Skip

Too many brewers hopped on the craft bandwagon
August 1, 2014 6:46 AM   Subscribe

The highway, however, is getting mighty crowded. Hundreds of different beers debut weekly, creating a scrum of session IPAs, spiced witbiers, and barrel-aged stouts scuffling for shelf space. For consumers, the situation is doubly confusing. How can you pick a pint on a 100-brew tap list? Moreover, beer shops are chockablock with pale this and imperial that, each one boasting a different hop pun.
America has too many craft brewers.
posted by MartinWisse (241 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
America has too many craft brewers doing the same thing.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:48 AM on August 1 [48 favorites]


Where's the firstworldproblems tag when you need it?
posted by indubitable at 6:53 AM on August 1 [18 favorites]


How can you pick a pint on a 100-brew tap list?

Ask for recommendations? Take a chance on a beer just for fun? Drink more? Go on a brewery tour and do samples?

This is like complaining that there are too many types of cheese.
posted by emjaybee at 6:54 AM on August 1 [85 favorites]


America has too many craft brewers who can't (or won't) make a simple, well-balanced, beer.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:54 AM on August 1 [33 favorites]


I work for a wine & beer distributor and we were just discussing this argument in a meeting last week. Our beer manager feels strongly that this premise is a fallacy - the US still has far fewer breweries per capita than it did 150 years ago. Most are small and local without intentions of trying to grow nationwide, so the idea that all of these 3000 breweries are competing for grocery store space is not actually true. And it's still the case that the big guys are vastly overrepresented as a percentage of the facings in retail stores. When you have Bud Light six packs three wide on a shelf, there is plenty of room to cut in a few local microbrews.

I think it's an exciting time! People really love beer, man. It's fun being in this industry right now and seeing how quickly things change from one year to the next.
posted by something something at 6:55 AM on August 1 [76 favorites]


Good.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:56 AM on August 1 [4 favorites]


Ugh, shut up, Bon Appetit. 90% of your magazine is breathless stories about small, artisanal, locally produced food and drink and now that one aspect of that is more or less a reality, you complain that it's too much?
posted by Ham Snadwich at 6:56 AM on August 1 [43 favorites]


Too many brewers hopped on the craft bandwagon

I see what you did there!
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:57 AM on August 1 [5 favorites]


A craft beer goes well with a cupcake.
posted by davebush at 6:57 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


Most breweries still start small and grow organically. A few homebrewers buy a small setup, find some cheap space, open a "tasting room", and do growler fills on the weekend. If that is successful, they get local bars to stock kegs, and maybe bottle or can a single beer. If that gets traction, they start distributing more widely, invest in a bigger brewing rig, move to larger quarters, etc. This is pretty naturally self-limiting... if there are too many breweries, you can't move to the next step, and you either stay at that level or close up.

The bigger danger is when breweries start to run more like restaurants. "I have money from my lucrative career and I think it would fun to own a brewery." They jump right in at the middle level, spend a lot of money, and burn out and die quickly. Screws up the whole ecosystem.
posted by smackfu at 7:02 AM on August 1 [12 favorites]


How can you pick a pint on a 100-brew tap list?

Pick the stout with the best name/most mentions of chocolate in the tasting notes and then go down the list until you wake up the next morning shitting treacle.
posted by biffa at 7:02 AM on August 1 [31 favorites]


It's amazingly expensive to distribute beer nationally. Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada says it costs $4-5 to ship a case of beer from Chico to the East coast (which is why they've recently opened an East coast brewery). If you're a small brewery whose per-case costs are relatively high, that's a huge burden that winds up making your beer either prohibitively expensive or eats into your profits.

There are plenty of box-ticking beer collectors who wish they could get Small Dude's much-lauded (by the four people who have had it) DIPA in their local bottle shop, but it ain't gonna happen. And that's probably a good thing.

It causes problems, I think, when craft bars cater (maybe by necessity) to box-tickers, and might crowd out quality local options for rarities from far away, putting pressure on small local brewers to ramp up distribution (and production), which can be ruinous if not managed very carefully.

I'm not innocent in this--I'll drink an interesting "import" if it's on tap--but I do make an effort to drink very local when I have the opportunity. I don't think it's a huge problem that many craft brewers are doing "the same thing" around the country--it just makes it more attractive to drink local, to me. (That said, it would be nice if more brewers had the time and space to make quality lagers.)
posted by uncleozzy at 7:04 AM on August 1 [5 favorites]


America has too many craft brewers doing the same thing.

