Friday, 13 February 2009

Not true to style

I'd been waiting for this. It's a major reason why I monitor the Ratebeer reviews of my two Whitbread recreations. And someone finally said it ". . not quite to style . .". Whitbread SSS was the beer in question.

Not to style. What on earth does that mean in the context of a recreation of an historic brew? That Whitbread weren't brewing stylistically correct Stouts in 1914? Or that in 1914 they weren't brewing a Stout according to 2009 style guidelines? Either way, it's a ludicrous way to judge a beer.

In 1914, Whitbread were by definition brewing to style. Being one of the large London Porter brewers, their beers had helped to define the style in the first place. SSS is a typical Triple Stout from before WW I. I should know. I've looked at plenty in brewing records. So by the standards of its day, it's definitely to style.

Expecting a beer originally brewed nearly 100 years ago to fit a modern specification is just crazy. How on earth could they guess how a small bunch of fanatics would define Stout a century later? Mystic Mogg move over.

And exactly which style isn't it true to? Ratebeer classifies it as an Imperial Stout. But that's not what it was. It was a Triple Stout. That lies between a Double Stout and an Imperial Stout, in terms of strength. Amazingly, given the mad proliferation of styles in the last 10 years, Triple Stout isn't recognised by either the BJCP, Ratebeer or BeerAdvocate.

Eventually, I knew a reviewer would say "not true to style". It gave me a cheap laugh. I hope it tickles your ribs, too.


The Beer Nut said...

Admit it, Ron: this commissioning beers thing was just a means of entrapping the homebrew twats, wasn't it?

Ron Pattinson said...

Beer Nut, I'm not that tricky. I just wanted pretend I was back in the past.

I'll be interested to see how Ratebeer classifies Whitbread KKK.

Kristen England said...

Thats pretty funny.

As for the KKK, Im sure ratebeer will say, 'Most racist beer on the planet'.


Actually, I'm sure by now they have someone poaching to see what to call it. Its funny they wouldn't ask the person that brewed it or came up with the recipe!

Anonymous said...

Hey, i know it's maybe not the place for this, but Kristen England, can you contact me via email?

Thanks you very much!

Ron Pattinson said...

This isn't a telephone exchange. Not sure what it is, but it definitely isn't a telephone exchange. Or a cabbage.

Just thought I'd let you know that.

Anonymous said...

Somebody on ratebeer who knows something about beer? Pffff. That'll be the day. They mostly know about points for writing 30 syllables or less, and watching for heads-up on the latest rare tick.

Anonymous said...

You have probably just added to the style proliferation!

Very amusing post.

Ron Pattinson said...

I'm reluctant to call anyone out on geekiness. Stonethrowing greenhouse inhabitant sort of thing.

Rob Sterowski said...

I wonder if this chap even knows who Whitbread were.

Ron Pattinson said...

Barm, to be fair, it doesn't say it the label that the original was a Whitbread beer. It DOES say it's recipe from 1914 London, though.

Anonymous said...

Ok Ok,

Sorry about that Ron. I just don't know how to contact him, but it's your blog, so no problem.

Concerning the beer, I have a brewer's question:

1-When you "recreate" such a beer, what type of yeast do you use? Do you have access to special strains?

2-Also, what about the ancients types of malts like the bloody-i-would-like-to-have-this-one Brown Malt? I know that the modern ones are a bit different.


Anonymous said...

Disappointing that this dork gets to try this beer and I don't. I live in the wrong spot. Poor, pathetic me. Poorer, pathetic-er him, to be fair, I suppose.

Matt said...

I suggest that anyone in your proposed Edwardian pub who says 'hmm, not quite to style' be immediately barred for life.

Ron Pattinson said...

ealusceop, don't worry, I'm not angry. The bloke enjoyed the beer, so I don't really have anything to complain about.

1. The Whitbread beers were fermented with Whitbread yeast. Can't really ask for better than that.

2. The production method of brown malt has changed a couple of times over the centuries. I doubt that it would be possible to get a malt 100% the same as pre-1900 brown malt. The brown malt we used was from Murphy of Nottingham:

Pivní Filosof said...

I've always wondered what those people that critisise a beer for being "not true to the style" would do if you gave them the same beer "blind". Would the conversation go a bit like this?:
A: So how do you like it?
B: WOW! This beer is fantastic! Best I've had in ages. What is it?
A: It's a/an (insert style here)
B: Hmm...! I've changed my mind. It's not true to the style, it's crap now....

Joe said...

I think in my next bad Ratebeer review I'm going to put, "Not true to my mood."

Anonymous said...

Ron, Great beer, the only problem is I bought one and it is a 5 hour drive to find another! Diffently one I will keep in the cellar.