After much angst and several attacks of Life, I have preliminary data on this project.
My apologies for the long delay in getting results out.
I received data from 27 competitions (23 unique competitions), scattered across the U.S. and Canada, which were mostly held in Spring or early Summer of 2011, although some folks gave me competition info for competitions as far back as 2008.
Competition location seems to be reasonably representative of BJCP contest activity as a whole, although I didn't get any data from competitions held in the Southwest (e.g., Texas or Arizona) or Southern California.
Since I don't have the competition schedule from the period under review, I can't say what percentage of contest organizers responded, nor whether my data samples are truly representative. (The BJCP Competition schedule has a No Robots policy, so cached versions of the page aren't available on Archive.org or Google.)
Number of entries ranged from ~100 entries on the low end, to ~800 entries on the high end.
Total number of entries is unknown because some contest organizers failed to give me total number of entries, but the total number is at least 6,000
There were a total of 276 entries in the Belgian Specialty (16E) and 587 entries in Specialty Beer Category, for a total of 864 items.
Within the sample, up to 123 entries were mis-categorized (i.e., base style defined and ingredients listed which would throw the beer in to categories 20-22 rather than 16E or 23A), about 16% of the total. This leaves about 741 entries which truly fall into Specialty or Belgian Specialty.
Within the properly sorted entries, identifiable new styles are as follows:
American Sour 34* 4.59%
Belgian Artisanal Amber Ale 5 0.67%
Belgian Artisanal Dark Ale 9 1%
Belgian IPA 28 3.78%
Belgian Singel 4 0.54%
Belgian Sour 4* 0.54%
Biere de Noel 6 0.6%
Black IPA/Strong Black IPA 104 14.04%
Brown IPA/Strong Brown IPA 22 2.97%
Dark Saison 7 0.94%
Gose 5 0.67%
Heather/Gruit Beer 9 1.21%
Orval Clone 10 1.35%
Rye Beer, Other 8 1.08%
Rye IPA 32 4.32%
Sticke Alt 3 0.40%
Strong Amber Ale 11 1.48%
Strong Brown Ale 4 0.54%
Strong Hefeweizen 1 0.13%
Strong Pilsner 8 1.08%
Strong Robust Porter 7 0.94%
Strong Saison/Strong Dark Saison 20 2.70%
Strong Witbier 4 0.54%
Wheat Wine/Strong Wheat Beer 10 1.35%
*This number could be much higher because many brett or sour beers declare a base style and/or other ingredients, so I haven't been able to pull out the exact number yet because of the way my data is formatted.
** This number could be much higher because many rye beers declare a base style and/or other ingredients.
Slicing things up a bit more broadly, it appears that:
IPA variants (including Strong Saison) respresent about 27% of all Belgian Specialty and Specialty beers.
Strong variants of existing styles account for about 10% of all Belgian Specialty and Specialty beers.
Sour beers (including Brett beers) account for at least 5% of all Belgian Specialty and Specialty beers, and possibly more.
Rye beers account for at least 5% of all Belgian Specialty and Specialty beers, and possibly more.
*Suggestions for the BCJCP Style Committee*
Based on preliminary number crunching, it seems logical to add more IPA sub-styles to the BJCP guidelines. At the very least Black IPA should be included as a new sub-style, but thought should be given to at least discussing Rye IPA, Brown/Red IPA (AKA Texas Brown Ale) and Belgian IPA as other IPA variants. Arguably, these new styles should be put in a new category called "Specialty IPA" so they don't compete directly with the already popular IPA category.
A weaker case could be made for adding an "Open Strong Ale" category which would subsume strong variants of other beer styles. This could be a sub-style of Category 23.
A weak case could be made for adding an "Open Sour Ale" category which would cover all manner of brett beers, sour beers and other wild fermented creations which don't fall into Category 17 or other categories. This could also be a new sub-style within Category 23.
A weak case could also be made be made for adding an "Unusual Grains" category (again possibly to Category 23) which would cover beers which are out of style due to use of grains such as rye, buckwheat, oats or wheat.
Finally, while it isn't listed in the stats, it might also make sense to have an "Unusual Sugars" category (possibly within Category 23) which would cover beer which are out of style due to use of unusual sugars such as honey, molasses, agave or lactose. I have sorted beers listing these ingredients yet, but there seem to be a number of them.
*Status of the Project*
At least on the surface, the data seems to be clearer and more complete than I'd hoped. Still, I'd hoped to have the project run longer and capture more data (especially data for the NHC first round competitions, which was promised to me, but never delivered). In retrospect, it was also a mistake to not ask for ALL entry data. Had I done so, I could have compared percentage of entries in any particular sub-style to the overall total, and I could have also looked at trends within categories 20-22 and 24-29.
I've been archiving the competition calendar since January 1st with the intention of restarting the project. The fact that I'm a National judge now might give me a itty tiny bit more influence in getting competition organizers to cough up the data. Still, I'd love it if I could work with a group, preferably led by a GM judge. It would also be great if I got official sanction from the Powers-that-Be within the BJCP organization to continue or expand the project.
In addition to working with a group, it would also be helpful if I could get archived versions of the BJCP competition web page, and if my request for data went out as part of the official information when competition organizers register their competitions. At the very least, it will keep my ISP from thinking I'm a spammer!
Raw data is available as an Excel spreadsheet. Send me a PM if you're interested.