I picked up a copy of the magazine “All About Beer” last week, as I wanted to have a read about various things beer related, including a detailed run down of the World Beer Cup and the brews that placed. As nice as it is to have a list of ‘must try’ beers in a well made magazine while sitting on the train, going to my daily job, I couldn’t help but get mildly frustrated by all the categories.

There were, in total 90 yes that’s 90 ! Including such notables as ” American-Style Strong Pale Ale”(featuring all three medalists calling their brews IPA) “American-Style Sour Ale” including a medalist from Denmark called “Oud Bruin” (surely Belgian style?)  “International Pale Ale” (including two medalists labeled IPA from the US)….. I could go on, but I won’t- or maybe I will. It seems that every style of beer had so many sub sections it was as if they were trying to give out as many medals as humanly possible  (270 medals in all) by inventing categories that 99.9% of beer drinkers and enthusiasts would have trouble understanding the difference between!

Is this because it costs money to enter your beers, and the people running the awards want to entice as many as possible, and give them a good possibility of medalling (always good for promotional purposes).  I am such a cynic!! The winners seem to be overwhelmingly from the USA as well, which does not make this a great representation of the world’s beers. In fact this seems like an American party where a few foreigners enter the odd beer for good measure. Now I’m not saying that it’s the organisers fault – it isn’t, it’s down to the breweries of the world to enter all their beers; but if you’re going to enter your beers for international honours then the World Beer Awards is probably a fairer representation of the global beer scene, and they only have 46 categories – far more manageable and far less skewed towards US breweries and spurious sub styles.

Let’s make craft beer accessible for those we are trying to win over from the mass produced rubbish that passes for lager. 90 categories is too much and smacks of an exercise in promotion than truly rewarding the finest beers in the world!

For a full list of styles at the World Beer Cup:   http://www.worldbeercup.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/2012.WBC_Style_Descriptions.pdf