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The Missing BJCP Styles, part 4: (almost) Lost American Ales

At long last, another issue of the Missing BJCP Styles series. Last time we looked at some Australian Lagers.  This time we look at two of the several “almost” lost styles of American Ale.  The American Stock Ale and the Kentucky Common Beer. As always, these descriptions are a work in progress. If you have any additional information on these styles, please post a comment (with references) and I’ll incorporate it into the style description.

As information on these two styles is so difficult to come by, and commercial examples are extremely rare to non-existent, this post is a bit more of a work in progress than some of the previous “Missing Styles” posts. However, the information below should be enough to formulate your own recipe. So, with that in mind…


AMERICAN STOCK ALE

Aroma: Distinctive hop aroma, slight malt fruitiness. May smell a hint of sourness due to lactic acid.

Appearance: Pale to amber in color. Can be slightly cloudy.

Flavor: Quite bitter, and can be somewhat tart from lactic acid. Strong hop flavor. Finishes fairly dry.

Mouthfeel: (more info needed)

Overall Impression: (more info needed)

Comments: Traditional mash schedule: start at 149-151°F for 15 to 30 minutes, then raise the temperature to 154°F for 1 hour. A long secondary fermentation is traditional; 3-6 months. Traditional boil time is often 2 hours with a hop schedule of: 1/3 of hops added at start of boil, another 1/3 added an hour into the boil and the last 1/3 10 minutes before flame out. If sugar is used, it is added towards the end of the boil. American Stock Ales are either similar to or synonymous with Imperial Pale Ales.

Ingredients: Six-row malted barley with up to 25% sugar. American hop varieties Cluster, Northern Brewer and US grown Goldings. American ale yeast, at 68-70°F (20-21.1°C); WYeast 1056 or 1272 would both be good choices. Dry hop with up to 2.5 ounces (71 g) of hops per 5 gallons. Adding a small amount of lactic acid may be appropriate.

Vital Statistics:
OG:  1.066 – 1.079 (even up to 1.100? Though in 1896, average was 1.067)
IBUs:  70 – 100
FG: 1.013 – 1.016
SRM: 3 – 15
ABV: 5.5 – 7.9+%

Commercial Examples (tentative): Rogue Imperial IPA, Three Floyds Dreadnuaght IPA (9.5% abv).

References: “Radical Brewing” by Mosher, “American Handy-book of the Brewing, Malting and Auxiliary Trades” by Wahl and Henius


KENTUCKY COMMON BEER

Aroma: (more info needed)

Appearance: Dark amber to almost black in color, comparable to a Bavarian dunkel.

Flavor: Pronounced malt flavor, slightly sweet, mild.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, high carbonation.

Overall Impression: (more info needed)

Comments: Ferment at 68-70°F. Consumed Young. Highly Carbonated.

Ingredients: Pale malt, 25-30% corn or flaked maize, and 1-2% caramel or black malts for color (or some caramel coloring). American hop varieties, such as Cluster or Northern Brewer. American Ale, California Common or a London Ale yeast. Should be pitched with a very small amount (2% of yeast) lactobacillus – or add a very small amount of lactic acid.

Vital Statistics:
OG:  1.044 – 1.048
IBUs:  20 – 30
FG: 1.009 – 1.013
SRM: 18 – 27
ABV: 4.0 – 5.0%

Commercial Examples: Mosher (see references) reports that the Bluegrass Brewing Co. in Louisville, KT has brewed a Kentucky Common in recent years.

References: http://www.lagersclub.com/louhistory.htm, “Radical Brewing” by Mosher, “American Handy-book of the Brewing, Malting and Auxiliary Trades” by Wahl and Henius

Other Missing Styles to be covered in coming articles:
Kellerbier, Gose, Wiess, Broyhan, Graetzebier, Honey Beers (not Braggots), Classic American Cream Ale, American Stock Ale, Czech Dark Lager, English Pale Mild, Scottish 90/-, English Strong Ale, Non-alcoholic “Beer”, Malt Liquor, Imperial/Double Red Ale, Imperial/Double Brown Ale, Imperial Lager, Imperial Pilsner, Imperial Porter, Rye IPA, Dark American Wheat/Rye, Dry Beer, Pennsylvania Swankey.

