Brewers association

Brewers Association Releases 2021 Beer Style Guidelines

New categories include Kentucky Common Beer, New Zealand-Style Pale Ale and India Pale Ale, Belgian-Style Session Ale

Boulder, Colorado.—The Brewers Association (BA)—the nonprofit trade group dedicated to promoting and protecting small, independent craft brewers in the United States—released its 2021 Beer Style Guidelines today. Revised and revised annually by the BA, these guidelines serve as a model resource for brewers, beer judges and competition organisers, and celebrate the great diversity of beer around the world.

Since 1979, the Brewers Association has provided annual 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.

Hundreds of revisions, edits, format changes and additions have been made to this year’s guidelines, including updates to existing beer styles and the creation of new categories. New additions to beer styles include:

  • Kentucky Common Beer
  • New Zealand-style Pale Ale and India Pale Ale
  • Belgian Style Session Ale

The original Belgian beer style group has been significantly revised based on extensive feedback from judges and Belgian beer experts. The former Belgian-style Pale Ale was renamed Belgian-Style Speciale Belge. There were no style deletions.

“Craft brewers in the United States and around the world continue to push the boundaries of beer by reviving long-lost styles and innovating in new beer flavor spaces,” said Chris Swersey, Competition Manager. , Brewers Association. “The 2021 Beer Style Guidelines reflect many exciting trends in brewing with many additions and updates for greater accuracy.”

The Brewers Association beer style guidelines reflect, as much as possible, historical significance, authenticity, or high visibility in today’s commercial beer market. Adding a style or modifying an existing style is not done lightly and is the result of research, analysis, consultation and consideration of the realities of the market, and can be spread over a certain period of time. 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.

“The Brewers Association’s beer style guidelines are a trusted resource for the brewing industry worldwide,” Swersey said. “The guidelines fostered a lexicon that enabled the drinking and brewing community to talk about beer and celebrate beer in diverse cultures, around the world.”

The 2021 Beer Style Guidelines can be downloaded from

Note: New styles will come into effect for the 2021 Great American Beer Festival® contest. Constructive feedback and suggestions for adding or updating a beer style guideline can be submitted online at


About the Brewers Association

The Brewers Association (BA) is the nonprofit trade association dedicated to America’s small, independent brewers, their beers, and the community of brewing enthusiasts. The BA represents more than 5,600 American breweries. The BA Independent Craft Brewer Seal is a widely adopted symbol that differentiates beers from small independent craft brewers. The BA organizes events including the beer world cup®, Great American Oktoberfest®, Craft Brewers Conference® & BrewExpo America®, FLAVOR: An American Craft Beer and Dining Experience, Homebrew Con, National Homebrew Competition and American Craft Beer Week®. The BA publishes The new brewer® magazines, and Brewers publications® is the leading publisher of brewing literature in the United States. Beer lovers are invited to learn more about the vibrant world of craft beer at® and on homebrewing via BAs American Homebrew Association® and free Brewing Guru® mobile app. follow us on Facebook, Twitter and instagram.

The Brewers Association is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, orientation or marital/family status. The BA complies with the provisions of Executive Order 13672 and relevant rules, regulations and orders of the Secretary of Labor.