Whilst trawling through the internet for something of interest (funny how being in work can be so like being out of work) I noticed a call for beer styles across Europe to be defined.
The Publican reports that the European Beer Consumers Union (EBCU - an international organisation CAMRA belongs to) has called for clearly defined beer styles to be used in judging beer competitions. Their chairman said: “Wine drinkers would not be tricked into believing that a Riesling was a Chablis, or a Burgundy a Rioja, so why should beer drinkers have the wool pulled over their eyes by clever marketing? What we are calling for is consistency and clarity for the beer drinker.”
Now as a beer drinker I do find it helpful if I have some idea what a beer will be like before I buy it but I can't say I'm taken with this idea. I know different categories are needed for competitions but trying to pin down something as continuously variable as beer just doesn't work.
Over in the US the Beer Judge Certification Program lays down a range of strict style parameters for a wide range of beers. But even a cursory look by a beer nerd like myself shows it's riddled with errors (my particular favourite is their claim that Goose Island IPA is an English style IPA).
If the EBCU are worried about beer drinkers being mislead about the beer they're drinking why don't they campaign for the ridiculous exemption alcoholic beverages have from listing ingredients to be removed? If I could see what makes up the beer I'm drinking along with the ABV I'd have a much better idea of what I'm drinking. And as CAMRA already certify some beers as 'real ale in a bottle' why don't they make a start by insisting more information is provided on the beer lable apart from the fact it contains yeast. If they went even further and asked for the types of malt and hops used to be listed (as Mikkeller do already) it would be even better.