The Missing BJCP Styles, part 3: the Australian Lagers

We recently looked at some unique Australian Ales not found in the BJCP Style Guidelines. In this third installment of The Missing BJCP Styles series we’ll be focusing on a couple Australian Lagers: Australian Lager and Premium Australian Lager.

These two styles are very similar to their American counterparts: Standard and Premium American Lagers, though the Standard Australian Lager’s IBU range is slightly greater than that or Standard American Lager. Other contrasts would probably show up in choices for yeast and especially hops. Seeking out good Australian malt is desirable, of if you’re doing extract brewing, use Coopers’ extracts.

If you’re setting out to brew an Australian lager, you’ll probably want to use Pride of Ringwood hops for bittering and flavor/aroma; though if you can’t find them, Galena or Cluster are said to make acceptable substitutes. There are no readily available Australian Lager yeasts (in the USA) that I know of, but due to their strong similarity to American Lagers either White Labs’ WLP840 American Lager or Wyeast 2035 – American Lager yeasts would be appropriate.


AUSTRALIAN LAGER

Appearance: Very pale straw to pale gold colour. White head. Carbonation medium to high. Clarity good to
excellent.

Aroma: Little to no malt aroma. Hop aroma may range from low to none and may be flowery. Slight fruity
aromas from yeast and hop varieties used may exist. No diacetyl.

Flavour: Crisp and dry flavour with some low levels of sweetness. Hop flavour may range from low to medium. Hop bitterness low to medium. Balance can vary from slightly malty to slightly bitter, but is usually close to even. No diacetyl. No fruitiness. Finish tending dry.

Mouthfeel: Low to low medium. Well carbonated. Slight carbonic bite on tongue is acceptable.
Overall Impression: Light, refreshing and thirst quenching.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1040-1050
FG: 1004-1010
IBU: 10-20
ABV: 4.2-5.1%

Commercial Examples: Fosters Lager, Carlton Draught, XXXX, and Tooheys New.


PREMIUM AUSTRALIAN LAGER

Appearance: Straw to pale gold. Bright, with a reasonable head. Darker than common Australian lagers, due to the use of less adjuncts.

Aroma: A mild, malt aroma, which may be supported by low to moderate, and even possibly noble, hop notes. Estery fruitiness, diacetyl, and phenolic or yeasty notes should be absent.

Flavour: Low to moderate mild malt flavour may be supported by low to moderate hop flavours. Bitterness can range from low-medium (lagers) to high-medium (pilsners), resulting in a neutral to slightly bitter malt/bitterness balance. Medium to medium-high carbonation. Crisp and dry. Any fruity flavours, phenolics, yeasty flavours, diacetyl, astringency or harshness, should be penalized.

Mouthfeel: Light to light-medium.

Overall Impression: A clean, crisp lager, designed basically for quaffing, but containing more interest and more malt and hop character than the typical Australian session lagers.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1045-1055
FG: 1008-1012
IBU: 15-25
ABV: 4.7-6.0%

Commercial Examples: Malt Shovel Pilsner, Boags Premium Lager.


Special thanks to Tony Wheeler and all those at the AABC for assisting me, directly and indirectly, with putting the Australian styles together.

Note: I was going to include Australian Bitter Lager here, but the Australian version of the BJCP, the AABC, recently removed it from their style guide.

Other Missing Styles to Be Covered Soon:
Kellerbier, Gose, Wiess, Honey Beers (not Braggots), Classic American Cream Ale, Czech Dark Lager, English Pale Mild, Scottish 90/- (?), American Stock Ale, English Strong Ale, Non-alcoholic “Beer”, Malt Liquor, Imperial/Double Red Ale, Imperial/Double Brown Ale, Imperial Lager, Imperial Pilsner, Imperial Porter, Rye IPA, Dark American Wheat/Rye.

