The Brewers Association (BA) recently released its "2012 Beer Style Guidelines." Updated annually, the guidelines currently describe 140 styles of beer and are used in prestigious beer competitions, including the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup.
For this year, a new beer style has been added-the Indigenous Beer Category. The guidelines specify that this beer must contain "at least one regional combination of ingredients and/or techniques must be unique and differentiated from ingredients and/or techniques commonly used by brewers throughout the world... Examples of indigenous beers might include current day versions of highly regional and/or historic styles which are not represented elsewhere in these guidelines, such as Finnish-style sahti, South American chicha, African sorghum based beers and others."
For competitions, brewers will provide 100-word descriptions of why their entry is relevant to the category, to aid judges in their evaluation.
Since 1979, the BA has provided beer-style descriptions as a reference for brewers and beer competition organizers. The beer style guidelines developed by the BA use sources from the commercial brewing industry, beer analyses and consultations with beer-industry experts and knowledgeable beer enthusiasts as resources for information. Much of the early work was based on the assistance and contributions of beer journalist Michael Jackson. For 2012, revisions were aided by over 100 comments and suggestions from Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup judges, as well as other beer-industry members.
"These guidelines help to illustrate the growth of craft brewers in the United States and also offer insight and a foundation for helping appreciate the hundreds of beer types brewed for the beer lover," says Charlie Papazian, president of the Brewers Association.
The "2012 Beer Style Guidelines" are available for download in the Publications section of BrewersAssociation.org.