Does the BJCP System Stifle Innovation?

Reads 4717 • Replies 54 • Started Monday, February 1, 2016 4:34:19 PM CT

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drowland
beers 11069 º places 430 º 06:30 Tue 2/2/2016

What bothers me is people who homebrew almost solely to style guidelines for the purpose of competing. Where is the fun in that? I’m involved in one club online and every time someone asks "for this category should I so this or this or this" I usually respond "brew what you like to drink" and then they ream me because "it’s okay to be competitive" or whatever BS they come up with.

 
HornyDevil
06:41 Tue 2/2/2016

Originally posted by drowland
What bothers me is people who homebrew almost solely to style guidelines for the purpose of competing. Where is the fun in that? I’m involved in one club online and every time someone asks "for this category should I so this or this or this" I usually respond "brew what you like to drink" and then they ream me because "it’s okay to be competitive" or whatever BS they come up with.


Different people have fun differently. Though you and I apparently don’t have fun brewing to style or for competition, that doesn’t mean others don’t. That being said, there are a lot of people out there who think that winning stuff makes them good at something and that validates them as people. I’m just not one of those people as I don’t need external validation to prove that my pursuits are worthwhile.

Originally posted by joet
What if these same ideas were applied to painting?

You’d have all these painters being asked to develop paintings that fell into defined categories like
1) Modern abstract
2) Pointilism
3) Fauvism
4) Romantic
5) Surrealist
6) etc...

How is this going to affect creativity, placement and judging?


A compelling comparison to consider... I’d answer that, until the modern epoch, artists were still encouraged to study the "masters," and to learn by emulating their work. We have some number of Van Gogh’s early works, for instance, that points to some study of his predecessors. Countless musicians have done the same... chefs (referred to in the facebook thread) usually study some classical discipline of cooking (french, for instance) that has a progression of knowledge, preparations, etc. from which they may eventually abstract to create their own gastronomic art. There is some significant precedence for studying your "elders" before stepping out and being unique.

Are we better off in the present for ignoring the "democracy of the dead"? Only time will tell, but it is certainly worthy to discuss and debate.

 
HornyDevil
06:44 Tue 2/2/2016

Originally posted by joet
What if these same ideas were applied to painting?

You’d have all these painters being asked to develop paintings that fell into defined categories like
1) Modern abstract
2) Pointilism
3) Fauvism
4) Romantic
5) Surrealist
6) etc...

How is this going to affect creativity, placement and judging?




This brings up a good point about competition and one that I think is rather ridiculous.

How can you compare two (or more) different things and come out with a best one?

It’s like someone asking me what my favorite beer is. I find that question absurd, as I like many different types of beer, so I can’t possibly have only one.

 
spacecoyote
06:47 Tue 2/2/2016

Originally posted by ContemplateBeer
Originally posted by joet
What if these same ideas were applied to painting?

You’d have all these painters being asked to develop paintings that fell into defined categories like
1) Modern abstract
2) Pointilism
3) Fauvism
4) Romantic
5) Surrealist
6) etc...

How is this going to affect creativity, placement and judging?


A compelling comparison to consider... I’d answer that, until the modern epoch, artists were still encouraged to study the "masters," and to learn by emulating their work. We have some number of Van Gogh’s early works, for instance, that points to some study of his predecessors. Countless musicians have done the same... chefs (referred to in the facebook thread) usually study some classical discipline of cooking (french, for instance) that has a progression of knowledge, preparations, etc. from which they may eventually abstract to create their own gastronomic art. There is some significant precedence for studying your "elders" before stepping out and being unique.

Are we better off in the present for ignoring the "democracy of the dead"? Only time will tell, but it is certainly worthy to discuss and debate.


I was just gonna tell Joe to stop drinking paint, but I think your reply is better.

 
HornyDevil
06:47 Tue 2/2/2016

Originally posted by ContemplateBeer
I’d answer that, until the modern epoch, artists were still encouraged to study the "masters," and to learn by emulating their work. We have some number of Van Gogh’s early works, for instance, that points to some study of his predecessors. Countless musicians have done the same... chefs (referred to in the facebook thread) usually study some classical discipline of cooking (french, for instance) that has a progression of knowledge, preparations, etc. from which they may eventually abstract to create their own gastronomic art. There is some significant precedence for studying your "elders" before stepping out and being unique.

Are we better off in the present for ignoring the "democracy of the dead"? Only time will tell, but it is certainly worthy to discuss and debate.