The Missing BJCP Styles, part 2: Going Down Under with Australian Ales

(updated 27 Sept. 2008 with latest info for Australian Pale Ale)

Previously, we covered some lesser known German Alts. In this second installment of The Missing BJCP Styles, we’ll be going Down Under to investigate some beloved Australian beers. First we’ll look at Australian Pale Ale, also known as Australian Sparkling Ale, a style that has been kept alive by Cooper’s – though I hear some other examples of this style are popping up at brewpubs across Australia. After the Australian Pale/Sparkling Ale, we’ll venture into Australian Dark Ale and finally end with Australian Wheat Beer.

I must note that this information came (almost) straight out of the latest draft version of the “2008 Australian Amateur Brewing Championship Style Guidelines“. So a big thanks to the folks at the AABC and the contributors that helped to put these guidelines together. I say “almost” above because I did make one edit that I felt needed, which I will denote below with italics.

One of the main distinctions of Australian beers in general is the use of unique Australian hops and yeast strains. So, if you’re making any of the below, make sure you get the appropriate hops and yeast. White Labs’ WLP009 Australian Ale is a good choice for yeast, though a nice Burton yeast such as WLP023 would also work well. Pride of Ringwood will probably be your hop of choice for bittering and flavor/aroma, though Galena or Cluster make ok hop substitutes.

Note that the descriptions below are in flux, and the AABC will be revising these later this year. More Specifically, Australian Pale will probably have a big revision, the Dark Ale will probably be merged with Mild Ale and the Wheat ale will move into Kristallweizen. If and when these things occur, I’ll edit this post to reflect any changes made. (Some edits made, as noted at top. So far the Dark and Wheat ales retain their own categories.)

Next time, I’ll be continuing with Australia – posting about a few Australian Lagers: Australian Lager, Australian Bitter, and Premium Australian Lager.


AUSTRALIAN PALE ALE
or aka “Australian Sparkling Ale”

Appearance: Best examples will display good clarity, gold to amber colour, persistent snow white head, supported by brisk carbonation from bottle conditioning.

Aroma: Fruity yeast-derived aromas most prominent, with light, sweet pale malt underneath. Hop aroma low to none. No diacetyl.

Flavour: Medium to high fruitiness, often pear-like. Supported by light, bready pale malt flavour. Caramel malt flavours out of style. Banana ester from high fermentation temperature may be noticed, but should not dominate. A mild but distinctive peppery, herbaceous flavour from Pride of Ringwood hops is desirable. Medium to high bitterness – may be higher in historical versions, but not crude or harsh. Long dry finish from extremely high attenuation, with a balanced fruity aftertaste.

Body & Mouthfeel: Light to medium-light body – any impression of palate fullness from residual dextrins should be penalized. Clean, crisp mouthfeel may be enhanced by spritzy carbonation.

Overall Impression: A lively, fruity Pale Ale with surprising lightness of body, solid bitterness, and a refreshing dry finish well suited to a hot climate. Can be thought of as a “light” Burton IPA without the dry-hopping. Relies on yeast character to offset diminished late hop expression – bland examples lacking fruitiness should be considered out of style.

Comments: Historical style broadly defined by Coopers ales as the last surviving examples: “Coopers ales, all heavily sedimented and very fruity, are Australian classics” – Michael Jackson. Note: Colonial brewers strived for pale beer clarity to match imports – entries will be poured quietly without rousing sediment.

History: Basic version of Burton pale ale produced throughout the early colonies, as British settlers established the first Australian breweries in the mid-19th century. Developed to compete with expensive Burton imports – Bass, Allsopp, Ind Coope IPA, using Burton yeast strains of the day, with domestic barley and hops and available native water. Inferior colonial malt often led to inclusion of sugar. Bottled for local sale, not dry-hopped and aged for export, Australian pale ales were prevalent by late century, with 350 breweries operating by 1890. Commonly relabelled Sparkling Ale (UK term coined for present-use domestic pale ale). Superseded by pale lager during early 20th century, popularized by German imports, and favoured by advent of refrigeration, enabling year round production and consistent quality. Ale brewing grew obsolete and a lager-based duopoly emerged – by 1985 only family owned Coopers brewery remained independent. Established 1862 in Adelaide SA, successive generations preserved Coopers flagship Sparkling Ale using traditional brewing methods, including open fermentation and maturation in oak casks. Removal to modern plant in 2001 improved clarity, maintaining original recipe: all-malt, Burton yeast, Australian hops, absent late hopping, bottle conditioning. A lighter version, brewed periodically since 1880’s, was re-launched in 1988 as Coopers first ever draught ale, naturally conditioned in keg. Also world’s largest homebrew supplier, Coopers pioneered kit-beer products soon after legalization in 1973.

