Author Topic: American Brown Style Guidelines  (Read 4840 times)

Offline thomasbarnes

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Re: American Brown Style Guidelines
« Reply #15 on: February 22, 2012, 09:33:32 PM »
In the end, make what you like, and competitions be damned if they don't score it higher because they prefer more hops.  Occasionally, you might bump into a malthead like me.  You can hope and pray, but odds are against it in the USA.

Not necessarily. I'm a malt-head.

I can appreciate hops for what they are, but on a gut level I still go for malt.

Malt is food. Hops are what you put into food so that it doesn't go bad.

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: American Brown Style Guidelines
« Reply #16 on: February 23, 2012, 05:30:14 AM »
I think Americans are taking hops to a whole new level.  To me, beer is and should be a malt-based beverage.  But Americans everywhere are saying, nah, I want more hops.  This reminds me of the old Wendy's commercials..... it's as if hops have evolved to become the giant bun of the burger, and I'm constantly screaming the question, "Where's the malt?!?  Where's the malt!?!  I don't think there's anybody back there...."
Dave

"This is grain, which any fool can eat, but for which the Lord intended a more divine means of consumption. Let us give praise to our Maker, and glory to His bounty, by learning about... BEER!" - Friar Tuck (Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves)

Offline tomsawyer

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Re: American Brown Style Guidelines
« Reply #17 on: February 23, 2012, 06:17:11 AM »
My average to below average sense as a judge certainly doesn't tell me a brown ale should be hopped like an IPA.  But an ABA should have some hop character, and I look for a citrus note.  To me its the reason there is an ABA style.  A little higher gravity doesn't work for me as a source of a new style.
Lennie
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Offline anthony

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Re: American Brown Style Guidelines
« Reply #18 on: February 23, 2012, 09:20:28 AM »
There are a number of subcategories like this in the BJCP guidelines where many judges associate the entire subcategory with a specific classic example. Fundamentally, that doesn't mean that an American Brown with Williamette or EKG is any less American Brown than the same one with Cascade/Amarillo.

But the key to winning ribbons in subcategories like these is to make it easier on the judges. You want to make a base beer that is recognizable by every BJCP judge (certified to grand master) as an American Brown versus relying on a more experienced judge in the flight to explain to the other judges, "Actually, American Brown typically/optionally may have those hops but it isn't strictly required."

Once you have that unmistakable base beer developed (and assuming you have sound brewing practices, non-infected, etc.), your beer is going to float into the top 10% of a flight just by that fact alone. Then you work on the subtle details that will push the beer into best of show contention because if by some miracle your Williamette American Brown floats into the best of show otherwise, you may not find an advocate to wax poetically to all the other best of show judges about it, and it will be eliminated fairly early.

These things are just the nature of brewing for competition versus brewing for your own enjoyment or even brewing for the enjoyment of others.

Offline weithman5

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Re: American Brown Style Guidelines
« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2012, 09:56:02 AM »
I think Americans are taking hops to a whole new level.  To me, beer is and should be a malt-based beverage.  But Americans everywhere are saying, nah, I want more hops.  This reminds me of the old Wendy's commercials..... it's as if hops have evolved to become the giant bun of the burger, and I'm constantly screaming the question, "Where's the malt?!?  Where's the malt!?!  I don't think there's anybody back there...."

i agree. i really love the malt forward beers.  i do appreciate a hoppy beer on occasion but that is just for something different.   now i want to go get a vanilla malted milkshake but i gave up treats for lent.
Don AHA member

Offline gmac

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Re: American Brown Style Guidelines
« Reply #20 on: February 23, 2012, 08:54:29 PM »
I'd be interested to see how a beer did if you brewed a good APA.  Dropped in a few drops of sinamar and bottled it as an AAA, put in a some more and called it an ABA.  To me a beer style should be dictated by more than just a bit different colour (see CDA...) but I'm no beer judge. I have a good beer that I was going to enter as an AAA but it's not citrusy.  I'll probably do it anyway and see what happens but it does frustrate me a bit.