Everyone is influenced by someone or something. Not sure how that applies to this particular discussion, however.

 
GarethYoung
beers 1111 º places 27 º 08:14 Tue 2/2/2016

If the BJCP was only, as it’s allegedly supposed to be, a set of rules for entering competitions, it would be harmless. As it is, people take it as an accurate taxonomy of all the beers there are. I’m not sure if it stifles creativity. You do hear people criticising a beer by saying things like "This beer is a bit too x for the style", where by ’style’ they mean one of these historically bogus, arbitrary, hodge-podge BJCP categories. So it certainly makes people judge beer less sensibly in the wild.

Maybe it makes people less likely to brew in a way which doesn’t fit neatly into the BJCP categories, and puts pressure on brewers to brew in a way which will be judged well by their criteria. If that’s so, that seems like another bad thing about it, but I can’t really tell whether this happens much or not.

In general, though, I think the BJCP gives people a very perverse view of beer, and I wish it would go away, but I can’t say I care too much. I tend just to ignore it and it’s followers.

 
FooFaa
beers 1 º places 29 º 08:23 Tue 2/2/2016

Originally posted by HornyDevil
First let me give my answer to the initial question. NO. The BJCP system can only stifle innovation if you blindly follow it thinking "this is the only way to brew beer". I don’t think that many brewers do that, even the ones that like to win BJCP competitions by following their guidelines to a T.

Originally posted by FooFaa
Originally posted by bitbucket
Originally posted by spacecoyote
Some styles, more so than others, should be considered sacred, such as kolsch, lambic, gose, "saison", pilsner, Berliner weisse, just to cite a few examples.


I’m confused by this. Some styles, such as Kolsh and Berliner weisse have fairly narrow definitions... at least in my mind. Others, such as saison and pilsner seem more open to interpretation or local version.


Agreed. "Saison" and "Lambic" could only scarcely, if at all, be considered styles.


OK . . . you guys are confusing things here.

Styles like Kolsch and Pilsner have fairly narrow definitions. The term Kolsch even has appellation as defined by the Kolsch Convention. Though I’m not saying that brewers that brew this type of beer outside of Cologne can’t call it Kolsch, what I am saying is that if you don’t brew the beer as traditionally defined, then it isn’t a proper Kolsch. If you add pineapple to it and call it a Kolsch, you should be slapped. Have some respect and call it what it is. A Pineapple Blonde Ale.

Berliner Weisse and Gose, though simple beers, are also decently well-defined. The "problem" is that Berliner Weisse had the tradition of being flavored, at service mind you, with syrups to cut the tartness and make them more drinkable. The recent trend of fruiting both beers is completely untraditional, though it does produce interesting beers. Just call them " _____ (insert fruit name(s) here) sour" and everyone will be happy.

Saison is one of the most, if not THE most, ill-defined styles in the entire beer world. End of story.

Lambic is one of the most well-defined, especially when referring to process and provenance. The problem with Lambic is that the members of HORAL make such different products and Cantillon, probably the most recognizable maker in the world, is not a member. If however, you want to call your beer a Lambic, you must do the following. You must construct your grist of pilsner malt and unmalted wheat. You must perform a turbid mash. You must hop the runoff with a high level of aged hops. You must boil for an extended time. You must cool your wort in a coolship before transferring to wood for fermentation. You must age your beer in wood and blend the resultant beer into a uniform end product. If you don’t do all of these things your beer cannot even dream of being called Lambic and if you don’t even attempt to do these things and you call your beer a Lambic, then you, sir or ma’am, are an asshole, plain and simple.


What am I confusing? It would seem that we agree.

 
StefanSD
beers 2449 º places 57 º 09:31 Tue 2/2/2016

The large number of beer variations available in local shops is overwhelming evidence that NO the BJCP has not stifled innovation.

I’m reminded of a quote from a Russian Naval Officers notes:“A serious problem in planning against American doctrine is that the Americans do not read their manuals, nor do they feel any obligation to follow their doctrine.” So It goes with brewers and beer too. The BJCP can make whatever style guidelines they want, but American’s will brew whatever we want regardless.

 
b3shine
beers 11304 º places 357 º 09:38 Tue 2/2/2016

Originally posted by StefanSD
The large number of beer variations available in local shops is overwhelming evidence that NO the BJCP has not stifled innovation.

+1

I don’t think most brewers brew their beer with major concern for how it will be evaluated by the BJCP (at least anymore).

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