Juicy Bangers vs. the Periodic Table of IPA

Detail from Édouard Manet's The Cafe Concert, 1878: a glass of beer.

Beer styles are hard work, so why don’t we sometimes talk instead about the ways in which different types of beer act on our palates and emotions, or the social functions they perform?

When Chris Hall wrote about ‘juicy bangers’™ last week, something seemed to click:

It captures in two words everything I look for from my first beer of the night: a full-bodied but brightly refreshing, finely-balanced beer of big flavour yet peerless drinkability. It’s become a hallmark by which I measure a brewer. If they can brew a Juicy Banger, a beer loaded with assertive, juicy hop character but one I could happily drink all night, and by the pint, then they’re all right by me.

What’s great about this is that it sidesteps some of the tedious argument over nomenclature in the context of ever-sub-dividing style categories: “It’s ridiculous to say this isn’t hoppy enough for an imperial IPA when the label clearly declares it to be a double session West Coast IPL!”

Instead of fretting about the historical definition of a style vs. its practical usage today, we can just look at the beer in our hand and ask (in a manner of speaking), “Is this an upper, or a downer?”

We’d probably be quite happy in a pub which aimed to offer:

  • a juicy banger™
  • a hearty warmer
  • a background beer and
  • a spicy weirdo.

The purpose of this post is mostly to flag Chris Hall’s piece, so probably best to comment on juicy bangers™ over there, but do feel free to suggest some categories of your own below.

17 thoughts on “Juicy Bangers vs. the Periodic Table of IPA”

  1. I would add to that core range a range strong beer ‘hopped to buggery’ (think thats the technical term, certainly it’s term used by the head brewer I’m most often sharing a pint with) everyone needs some kind of palette destroying hop monster to end the night on.

  2. I’m all in favour of the occasional palette destroying hop monster, but I usually prefer to end my night on a ‘sticky sipper’ – round about the 10% mark, just a third pint, I’ll happily sit with it for half an hour or so, and no I don’t need another one just before last orders, but thank you very much for offering.

  3. I’d subdivide Hearty Warmers into Midnight Beasts and Glorious Ales. (MB = big dark beers that just keep on coming at you, from a strong mild up to an imperial stout. GA = “Who needs aroma hops anyway? Fetch me a ploughman’s lunch, a pewter tankard and the Copper family, we’re going to party like it’s 1799!”)

  4. All about this. The technical side of beer doesn’t intrigue me at all (as I am not a homebrewer), so I am much more interested in someone’s “emotional” response to a beer. The same for music, I am not a musician so don’t care how well someone can play a guitar, just if it is any good.

    1. anything strong is a big basterd or a bad basterd. also have a variation on this for dark lagers, but have to call them BBs in case someone overhears and thinks i am being racist.

  5. Beer ranges from dull to interesting and from pleasant to unpleasant. You can draw it on an xy plot if you like.

  6. Cheers guys. It occurred to me after writing the post that, weirdly, defining beers by ‘occasion’ etc is something that Big Beer is very into, but probably because so many ‘premium lagers’ defy differentiation on their own terms.

    I think a lot of craft brewers have reached a point where they think of the *kind* of beer they want to make (hearty warmer, juicy banger etc) before they think about any rigid *style*.

    Oh and Peter is totally right, there needs to be one for sours. Palate Resetter.

  7. Camden brewer Alex Troncoso makes the most incredible beers, supremely talented brewer. (Always so approachable and friendly at festivals and the bar as well). Juicy bangers is so suited. I look forward to trying their new IHL that is written about.

    I’m loving all these descriptive names but juicy banger is hard act to follow!
    GREAT article and follow on.
    Cheerio~
    FLO.

  8. There’s a million guys and gals on Untappd and Ratebeer saying the same thing about the style, nose, mouthfeel, gravitational pull, wind direction, etc, etc, etc, every week – basically filling up what’s left of the internet by saying much the same things. That’s fine if you want to check on a beer before you buy, but it doesn’t relate to the feeling the beer gives YOU. Which of course is a perfectly individual thing and means possibly SFA to most.

    I usually use Untappd – purely for fun and most of my posts relate completely to how I feel at the time, the associations the beer name brings to mind, what music is in my head, etc. Indulgent? Yes. But I regularly get feedback from breweries who enjoy it – possibly because they are fed up reading the same things over and again also.

    For what it’s worth – ‘lemony notes’ is usually my bag.

  9. Some malty beers are “sweaters” to me while their stronger brethren later in the night are “warm baths.” A light sharp beer after outside work on a hot day is a “croak cutter”.

  10. I’ve had some juicy hobknockers in my time and I’m sure I’ve heard the term juicy bangers describe something else other than beer but yes,it has a certain ring to it.

    ” I say,stout-hearted yeoman, pour me a couple of juicy bangers and make it hasty as I have a stage-coach to catch forthwith. “

  11. Perhaps a boaknbailey = a beer that makes you nod and say, “Somebody oughta write something about this one!”

  12. If nothing else, this sort of description gets to the heart of the very JOY of beer far better than any tasting notes, style definitions or [yawn] food pairings ever can.

  13. Although unrelated to the context of flavor, do “White Whale” and “Ghost Whale” add something to the discussion here? (A shaky limb here, but hold on…) Part of the discussion is that the “style guidelines” and their names, is a desire to use another descriptor with a meaning to the potential consumer. In some cases, a beer’s best explanation, might not be the potential flavor, but its interest to those who wish to lay out large sums of money to obtain them. Perhaps there is another category for food pairing as implied above. Are these useless to many? Yes, as are most of the names that are used, it seems to me. I think this is demonstrated by the recent discussion of “coffee bewilderment”, which was, perhaps, really more “espresso” bewilderment specific. As someone who really likes coffee from specific regions or lots, but doesn’t really like espresso (well done third wave related, blended, etc.), if you tell me you have this coffee called “silky shot”, I wouldn’t know if I’d be interested at all. If you then follow-on with a statement that is “espresso” or “dark roasted”, I’ll be politely asking if you happen to have something light-roasted. “Juicy Banger” and other new description names will function like “silky shot” for most people: further bewildering the majority of public consumers. One of my local breweries has names like “purple haze” and “snakebite” for blends of the beers that they regularly poor. These are not really helpful to me either. But this problem extends both directions. I’m really taken aback by the draft BJCP guidelines and the “ever-sub-dividing style categories” as well. I need something that helps me out, not confuses me or leaves me without help because I wanted a “Munich Dunkel” and received an “International Dark Lager” the first time and a “Dunkles Bock” the second time. Next time I’ll try to order a “Marzen” (with the umlaut, of course) and hopefully they won’t give me a “Festbier” instead. We need a happier medium don’t we? I don’t have any data, but simply imagine that many consumers follow Martyn’s process (for items that they don’t study). I wonder if helping that process is a better approach? Call out a broad category that your beer prescribes to and then describe it within that broad category to your consumer? (Making sure to use “reward myself” & “craft purchase drivers though: refreshing, easy to drink, fun, flavoursome taste.”)
    … alright scratch all that. On an unrelated note, can someone tell me why I can’t find hops for brewing that are from “west kent”?

  14. I sometimes use ‘Liquorice Spoilsport’ to refer to the type of heavy, dark, strong and viscous beers with overly dominant liquorice flavours that wreck the palate and taint any subsequent beers for the next couple of hours…

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