Choosing style when adding a new beer, and respecting brewer's intent/opinion

Styles seem to be a bit of a contentious subject over the years and there’s been some heated recent discussions on them here. But what I want to discuss in this thread is adding beers as a different style than what the brewer says it is. Hopefully this doesn’t start any arguments, it’s not really a complaint of mine, I’m genuinely just interested in hearing opinions on this.

Let me preface this by saying I get that there is plenty of crossover with various beer traits that mean a beer could justifiably belong in two styles, or sometimes more. However, if a brewery is marketing a beer as a Session IPA for example, then should we not add it as a Session IPA on Ratebeer regardless of our opinion of if it actually adheres to that style’s “rules”?

I’ve noticed a couple of breweries whose beers this seems to happen to with some regularity. The newest example I’ve just seen is Magic Rock / Thornbridge Exaltation. The user who added this has obviously been on Magic Rock’s website to grab the promo shot, yet has neglected to add the description (I’ve submitted a correction for it). However, it would be impossible to not notice Magic Rock are very clearly marketing this as a Session IPA, yet it’s been added as an American Pale Ale.
For what it’s worth, I agree with the user in this case. This sounds like it should be an APA or even a standard IPA to be honest as I think 5.5% is above what I’d class as a session strength IPA.
EDIT: After posting this I noticed the clip image just says “IPA” with no “session” qualifier. Seems MR themselves aren’t sure what it is!

But my question is: do we simply ignore the brewer’s intent/opinion on how they are marketing a particular beer? Should we not put this beer in the Session IPA style regardless of whether we think it belongs there? After all, it’s not our problem is people knock points off their rating because they think it’s a poor representation of the style.

Another brewery I’ve seen this a lot with is Hawkshead. Here’s a few examples to discuss:

  • Lakeland Lager - very clearly labeled as a lager, brewer says they use lager malts but ale yeast. Apparently the latter changes it to a golden ale on Ratebeer??
    Also they already have a beer called Lakeland Gold for their actual golden ale style.
  • Lakeland Lager Motueka - exact same beer as above but dry hopped with Motueka. Yet now it’s neither a lager nor a golden ale, but an APA. How come? India Style Lager is surely a better fit?
  • Cumbrian Five Hop - they say it’s a golden ale, it’s listed as a bitter. Haven’t had this one but with 5 hops in it I’d be surprised if this fits in the bitter style.
  • Cumbrian Five Hop Export - Export strength version of the above (only 1% higher). That minor ABV increase has suddenly made it an IPA.

Just to reiterate, misattributing styles isn’t necessarily a complaint I have, but if it were up to me I’d typically side with the brewer, even if I personally didn’t agree, as in the Magic Rock example above. Interested to hear others thoughts on this, if anyone even cares, hope it’s not too contentious!

This is a very interesting subject…

I think, That many would agree that other factors come into consideration when classifying a beer… I have not tried the MR/Thornbridge session IPA but if that’s what they market it as that’s what it is. I have no doubt that the hopping rate on this beer is way beyond most American pale ales.

I have noticed that Cloudwater small pale mosaic 2.9% is classed as a session IPA ; this beer is not a session IPA and was not brewed to be one. However there isn’t a ratebeer category that this beer fits into.

At some point the style categories need to be rethought…

Yes I’ve had the Small Mosaic beer and noticed that too, I think that should probably be an APA despite its very low strength as characteristically I found it to be very much like their DDH Pale series beers just at a lower strength. I doubt anyone would class it as an IPA and Cloudwater never even suggested it was one. It seems like the user who added that chose that based on ABV alone and nothing else - something I disagree with. I’ve submitted a correction with the beer’s description anyway and I did include style change too… We’ll see what the admins think.

Speaking of their DDH Pales I remember some of them had also been (and still are) classified as Session IPAs on here when they literally already have a Session IPA series that’s different from their DDH Pale series. It’s the Spring Summer 2017 ones that are wrong, the ones before and after that are correct. Really bizarre and inconsistent. I’m actually going to submit corrections for those right now.

Session IPA does seem to be the go-to style for any kind of low ABV pale ale these days. I’d rather they were put in their main styles I think. And although I’d like to see the style list expanded I’m not sure I’d want to see a session version of every style on the site as it would be far too cluttered.

I had a similar conundrum that some of our German admins helped me with. Colbitzer is exporting a beer labelled as a schwarzbier, but really its a Munich dunkel. So we ended up aliasing it to their domestic dunkel. I was extremely surprised as the traditonal German brewers usually strictly adhere to there own styles.

I’ve always been on the fence when I see the style listed, but I’m getting completely different characteristics from the beer itself. I know in some cases that the beer style was just entered incorrectly. Do you rate it against the style guidelines? Or do you rate it how you perceive the style to be? I think the biggest violation I see stateside is beers labelled pilseners that really, really are more like lagers. ( I think lagers have gotten a bad rap from the macros, so some breweries shy away from calling it that)

Sometimes brewers are wrong though, or they say things that they don’t really mean for marketing purposes. I had a UK cask beer which was called (on the pump clip and the website blurb) a ‘Doppelbock-style’. It was 4%.

Yeah, I once had something called Greene King IPA which was nothing like an IPA…


I came across a beer earlier today that I wondered about. Renegade Ukko. They call it a Sahti style Pale. But should it just be added as a Golden/Pale or Sahti? It was brewed in conjunction with a gin distilled so a Ukko Gin is also available. Ukko being a Finish God.

Had to Google this one as it intrigued me (still haven’t had a Sahti!). Came across this blog post:

(emphasis mine) based on that I’d say Spiced / Herbed. I mean it doesn’t sound like they tried to brew an actual Sahti is the impression I get, though I suppose classifying as one maybe ok depending on how strict the admins want to keep it. I suspect the flavour profile is going to be a fair bit different to a standard Golden / Pale Ale though.

Interestingly, the beer is down as a “Gruit / Ancient Herbed” style on Untappd. Not convinced that’s any more correct but I’m certainly no expert on such styles.