When I was 18 (and legal to drink) you couldn't even find a craft beer. But even at that tender age, I knew there had to be more to life than Budweiser! My friends and I then embarked on a journey to try everything we could find and just as we were discovering more options, the phenomenon of 'micro-brewing' came into its own.
So many choices!.....or at least there used to be.
Initially craft brewers took to their trade with an eye towards rediscovering the classic beer styles of the past....and a taste for perfection. While there are others, the three biggest cultural genres are: German, English, & Belgian styles. Within those three are the main beers that have been around for centuries.
While there are many, the main German beers are lagers, pilsner lagers, weiss (or wheat) beers, & fest biers. The English beers are primarily 'ales', ranging from pales & bitters, to browns, porters, and stouts. Belgian beer is in a class by itself with recipes originating in the 1100s in Trappist Monasteries.....with many still being made there. There are abbey styles ranging from singels to dubbels to tripels......even quadrupels! And then there are the whites, lambics, and sours.
Now there are many more as I said, but to do these well takes talent, and for a LONG time that talent was out there in force and delivering a cornucopia of deliciousness. Then people happened.......and did what they've always done......they fucked it up.
How? By being driven yet again by novelty and sweetness rather than rich.....but adult flavors. The craft beer market now is dominated by two trends: the IPA boom, and the pure "what weird flavor can I stick in my ale"-novelty sensation.
I can't complain about the IPA boom because I do like a good IPA......but even the English who invented it (for their soldiers stationed in India) still enjoyed a bitter, porter, or stout now and then as well. But at least IPAs are solid, adult-tasting ales that are being made in many wonderful variations. But try finding a good, solid pale/bitter. Yes there are still some good ones......but instead of getting easier to find, they are getting more and more rare.
Now.....try finding some fucking pumpkin, blueberry, grapefruit, cranberry, pomegranate thing and you'll have them everywhere. It used to be that around Halloween, someone would put out a pumpkin ale. Fair enough. Not my thing, but I understood. Now? Almost half the aisle is filled with pumpkin ales! But, try to find a nice, brown. Yes, there are still a couple out there, but not nearly as many as those fucking pumpkins! It's enough to make a beer lover cry....(and I have).
Yesterday I called the River Horse Brewing Company, formerly of Lambertville, NJ, and now near Trenton, to bemoan their discontinuation of what I thought to be the perfect "everything beer". It was called "HopHazard" and it had a nice hop to malt balance making it ideal for year 'round drinking. It was also the perfect "party beer".......being just the right touch of flavor, gravity, and alcohol content to please most anyone. I would buy it by the case.
The woman I spoke to was very nice and agreed with my opinion of the variety, saying it was also one of her favorites, buuuuuuut.......trends being what they are, even though the brew masters loved doing traditional styles, they found from a business perspective that other more novelty-driven styles were doing much better. Novelty.
What is it with the general public and 'novelty'? Societal ADD? Lack of any understanding of things of substance? I don't mind people pursuing what they want.......as long as it doesn't affect me.......but this has. So please.........if you want to drink something sweet and fruity, please do so, but stop trying to pretend you are a sophisticated craft beer consumer when you are just looking for something more apropos of a soda bottle.
Beer is for big people.
How Coors Lite is made.
A Heiney in a hiney.
Best use of a Corona I've seen.