There really isn’t anything that interesting this morning in the world of beer. Georgia is about to update its beer laws to let breweries sell beer to actual people. Other than that, the most interesting thing to happen last night happened 5 or 10 minutes after I went to bed.
I spent all day watching the Daytona 500 which was extra-long because rule changes had the field bunched together for the duration of the race which resulted in fun driving and lots of wrecks. Then the end of the Oscars happened. This tick-tock of what happened in the Washington Post is as good a way to figure out how everything went wrong.
I have a problem applying objective standards to a completely subjective competition. Who is to say whether Casey Affleck’s performance is better than Denzel Washington’s or that Moonlight is better the La La Land? Anyone can tell you which they like better, but who can honestly say one is objectively better than the other?
The question is often asked, “Do styles matter?” I would answer yes, but maybe not for the reasons you would think. The style guidelines are the starting point. They are the outline of the screenplay. It is what you do with that outline that makes brewing a creative endeavor. You need style guidelines to point you in the right direction and to know what you are rebelling against.
That is why reviewing and critiquing beer is a different endeavor than critiquing a movie. You can look at a beer and know what color range it should be in for its style. You can smell it and know what aromas to expect from a style. Just as you can with taste. That also provides the difference between judging for competition and saying whether you like a beer.
I like this new kind of beer called a blonde stout. They are usually a blonde or pale ale infused with coffee. They cannot be called a stout because they have none of the color characteristics of a stout because they don’t use the correct malt. Are they a blonde? Maybe, but the aroma and flavor profiles don’t fit either. The ones I’ve had so far, Wooden Robot’s Good Morning Vietnam and Newgrass’s Lily Bean, are good beers. I love drinking them. However, I don’t know how I would judge them in a competition because they don’t meet the guidelines for either blondes or stouts.
This is the beauty of beer. Styles and guidelines do matter. To win awards, as a brewer, you need to show the mastery of your craft. The ability to make a saison that hits all the benchmarks while having that intangible thing that makes you smile as you drink it is a hard, hard thing to do. It is also just as important to create experimental beers that make people go, “I like that.” That is just as hard and just as impressive.