It's not limited to America. PLEASE STOP MAKING OVERBLOODYHOPPED WANNABE IPA'S AND MAKE SOMETHING DRINKABLE PLEASE.

I'm looking at you, Flying Monkey.


/dying for a Duggan's #9
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:04 AM on August 1 [22 favorites]


You know, sometimes I think this is true. But if Portland, Orergon, can have this many craft breweries then every other town and city just needs to catch up. What I think is the most exciting is the range that is developing. I, personally, think the world has enough IPAs but I'm starting to think of them as the white bread loaf at the bakery. You can make lots of other interesting things but you also need a plain loaf of bread. Give me your lagers, your kölsche, your huddling pilsner and I'll be a fan of you everyday. Make some weird shit like a wheat lychee beer and you've got my attention. There's still room.
posted by amanda at 7:04 AM on August 1 [6 favorites]


"Endless choice is not always the be-all and end-all. “The promiscuous drinkers are never satisfied,” says Summit’s Stutrud. Besides, brewing more beer, and more styles, is a bet that more drinkers will be converted to craft. Yes, last year, craft beer accounted for just 7.8 percent of the market, but consumers are fickle. When I was in high school, Red Wolf and Pete’s Wicked Ale were the rage. Remember them? Probably not."
Probably yes. Also, I'm happy to be a promiscuous drinker, thank you.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 7:04 AM on August 1 [4 favorites]


Some people can't handle it when their dreams become reality.
posted by triage_lazarus at 7:04 AM on August 1 [5 favorites]


Too many beer options? Do they say this about wineries too?
posted by Brian B. at 7:05 AM on August 1 [24 favorites]


I really don't care how many breweries there are in the entire country, but I can tell you it's great having a bunch right nearby.

Drink local! It's just easier anyway.
posted by selfnoise at 7:05 AM on August 1 [17 favorites]


It's amazingly expensive to distribute beer nationally.

Yeah, here's an article on that subject: Craft Breweries Scale Up But Keep It Real. I guess it is good for the breweries, but we already get all of these in Connecticut except New Belgium, so I don't know how much of a difference it will make locally.
posted by smackfu at 7:07 AM on August 1


the US still has far fewer breweries per capita than it did 150 years ago.

Yes, but distribution costs 150 years ago were really steep. I'll wager that the natural number of breweries in 2014 is at least an order of magnitude less than it was in 1864.
posted by wotsac at 7:08 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


This article has reminded me I haven't tried the Summit Union Series yet. Thanks, Bon Appetit!
posted by caution live frogs at 7:08 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


It's not limited to America. PLEASE STOP MAKING OVERBLOODYHOPPED WANNABE IPA'S AND MAKE SOMETHING DRINKABLE PLEASE.



It's sour reds now in the US.


Also, I think they have Duggan's down at the Embassy. If not there, try Thirsty and Miserable, just around the corner.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:08 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


The editors did the writer a disservice with that title. That story was a mostly tame look at what a handful of the largest craft brewers are doing to remain relevant and keep growing in a crowded market. Bernstein doesn't make the argument that America needs fewer brewers. He tells us why New Belgium changed its packaging and how Dogfish Head is transforming into a lifestyle brand, and not just a brewer.

Some more lagers, please.
posted by notyou at 7:09 AM on August 1 [9 favorites]


Too many brewers hopped on the craft bandwagon

This is a sad example of a missed opportunity for a nicely mixed metaphor. We could have had craft brewers rolling the boulder of the craft bandwagon uphill, or too many brewers spoiling the broth of the craft bandwagon or even sinking its ship, but no, they had to hop on.

And as someone living in the northwest, all I can say is Yes please to more breweries. I have my favorites, but trying new ones is always fun. I suspect the market is largely self-limiting, in that unless the mass of consumers suddenly decide they don't want more Bud Lite, most breweries simply aren't going to be able to grow very large. I doubt many of the people opening breweries don't know this, and if they are ok with it I'm definitely more than ok.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:10 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


It's quite simple, really:

1. Think globally, drink locally.
2. Most craft beers stay local (ie small).
3. When a craft beer goes national, it ceases to be crafted and becomes manufactured.

Most are small and local without intentions of trying to grow nationwide

. . . in a nutshell (or a pony keg if you like).

And don't encourage them to over-expand and compete nationally by asking for it outside of its natural distribution area. That way lies madness.

