For November, I chose as the topic for discussion “Missing Local Beer Styles”, for two reasons. The first was a pet issue of mine, the lack of a home-grown pilsner in Brussels, despite the explosion of breweries in the last two to three years. The second was a question over the variety of beer that these breweries are producing at the moment, and whether they are willing to step outside the conventional boundaries of the Belgian and/or craft traditions (for the latter, read: IPAs). You can read my submission here.
Braunbier, Porter, and Mild
Acknowledging that the local Brussels brewing scene is still quite small compared to other local scenes, I expected that in this era of ubiquitous choice many submissions might highlight the abundance of styles available to them locally. And, several did. Several more entries questioned the very nature of styles and posited a contradiction between the spread of styles and the search for local variety.
Yet more writers highlighted styles that while present locally, were not nearly as available as they should be – and here the conversation turned to the likes of Porter and Mild. And others brought attention to beer styles that had died out and were brought back – or not, in the case of Berliner Braunbier.
But, rather than trying to summarise all the entries in this round-up, I thought it better to let them speak for themselves:
- Stan Hieronymus, Appellation Beer, on the abundance of choice and the Importance of history, place and context – “Anything that exists in a style guideline somewhere that I can’t buy from a local brewery I probably will end up judging in a homebrew contest soon enough. But when I think of “what next” and local beer I don’t think in terms of styles. I think about what brewers can do to give their beers “taste of place.”
- Alan Mcleod, A Good Beer Blog, on the contradiction between “styles” and “local” – “As craft dies its death, so too goes its side kick style. In its place we are seeing hundreds and thousands of local expressions, each defying any concept of canon. Which means nothing here is missing. This is a time of plenty. Be thankful."
- Andreas Krennmair, Daft Eejit Brewing, on the possibility of resurrecting one of Berlin’s lost beer styles (and a request for more cask ale in the city) – “One truly local beer style that I miss in Berlin is Berliner Braunbier. You’ve probably never even heard of it. Berliner Braunbier is the other local top-fermented beer style in Berlin besides Berliner Weisse. Unlike Weisse, the Braunbier was a proper brown beer, made from a very dark kilned malt, and was not sour (or if sour, only very little).”
- Lisa Grimm, Weird Beer Girl, on the search for local porter in the Seattle area – “So, let this be a challenge to Seattle brewers – make your best porter! Try a few historical recipes! Feel free to make it hoppy if you must – hey, Troegs did it, and it’s wonderful. Seattle used to be (briefly) known for porters…it would be lovely to see more of them on the local market.”
- Boak and Bailey’s Beer Blog, surveying their new local scene for any gaps, and finding themselves satisfied, or at least heartened – “If there’s something we’d like to see more of (stuck records that we are) it’s mild, although we’ve managed a few pints of that here and there since arriving in town, too. And, of course, we’re keen for someone to explore Bristol Old Beer. But, really, what do we have to complain about with all that lot listed above to explore?”
- Alistair Reece, Fuggled, yearning for mild in Central Virginia and finding that sessionable beer are really what he’s looking for – “Even though I like to think that I am a pretty decent brewer, there are times when I would like nothing more than to be sat in the pub nursing a pint some tasty, session beer while reading a book or hanging out with friends. Given that reality, the one beer "style" that is grossly underrepresented in Central Virginia is just that, session beers.”
- John Duffy, The Beer Nut, also had a hankering for cask Mild in Dublin – “Admittedly it's not the most exciting of beer styles, but then it's not meant to be. A good mild is light and easily gluggable yet has a colourful bouquet of flavours. It's the sort of beer you can choose when you just want a beer without thinking about it, though one which is in no way bland or insipid.”
- Jack Perdue, Deep Beer, lamented the fact that only two Maryladn breweries were making Oud Bruin – “As the beer tasting palates seem to be gravitating away from bitterness overload of IPAs and toward more balanced and exciting tartness, then these beers and I expect this style will become more popular with beer drinkers and brewers looking for new places to play. And Maryland brewers and beer drinkers will do the old brown dance.”
- Brian Yaeger, the host of the next edition of The Session, dallied over the English IPA before plumping for a German sour ale – “Now, I love me some thick, bone-toasting Aecht Schlenkerla Doppelbock at 8% or their 6.4% Hellerbock, each robust with bacony goodness that leaves me reeking as if I’ve stumbled into a bonfire, this Lichtenhainer was still big on smoke, medium on tartness, making it huge on flavor yet a featherweight in both body and alcohol. In other words: a perfect beer!”
- Nick Jais, Lautering.net, on the lack of inspiration he sees in Finnish brewing – “But they are not brewing with their heart in the right place, they brew for what is expected but not beyond it. They keep the crowds happy but they don't inspire. They are mostly like artists that "invent" the next version of an IPA - they are in my opinion remixers.”
- John Abernathy, The Brew Site, on the state of the local beer scene and nascent indigenous styles in the Pacific Northwest – “does Oregon actually have any indigenous beer styles? I don’t believe that from an historical standpoint there are any styles that originated locally…. But in the modern era, breweries like De Garde Brewing and The Ale Apothecary would be the contenders. Both are relying on (mostly) spontaneous fermentation initiated by the flora of their native regions, which is about as “local” an expression of beer as you can get.”
*If I have missed anyone, do share a link to your post in the comments and I will add it to the round-up.