Beer Styles

There is a thing called Free-Form brewing, where expert brewers reject beer styles in favor of going for a certain flavor, aroma, appearance, etc. that they want, which may or may not be defined by a "narrow" style guideline.

I am as much for innovation as anyone out there, but I think that this rejection of beer styles is not appropriate. In order for a person to be able to reject beer styles, they must first get to know beer styles. EE Cummings didn't start writing without capital letters or punctuation until after he got to know the proper rules quite thoroughly. If you don't know the beer styles, you can't rebel against them. If you don't know them and you don't follow them, you are sort of operating in chaos. If you don't know beer styles, how do you know that a beer you are making isn't part of an existing beer style.

I will keep working with beer styles, and where I feel like it, I may improvise a bit. I combined Trippel and IPA. But it was all based on beer styles. There's nothing wrong with knowing about beer styles, there's nothing wrong with using and following them, and there's nothing wrong with rejecting them.

All this gray area around beer styles highlights the need for well informed beer serving staff and thorough beer menus. If everyone starts working outside style guidelines, and even with the wide variation within a style, consumers really need to have accurate and complete descriptions of beers available for purchase at any retail establishment (bar, restaurant, or liquor store).

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