In Style, Out of Style

What precisely is style?

According to Dictionary.com, one definition is “a particular kind, sort, or type, as with reference to form, appearance, or character.”

When you think about beer, what is it about style that really matters?

I’ve long extolled that style is way less important than flavor in first learning about beer. Flavor should be taught first, long before the style conversation gets off the ground. Listen to your own sensory system, not someone else’s.

What's your style?

What’s your style?

Learning to name and identify flavors and aromas will get the beer enjoyer much farther along than having to learn style first. Yes, there’s most certainly a place for style. And people like to categorize things anyway, yet it should come much later.

When we learn to name flavors, we can really lean into our sipping, trying, sharing and asking. Learning what flavors appeal to us, which we would rather not partake of and still learn to appreciate, we become a smarter beer drinker. A savvier beer enthusiast. This is good for everyone in the beer equation.

Next week I’ll have the pleasure of being in Central Iowa to deliver a lively & educational talk, Beer Sense, courtesy of the Des Moines chapter of Barley’s Angels. I’ll be covering learning to smell and taste your beer, since it’s the very beginning in learning to enjoy beer for me. You can get details and register here – women & men are all welcome.

Beer is a lot like art: it’s personally subjective. Like what you like. Look at everything, taste everything – you can only say you don’t like something after you’ve tried it. If you’ve not had a particular beer in at least two months and you think you don’t like it, try it again. Beers within the same style can taste remarkably different too to taste around. Give all beer a fair shake to please you.

While some trends are short-lived, certain trends never go out of style. Beer styles proper aside, find your own style. I hope it’s an Open Minded style, welcoming to all ideas of what beer can be and is the world over.

See you next week!

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Talk About Flavor, Not Style

Seems that beer enthusiasts are consumed with talking about beer styles. Is this one brewed to style? Is this one not? How about which style beer goes with which kind of food? Which styles do you like or not like?

ENOUGH, I say!!

Beer also does not like people with prejudice.

Beer also does not like people with prejudice.

If you want to educate about beer, you must start with flavors first. Talking about styles don’t matter one malted barley kernel unless you know about flavor first. Jumping to styles is a bad tact and one that is sadly all too common.

Try this instead:

1. First of all relax, make a conscious effort to not judge or argue. Make these conversations productive and enjoyable for everyone.

2. When talking with someone, anyone, about beer, start the conversation with “what kinds of flavors do you enjoy?” Make sure to qualify it by stating all flavors, not just beer flavors. The world will open up.

3. Ask a question and then listen. Try “what do you like about that flavor?” and let them talk. Stay silent, don’t argue.

4. Then start going back and forth in conversation, making sure it’s a diplomatic exchange, never judgmental. Enjoy yourself and plug-in to learn something new from the other person.

Talking about flavor opens up entirely new idea avenues for you and your guests. Your guests support the brand so always be listening. People want to talk to you about your brand, about what they think about your brand so be a diplomat and take it all in graciously. Very few people will maliciously attack a brand with a brand representative.

Talk about flavor. Leave style behind for now.

Eventually style will emerge as people grow and learn and it’s not critical to enjoying beer. What are critical are an open mind, open ears and grace.

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Women + Beer Survey Insights: Report #3

“What kind/s of beer do you like?”

Well, it’s official: Women like all kinds, styles and flavors of beers.

So go pick up a breakable plate, in indelible ink write “Women only like fruity/light/sweet/any other assumption” and then proceed to smash it into a zillion pieces.

Smell that? It’s sweet vindication. I feel better already!

To adopt the stance that women like any one style of beer only, is to be an ostrich. It’s also extremely narrow-minded, assumes women don’t like flavors and then dismisses them as a market share. It’s insulting as well as ignorant. And if you’re in the beer business, it’s certain death.

Women buy 75 – 85% of all goods and services in America. Google and look around and you’ll find info a’plenty. If you live elsewhere, know that women are an equally potent economic engine. Women still apparently consume a minority of the beer bought, and they still need to be encouraged and treated as a full player in the game of life and beer.

Women learning about & enjoying beer - they like it all!

Women learning about & enjoying beer – they like it all!

Women like flavors like men like flavors. Of course they do. Let everyone who comes in contact with beer who shows any kind of interest try as many flavors as possible. Encourage, endorse, explain.

The great thing about flavor experimentation is its low commitment. Try a reasonable sip – if you like it, keep sipping. If you don’t move on.

There’s no such thing as a woman’s beer just as there’s no such thing as a man’s beer.

I’m so very happy to report this: that women do in fact enjoy beer flavors across all styles and categories of styles. Women have spoken. Listen up.

If you’re a beer consumer and you’ve found one beer you kind of or do like, then we encourage you to find another one in that style or brand family. Ask a helpful retailer, ask WEB, or as a brewery for help. We’re all very glad to assist.

Report #3 covering this question will be available for purchase by 7/1/13.

One comment

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ABC’s of Women, Beer and Food: Letter S

Baby, you’re got style! Let me clarify: Baby = my beer. Hence my beer has Style. Our letter du jour is S and today it stands for Style. Beer Styles in specific.

Did you know there are dozens of styles of beer? Formal guidelines from the Beer Judge Certification Program and the Great American Beer Festival allow for a great many identified styles. And new ones are constantly testing the boundaries, being added and perhaps sometimes subtracted from the ranks.

Style Umbrella

Style Umbrella

Here’s how WEB likes to edutain about Styles:

  • Beer as a universal beverage category is an open umbrella.
  • Under that open umbrella of Beer falls two more categories: Lagers and Ales
  • Underneath those two categories of Lagers and Ales fall all the styles.

Styles of food: I’ve not considered or thought about that particular way to describe food before. Who can school me here? Maybe it’s a genre of ingredients, culture influence and other considerations. Maybe we should simply let the ingredients stand alone, giving them equal access to our food making whims. Experimentation after all is the key to discovery.

So go ahead – enjoy beer and food with style, in all styles. I’ll join you.

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Fair Teri

Here’s a nice article to read involving some great descriptions of the beers in the piece.

Regardless of who brewed them, in this case all women, it’s a bundle of useful information on describing styles. I’d encourage you to pass it forward to those you know who want to learn more about beer styles and descriptions of those styles.

Well done to Noah and our friends at Draft for a solid educational (and tantalizing) piece.

Cheers –

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