For serious beer brewers and beer drinkers, the Brewers Association Style Guidelines will be familiar. This year (2021) the Guidelines include some important changes, most notable of which is the addition of four new beer style categories.
The new styles will take effect for the 2021 Great American Beer Festival competition which is currently slated to take place this fall. The team at Cheers All offers you a look at the four new beers added to the Brewers Association (BA) Beer Style Guidelines.
Kentucky Common Beer
Describing Kentucky Common Beer, the guidelines state, "This American-born regional style proliferated around Louisville, Kentucky, from the Civil War era until Prohibition. Corn grits or flakes were commonly used at a rate or 25- to 35-percent of the total grist. Minerally attributes resulted from the use of hard brewing water. These beers were consumed very young, going from brewhouse to consumer in as little as one week. Early 20th century brewing literature mentions a slight tartness developing during fermentation as a characteristic attribute of this style. If tartness is present in modern versions, it should be at very low levels." Not surprisingly, sweet malt is the dominant flavor attribute with notes of corn, caramel, toffee and/or bread often present. A Kentucky Common Beer may exhibit floral or spicy attributes typical of early 20th century North American hop varieties.
Belgian-Style Session Ale
The Belgian-Style Session Ale category came about because of revisions "based on numerous comments from judges and Belgian beer experts.” Beers in this category “recognize the uniqueness and traditions of Belgian brewing, but do not hew to any other classic or "Other" Belgian-style categories,” essentially serving as a broader catch-all for beers that share "a modest alcohol content of ranging of 2.1 percent to 5 percent ABV." The BA Style Guidelines also lowered the maximum alcohol on Belgian Table Beers from 3.5 percent ABV to 2 percent ABV. The addition of the Belgian-Style Session Ales creates a category for beers that have an ABV too high for Table Beers but that do not have quite the ABV of other Belgian styles. Balance is a key component when assessing these beers, according to the Guidelines, with wood- and barrel-aged versions which exhibit attributes of wood aging being categorized as wood- and barrel-aged beers and fruited versions categorized as Belgian-style fruit beers.
New Zealand-Style Pale Ale
Despite the name of this new category of beers, and the wide variety of hop varieties that have originated from New Zealand in the last two decades, the BA Guidelines do not mention the origin of the beers included in this category. The BA Guidelines simply describe a New Zealand-Style Pale Ale as "exhibiting [hop] attributes such as tropical fruit, passionfruit, and/or stone-fruit, cut grass and diesel" to create and overall impression that is "a well-integrated easy drinking, refreshing pale ale style with distinctive fruity hop aromas and flavors."
New Zealand-Style India Pale Ale
The New Zealand-Style IPA is described as a beer with hop aromas and flavors that are "ﬂoral, fruity (tropical, stone fruit and other), sulfur/diesel-like, citrusy and grassy," likely resulting in "a crisp, dry beer rather than a malt-accentuated version" with "dominant" hop attributes that are "balanced with malt character and a medium to very high perceived bitterness.”
For additional information on the four “new” beers added to the Guidelines, or on any of the tried and true categories of beers, the full 2021 Beer Style Guidelines can be found on the Brewers Association's website.
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