What did I notice on my return? That others had been writing about the insane proliferations of made-up beer styles. Good to know I'm not the only one wondering where it will all stop. Alan at A Good Beer Blog got me pointed in the right direction with his "Being a Hound Without any Sense of Style" post.
Jack Curtin touched upon the topic in a chat with Fritz Maytag.
Over at Yours for Good Fermentables Tom Cizauskas wrote a paragraph with which I wholeheartedly concur:
"Styles, now, at least in the US, seem to be determined by formalistic minutiae, and, once in place, fiercely defended by the killer phrase "not to style"."A post called "What is the purpose of beer styles?" on Beervana answered the question in its title thus:
"The purpose of having them at all is to bring coherence to a vast diversity of beers--not to merely create a name for every single variation."I spend a lot of time looking brewing logs, old adverts and the like. The information I collect from them is packed into spreadsheets. It's given me a lot of material to analyse. The more I look, the fewer styles I find. I'm left with just a handful.
Removing variations based on differing strengths or the addition of a special ingredient, this is all that remains:
You could add Lager to that, but I was talking in terms of indigenous styles.
Or maybe I should stop swimming against the tide and start campaigning for the recognition of some new styles of my own. Where to start? AK, perhaps. Followed by AKA, XK, XLK, Luncheon Ale, Family Ale, Intermediate Ale. Why on earth hasn't the Brewers Association picked up on these yet?