Drink the local swill whereever you are; When travelling, ask what's good locally; Or don't trust it and drink a quality nationally manufactured brew you do trust.
 
posted by Herodios at 7:11 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Counterpoint- I haven't had a Westmalle Tripel in months.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:12 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


It's sour reds now in the US.

Some of the trending styles are interesting because they do not broadly appeal. Sour beer may be the new hot thing, but a lot of people really don't like it at all. I love it, but then I don't care for saisons, which everyone was pushing in the spring.
posted by smackfu at 7:13 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


I actually think the craft beer in the US in the last 3-4 years has taken just a massive massive step forward.

It used to be a monoculture of overhopped oversweet hot with alcohol messed lagers and even worse things as you moved darker.

But today I feel like the widely distributed options are much much better. Not just more finesse and style in the IPAs and Lagers, but also just better in every dimension. Added in almost-mass distribution guys like Crooked Stave and its an exciting time to be alive. Not to mention here in NYC we get more and more European craft guys. Not just Mikkeller and Evil Twin, but also the Italian guys.

There might be too many brewers though. I guess some will consolidate, some will close. Hopefully one of them will be dogfish head.
posted by JPD at 7:16 AM on August 1 [3 favorites]


Oh noes I have too many tasty beers to choose from, including several locally sourced and crafted by my friends and neighbors oh noes whatever shall I do.

Actually, I know EXACTLY what I'm going to do: keep drinking this seasonal Berlinerweissbier until my local brewery switches it out for a different seasonal beer and then complain, complain, complain that it is gone. Because it is delicious and I love it so.

It's good to have a plan.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:17 AM on August 1 [7 favorites]


Ooh, let's play the "what beer is next on the hype train" game! We had west coast tastebud-eraser IPAs, then gigantic imperial stouts, now sours. Maybe rauchbiers next?
posted by Itaxpica at 7:18 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Anyone complaining about the overhopped and unbalanced IPAs needs to see what Founders is doing with their All Day IPA.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:18 AM on August 1 [5 favorites]


> America has too many craft brewers who can't (or won't) make a simple, well-balanced, beer.

That means you don't have to choose between hundreds of beers, but only between a dozen or two. Not really a problem.

There's also the pleasure of discovering new unheard-of beers. Loudly praise the ones that work well and let the rest languish in silence.
posted by ardgedee at 7:18 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


I love sour beer, it's like a beer fucked a tart fruit juice, but oh god the hangovers.

I first had sour beer when I bought Bell's Oarsman just because I liked the label. It was a bit of a surprise.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:18 AM on August 1 [3 favorites]


Anyone complaining about the overhopped and unbalanced IPAs needs to see what Founders is doing with their All Day IPA.

Very yes. Also, if you know anyone who lives in/spends time in Vermont, have them bring you some Heady Topper. I have seen it single-handedly convert avowed hop haters.
posted by Itaxpica at 7:19 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


All I know is that 10 years ago if I walked into a random bar or restaurant it was unlikely that they would have a pale ale available even in bottles, and these days even a dumpy bowling alley will usually have something hoppy on tap, so it has worked out for me at least. I think part of the reason why so many craft breweries target the hoppy side of things is that it's one of the few major popular styles that the big breweries don't have on tap everywhere already (so they aren't competing with a Blue Moon or Guinness of the style).

America has too many craft brewers who can't (or won't) make a simple, well-balanced, beer.

Most craft breweries make an amber, which is probably the closest thing to "simple, well-balanced, beer" that exists as a beer style.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:20 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Ooh, let's play the "what beer is next on the hype train" game!

How about, "make every style with lagers instead of ales!" IPLs everywhere!
posted by smackfu at 7:20 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Washington beer is like their weed these days. That said, there's a whole raft of local makers returning to evenly balanced, low(er) ABV session beers (even session IPA's!!) that you can have 3-4 of without getting shitfaced wasted and being hungover the next day.
posted by Annika Cicada at 7:20 AM on August 1 [3 favorites]


Not to mention here in NYC we get more and more European craft guys. Not just Mikkeller and Evil Twin, but also the Italian guys.

Fun fact-though they contract brew all over the world, and the founder is originally Danish, Evil Twin is based in Brooklyn. It's founder has an amazing beer bar/tasting room in Williamsburg called Tørst.
posted by Itaxpica at 7:20 AM on August 1


3. When a craft beer goes national, it ceases to be crafted and becomes manufactured.

Wine Versus Beer, Agricultural Versus Industrial
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:21 AM on August 1


I think there's still room to grow in most local markets. Bars and stores around here seem to be making room for more brands. I think every new bar to open in my area recently has had at least 20 taps. Ten years ago that would have qualified you as a beer nerd bar. A lot of the local beer and grocery stores have reorganized their shelving to make room for more beer options.

