Two New Zealand Pale Ale styles have been added to America’s Brewers Association’s 2021 Beer Style Guidelines alongside hundreds of other revisions, edits and format changes.

As well as the Kentucky Common Beer and Belgian-Style Session Ale, the New Zealand-Style Pale Ale and New Zealand-Style India Pale Ale have been included in the Brewer’s Association’s (BA) list of officially recognised beer styles. No styles were deleted in this year’s update.

Reviewed and revised annually by the BA, the guidelines serve as a model resource for brewers, beer judges, and competition organisers globally – most notably the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), the largest annual blind tasting competition in the US. The BA-organised GABF was forced to go online only in 2020 but the Association is hopeful the 40th holding of the event will proceed as normal in October this year.

The addition of New Zealand-Style Pale Ale and New Zealand-Style India Pale Ale are expected to draw some entries in competitions like GABF away from other highly populated categories because they already share the same hop varieties.

The newly included New Zealand styles are defined, among other things, by the hops they feature, like Nelson Sauvin, Moutere, Wakatu, Rakau and Motueka. Yet these have already found themselves as go-to varieties in beers that can also be classified in the American Pale Ale categories.

“This recognition of the unique style of New Zealand grown hops catapults our industry onto the world stage,” NZ Hops CEO Craig Orr said in a statement.

“It honours our growers, many (who) have been growing hops here in Tasman for years, and our partners Plant and Food Research with whom we share a long term program on innovation for new varieties.

“Plus it acknowledges craft brewers everywhere for ‘creating’ this category by continuing to innovate and push boundaries with our varietals. It is just phenomenal news.”

The New Zealand-Style Pale Ale’s guidelines are:

Colour: Straw to medium amber.
Clarity: Yeast, chill and/or hop haze may be present at low levels but are not essential.
Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavour: Very low to medium.
Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavour: Medium to medium-high, exhibiting attributes such as tropical fruit, passionfruit, and/or stone-fruit, cut grass and diesel.
Perceived Bitterness: Low to medium-high.
Fermentation Characteristics: Low to medium fruity esters are acceptable but not essential.
Body: Medium-low to medium with a dry finish.
Additional notes: Overall impression is a well-integrated easy drinking, refreshing Pale Ale style with distinctive fruity hop aromas and flavours. Diacetyl is absent in these beers. DMS should not be present.

The New Zealand-Style India Pale Ale’s guidelines are:

Colour: Gold to copper.
Clarity: Chill haze is acceptable at low temperatures. Hop haze is allowable at any temperature.
Perceived Malt Aroma & Flavour: Low to medium intensity malt attributes are present in aroma and flavour.
Perceived Hop Aroma & Flavour: High to intense, exhibiting attributes such as floral, fruity (tropical, stone fruit and other), sulphur/diesel-like, citrusy and grassy.
Perceived Bitterness: Medium-high to very high.
Fermentation Characteristics: Fruity esters are low to high, acceptable but not essential.
Body: Medium-low to medium with a dry finish.
Additional notes: Diacetyl and DMS should not be present. The use of water with high mineral content may result in a crisp, dry beer rather than a malt-accentuated version. Hop attributes are dominant and balanced with malt character.

The 2021 Beer Style Guidelines are available for download at

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