...guidelines are generally accepted by all of us in the brewing industry ( homebrewers alike ), for without them where would we be ? what could we compare them to ?
I guess we're straying into a separate topic (I didn't mean to hijack the thread) , but in any case...You make a good point
, and I should clarify that I believe very broad
guidelines (perhaps a better term would be "style descriptions") are ok and yes, needed, to foster a common language. Something more along the lines of the AHA's original and by far more sensible 'styles' list published 20+ years ago.
But as you also suggest, brewing is an art. As such, the only guidelines a brewer needs (outside of specific parameters for amateur competition) are a sense of history, his/her own artistic sense, and his/her own palate.
So to bring it back 'round closer to original topic... since research indicates that Guinness originally likely did not even use roasted unmalted barley until well into the 20th century, would the original brew lose points in a stout competition? Or, to use a term that many beer lovers have come to loathe, would it be "not to style"? (even typing the dreaded phrase makes me cringe)