I just read an article in a local paper about how our Middle Tennessee breweries are expanding slowly.
posted by ghharr at 7:21 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Personally, I am happy to endorse Full Steam's Summer Basil beer. Aside from being on tap in their bar, they only distribute growlers within a radius of twenty-ish miles. So you'll have to come down here for it.
posted by ardgedee at 7:22 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]




It's sour reds now in the US.

Ooh, really? I love sour beers, and hate IPAs. Seriously, it's reached the point where I can go to a small bar with eight beers on draft, and five of them will be IPAs. It's madness. I can't wait for this trend to show up here.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:23 AM on August 1 [5 favorites]


My local (which is run by a friend, so I'm sort of obligated to drink there) has a fairly rigid tap list. On tap always are Guinness, Harp, and a local "Celtic Ale" since it's ostensibly an Irish pub; one cider; one pilsner; one rotating nitro tap; one sour; one wheat; one (more) stout; never more than three IPAs and DIPAs; two or three ambers or browns; a fruit beer; two or three seasonals.

It's a good list, although I do wish he'd feature more local breweries. Aside from the Celtic there might be one other, but there might not, which is a shame.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:24 AM on August 1


Two thoughts.

First, I appreciate local beers because they theoretically provide Terrior, the French concept of the flavor of a place. A beer from Oregon should taste different from a beer in Boulder, and it's nice to experience that. And when you travel and really enjoy visiting someplace, it's nice to occasionally pay what it costs to have one of those local beers sent to you. It's like a little return visit as the taste and experience transports you momentarily out of your routine back to a special time and place.

Second, in case you hadn't noticed, the economy is in bad shape and the old model of having a stable career working for a giant corporation is winding down. The future is likely to be small businesses and we should applaud people making a successful go of it.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 7:26 AM on August 1 [7 favorites]


Wine Versus Beer, Agricultural Versus Industrial

I'm a wine drinker. I love wine. I drink much more of it than beer.

Nearly all mass-market wine is as industrial as a macrobrew is. Even down to how the grapes are grown

Torst is of course obviously the best beer bar in NYC.
posted by JPD at 7:26 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


First, I appreciate local beers because they theoretically provide Terrior, the French concept of the flavor of a place. A beer from Oregon should taste different from a beer in Boulder, and it's nice to experience that.

That's not terroir unless its something that uses wild yeast. Process isn't Terroir. I tend to think only something like gueze has terroir in the beer world.
posted by JPD at 7:27 AM on August 1 [6 favorites]


Also, I think they have Duggan's down at the Embassy.

Oh I know where to get it (LCBO Summerhill also carries it, a couple of the other big LCBOs as well), I just don't have any. Or any Beau's. Dammit. Looks like I picked a bad morning to want a drink.

There's so much room for all these tiny craft breweries to get together and network (inter)nationally. If I'm over here and I make a stout, and you're over there and you make an IPA, wouldn't it just be great if we traded say 20% of our production? Network the distribution and all of a sudden costs drop.

Terroir also encompasses the differences in water from place to place, JPD.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:30 AM on August 1


I suspect the market is largely self-limiting, in that unless the mass of consumers suddenly decide they don't want more Bud Lite, most breweries simply aren't going to be able to grow very large.

This 4th I brought some craft beers to the family shindig, including a local one that is very popular, Revolver's Blood and Honey, because it's slightly sweet but also powerful. It's an easy entry point into craft beers for people who aren't into stouts or hoppiness or whatever. I mean, lots of people LOVE this beer.

But my brother's girlfriend tried it, liked the taste ok but then got freaked out because there was some sediment at the bottom and went back to drinking Bud.

Regardless, we haven't yet reached craft beer saturation here in North Texas, because most of the stuff at the grocery store isn't local craft beer, or is Sam Adams, and the guy at the chain liquor store where I got the Blood and Honey had a long rant about how hard it was to get a lot of locals in with their ordering system. You still have to go tour breweries or got to certain bars to get much of a selection. And meanwhile, lots of folks still drink their Bud.
posted by emjaybee at 7:33 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


America has too many craft brewers.

Each one of those words makes sense on its own, but strung together like that they make no sense at all.
posted by Floydd at 7:33 AM on August 1 [6 favorites]


First, I appreciate local beers because they theoretically provide Terrior, the French concept of the flavor of a place.

