Style Over Substance

In Trends on July 11, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Imitation is the highest form of flattery.

The trend of producing beers in the style of others is sweeping the beer scene and I want to ask you this question:

Why have a beer imitating the style of another when you can have the real thing?

The most obvious example of this is the wave of ‘Belgian-style’ beers coming over from America. Goose Island’s Matilda, Great Divide’s Belgica and Brooklyn’s Local 1 are just a few examples of beers brewed in the style of the breweries’ Belgian counterparts. Questions of quality and the reasons behind this desire to imitate can be raised.

Recently I have found myself  drinking some of these kinds of beers and wondering why I didn’t just have the real thing. La Chouffe, Delerium, Chimay, Orval, Kwak and Duvel are all widely available and like many of the beers from continental Europe have got 100s of years of heritage behind them.

I guess imitation is the highest form of flattery and for many breweries I’m sure brewing in the style of another is just as an ode to how great their beers are. Getting inspiration from different styles of beer from around the world has definitely added to the diversity of what is now available. I would just say this; don’t settle for a ‘style’ beer if their attempts at reproducing quality have fallen short. However, if they’ve taken inspiration and given a Belgian, German or even English twist to an already good beer then that may be worth celebrating.

  1. I think such beers do well (like Stone Cali-Belgique IPA, or from the other side Houblon Chouffe) when they’re more of a cross-style experiment than just a straight copy.


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