Thoughts on style

In my normal round up of readings I ran across this piece from Jeff Alworth at Beervana.  Of course his post discusses the question of whether a beer is authentic or to style.  If you spend time around anyone who gets a bit geeky about beer you will find the style discussion to come up on a fairly regular basis. 

Its kinda funny when you think about how easily a discussion of beer styles can overwhelm people and put them in a place where they are committed to holding ground and fighting to their last breath to defend their position.  You don’t see this battle quite as vehemently fought in any other form of food or beverage item.

In cuisines you have a good number of different regional styles.  But they are not marked by the technique used to make them.  They are showcased more in the various ingredients that make up the individual dish.  Compare paella to jambalaya.  They are essentially the same dish, separated more by the ingredients that go into them than they are by techniques used to achieve the finished dish.  But which is the more authentic?

In the 1970s there was a wine challenge between the US and France.  For quite some time it was believed that the US wine market was filled with inferior quality mass market wines.  It was during this tasting that the US wines scored higher than their counterparts from France, beating them out as the more true to style wines.  But did this make the US wines authentic?

Just a few years ago, Jolly Pumpkin beat breweries from Belgium by having the better Belgian styled beers.  Jolly Pumpkin is brewery in Michigan which is more populated by people of German, Native American, Dutch, Scandinavian and on and on than it is by those of Belgian descent.  Does this mean that their beer is not authentic?

So often we try to compare apples to oranges and claim that they are not ducks.  But in the end we are so caught up in looking at the wrong things that we have no idea what it is we are looking at.  Though a duck is neither an apple nor an orange, the apple and orange are still fruits that grow on trees.  Authenticity finds validity in the final product more so than the path to get there. 

I do believe that it is time for a pint…


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