September 28, 2017

Méthode Traditionnelle

From this point forward, we will be using the term "Méthode Traditionnelle" as the style name for our lambic inspired beers.

This is, hopefully, the end of our journey to find a style name for these beers. Personally, I can't say that I've terribly enjoyed this journey. Looking back there have always been two competing goals at the root of every conversation; 1.) To respect the Belgian producers, and 2.) To respect the beer we're making.

For us this discussion started formally in 2012 when we proposed and adopted "American Lambic" as the style name. My belief was, and is, that this term clearly indicated what the beer was and what it wasn't. There were, however, some who disagreed and this topic was discussed and debated ad nauseum. Our stance has always been that we need a term that respected what we we're doing more than "American Wild Ale", and more concise than "Spontaneously fermented ale brewed in Wisconsin following the traditional methods of Belgian lambic brewers".

Fast forward to 2016 and there is more interest in this topic amongst industry members and a more formal discussion has started led by Jeffrey Stuffings at Jester King. My entrance to the conversation was down in St Louis during the Midwest Belgian Beer Fest where a group of us discussed the nomenclature and expressed a desire to have a single term by which we all agree to use, and further a standard by which we all agree to adhere to. This was music to my ears! I no longer felt like a crazy person on an island. There was excitement in this group. Taking inspiration from the wine/champagne world, "Méthode Gueuze" was suggested and we all agreed to it. There was support from our Belgian brethren. There was a healthy discussion amongst industry members as to what the criteria should be. Jester King announced their beer SPON and in that announced Methode Gueuze to the world. And it was good.

And then it wasn't. Call it a mental lapse, or caught up in the excitement, or something lost in translation, or a combination of all three. HORAL felt they were not adequately consulted and they had issues with the term "Méthode Gueuze". And I found myself back in the same debate. Respect the Belgians...but respect what we're doing. Two steps forward, one step back.

But, all good things take time. After 6 months of discussions with HORAL we have a much fuller grasp of each other's priorities and desires. Their main hangup was using the word "Lambic" or "Gueuze" as part of the style name. The resolution is that we will use "Méthode Traditionnelle" for the style name, but they agree using the word "Lambic" or "Gueuze" to describe the inspiration of the beer is appropriate.

Not only that, but there was a core group of industry members that continued and completed the effort to define a standard by which "Méthode Traditionnelle" can be used. If you are interested in using the mark or reading the standards, you can find them here:

A big thank you to James and Sarah Howat of Black Project, and Jeffrey Stuffings of Jester King. Two steps forward.

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