I think using local water is enough to provide a little bit of terroir. At least, I think that's the reason that Great Lakes' beers all have that same certain sharpness across all of their varieties.

Quick book suggestion here, American Terroir is really wonderful if you like reading about that sort of thing.
posted by troika at 7:35 AM on August 1 [4 favorites]


Terroir also encompasses the differences in water from place to place, JPD.

I would guess that many (most?) commercial breweries alter their brewing water.
posted by ghharr at 7:36 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Would be interesting to see if people could tell same beer brewed in different places apart in a blind tasting. For instance, Harpoon makes the same beers in Vermont and Boston.
posted by smackfu at 7:38 AM on August 1


You could argue about terroir for hours. Wine people have gotten into pitched battles over it. I can see the water argument and it isn't crazy. But I think process obliterates it.

I suspect that once you get to the size of having multiple breweries you are almost certainly treating your water.

Think about how uniform Bud is.
posted by JPD at 7:39 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


America has too many web articles with clickbait hardlines.
posted by straight at 7:40 AM on August 1 [8 favorites]


Oh probably, ghharr. Certainly major breweries do when they're brewing something from elsewhere (e.g. Guinness; almost no Guinness you've ever had has even heard of Ireland) in order to maintain consistency. But I'd be surprised if every craft brewer did, or if every craft brewer did in the exact same way.

Note: I have never made a beer in my life so maybe there's only one acceptable kind of water, but somehow I doubt it.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:41 AM on August 1


How can you pick a pint on a 100-brew tap list?

I visit a 130 tap bar fairly often. Here's how I do it:

1. Look at the menu
2. Choose a beer and order it.
posted by TrialByMedia at 7:42 AM on August 1 [20 favorites]


According to the Brewer's Association, craft brewing still only accounts for 7.8% of beer sold in the US. There's a lot of room for more.
posted by octothorpe at 7:43 AM on August 1 [3 favorites]


there's a whole raft of local makers returning to evenly balanced, low(er) ABV session beers (even session IPA's!!) that you can have 3-4 of without getting shitfaced wasted and being hungover the next day.

The big brewers are doing this, too... Stone and Lagunitas both have 4.5% or so IPAs that are pretty ok. I'll stick with the overhopped double ipas, though, thanks.

BTW, your favorite beer style sucks, just saying.
posted by Huck500 at 7:44 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


Too many craft breweries is a sign of advanced civilization. More beer! Sure, sometimes I want a beer and have to choose from beer with blueberries, hard cider, IPA, something with cloves or lemon, wheat beer and something I can't figure out what it is. I'd like a nice amber. My beer version of Get Off My Lawn is It's beer, and it shouldn't have fruit, nuts, herbs, spices or wheat in it. Beer with pumpkin is for kids. Blueberries are for pancakes of muffins. But, mostly, I can taste a couple beers and find one that I will enjoy far more than Coors/Bud.

I would like beer menus to have definitions of lambic, kolsch, etc., because I can't keep up.

Why is Blue Moon so popular?
posted by theora55 at 7:45 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


there's a whole raft of local makers returning to evenly balanced, low(er) ABV session beers (even session IPA's!!)

But I have been clearing shelves of Muskoka Detour all summer long.
posted by Kabanos at 7:46 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Note: I have never made a beer in my life so maybe there's only one acceptable kind of water, but somehow I doubt it.

Definitely not but some kinds are better than others for different styles. Another issue is that municipal water may not be consistently the same month to month and getting your beer tasting the same every time is one of the big challenges of commercial brewing. Some brewers might want to filter their water and then add minerals on their own so they know exactly what they're using. For sure the bigger breweries do this. Here's some discussion about the system a small brewery in NC uses.
posted by ghharr at 7:48 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Why is Blue Moon so popular?

I don't hate Blue Moon, but the reason for this is that is primarily because it is owned and marketed by Coors, who are a giant brewery with a lot of dollars at their disposal.
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:48 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


It would be nice to see as many craft/micro/whatever brewers making decent English bitter type beers as there are making as high an abv and IBU as they can get away with. It's like some kind of pride that the beer stores I go in tout their newest, high abv beers to me when I'm looking for the opposite. The hefeweizen from one of our states few craft breweries was 7.5%..say what? Really? I mean, it would be nice to be able to drink more than one beer without getting toasted. I don't want a barleywine, I want a good session beer! And it's why I homebrew.

