It’s my 100th post on this beer blog and I’ve professed my love for all kinds of beers and beer styles over that time, from milk stouts to ESBs, brown ales to sours, and even lagers. But to be honest there’s a few beer styles that I don’t enjoy so much and some I even passionately dislike, so I’ve decided it’s about time I give these styles the dressing down they deserve.
You might like these beer styles, and that’s ok, but to me they’re trash, and that’s ok too. So with my snark control turned way up, here are some of the worst beer styles according to me:
- Pacific Ale
Ok so it seems a little strange to kick this list off with the style of beer that when brewed by Stone & Wood, has often been voted Australia’s best beer in the likes of the Hottest 100 and the Critic’s Guide – but hear me out.
My problem with this beer style is that it isn’t really a beer style. It’s a classic beer brewed by Stone & Wood that’s now unscrupulously being copied by others like Thunder Road and CUB with their Wild Yak beer.
Thunder Road tried to play on the good name for the style created by Stone & Wood by brewing a Pacific Ale with similar tropical hop notes and similar label colours. BrewsNews have covered the ensuing legal battles between Thunder Road and Stone & Wood, for which proceedings still continue, meanwhile CUB joined in on the act of creating a pacific ale, while also owning trademarks around the word pacific, just to confuse matters even further. Can we all just avoid naming any more beers in this ‘style’ please?
2. Black IPA
This style is confused and it starts with the name. Just read it out, Black India Pale Ale. How can it be black and pale? And the beers themselves can too easily end up a muddled mix of chocolate and coffee roasted malt flavours from your typical dark ale, and piney and resinous hop aromas from your typical IPA. It’s no surprise to me that this style that was once trending is now seeing decreasing sales in the US.
Now there are some rare examples of magical brewers who seem to be able to get the best of both worlds while creating a harmonious balance between the dichotomous elements, but most of the time, the brewers seemingly have to make a trade-off.
The brewers often use Midnight Wheat malt to give the beer a dark look but a light body and malt taste to allow the hops to shine through like an IPA (in which case why not brew an IPA?). Or they brew a beer that has the typical roasted malt flavours of a black beer but then it might lack the hop aromas of an IPA (in which case why not brew a stout?). It’s a tough style to nail and I’m a harsh critic.
3. Various wheat beer styles
I don’t know what it is but no beer style generates less care factor and love from craft beer aficionados than wheat beer styles whether it’s Witbiers, American Wheat, or Weissbiers (I do make an exception for any sour styles like Berliner Weisse). Maybe it’s too much early exposure to them as gateway beers like Hoegaarden, or maybe the banana bubblegum and orange peel type flavours typically produced are just too candy-ish.
I still regard Weihenstephaner as a classic but as a rule I skip over wheat beers when I’m picking my tasting paddles at a bar, brewery or bottleshop, as there just always seems to be something more interesting on the other taps and shelves.
4. Session IPA
I was suspect about this style at first, there is definitely a contradictory aspect to the name for starters, but I’ve been convinced to change my tune and cross it off the list as more and more great examples have become available in Australia.
Session IPAs from the USA such as Stone, Speakeasy and Ballast Point have all impressed but the one that really won me over to this style was the local example, Pirate Life’s Throwback. I love having a full-flavoured beer that has a lower ABV. Really handy when you don’t want a big one or if you need to drive. Now back to the snark…
4. Golden Ale
Golden ales are generally just a weaker cheaper version of a pale ale. Harsh but true. It’s a style most favoured by macrobrewers venturing into craft(lite) beers and craft brewers trying to crossover to the mainstream. Yenda, Minimum Chips, Sail & Anchor, and even Crown have all gotten in on the act… and produced suitably crappy golden ales. Caveat – the Two Birds Golden Ale is pretty nice and the James Squire Golden Ale was a classic gateway beer once upon a time.
5. Low carb beer
The beer style essentially created to dupe health conscious drinkers into drinking a beer that isn’t really any healthier. Not good.
Someone decided to call it a wine just because it’s strong in terms of alcohol for a beer? I mean, really? So that’s not a great start. Then there’s the fact that barleywines are seen as a premium craft beer and are priced accordingly, read expensively. And then the beers are usually sickly sweet with a fair amount of alcohol burn. For me, if I’m going to have a bigger malt-focused style, I’m going for a scotch ale and passing on the barleywine, unless it’s being aged in some damn amazing barrels.