Ingredients: Lightly kilned Australian 2-row pale malt, lager varieties typical. Judicious use of crystal malt for colour adjustment. Small proportion of wheat may assist head retention. No adjuncts, cane sugar for priming only. Australian hops, esp. Pride of Ringwood. Burton yeast, eg. Coopers, Worthingtons. Multiple strains common historically (none available commercially, must be cultured from bottle sediment) Variable water profile – low carbonate, moderate sulphate preferred.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1035-1048
FG: 1003-1005
IBU: 30-45
ABV:4.5-6.0%

Commercial Examples: Coopers Sparkling Ale (5.8% ABV), Coopers Original Pale Ale (4.5% ABV)


AUSTRALIAN DARK ALE

Appearance: Mid-brown to dark brown, sometimes almost black and opaque. Low to medium carbonation. Excessive carbonation or flatness should be penalized.

Aroma: Mild malt aroma, with low to moderate fruitiness and toasty or light roasty notes. No to low hop aroma, caramel or diacetyl. Any yeasty notes or phenolics should be penalized, as should any excessive fruitiness or sweet caramel characters. Slight chocolate is acceptable. Clean aroma is essential.

Flavour: Mild maltiness with no hop flavour or diacety. Low to moderate fruitiness, light roastiness can be evident. Dry maltiness on the finish. Clean and quaffable. Low to medium carbonation. Any phenolics, diacetyl, yeasty flavours, astringency, harshness, or noticeable sweetness or alcohol, should be penalized.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body.  Low to medium carbonation.

Overall Impression: A dry, mildly flavoured session beer. Malt evident but evenly balanced by hop bitterness.

Ingredients: Pale and chocolate malt, clean bittering hop such as Pride of Ringwood.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1040-1050
FG: 1010-1016
IBU: 15-25
ABV:4.5-5.3%

Commercial Examples: Toohey’s Old Ale


AUSTRALIAN WHEAT BEER

Appearance: Pale straw to light gold. Excellent clarity. Large creamy head with excellent head retention. Generally very pale. High carbonation and protein content contribute to a thick creamy head.

Aroma: Wheat malt aroma complemented by hints of clove, vanilla and banana. Little or no hop aroma. Wheat malt aroma should dominate with underlying spicy clove-like phenols and fruity (banana) esters complementing. Hop aroma, if present, should be subtle.

Flavour: Mild, slightly sweet beer with low hop bitterness and little to no hop flavour. Wheat malt flavours should dominate providing a slightly sweet finish to the beer. Hop bitterness should be low and hop flavour low to undistinguishable. Only noble hops should be present.

Mouthfeel: Light.

Overall Impression: A mildly flavoured, malt dominated, session beer with excellent head retention.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1040-1050
FG: 1006-1010
IBU: 10-15
ABV: 4.2-5.1%

Commercial Examples: Redback.


Other Missing Styles to Be Covered Soon:
Kellerbier, Gose, Wiess, Honey Beers (not Braggots), Classic American Cream Ale, Czech Dark Lager, English Pale Mild, Scottish 90/-, American Stock Ale, English Strong Ale, Non-alcoholic “Beer”, Malt Liquor, Imperial/Double Red Ale, Imperial/Double Brown Ale, Imperial Lager, Imperial Pilsner, Imperial Porter, Rye IPA, Dark American Wheat/Rye.

The Missing BJCP Styles, part 1: The Other Alts

In February of this year, the Beer Judges Certification Program (BJCP) updated their beer style guidelines.  Unfortunately, despite all the great updates they made, they didn’t add any new beer styles to the list.  So, I decided to chase down a few of the missing styles myself and create some basic style profiles.