Update: I just saw Annika's comment but those beers haven't reached my area yet. 4.5% is still a bit high, btw to me. English bitters range from 2.5 - 4%.
posted by bellastarr at 7:48 AM on August 1 [3 favorites]


Blue Moon is owned by Coors so it's easy for them to widely distribute it using their wholesaler network. Plus, it's pretty good for what it is.

Note: I have never made a beer in my life so maybe there's only one acceptable kind of water, but somehow I doubt it.

I had this iceberg beer in Newfoundland, which is made with water from - you guessed it - icebergs. It tasted pretty much like any other generic lager to me.
posted by something something at 7:48 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


All I know is that 10 years ago if I walked into a random bar or restaurant it was unlikely that they would have a pale ale available even in bottles, and these days even a dumpy bowling alley will usually have something hoppy on tap, so it has worked out for me at least.

Twenty years ago you'd go into a bar and get a choice of Bud, Bud Light, Miller and Heineken or maybe Becks and that was it. Even Guinness was a rare sighting.
posted by octothorpe at 7:50 AM on August 1 [3 favorites]


Fear's "More Beer" is the official background music for this thread.
posted by jeremias at 7:51 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


We may be seeing more different packages on the shelves, but are we seeing more craft beer? It depends on how you define "craft." A lot of the judgement relies on partial ownerships, distro networks, and contract brewing.

12 Not-Really-Craft Beers - Shocktop, Mendocino, Leininkugels, Saratoga, Widmer Brothers, Kona, Red Hook, Pyramid, Goose Island, Unibroue, Blue Moon, Magic Hat.

This list has ZigenBock and Killian's on it as well.

Craft Beer vs. "Crafty" Beer. The Brewer's Association published a list of American non-craft beer, and replaced it with a press release (but the list is still on Google Docs as a PDF).

Blue Moon Tells Beer Snobs to Drink Up and Show Respect: Retail
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:51 AM on August 1 [6 favorites]


Muskoka Detour is fantastic. I love the explosion of small brewers. More beer better! I've discovered so many great new beer styles (Gose seems to be starting to get big right now), and only a few that I really don't like (anything "pumpkin spice", kriek, vanilla porters).
posted by fimbulvetr at 7:51 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Oh I'm not saying I'd be able to taste any difference, and frankly I have neither the inclination, the time, nor the money to really explore beer (or for that matter, wine); there's only so much room in my head, hours in the day, and what my liver can take.

I'd be willing to guess though that if that same iceberg beer were brewed in, I dunno, Arizona with local well water, it would come out at least slightly different. If that weren't the case, breweries wouldn't be treating their water, I figure.

But anyway who wants a beer?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:51 AM on August 1


I drink all kinds of beers, but stick to local brews in cans.

So sick of over-hopped stuff and cutsey-poo HAHAHA names (Moose Drool?.. Eff off.)
posted by jeff-o-matic at 7:52 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


America has too many craft brewers doing the same thing.

That can be said for gourmet hamburger joints, too -- cupcake places, and everything else. That glut kills a good idea faster than anything...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 7:53 AM on August 1


English bitters range from 2.5 - 4%.

Yeah, I honestly don't see American brewers ever making Ordinary Bitters with any kind of regularity. It's tough enough to sell people on spending $12 on a six-pack of 4.5% "session IPA," forget about spending that much on a 3% bitter. Cost of ingredients makes up only so much of the price; distribution is expensive enough that you can't really shave off enough to make it marketable.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:53 AM on August 1


My beer version of Get Off My Lawn is It's beer, and it shouldn't have fruit, nuts, herbs, spices or wheat in it.

The oldest beer recipe in the word has honey and "aromatics."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:54 AM on August 1 [5 favorites]


12 Not-Really-Craft Beers

And, as-of earlier this year, my local Blue Point Brewing. No great loss, really; their beers were always sort of so-so (although I did enjoy a very-fresh Hoptical Illusion).
posted by uncleozzy at 7:55 AM on August 1


I don't know.. Miller 64 (2.8%) sells pretty damn well.
posted by bellastarr at 7:55 AM on August 1


First, a craft beer bubble is one of the best problems to have, period.

