An hierarchy of styles with explainer page link

I was just writing this in another forum post but feel I should repost to its own topic.

I think we need a page that gets us all on the same rules for entering beer styles. Something that says “if it’s a rye IPA, always enter as an IPA. Or a DIPA if over 8%” or something.

When I’m entering beers, I only use non-style catch alls like specialty grain or fruit beer as a matter of last resort if other possibilities are limited. I’ll enter a blood orange IPA as an IPA for example. (Sour IPAs being the only exception - I’d put as sour because to me it seems like the category sour way more represents what the beer is than IPA).

Anyway, whether you agree with me or not, maybe we should all try to figure out an hierarchy tree in which to add beers so we don’t end up with random style entries which aren’t the same often. Maybe a poll, or vote?

I know we talked about deferring to the brewery’s claim before, and I generally agree with that (unless they are so wrong it’s obvious, as in Alexander Keith’s IPA or any brewery that calls a stout less than 7% imperial).

I also know we have 80 pages which give brief definitions of styles. But it would be great to have one link which explain a solid RB policy on categorization with solid rules.

There are always exceptions, but having one page would help sort some of our shit out sometimes I think.

It could say things like “if it says IPA, no matter whether also rye, wheat, oatmeal etc.,” then always go with IPA rather than specialty grain. If it says double, or triple dry hopped and unless it’s otherwise noted as a west coast IPA, then go with Hazy. If it’s an IPA and it’s above 8%, always go with DIPA/Imperial rather than hazy. If it’s black, always go with black IPA no matter the percentage.

Some of this may be common sense I guess, but you know what they say about common sense…


Well, isn’t the problem that all this might change if the new styles come?

Sure, I mean do it then if that happens. But before that we could still write a fairly comprehensive set of rules.

Today I saw someone had added a DIPA as an American Strong Ale. It literally had DIPA in the description. I don’t know how much clearer it can be, so a guide is surely needed.

I’d say definitely do this, but after the style overhaul. The changes are so numerous it would be silly to go into detail about this now when a huge chunk of it will outdated, not in any major way of course, but it will simply be easier to point to whatever style names / subcategories are here once finalised. We can all vote and discuss once that’s done.

I pretty much agree with everything you said too. I’m a big advocate for going with brewer’s intent/marketing. There’s plenty of golden ales that are added as bitters for example. What’s the point of that? Why even bother having that style if it’s ignored. Like you said, though, there are exceptions, which can be described in such a page.

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I saw your bug report, didn’t act on it because the description says ‘amber DIPA’. It was also added by an admin who knows what they are doing. Imperial Red / Amber IPAs are split between IIPA and ASA, with the decision up to the admin whether the IPA part or the red part dominates. Of course different admins see the line differently and so there is a lack of consistency. Adding styles like red IPA will help remove such ambiguity, and that’s part of the reason for the upcoming changes.

That’s fair enough, I can understand that. But then I guess this is more evidence of just why we need these style changes. There’s too many beers these days that straddle perceived style boundaries, many of which are deserving of their own style. Red/Rye/Amber IPA (and imperial) are numerous enough for their own style I think

I just looked at my own American Strong Ale ratings, of which I have just 8 - there is an imperial brown ale, two imperial red IPAs, one English Barleywine blend, one Imperial Stout, so that leaves only three that I would consider actually belonging there.

Forgot to quote this bit in my last post. Again, one that splits opinion, probably the only part of your post I remain on the fence about. The sour IPAs I’ve had have had very little sour character to them and I’ve maybe added two or three myself, all as IPA. seems most are indeed added as Sours but plenty of IPA too (and 3 saison :thinking:). It’s a shame tags aren’t used more because I am sure there are far more than ~120 in the database and I think this definitely needs its own style.

I’m pretty sure the reason tags are never used is because you can’t add them when you enter a new beer. I add tons of beers and virtually never add tags. If I could add tags when I added the beer, I would do it all the time.

