Let the Hating Begin

People like Martyn Cornell and Ron Pattinson make my life difficult, what with their constant carping about how the conventional view of beer style is actually rooted in mythology and things like mild and porter are divorced from their historically accurate origins. Nonetheless, I admire them greatly for their work and try my best to help them spread the truth about beer styles.

(Really, they’re both great guys and true scholars and we should all be grateful for the exhaustive research they do.)

The latest styles to fall prey to one of their keyboards are barley wine and old ale, terms which in a recent post Martyn observes are, if not quite utterly meaningless, then damn close to it. As usual, he has extensive factual support for his position and it is all quite fascinating.

Still, there are those ardent beer types who will refuse to accept fact that flies in the face of the modern stylistic gospel, so as the title of this post suggests, let the hating begin. But at least read Martyn’s post first. And while you’re at it, buy his book, too!

3 Replies to “Let the Hating Begin”

  1. The problem with looking to English history for reference is that past usage often has very little to do with the way we use style names today. Many modern English barleywines at <7-8% would be called an 'English Strong' if brewed in North America. Meanwhile the line between barleywine and double IPA depends on how hoppy it is, but mostly what the brewer feels like calling it.

    If you serve me an old ale today it tells me only to be open to something a bit… different.

  2. Well, th epoint many people miss about Ron and MArtyn’s research, is that they above all ram one point home : beer styles vary, they evolve over time, they are subjected to fashions and the whims of brewers when it comes to naming them, and therefore too static a vision, as can be witnessed from some people taking things such as BJCP guidelines too literally, is doomed to fail.
    I’m more and more into explaining beer styles as families of denominations that may roughly tell the consumer what to expect in the bottle when reading the label.

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