barrel aging as well as fruit additions to flavor the beer.

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