Second, because of a recent law change in the semi-draconian landscape of Minnesota liquor laws, there has been an explosion of breweries in Minnesota that I believe even exceeds the nationwide trend. And, contrary to all the griping up the thread, there are some breweries doing amazing things that aren't "over-hopped IPAs". Harriet Brewing is kicking butt with Belgian-style beers, Dangerous Man pumps out a huge variety for its tiny taproom (I love Dangerous Man for its stated goal of never growing in size), Fulton has a manifesto in their taproom that states that IPAs should be approachable and drinkable, and their IPA Sweet Child of Vine is just that. Indeed produces special infusion beers for serving just in their taproom. Tiny Hammerheart is brewing beers with a Nordic and Celtic bent and served in a cabin reminiscent of an Inn you might find in Lord of the Rings.

Like I said, it's a fantastic problem, this bubble.
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:56 AM on August 1 [5 favorites]


Has any craft beer ever gone for lo-cal as a selling point?
posted by smackfu at 7:57 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Evil Twin sells a 2.7% lager they call bikini beer. I'd say that's marketing as low cal?

Its much better than it has any right to be and its pretty easy to find.
posted by JPD at 7:58 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


Unibroue

Wait, hold on. People thought Unibroue was a craft brewery? Is that just because it's from Quebec? They were once but got bought out by Sleeman, which was in turn bought by Sapporo. Fin du Monde and Blanche de Chambly are pretty tasty for macrobrews though. Maudite, too. Beware of the Fin du Monde though, it's like 9% alchohol and will knock you flat on your ass.

Hoptical Illusion

Why are beer names so damn predictable?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:59 AM on August 1 [3 favorites]


Yeah, that Evil Twin is the only one I can think of. It sure is painful to pay $6 or $7 for it though.
posted by smackfu at 7:59 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


In the US if it ain't Bud, Miller, or Coors - people think its craft.
posted by JPD at 8:00 AM on August 1


People thought Unibroue was a craft brewery?

They're expensive and fancy, which to a lot of people means they are a craft brewery.
posted by smackfu at 8:00 AM on August 1


Here in Chicago, local craft brews go for $9 and up for a six pack.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 8:01 AM on August 1


Now I really miss Double Windsor. They always have interesting stuff to try but they keep the list relatively short so it's easy to just go and get something worth trying.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:02 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Without generalizing too much, I think Blue Moon's popularity is, in large part, because women drink it. And it's usually the most interesting thing on tap at your average chain restaurant.
posted by almostmanda at 8:02 AM on August 1


$9 a six pack? LOL some of the European craft stuff is like $9 for 350 ML.

Actually that brings up a problem I have. Some of the really tasty stuff starts to bump up against what I would be paying for wine that I personally enjoy even more.
posted by JPD at 8:02 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


There are so many new breweries in Florida that laws are being proposed to insure it doesn't eat into the profits of the politically connected distributors. But it's ok, they know what's best for their kids.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:03 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Wait you guys think $9 for six beers is expensive?

Jebus. I know we have high alcohol taxes here (which means like, we get hospitals and stuff) but wow. That just blew my mind.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:04 AM on August 1 [3 favorites]


Why are beer names so damn predictable?

Beer is lovely, but it often makes you feel cleverer than you are.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:04 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


LOL some of the European craft stuff is like $9 for 350 ML.

Yeah, and then you go to Belgium and they are 3 euros in a bar, and no tips.
posted by smackfu at 8:04 AM on August 1


I don't know.. Miller 64 (2.8%) sells pretty damn well.

So do Heineken Light and Amstel Light (similar ABVs). But they're not craft beers. They're made by huge multinationals who can make them cheaply and distribute and advertise them and still make a profit.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:04 AM on August 1


I'm making a run up to New Hampshire tomorrow. Any lager or pilsner recommendations when I hit the packie up there?
posted by whuppy at 8:06 AM on August 1


I work at a small craft brewery in Chicago with a fairly wide distribution for our annual barrelage. In April I attended the Craft Brewer's Conference in Denver, which is the Brewer's Association's annual gathering for American craft breweries. I have a hand in distribution, label design, pricing, recipe tweaking, scheduling, ordering of raw materials, long-term style planning, and a bunch of other stuff too boring to mention.

Right now is the best time to like beer in the history of beer. Between international beers, national beers, regional beers, local beers and brewpubs there are always new things to hear about, to wonder about, to look for when traveling, to seek out, to talk about. If your product is good, the market is not too crowded-- the market is only too crowded if no one cares about your liquid.

I thought the article was pretty okay, if kind of going in a lot of different directions and then not really having much substance to it. The headline had nothing to do with the article, though, and it looks like the headline is what a lot of folks here are going off of.

