The Brewers Association beer style guidelines are compiled by the Brewers Association, copyright: 1993 until 2021 inclusive. With the assistance and review of the Style Guidelines Committee by Chris Swersey, Paul Gatza, Chuck Skypeck, Kaylyn Kirkpatrick, Chris Williams, Andrew Sparhawk, Dan Rabin, and suggestions from the judges of The Great American Beer Festival® and the World Beer Cup℠, as well as brewers and beer lovers around the world.
Since 1979, the Brewers Association has provided descriptions of beer styles as a reference for brewers and organizers of beer competitions. Much of the early work was based on the assistance and contributions of beer journalist Michael Jackson; more recently these guidelines have been significantly expanded, compiled and edited by Charlie Papazian. The task of creating a realistic set of guidelines is always complex. The beer style guidelines developed by the Brewers Association use commercial brewing industry sources, beer analysis, and consultation with beer industry experts and knowledgeable beer enthusiasts as information resources.
The Brewers Association’s beer style guidelines reflect, as much as possible, historical significance, authenticity, or high visibility in today’s commercial beer market. Often the historical significance is unclear, or a new type of beer in a current market may only represent a passing fad and is quickly forgotten. For these reasons, the addition of a style or the modification of an existing style is not done lightly and is the result of research, consultation, taking into account the realities of the market. , and can be spread over several years.
Another factor considered is that current commercial examples do not always fit well into historical records and instead represent a modern take on the style. Our decision to include a particular historic beer style takes into account the brewing traditions of the style and the need to preserve those traditions in today’s market. The longer a style of beer has stood the test of time, market, and consumer acceptance, the more likely it is to be included in the Brewers Association style guidelines.
The availability of commercial examples plays an important role in whether a style of beer “makes the list”. It is important to consider that not all historical or commercial beer styles can be included, and not all commercial beers are representative of historical tradition (i.e. a brewery labeling a brand as a particular style does not always indicate an accurate representation of that style).
Please note that almost all classic and traditional beer style guidelines have been cross-referenced with commercially available beer data representative of the style. The main reference to this effect was the complete work of Professor Anton Piendl published in the German magazine Brauindustrie during the years 1982 to 1994, from the series “Biere Aus Aller Welt”.
Each style description is deliberately written independently of any reference to another style of beer wherever possible. Also, wherever possible, the character of the beer is not described in terms of ingredients or process. These guidelines attempt to emphasize the final evaluation of the product and try not to judge or regulate the formulation or the process by which it was brewed, except in special circumstances that clearly define a style.