My list is by no means exhaustive, but just a few of the beers, that to me, are the most obvious of the missing styles in the BJCP style guide.  Since there are still, quite a few of these missing beer styles in my list, I’ll break my post up into several installments, each covering a few of the “missing” styles.

Some of these styles even get brief mentions in the BJCP Style Guide as part of another similar or contrasting style.  Others are mentioned in BJCP Style Category 23A which is purposely labeled a “catch-all” category of beers that don’t have their own category.

The following style guides won’t be thorough style descriptions since, being relatively obscure styles of beer, data on these is hard to come by.  However, in the desire to make these (and futures posts) as complete as possible, I’ll update these posts indefinitely as I’m able to collect more information.

In trying to keep a theme here, I will start with the missing German beer stlyes, and Part 1 will focus specifically on two of the missing German beer styles: Sticke Alt, and Münster Alt.


STICKE ALT
also called “latzenbier”

Aroma: Malty, fresh, flowery.  Big noble hop aroma.

Appearance: Deep gold to dark-copper in color. Pours with a long lasting white head.

Flavor: Big malt and hops.

Mouthfeel: Malty yet crisp.

Overall Impression: Well balanced, with a light hoppy nose, middle maltiness and a dry finish.

Comments: A darker, stronger and hoppier version of the Düsseldorf Alt.  “Sticke” is sometimes said  to mean secret in the local dialect, though Uerige states that the term comes from “stickum”, the local dialect term for “whispering”, based on the story that that when tasting the strong beer, the customers would whisper to each other that the brewmaster must have been a little too generous when weighing out the ingredients. These beers are made seasonally to surprise the customers.  They are often brewed just once or twice a year and within a few days of tapping the kegs are gone. Sticke Alts are often dry-hopped in the conditioning tank for four to six weeks. Another name for these specialty Alt beers is “latzenbier” which means “slab beer”. Uerige also brews a Doppelsticke at 8.5% that is soley exported to the United States.

Ingredients: Two-row Pilsner malt, Munich malt, Caramel Malt and Black Malt.  Spalt hops are preferred in Düsseldorf, but Hallertauer Mittelfrüh, Mt. Hood and Perle can also be used for bittering and flavor hops, while Tettnanger will work as an aroma hop.

Vital Statistics:
OG:  1.053 – 1.066
IBUs:  35 – 60
FG: 1.010 – 1.014
SRM: 15 – 25
ABV: 5.2 – 6.5

Commercial Examples: Uerige sticke, Schumacher latzenbier, Schlüssel stike, Füchschen Weihnachtsbier

Real Stats
Füchschen Weihnachtsbier:  ABV: 5.2%
Uerige sticke: ABV: 6.5%
Schumacher latzenbier: ABV: 5.5%
Schlüssel stike: ABV: 6%


MÜNSTER ALT

Aroma: Pilsner malt, slightly sour, with a delicate noble hop nose.

Appearance: Pale, golden color.

Flavor: Excellent, herbaceous aroma, slightly sweet with a hint of sourness, delicate fruit-acid palate, and long dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light to medium body. Moderate to moderately high carbonation. Smooth mouthfeel.

Overall Impression:
?

Comments:
A regional Altbier that is brewerd in and around Münster, which is about 80 miles (128km) northwest of Düsseldorf.  Münster alt is typically lower in gravity and alcohol, slightly sour, and lighter in color than other Alts.

Ingredients: Pilsener malt, light caramel malts, can include Munich or Vienna malts, can contain a significant portion of wheat.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.044 -1.050
IBUs: 30 -45
FG: ?
SRM: 7 – 10
ABV: 4.3 – 5.1

Commercial Examples:
Pinkus Organic Münster Alt


Other Missing Styles to Be Covered Soon:
Kellerbier, Gose, Wiess, Honey Beers (not Braggots), Classic American Cream Ale, Czech Dark Lager, English Pale Mild, Scottish 90/-, American Stock Ale, English Strong Ale, Non-alcoholic “Beer”, Malt Liquor, Australian Sparkling Ale, Imperial/Double Red Ale, Imperial/Double Brown Ale, Imperial Lager, Imperial Pilsner,
Imperial Porter, Rye IPA, Dark American Wheat/Rye.

