Having experienced my first Guild of British Beer Writers Seminar last night it got the create juices flowing. The seminar was on styles of beer, ranging from 2 (top fermented and bottom fermented) to 138 that the Americans use. And one of those categories is effectively 'any other beer'.
I don't think categorisation is a good thing for beer. I think what you need is a pub, beer and knowledgeable staff.
Put it this way (as IPA seems to be the common example), Jaipur and GK IPA. Completely different, but could be put in the same class. To a customer, that makes the class useless. What works for the customer is the interaction with the staff - the customer explains why they don't like about the sample you just gave them (too hoppy). So you can guide them towards a beer less hoppy. This conversation is vital when it comes to selling bottled drinks - £4 plus is a lot to spend on something you may not like.
By giving categories to staff they can get lazy. It's an IPA. It's a dark beer. It's strong. By having no categories they have to interact with the customer, giving them a better experience and more likely the best beer for what they want.
We also have to bear in mind how many customers care what a beer is labelled as? The vast majority just want a pleasant drink - seemingly judged (at lunch especially) on A.B.V. The 'category' we sell most of at lunch time is split 'most popular' or 'weakest'. So whilst we can debate to our hearts content whether a particular beer is an English Style Dark Mild Ale or an English Style Brown Ale, customer x y and z want a nice dark beer with a bit of a bitter bite.
It comes back to the most important thing in a pub. The staff. And finding staff genuinely interested in learning enough about ale to convey the subtleties to a customer who knows their stuff isn't easy.
Royal Visit - Prince Charles and Camilla are inside the shop - honest! We had been waiting for Prince Charles to appear all morning. There was a rumour that he hadn't ...
4 hours ago