Offline tomsawyer

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Re: American Brown Style Guidelines
« Reply #21 on: February 24, 2012, 06:12:14 AM »
I'd be interested to see how a beer did if you brewed a good APA.  Dropped in a few drops of sinamar and bottled it as an AAA, put in a some more and called it an ABA.  To me a beer style should be dictated by more than just a bit different colour (see CDA...) but I'm no beer judge. I have a good beer that I was going to enter as an AAA but it's not citrusy.  I'll probably do it anyway and see what happens but it does frustrate me a bit.
It'd probably do poorly.  Nobody says an ABA has to be really hoppy, we are just saying that "American" has come to mean citrus hops.  They should still be used at the appropriate rates for the style.  Yes the ABA an be as high as 40IBU and an APA can be as low as 30IBU, but it doesn't mean they'll do well in comps at these levels.
Lennie
Hannibal, MO

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: American Brown Style Guidelines
« Reply #22 on: February 24, 2012, 07:26:40 AM »
...To me a beer style should be dictated by more than just a bit different colour (see CDA...) but I'm no beer judge.

I agree 1000%.  And I am a beer judge.  Not that it matters.
Dave

"This is grain, which any fool can eat, but for which the Lord intended a more divine means of consumption. Let us give praise to our Maker, and glory to His bounty, by learning about... BEER!" - Friar Tuck (Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves)

Offline udubdawg

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Re: American Brown Style Guidelines
« Reply #23 on: February 24, 2012, 09:28:26 AM »
I would say you could expand this discussion to include American Stout.

Question:  How would perfect clones of Deschutes Obsidian Stout or Rogue Shakespeare Stout fair in competition as American Stout?
I think the feedback on these "classic examples" would very often include that they needed hops... 

Agree?  Disagree?

cheers--
--Michael

Offline tomsawyer

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Re: American Brown Style Guidelines
« Reply #24 on: February 24, 2012, 10:09:22 AM »
Not Rogue, they lay on the hops.  I think Shakespeare is something like 60IBU.  I might ding it for that.

I'm not sure how much weight a judge would give to the classic examples part of the guidelines.
Lennie
Hannibal, MO

Offline brewmanator

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Re: American Brown Style Guidelines
« Reply #25 on: February 24, 2012, 10:37:11 AM »
I would say you could expand this discussion to include American Stout.

Question:  How would perfect clones of Deschutes Obsidian Stout or Rogue Shakespeare Stout fair in competition as American Stout?
I think the feedback on these "classic examples" would very often include that they needed hops... 

Agree?  Disagree?

cheers--
--Michael

http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/pages/zymurgy/commercial-calibration/Brewery/22/shakespeare-stout

Only DH mentioned low hop character as an issue...

As far as American brown ales go.  We got a silver medal with an Am Brown in last year's NHC.  It was hopped with Willamette and Mt Hood and scored in the mid to high 30s in each round, but somehow rose to the top during the mini-BOS rounds.  Don't cave in to the American citrus hop bias for this style!  You can make an award winning American brown without them.
- Mike

Offline udubdawg

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Re: American Brown Style Guidelines
« Reply #26 on: February 24, 2012, 10:49:06 AM »
I would say you could expand this discussion to include American Stout.

Question:  How would perfect clones of Deschutes Obsidian Stout or Rogue Shakespeare Stout fair in competition as American Stout?
I think the feedback on these "classic examples" would very often include that they needed hops... 


http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/pages/zymurgy/commercial-calibration/Brewery/22/shakespeare-stout

Only DH mentioned low hop character as an issue...


