Brewers Association Releases 2016 Beer Style Guidelines


At long last, the Brewers Association has finally added Swedish-Style Gotlandsdricke to its list of officially recognized beer styles.

The organization yesterday released its 2016 “Beer Style Guidelines,“which includes style descriptions and product specifications as a reference for brewers and beer competition organizers around the world.

“The Brewers Association’ beer style guidelines reflect, as much as possible, historical significance, authenticity or a high profile in the current commercial beer market,” the guide reads.

Compiled annually by BA founder Charlie Papazian, with help from director Paul Gatza, technical brewing projects manager Chuck Skypeck and supply chain specialist Chris Swersey, the 44-page handbook now features descriptions for 152 total beers.

As craft brewers from around the world have continued to innovate within more traditional styles, and create new beers altogether, the BA has reacted to by making 100 changes and adding eight new styles to this year’s edition.

According to an organization press release, 2016 additions include:

  • Breslau-Style Pale Schöps and Breslau-Style Dark Schöps – Schops are historic ale styles (the early Prussian city of Breslau is now called Wroclaw and is located within Poland), brewed perhaps as early as the 1300s, and by the 1600s documented as predominantly wheat based
  • Contemporary Gose – recognizing the huge diversity in modern brewer interpretations arising from and diverging from traditional Leipzig-Style Gose
  • Specialty Saison – recognizing the huge diversity in modern brewer interpretations arising from and diverging from Classic French & Belgian-Style Saison
  • Finnish-Style Sahti – traditional Finnish style with juniper and bakers’ or bread yeast
  • Swedish-Style Gotlandsdricke – traditional Swedish style with juniper, birchwood smoke notes and baker’s or bread yeast
  • European-Style Dark Lager – separating these beers from their Munich Dunkel Lager cousins
  • Pumpkin/Squash Beer – a new style to emphasize perception of pumpkin and/or squash aromas and flavors, without spicing

The BA also conducted “significant reworks” of existing styles, including:

  • American-Style India Pale Ale
  • American-Style Black Ale
  • Kellerbier or Zwickelbier Ale
  • Leipzig-Style Gose
  • Classic French & Belgian-Style Saison
  • Pumpkin Spice Beer – reworked the old Pumpkin Beer category, which entries exhibit predominantly spice aromas and flavors, but no necessarily pumpkin or squash
  • Specialty Beer – clarified that the hallmarks of this style have to do with unusual fermentables, and further clarifies that nuts provide flavor and aroma far more than fermentables, such that nut-containing beers are best characterized as Field Beer
  • Brett Beer – numerous updates and clarifications, especially with respect to beers fermented with (relatively) flavor neutral Brettanomyces which taste like non-Brett beers

“The Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines continue to serve as the authoritative resource on world beer styles for brewers and beer lovers alike,” Swersey said in the release. “This year’s update includes the addition of several exciting historic beer styles along with many revisions that keep the Guidelines relevant and current.”