Category: Style

The whipping boy of beer styles

American brewers who dabble in wheat must feel some days like William Murray.


William Murray – a mostly forgettable character from 17th-century England who had the somewhat bad luck of being the boyhood pal of Charles I. It was Charles’ father, King James I, who devised the philosophy of the “divine right of kings.”

“The state of monarchy,” James … Read the rest

A brief session on session beers

“I will make it felony to drink small beer.” – Henry IV, Part 2.


If he had his way, Shakespeare – or at least his memorable character, Jack Cade, who declared his contempt for weak beer (and lawyers) – would be filing criminal charges on the first-ever Session Beer Day this Saturday.

The day is intended as a nationwide … Read the rest

A wheat beer that’s perfectly clear

Kristall weiss: A filtered version of hefeweizen.

IF THAT DEFINITION doesn’t just make your skin crawl, well, you are a cold, heartless turtle. Why would anyone intentionally take one of the world’s most-treasured beer styles – a variety whose unique beauty is in its murky, unfiltered body – and intentionally “cleanse” it?

It’s as if a brewery imagined that it … Read the rest

Love that imperial stout? We owe it all to Sophia

WHERE WOULD lovers of the world’s strongest, darkest beers be without a thin, pale German teenager named Sophia Augusta Frederica?

One of the great chapters of brewing history might not exist. There’d be no stouts named Old Rasputin or The Czar or Ivan the Terrible.

On the upside, the tiresome debate over whether to call it “double” or “imperial” IPA … Read the rest

IPAs in black and white

BLACK IPAs are so 2011.

Last year’s hot new style, which exploded in popularity before beer gurus could even settle on a proper name (Cascadian Dark Ale? American Black Ale?), is already getting shoved to the side by a new crop of India pale ales.

Would you believe white IPA?

OK, you saw that one coming – so, how about … Read the rest

Crassly adored malt liquor

“MINIMAL TASTE profile, minimal hopping, lacking in hop bouquet and threshold hop levels . . . ” – Fred Eckhardt, The Essentials of Beer Style, 1989, describing style characteristics of malt liquor

“Get your girl in the mood quicker, get your jimmy thicker, with St. Ides malt liquor.” – Ice Cube, Mix Tape, 1994, describing style characteristics of malt liquor… Read the rest

How Philly became the pilsner capital of America

(Published July 2009 in Beer Advocate Magazine.)

Did you happen to catch the New York Times a couple months ago, when writer Eric Asimov complained about the lousy beer selection (9 bucks for a single 16-ounce can of PBR!) at the new Yankee Stadium? Where, he wondered, were the authentic Pilsners?

Not those watery mainstream poseurs (I’m looking at … Read the rest

Dark lager for these dog days of summer

By now, I’m guessing you’re getting a bit tired of drinking wheat beer. Just a hunch – with the dog days of August in scorching mode, those light-body, cloudy ales are the go-to thirst quencher, judging from all the lemons I’m seeing along the bar.

For those looking to shake things up before Oktoberfest sets in, I urge you to … Read the rest

Sweet success of a sour beer

IT’S EASY TO ignore industry awards for fine beer-making. After all, someone once gave Pabst a blue ribbon.

But here’s why you should pay attention to the raft of medals area breweries brought back from the World Beer Cup in Seattle last weekend:

The variety of awards, for eclectic styles ranging from Belgian sour ale to Russian imperial stout, is … Read the rest

The real story about bock

You get used to those bouts of bewilderment that plague enthusiastic beer-drinkers; chalk ‘em up to just another hazard of our chosen profession.

You know, what happened to my pants? How come I’m sleeping on the lawn?

And then there’s bock beer.

Somehow, even when they’re stone-cold sober, many beer-drinkers are convinced this strong, malty lager is made with the … Read the rest