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I always add tags immediately after. But yes, tagging needs to be made far far easier. Clicking on a letter and trying to find the tag in the wall of text is annoying.

it should just be a simple input field where we start typing a word and choose from a list of matching tags, and keep going until all our desired tags are added. This should be at the bottom of the add new beer page, and also on the normal page for adding tags afterwards. @joet do you understand what I mean? If so what do you think about this idea?
EDIT: I will post a suggestion thread later today with more detail and screenshots about this.

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Although this could be done to certain extent, there are many cases where it doesn’t make sense. I’m not saying that the better rules are not needed, but going too strict will great more problems.

I used to dislike the catch all categories also, but nowadays I actually think they make sense a lot of time. IPA which contains rye is actually 2 styles: hoppy rye beer (the base beer is rye beer, so rye dominated) and hoppy beer with rye (the base beer is not rye beer, not rye dominated). It may sound confusing at first, so it may be easier to think about how wheat is used. A lot of modern beers contain some small amount of wheat (used for head retention), but it would be nonsense to put all those beers under wheat categories just because they contain wheat. In the similar way you can use small amount of rye to give some extra spiciness to hoppy beer, it doesn’t make it a rye beer (even if the brewer claims so). But at the same time rye beer that is just more hoppy, is still a rye beer.

But if the batches of the same beer vary between 7.8%-8.2%? Should the style be changed every time when the new batch comes out? Or should there be 2 listings for the exactly the same beer? Or if you pick just one style and stick with it, then it could be said that you are violating your own rules…

But if it is dark brown, brown, amber (keep in mind that these are also quite subjective)?

I think whoever compared the beer styles with music styles was spot on… There is no way to make a strict classification.

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I said 8% as an example, not as a hard line to be drawn. I’m not even sure where the line between IPA and DIPA should be, but whoever does could draw that line. Now of course beers right around that line which specifically call themselves IPA or DIPA, I’d go their way.

Sure, but I think you are talking about exceptions to the rule, which happen much less than the vast majority which should be easy answers. I haven’t seen many brown IPAs ever I think. Maybe dark brown almost black.

Anyway, I’m not saying that what I say should be the right way, just that we should have a set of house rules we all follow more or less, though there will always be exceptions.

For my personal use, I would find it much more helpful to see a rye IPA compared next to a regular IPA to determine if I’d like to order that or something else than have a rye IPA listed in the same category as a pumpkin beer with rye. I’m talking generalities here, you are arguing about the exceptions to the rule. The best we can do on this site is sort out the generalities and have those listed correctly. As to what the hell to do with your Sam Adams Utopia type exceptions, I think that’s less of a problem than making sure that we all do the same thing when encountering 90% of rye IPAs for example.

If no other indicator (in name and description), use 8% to draw the line.
For beers that are in the 7.2%-7.9% area and call themselves IIPA, you can accept that.
For IPAs above 8% and IIPAs below 7.2% you can overturn the brewer’s intention (given in the name or description) and assign them to IIPA and IPA respectively.

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I’m not disagreeing with your main point that the guidelines should be clearer. My point was more that they can’t be too strict and there will be always overlap and a lot of grey areas.


By the way, having a buffer zone as I described above between 7.2 and 8% helps to not keep swinging the style when there are small ABV variances.

This is exactly the type of logic I mean. We need exactly those statements, and many others between Rye IPAs or whatever, on an explainer page. Could be a link that says something like “Need help determining beer style?” or some such when you enter the beer.

Ya, I think we are saying the same thing. I agree there will always be exceptions

I agree a guide to styles would be helpful (possibly linked to from the style box when entering a new beer).

However, I don’t agree that combi-styles should always go under a certain main style. If you have a fruit IPA that’s entirely dominated by fruit with little discernable IPA characteristics remaining, I think it’s far more appropriate to put it under fruit beer than IPA. I would argue that combi-style beers should be classified under the most dominant of the styles listed on the bottle…