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Old 02-05-2007, 02:54 AM   #1
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Default What makes a beer style?

Is it the grain and hops, or the yeast?

I recently brewed up a batch of beer that was intended to be a Bavarian lager, but I ended up making it with German ale yeast. What is it now? Or, better yet, I made a recipe a year or two ago that was an Oktoberfest, except made with ale yeast instead of lager yeast. My wife and I taste tested it against some commercial Oktoberfest and we both agreed that mine tasted almost identical to the commercial variety (except fresher).

Here's another one: I made a beer using steam beer yeast, but the grains and hops were what would typically be used to make a Czech pils. So is it a steam beer, but Czech-style, or is it a California-style pilsener?

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Old 02-05-2007, 03:01 AM   #2
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Yes, yes, yes and maybe. You can't make a blond stout. Anything dry hopped with 3 oz. of Cascades is an IPA. Some styles can't be made without the correct yeast. Unless you are brewing to style guides, it hardly matters.

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Old 02-06-2007, 07:29 PM   #3
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as to the question about the cali-pils, I would say it is a pils if you fermented in the 50's, and a steam/cali common if you fermented over 60 f. but it is a good question to ponder. I think as homebrewers it's our responsibility to break some of these arbitrary boundaries and see what we come up with. I had a chili ale last year that was too hot to drink straight, but when I mixed it with my fat tire clone it was great. who'da thunk it?

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Old 02-06-2007, 07:38 PM   #4
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Different styles are definied differently...

Since the flavor of German styles is defined much more by the malt and hops than by the yeast, one can,. as you've discovered, get brews that are pretty true to style using reasonable yeast substitutes.

For Belgian styles, the yeast is a huge part of the style, so using a differnet strain would be a bigger deal.

Some other styles, like Bohemian Pilsner, are defined more by hops.

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Old 02-06-2007, 08:44 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cweston
Different styles are definied differently...

Since the flavor of German styles is defined much more by the malt and hops than by the yeast, one can,. as you've discovered, get brews that are pretty true to style using reasonable yeast substitutes.

For Belgian styles, the yeast is a huge part of the style, so using a differnet strain would be a bigger deal.

Some other styles, like Bohemian Pilsner, are defined more by hops.
Thank you! I think you're on to something there.
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Old 02-06-2007, 09:25 PM   #6
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Regional styles are simply bookmarks of ingredients, methods, and sometimes laws used to make beer in specific parts of the world. No one says you have to follow styles, as you are completely free to "make" your own.

I tend to disagree, however, that using varied ingredients and yeasts will result in a beer closely matching it's intended "style". I have brewer two great Octoberfest "ales" before I had a lagering setup and though they were quite tasty they were not Octoberfests. I can personally taste a huge difference, though everyone's palletes are different so that doesn't mean everyone would agree!!

There are breweries who thrive on NOT going by style guidelines.....Magic Hat in VT perhaps being one common example. Others nail defined styles. What you brew is entirely up to you. I like to stick with the styles and I want to be able to have something to compare, judge, and understand my beer by. I've done "experimental" batches that were good, great, and just plain OK. To make an analogy, I'll compare what I'm saying to Pablo Picasso. Everyone knows his "modern", out-of-the-box, genre-bending work. however, he spent years learning how to "really" draw......still lifes, figures, landscapes, all in incredible accuracy and detail. These sketches bear no resemblance to where he took all that knowledge and understanding later in his life. I feel like I need to be able to do the detail work, the basic stuff, really well. And maybe someday if I can ever master that stuff I could graduate on to doing something truly unique. Skipping the first 80 steps out of 100 are, to me, cheating.

Rant over!!!!!

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Old 02-07-2007, 01:53 AM   #7
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When i ask my lhbs guy to help me wiht a clone recipee i try to change something about it darker extract, lighter, or a different yeast just to make it "my own" well kinda

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Old 02-07-2007, 12:10 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fiery Sword
I tend to disagree, however, that using varied ingredients and yeasts will result in a beer closely matching it's intended "style". I have brewer two great Octoberfest "ales" before I had a lagering setup and though they were quite tasty they were not Octoberfests. I can personally taste a huge difference, though everyone's palletes are different so that doesn't mean everyone would agree!!
Well, we're kindof trapped by words here. They're not the same unless they're the same...

It's a matter of degree: a lager style brewed w/ cali lager (steam) yeast and fermented at the low end of the temp range (like around 58° F) will taste quite lager-like, IMHO. (Yes--I've done it.) It's not the same (because it isn't the same), but a pretty close facimile. Brew the same beer with 1056 at 70° F, and it might still be pretty tasty, but it's going to be a lot further from the style paradigm.
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