But They Were So Young! Ranking the “We Asked 14 Brewers: What Beer Trend Needs To Die” List

There’s an article going around the internet titled “WE ASKED 14 BREWERS: WHAT BEER TREND NEEDS TO DIE” that is a pretty interesting read as a craft beer lover. There is a lot of range in the topics, running from dumb gripes to real constructive thoughts. So let’s take a look at these “issues”, in rank form, from least to most useful!

I’ve already cut the list in half based on a lot of them having the same point, so we start at 7.

7. I’m combining 5 of them right off the bat, since they all basically pertain to the same thing:

  • “Anything using ‘peanut butter.’” — Chris Davison, head brewer at Wolf’s Ridge Brewing.
  • “Blood Orange fruited beers. Some people really dig that flavor in beers; we absolutely do not. OH!! Also pumpkin beers.” — Davin Helden, CEO of Liquid Mechanics.
  • “I hope I don’t offend my fellow brewers out there, but I’ve never been a fan of fruit beers.” — Chris Riphenburg, co-owner and head brewer of Ale Asylum.
  • “Pumpkin/spice beers.” — Ian Smith, co-owner of Three Rings Brewery.
  • “Beers with meat. No, I don’t hate meat, I just don’t want to drink it.” — John Falco, head brewer at Lincoln’s Beard Brewing Company.

Wahhh! I don’t like infused flavors! As far as I’m concerned, this is just personal gripes. Fruit/flavored beers have a pretty sizable following, and I’ve had plenty of well done fruit and spiced beers. I’ve also enjoyed a couple of peanut butter infused beers, but I can see how that one can be harder to pull off successfully. The real issue is making crap beer, then throwing flavors in it to mask the fact it’s poorly done. So leave the flavored beers alone, except the meat ones. John Falco is right though, save the ribs for the entrée.

6. Probably the one I took the most issue with when I read it since these are my bread and butter usually:

  • “Beer flights. Beer is meant to be drunk by the pint, not by the shot. There are a lot of flavors and aromas that are lost in small tasting glasses, as well as switching back and forth between tasters wrecks your palate. I also wish people would stop naming sub-genre’s of IPA, particularly with colors. Black IPA, Red IPA. Its India PALE ale.  If a beer is black, it isn’t pale.” — Patrick Barnes, head brewer at Islamorada Beer Company.

Is there really that much that is lost based on the size of a glass? You can usually get all the aromas and flavors in a taster and if you go to a good brewery, they usually order your flights so palate wreckers are at the end of it. Do you want to get rid of all these events with 2 oz. pours too? Legitimate questions to brewers out there, is this sample size glassware gripe a real issue? I understand it’s more dish washing, but name a better way for someone to explore what you have to offer in one visit.

The IPA issue is pretty legit though, but IBA and IRA just don’t have the same ring to them. So Black & Red IPA’s it is!

5.  Now let’s get to some legit issues:

  • “People rating every beer they drink on apps and social media is getting a little overdone. Someone new to craft beer may have little to no idea of styles outside of their personal preference, so anything outside of their comfort zone gets a low rating for all to see. Being critical of such a complex beverage simply because you can download a free app demeans the craft of brewing great beer.” — Pete Anderson, co-owner of Pareidolia Brewing Company.

For the most part I agree with Pete, but with a caveat. I think Untappd and Beer Advocate ratings always need to be taken with a grain of salt to begin with. Everyone’s taste is different, so it’s not smart to dismiss a beer based on a numerical score. Some of my favorite beers are 3’s on Untappd, so if I had looked them up before I tasted them, I may have passed them by.  If you really want to know what you’re getting into. read in-depth reviews of how the beer tastes.  Or do what I do, just taste it yourself and make your own decisions. You know, like a grown up would.

4. Same issue for these two, one laid out better than the other:

  • “Cloudy beers.” — Eric Meyer, brewmaster at Cahaba Brewing.
  • “Beers that look like milkshakes and taste like yeast or flour. Don’t get me wrong, New England IPAs done well are delicious – juicy, just the right amount of haze, bursting with citrus. Done wrong, they are really not enjoyable to drink, and they give craft beer a bad name.” — Nicole Carrier, co-founder and president of Throwback Brewery.

Glad a New England brewer (and a fantastic one) made a really good point. A lot of places are putting out the trendy hazy New England/Vermont style IPA’s, with their signature cloudiness from hopping the beer late in the process or by using certain types of yeast and remaining unfiltered. It has been rumored though, that some breweries are instead adding flour to their beers to create the same hazy effect, which adds zero value to the flavors of the beer, all just to hop on the trend. Best solution for this is to stop judging a beer by its color. While there are a ton of great hazy IPA’s, there are plenty out there with great flavor, minimal bitterness, all in a glass you can see the numerous flannel shirts around you through.

3. Another two combined with essentially the same issue:

  • “Filling growlers to go from the tap. The lack of a counter pressure CO2 fill does serious damage to the beer.” — Larry Chase, brewer at Standing Stone Brewing Company.
  • “The Growler. Inefficient, a poor serving vessel, doesn’t hold well. Once we pour it and cap it, we have no idea how long it’s going to be until it’s drunk, if it’s going to be stored cold or rolling around in a car. All hail the Crowler.” — Jon Mansfield, brewery operations manager at Warhorse Brewing Company.

The idea of a growler is great, but things can go south real quick. Hierarchy is always canned first, followed by bottles, crowler, & growler; but know that there comes a lot of cost in canning that newer breweries can’t immediately afford. So until they can can, they should take great care in making sure they can supply their brew for home consumption the best possible way. Also, drink your damn growlers within a week!

2. Two that are similar enough to put together:

  • “Collectors items IPA’s. Beer shouldn’t be taken so seriously and I think people are beginning to tire of the pretentiousness.” — Damian Brown, brewmaster at Bronx Brewery.
  • “That if you can buy a beer on the shelf it must not be as good as a limited release. It’s such a backward way of thinking. You think a brewer is not going to put out great beer every day and only save it for their rare and limited stuff? It’s just crazy.”— Kevin Blodger, co-founder and director of brewing operations at Union Craft Brewing.

Bravo! Listen, Treehouse makes amazing beer, don’t get me wrong, but to wait an hour in line for potentially 8 cans is ridiculous. There are tons of options available, some of which are close to being just as good if not better than some of these the prestige beers. So go peruse your craft beer store once in a while, they have good stuff there too!

  1. This point almost wins by default, because there’s no real counterpoint:
  • “This might be a little inside baseball, but for a time there was almost a sense of pride among a select few breweries in their ability to produce popular beer with a minimal or no laboratory. This has started to die down a little bit, as most brewers recognize the need for stringent quality control in producing quality beers. I’d like to continue to see this move away from beer production by ‘feel’ towards a greater focus on quality controls.” — Alan Windhausen, head brewer at Pikes Peak Brewing Company.

If there’s anything that should matter with beer, it’s consistency! If I come have a beer I loved a month before that tastes nothing like it used to, something is wrong in the process. Beer is very much like a band, to make the most people happy you should sound as close to the album as you can. Throwing malt and hops around wildly would be like Foo Fighters playing “Everlong” with an accordion.  Some may find it cool, but most will probably use the opportunity to grab another beer.

So what do you think? Am I off base on any of these? Let me know in the comments!

All quotes are taken from “WE ASKED 14 BREWERS: WHAT BEER TREND NEEDS TO DIE” by Nick Hines on www.vinepair.com

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