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.

  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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