Geek Check: Do You Care About the Updated Beer Guidelines?

The Brewers Association recently released the 2011 Beer Style Guidelines and it’s making me feel stupid, or at least lazy.

You see, I can’t muster up the attention span to actually care.  The fact that American-Style Brett is now an official style doesn’t rock my world, and the significant update to the Belgian-Style Flanders Oud Bruin/Oud Red guidelines makes me want to take a nap. 

Now, I’m not saying that these developments aren’t important or interesting.  I’m saying that they’re not important or interesting to me. To be honest, they kind of intimidate me, as they clearly demonstrate how much more I need to learn about beer. And that makes me want to check Facebook or look out the window until the feeling passes.

This has made me realize something I’ve known subconsciously for a while: There are two major camps of beer geeks – ones who care about all the tiny little details and ones who just want to drink good beer.  I don’t think one is superior to the other, but I’m definitely a “drink good beer” and learn-as-you-go kind of guy.

I totally appreciate people who want to nerd out on the updated guidelines.  I imagine it’s the same excitement that members of the AKC experience when they learn if the Labradoodle will become an official breed this year.  It’s hugely entertaining and important to them, but extremely dull to people who just want a dog that doesn’t pee in the living room.

Anyway, to each their own.  I could say that they take beer too seriously, and they could say I’m a half-assed and lazy beer geek.  And I think we’d both be right.  Or at least they would.

I guess I had better read through these (PDF here), as it’s one of my New Year’s resolutions to learn more about the nuts and bolts of beer.  But maybe I’ll just take a peek at Facebook first…


Where do YOU fall on the updated guidelines?  Beer porn, snoozefest or something in between?  Let us know below!





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Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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33 Comments on “Geek Check: Do You Care About the Updated Beer Guidelines?”

  1. Evan
    January 14, 2011 at 9:31 am #

    I definitely don’t care about guidelines. Even as a brewer, I just don’t see a point. But there are people out there who need a category for everything in life. These guidelines are for those people. But they’re definitely not something I go by when I’m designing my next beer.

    • January 14, 2011 at 9:53 am #

      It’s a little interesting to look at, but I glaze over after about two minutes. I guess this is really about competitive brewing and making sure your beer fits the guidelines so you can medal at GABF.

      • Evan
        January 14, 2011 at 1:25 pm #

        I think one use for such a list would be a record of what has been done and become popular. More for beer geek history than anything. I think using it like some competition brewers do, in that EVERYTHING must fit within these parameters, or your beer is CRAP is just plain stupid. It’s that mentality that made me quit the competition brewing thing.

        • January 14, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

          It’s probably very useful for that and making sense of things in general. But most of my favorite beers are totally nonsensical, and I agree these rules best when broken.

  2. Mike
    January 14, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Knowing the style gives me an idea what it will taste like. Beyond that I only care if it’s a good beer or not.

    • January 14, 2011 at 9:54 am #

      That’s how I’m looking at it too. I always take a peek at these, find a style that looks good and then seek it out.

      Actually, that’d be a nice blog – drinking the entire style guide, style-by-style.

    • scott
      January 14, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

      Couldn’t agree with your point more

  3. January 14, 2011 at 10:16 am #

    Happy Friday Jimbo!

    The style guide is definitely interesting, but much like you, I’ll most likely glaze over within the first couple pages. I too am a learn as you go kind of guy.

    I guess it could come in handy when writing up a beer review, i.e. rate the beer two ways, (1) overall rating, and (2) how does it compare to other beers within the style. So you may not like IPAs, but when compared to other IPAs, this one is one of the better ones. Or something like that. 🙂


    • January 14, 2011 at 10:23 am #

      YO, G-LO! Happy Friday back atchya!

      I wish I cared about this stuff more, but I don’t. I have a romantic notion of me pouring through the guidelines, seeking you each style, taking good tasting notes, and training myself to be a hardcore beer nerd.

      But instead I start thinking about onion rings.

      • January 14, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

        Mmmm… onion rings! It’s lunch time! I am so tempted to go to the bar up the street for a Stone Lucky Bastard (on draught no less) and a burger. Must… resist… temptation!

        • Don
          January 14, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

          Go G-Lo Go! Don’t go slow. Go now G-Lo Go!

      • January 14, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

        I may have skipped the lunchtime Lucky Bastard, but it looks like Don may have had some bourbon in his coffee. 😉

        • Don
          January 14, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

          No G-Lo No! You must Go G-Lo! Go now!