What is THAT doing in my fridge?!?!

So, I’ve been taking some spare time lately and converting the new updated 2008 Beer Judges Certification Program styles into XML format. Their last update was in 2004 and the guy that created the XML for the 2004 guidelines has either disappeared or doesn’t have time to update.

Terrible Beers in my FridgeSo….. I’ve taken up the effort to update the XML version of the guidelines for the 2008 version. It’s a whole lot of copying and pasting. I’m on category 7 now. I do a little bit each evening. I figure it’ll take a month or so. Seems like a lot? Just take a look at how extensive the 2008 BJCP guidelines are. You’ve got 23 categories, each category divided into 1 to (around) 6 styles of beer (or mead, etc). In pdf format, it’s 51 pages.

So, while I’m at it, I figured, well, I’m reading all these style guidelines, perhaps I should taste the beers too. I don’t plan to taste the beers in sync with my editing of the XML. I think that would be a tad on the dangerous side. It’ll take quite some time, but in the end, I’m sure I’ll be ready to take the BJCP exam!

My good friend Dean, and fellow BrewSession author has taken the exam and is a certified beer judge. So, I guess I’m playing catch-up!

Tonight I decided to go out an get the first beers, representing the first two styles in the BJCP guidelines. Here’s where problem #1 arises. The first two styles in the guidelines are: “Lite American Lager” and “Standard American Lager”. Probably my least favorite of all beer styles! But you gotta do what you gotta do (even if it means typing out phrases in terrible grammar).

So, take a look at my fridge in the above photograph. Now THAT is a scene that you will never EVER see again. I promise.

To represent the Lite American Lagers I purchased Amstel Light (yeah, it’s made in Holland, but it’s “style” is in this category), Miller Lite, and Bud Lite. Tonight I split a Miller Lite and Amstel Lite with my wife. She hated them. In fact, I was given a lecture for actually wasting money on such awful beer. Depending on your outlook, this sort of lecture from a wife can be a really bad thing, or a really good thing. I choose to see it as a very positive thing. A toast to wives with good taste everywhere!

To represent the Standard American Lagers, I bought: Pabst Blue Ribbon, Coors, and Miller High Life. Ouch, ouch ouch. Sometime later in the week, or more likely, on the weekend when I have help, I’ll sample these beers.

So, problem #2 arises in the fact that I was stupid enough to buy two bottles of each beer (note again, the photo). What was I thinking?!?!? Two bottles of Fullers ESB might be considered “not enough”, but 2 bottles of Coors? Damn, I wasn’t thinking. I must know SOMEONE who I can invite over for a “beer” this weekend. 😉

In any case, both of the Lite American Lagers we sampled were watery, had what I’d call an “odd bitterness” and were generally unpleasant to drink. The BJCP guidelines say these are very thirst-quenching. I’d rather just drink water. It also states, “Strong flavors are a fault”. That almost needs revising…”flavor is a fault”. Okay, they do have some flavor. It’s just not particularly enjoyable. There’s a bitterness, but it’d be difficult to identify it as a “hop bitterness”. Could be anything. There’s little maltiness to these beers. There’s little to enjoy.

Going forward with this little endeavor, my goal is to try and get beers that are actually stated as “examples” for each style in the BJCP Guidelines. I may or may not succeed, but occasionally, I’ll update you here on how it’s going.

By all means, if you’re interested in going through all these beers with me…post a comment here, drop me a line, whatever. It’d be great to get a discussion going.

My analysis for tonight? Both beers are extremely bland. Amstel light is a bit more watery than Miller Lite — which strikes me as odd because I always heard that Amstel is one of the better light beers. Well, I think it’s the sophisto-foreign aspect of Amstel that causes people to say such things. Trust me. It’s not any better (than Miller Lite, at least), just more watery. Both beers are light in body, light in color, light in mouth-feel, and low on taste. I don’t see any reason for anybody to drink such a beer. Honestly? I’d rather have a Clausthaler non-alcohol beer. At least you’re just going all out at that point — and Clausthaler is actually not bad, considering. The BJCP doesn’t seem to have a non-alcoholic beer category though.