‘Ice’ Beers No Longer Recognized by Brewers Association
Craft beer, regardless of actual production or sales figures, is booming. The boom I’m referring to is the, at last count, 7,346 domestic breweries currently operating and the continuous evolution and introduction of new styles to the American brewer’s and beer drinker’s lexicon, which are not only pushing the industry forward domestically but abroad as well. So when the Brewers Association, a trade group protecting and promoting the interests of small and independent craft brewers, adds or removes beer styles from its official Beer Style Guidelines (which it’s been publishing since 1979), it’s worth taking note as to what this arm of the beer community is legitimizing and what it’s pushing aside as brewing creativity and trends move forward. According to the BA, its guidelines “serve as a resource for brewers, beer judges, and competition organizers including the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup,” setting the standard for what kinds of beer are in play to win those awards. Here’s a look at the changes made to the 2019 edition of the BA’s annual style guidelines.
Additionally, similar styles have been consolidated down to five, including “Pale and Dark American-Belgo-Style Ale,” “Kellerbier or Zwickelbier Ale and Lager,” “Breslau-Style Pale and Dark Schoeps,” “American-Style Light and Dark Wheat Beer,” “Wood-and Barrel-Aged Pale to Amber, Dark and Strong.”
Notably deleted from this year’s guidelines is the category of American-Style Ice Lager, which gets it's "ice" moniker form being frozen prior to filtration usually to remove water content and concentrate the ABV to a higher percentage. The style is mostly frequently made by larger brewers including Miller, Anheuser-Busch, and Molson Coors under brands like Bud Ice, Natural Ice, and Molson Ice. But a representative of the Brewers Association insists the reason for the removal has to do with a lack of ice lagers showing up in competition.
“The decision to add or delete a particular beer style is based on many factors, mostly related to relevance,” Chris Swersey, competition manager for the Brewers Association, said in a statement provided via email. “The decision to remove the category was not undertaken lightly, and had nothing to do with craft brewer interest (or lack of) in the style. We simply haven’t seen an American-Style Ice Lager entry at GABF or WBC in many years, from any brewer large or small.”
Brush up on the entire 2019 Beer Style Guidelines from the Brewers Association here.