I've gotten myself into an interesting discussion on style guidelines over at Beer Nut, George de Piro's blog on the Albany Times Union's website. George is the phenomenally talented brewmaster at Albany's at C.H. Evans Brewing Company at the Albany Pump Station. We, however, have a difference of opinion. A difference that stems from his post on objectivity—specifically objectivity when judging beer on a competitive level; and even more specifically how style guidelines help to achieve that objectivity. I am not a big fan of style guidelines—at least not those style guidelines used as beer judging criteria—like those developed by the BJCP. I think guidelines are great as brewhouse benchmarks, used for quality control, just not as judging criteria. I prefer the BIIA's method of a few, broad categories based on characteristics like color and strength. I think that's a more level way to judge the beer itself, rather than rating the beer on a brewer's technical expertise. In my opinion beer should be judged on how it tastes, not on how it's made. There needs to be an equal balance of malt, hops, science and art.
Whichever side of the fence your on check out George's post on objectivity, and you can read the whole argument—his side and mine. Please feel free to comment here as well. I'd be more than happy to either argue or high five depending on which way you lean.