Do beer styles even matter anymore? The Beer Judge Certification Program officially recognizes 34 styles and 117 sub-styles of beer in its 2015 beer style guidelines. I’m a BJCP Certified Judge, myself, and while beer styles are important for bringing some semblance of order to beer competitions, they basically mean nothing.
Take IPA, for example. While there are very well defined parameters as to what is an India pale ale and what isn’t, in practice, “IPA” is little more than a marketing term. I don’t even know what constitutes an IPA anymore, other than it’s a beer with a fair amount of hops.
The inclusion of a beer style on a beer label is a way to describe the beer and create an expectation about what’s in the can or bottle. Consumers certainly don’t care if a beer adheres these strict and often arbitrary style guidelines—they just care if a beer is delicious!
Take Dageraad Brewing’s newest release, Lekkers, which is, in fact, Flemish slang for “delicious.” This beer breaks all the rules by defying any conventional style categorization. The label loosely describes Lekkers as a “dark Belgian-style ale,” which it most certainly is. But while it has a distinctively spicy Belgian yeast character, the malt character is full of chocolate, caramel and roasted malt—more commonly seen in English porters and stouts—as opposed to the plummy, dried fruit flavours one normally expects from beers that are dark and Belgian.
The use of bitter orange peel is common in Belgian beers—at least in light wheat ales. Here it compliments the chocolately malt and spicy yeast notes and adds some astringency to help dry out the finish.
And it’s far too smooth and not nearly strong enough to be considered a Belgian dubbel or a Belgian Dark Strong Ale. At 5.5% ABV, this beer is downright crushable, and despite bold but balanced flavours, it finishes clean and nothing lingers, encouraging you to have another. And another.
So what is it? It is Lekkers, and it is delicious, and that’s all that matters.
Lekkers by Dageraad Brewing
Dark Belgian Ale • 5.5% ABV • 473 mL tall cans
Appearance: Deep dark brown with ruby highlights and a billowing tan head.
Aroma: Caramel, chocolate, roasted malt, orange.
Flavour: Chocolate, caramel, orange peel, spice, roasted malt.
Body/Finish: Medium bodied with a bone dry, slightly astringent finish.
Pairs with: Beef shortrib, mole poblano, blue cheese and breaking the rules, making up your own rules, then breaking those rules.