  4. January 14, 2011 at 10:24 am #

    American-Style Bret??? Belgian-Style Flanders Oud Bruin/Oud Red??? I need a road map.

    • January 14, 2011 at 10:26 am #

      Or a beer…

      • January 14, 2011 at 10:29 am #

        yes! But where do I find the American-Stylr Brett that I so desperately crave??? If I knew what to crave. Screw it there’s a Lagunitas Lucky 13 in the fridge for later.

        • January 14, 2011 at 10:31 am #

          🙂 Exactly.

  5. 1Time4got
    January 14, 2011 at 10:44 am #

    If I wore a pocket protector and Coke-bottle glasses when I drink beer, this would be my reading material. Beyond that it’s more for the beer snobs who love using big words to over-intellectualize a good beer. Spare me the 10-minute lecture on what makes the IPA in your hand such a great choice. If it tastes good, that’s all I need to know.

    • January 14, 2011 at 10:48 am #

      Yes, this is certainly a tool with which beer douches might torture regular beer geeks.

      • Alex
        January 14, 2011 at 10:52 am #

        Beerdouchicus probably carries a laminated copy with him/her at all times.

        • January 14, 2011 at 11:06 am #

          Just look at his picture…

      • Alex
        January 14, 2011 at 11:23 am #

        Ha! Forgot about that little detail.

  6. Alex
    January 14, 2011 at 10:44 am #

    I think it’s interesting, although also a little ridiculous. With 140 styles, you will have 420 different medals given out each year at GABF and the World Beer Cup. 140 beers can claim to have won gold and brewers can advertise their beer in a way that insinuates that they won THE gold medal at GABF, when, in reality it could have been the 140th best beer in the competition that year.

    Whatever. If it keeps the Brewer’s Association happy and, more importantly, craft brewers happy, it’s fine by me. And if I learn a little bit about beer, that’s cool too.

    • January 14, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

      I like it when my favorite breweries win medals at GABF, so I guess I’m okay with 420 opportunities for them to do so. And you can get gold and have the 2000th best beer in the competition if you’re in an obscure category.

      • Alex
        January 14, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

        Right again, Jim. That’s what I get for trying to do math. [Humanities major]

  7. January 14, 2011 at 10:57 am #

    to the extent that im a homebrewer i do care….BUT…i feel overwhelmed by the abundance of styles and by the fact that they overlap. so quote often ill write a recipe, brew it, and then look and see what it might be categorized as. i have a huge ipa-ish barleywine-type thing that just rounded the 16% abv corner fermenting away in the i have no idea how to categorize it, i just know its good.

    • January 14, 2011 at 11:08 am #

      Whay not make your own category for it. American Imperial Barley-IPA. There. You’re sure to win a medal now, Nate!

  8. January 14, 2011 at 11:22 am #

    Can’t say that I’ve ever looked at them. Oh sure, I’ve read excerpts sent to me. But actually sit down with the complete guidelines in my Barcalounger for a light evening of perusing styles? Um. No. Drink and learn is my philosophy. Props to you Jim if you can get through them. But I’m thinking bore snore after the first couple pages.

    Having said that, and as a word nerd, I do find the annual “what to call a black IPA” announcement intriguing. This year it seems “American-Style India Black Ale” has transformed into “American-Style Black Ale.”

    • January 14, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

      Barcaloungers are for drinking beer and watching sports. What’s this “reading” thing you’re talking about? 😉

      Wait until the come up with the American-Style Double India Black Ale. Will they call it and ASDIBA?

  9. Marvin
    January 14, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    I like reading them, but I am one of those technical beer nerd/beeradouchicus types. I am sorry, but that’s just how I learned beer. And wether or not you care, if you talk to me about beer it’ll probably involve going on about why this IPA is good or not. I have tried to turn it off but I can’t, I seem to be incapable of doing it. Now I don’t know how Douchy I am about it as I don’t think I am a better for it, I just like anyone else who knows something, like to share my knowledge.

    As a brewer I also like the style guidelines. Although, they are just that, guidelines. I use them as a road map to make recipes but not as an end all be all.

    • January 14, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

      Finally, a beer guide lover! I respect folks with the patience and passion about the details to study, learn and share this stuff (in a non-douchey way) with others.

      I just don’t have it in me, but I think it’s cool that you do, Marvin.

  10. January 14, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

    I think the best way to sum up my feelings about this is that I’m considering downgrading myself to Stellapithicus.

    • January 14, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

      Ha ha! That’s awesome! 🙂

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