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Not My Top 10 Picks

Posted May 28, 2014 | 10:17 am, by Mirella

or How I picked the style examples listed in my new book

Having taken the time to explain at length why I don’t make beer recommendations, in an earlier blog post, I thought I would take a moment to Beerology Coastershare how I selected the beer examples listed in the Beer Styles chapter of my first book,Beerology: Everything You Need to Know to Enjoy Beer…Even More. While the listed beers are recommendations, they are based on stylistic accuracy and geography rather than on my personal taste.

For those who haven’t seen the book yet, it includes a chapter that lists 62 common beer styles, providing descriptions, historical tidbits and suggested pairings. It also includes a list of 1-5 brands that exemplify each style. Compiling these lists was challenging and it took me months. It was challenging, because of the parameters I set for myself, as follows:

  • I wanted to avoid what I affectionately call ‘beer porn’, that is to say I didn’t want to list beers that taste great but are rare and difficult to find. My goal with this book was to create a list that was accessible. The idea behind these lists, was to point readers in the right direction if they were intrigued by a style description and wanted to taste a beer brewed in this style.
  • In keeping with this goal, I wanted to find beers that were brewed to style. Some brewers like to brew beers using traditional ingredients and techniques and some brewers prefer to freestyle (some do both!) They can all be equally tasty but, in the context of this chapter, I wanted to use beers that illustrate the style well.

All of this would have been pretty straightforward, if it weren’t for the fact that my book was a North American release. While I’m quite familiar with Canadian beers and have sampled a wide range of American brews, I can’t say that I’ve sampled a wide range of beers from Mississipi, for example, or South Dakota. I therefore had the interesting challenge of trying to assemble lists of 5 beers that were true to style and covered as wide a geographical area as possible so that, no matter where the book was purchased, the reader might be able to find at least one of the listed style examples in their area.

Here’s how I assembled the list

      1. I started by including all definitive style examples that are available in North America. For example, I made sure to include the Westmalle Tripel among the style examples for Tripel.
      2. Wherever possible, I tried to find one beer that is available nationwide in both Canada and the USA
      3. I then added beers that I know well, are brewed to style and have a fairly wide distribution – leaving out one-off brews, seasonals, beers from brewpubs that only serve their beer on site and beers that are only available on draught
      4. From there, I compiled and cross-referenced the list of winning beers from the Canadian Brewing Awards, Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup from the past few years. I plugged in these brands where necessary – again being mindful of distribution area and leaving out one-off brews, seasonals, beers from brewpubs that only serve their beer on site and beers that are only available on draught
      5. Once that was done, I filled the gaps by seeking out beers from provinces and states that hadn’t yet been represented in the book, are brewed to style and have a fairly wide distribution


          While this was a huge undertaking and tons of work, I’m very happy with how it turned out and hopeful that the resulting list will be useful to readers from coast to coast. I certainly discovered a lot of new and very tasty beers while assembling it!
Photo by Brilynn Ferguson

Photo by Brilynn Ferguson

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