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Do you like beer?

Most children like sweet things. None of mine turned their noses up at the promise of a treat from the sweet shop be it chocolate, toffee, sherbet or whatever. But, they’re starting to grow out of it. I know I did.

Other flavours become more attractive and sweet things tend not to be craved quite so much.

Which is why I find it hard to understand the profusion of fruit and other additions to beer to make it something else? Do people who drink these concoctions actually like beer? I suspect not and should, perhaps, console themselves with an alcopop if they’re still available.

But then it goes too far. We’ve discussed the rate of hop addition before and how it gets totally out of hand when brewers try to outdo each other with their double and triple IPA’s. It’s a wonder that someone hasn’t brought out an infinite IPA.

Anyway, what we like to do sometimes, by way of recreation, is to buy a selection of beers that we’ve never tasted before and sample them of an evening. Usually by type so we taste everybody’s take on the same style. For instance this weekend it was pale ales. Every single one was well hopped. We thought that we had opened the IPA’s by mistake. You all know the story; barrels of beer were sent to India as ballast in the bottom of ships for the troops to drink. But, so it reached India in good condition, it was strong and well hopped. And, in my experience, strongly hopped beers mellow over time leaving something more balanced.

But, when you over hop a pale ale and drink it fresh it can have lots of hop flavours and whether this is right or wrong is debatable. You’ll get two different opinions in our house.

But it does beg the question of how to categorise some beers. They don’t fall into any traditional description. We need some more categories, or at least some extensions of existing ones.

There is a ‘Periodic Table of Beer Styles’ which is laid out like the Periodic Table. It groups beer styles and families of beers just like the periodic table does with elements. It’s a useful and interesting tool and maybe should be tweaked to take into account the blurring of styles. Although, an idea I heard that suggested a mild and a hoppy mild is probably too much of a contradiction.

But perhaps the days of compartmentalising beer styles are over. Is it an American Brown or an English Brown? Is it a Dopplebock or a Traditional Bock? A Scottish 70/- or 80/-? Who knows?

Perhaps next time you have a beer that you haven’t tried before, try to guess which category you would put it in if different than what’s on the label.


Hadrian Border Brewery has been producing beer at its best since 1994. With over 25 years of experience and knowledge in brewing, Hadrian Border now operates from its SALSA accredited 40 barrel plant in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and is known all over the North-East for its fine ales including – Tyneside Blonde, Farne Island, Grainger Ale and Ouseburn Porter. To learn more about Hadrian Border Brewery, visit

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