Hmm, well, I guess my response would be that I said "very often"...and not very often will 4 Grandmaster Judges evaluate your American Brown/Stout in a competition...
and on a side note, I clearly need to get some fresher bottles of Shakespeare Stout so I can get some of these hops. A date, a date!  My kingdom for a bottling date! 

cheers--
--Michael
« Last Edit: February 24, 2012, 10:52:16 AM by udubdawg »

Offline thomasbarnes

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Re: American Brown Style Guidelines
« Reply #27 on: February 27, 2012, 07:25:12 PM »
I think Americans are taking hops to a whole new level.  To me, beer is and should be a malt-based beverage.

I think that this is because American malts tend to be drier and "breadier" than continental malts. Also, most American beer drinkers are coming to craft beer having first experienced thin-bodied, effervescent, rather dry light lagers. Lots of hops on top of relatively low malt flavor is less of a transition than chewy, sweet, multi-layered malt character. Also, to be honest, a sweetish, malt-forward style beer isn't something you want to drink as a "lawnmower beer" on a hot day, and for most of the U.S. it gets damned hot for much of the year.

Even so, I don't get the American love affair with citrusy and piney hops. I go for the English and Noble types myself.

Even though the ABA guidelines say as much, many judges just see "American" in the name and assume that means that the beer should taste like a West Coast double IPA. That's wrong and it's lazy judging. Instead, it's more about the yeast and malt character and the balance of malt to hops.

But, as Anthony said, if you're brewing for competition, you want to make a beer which the average judge will recognize as being distinctly American. Also, typically ABA tend to get judged last in the American Ale category. That means that many judges will be mentally comparing ABA to American Pale Ales whether they realized it or not.

In a world with more perfect BJCP style guidelines, APA would be its own category given its popularity. ABA and American Amber would be off in their own little niche, perhaps combined with the English Brown Ales.

Offline mabrungard

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Re: American Brown Style Guidelines
« Reply #28 on: February 28, 2012, 07:45:42 AM »
We just had the discussion of where ABAs should be judged in the flight of American Ales in our last Central Indiana Alliance (CIA) of Beer Judges meeting.  We came to the conclusion that ABA should be judged first.  They are typically less aggressively hopped and the roast level is typically insignificant.  In comparison to the hopping levels in American Pales, Ambers, and IPAs, they are more likely to be LESS indelible and leave the palate more available for further tasting.

It is fully understandable why a judge would assume that an American Brown Ale should have the hop character that is REQUIRED of every other American Ale style.  The allowance for that character to not be present in the style guidelines is an anachronism.  In my opinion, that allowance spreads this style too far and this suggests that another style division may need to be considered for hoppy brown ales that do not present American hop character.   Its clear that a hoppy brown ale is not going to fit in one of the English Brown categories and another style is needed.  Since that beer would not coordinate with the hallmark character of the American Ale category, it seems to me that this style could fall in the English Brown Ale category.  Brown Bitter or some other name comes to mind.
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Offline jmcamerlengo

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Re: American Brown Style Guidelines
« Reply #29 on: February 28, 2012, 08:36:20 AM »
We just had the discussion of where ABAs should be judged in the flight of American Ales in our last Central Indiana Alliance (CIA) of Beer Judges meeting.  We came to the conclusion that ABA should be judged first.  They are typically less aggressively hopped and the roast level is typically insignificant.  In comparison to the hopping levels in American Pales, Ambers, and IPAs, they are more likely to be LESS indelible and leave the palate more available for further tasting.

It is fully understandable why a judge would assume that an American Brown Ale should have the hop character that is REQUIRED of every other American Ale style.  The allowance for that character to not be present in the style guidelines is an anachronism.  In my opinion, that allowance spreads this style too far and this suggests that another style division may need to be considered for hoppy brown ales that do not present American hop character.   Its clear that a hoppy brown ale is not going to fit in one of the English Brown categories and another style is needed.  Since that beer would not coordinate with the hallmark character of the American Ale category, it seems to me that this style could fall in the English Brown Ale category.  Brown Bitter or some other name comes to mind.

I agree COMPLETELY.
Jason
-Head Brewer, Brewtus Brewers in the Shenango Valley. Hopefully opening a brewpub/nano brewery in the next couple years.