The thing about craft beer is that our marketing has totally different needs from macrobrews. A Coors drinker will drink Coors and pretty much nothing else-- a Bud Lite guy drinks Bud Lite wherever he goes. But a craft drinker has a rotating portfolio of 10-12 preferred beers that she buys consistently and is always looking for something else to rotate into that portfolio. Make a name for yourself, put out a good beer that people like, and it's easy to get picked up off of a shelf.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:10 AM on August 1 [19 favorites]


Anyone complaining about the overhopped and unbalanced IPAs needs to see what Founders is doing with their All Day IPA.
posted by MisantropicPainforest


Most people complaining about this are mainly complaining for the sake of complaining. That certainly was the case but really it's pretty easy to walk into a liquor store or bar and see this isn't really the case any longer. My girlfriend loves stouts and porters and it's easier than ever to find something fun for her.
posted by Carillon at 8:13 AM on August 1


The editors did the writer a disservice with that title. That story was a mostly tame look at what a handful of the largest craft brewers are doing to remain relevant and keep growing in a crowded market. Bernstein doesn't make the argument that America needs fewer brewers. He tells us why New Belgium changed its packaging and how Dogfish Head is transforming into a lifestyle brand, and not just a brewer.

"The few really untrue and unscrupulous things I have seen in American 'stories' have always been the headlines. And the headlines are written by somebody else; some solitary and savage cynic locked up in an office, hating all mankind, and raging and revenging himself at random, while the neat, polite, and rational pressman can safely be let loose to wander about the town."

- G. K. Chesterton
posted by officer_fred at 8:13 AM on August 1 [15 favorites]


10 years ago if I walked into a random bar or restaurant it was unlikely that they would have a pale ale available even in bottles, and these days even a dumpy bowling alley will usually have something hoppy on tap . . .

Twenty years ago you'd go into a bar and get a choice of Bud, Bud Light, Miller and Heineken or maybe Becks and that was it. Even Guinness was a rare sighting.


And there's no going back at this point.

Ask anyone who ever drank a cup of coffee before, say, 1980 in a North American restaurant how much has changed in that department. The bunnomatic brew at the allnight pump'n'go down the street is better than I'd get at a sit-down restaurant in the 1970s.

The day may come when you won't find Bud, Miller, Coors, etc. on tap anywhere, or if you do, it'll be a Bud, Miller, or Coors that bears little resemblance to their offerings today.

The bigs could go locally made (and use local water sources). It makes sense to ship weightless dollars back to the home office rather than heavy beer kegs out to the POS.

Craft Beer vs. "Crafty" Beer

Honestly? Don't care as long as it's good (both: high-quality and not-evil).
 
posted by Herodios at 8:13 AM on August 1 [5 favorites]


Why is Blue Moon so popular?

It's sweet, easy to drink, and honestly is a pretty pleasant beer in a low-key way.

Why are beer names so damn predictable?

They do the naming after extensive taste-testing, with predictable results.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:13 AM on August 1


Beer is lovely, but it often makes you feel cleverer than you are.

Isn't that a lot of why it's lovely though?

Actually this is one of the reasons I loved Duggan's (local brewpub; brewmaster was the guy who opened Mill Street Brewery) so much when it was open: their beers were labeled really, really simply and unclever. Duggans Number ___, ____ (beer style). So unpretentious, and just bloody good beer. (Their stout was heavenly but wasn't continued after the landlord got arsy about jacking up the rent to an impossible number. Then again, Molson moved into the space pretty quickly after, hiding behind the idea of being a 'tasting bar' or some nonsense, so I suspect there was some duggery of skulls there.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:14 AM on August 1


shakes, i want your job SO BAD.
posted by misskaz at 8:16 AM on August 1 [3 favorites]


Worst sin of naming is when I can't remember which beer is which. New brewery to this state has "Hoponius Union" and "Hopstitution", both Pale Lagers. Even odds I even remember which one I'm drinking at the moment.
posted by smackfu at 8:17 AM on August 1


They do the naming after extensive taste-testing, with predictable results.

Nah, most of the names are picked before there's even a recipe.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:19 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


No, the worst sin is the awful label art.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:20 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


theora55: “Why is Blue Moon so popular?”

That has actually felt like the latest fad for a while now: wit beers, these coriander/citrus "white" beers like Blue Moon. Craft breweries all over the damned place seem to be producing them. I dunno. I'm not a huge fan of the type, but my girlfriend once mentioned she liked Blue Moon okay. So I brought home a sixer of Hoegaarden, and now that might be her favorite beer.

“Too many craft breweries is a sign of advanced civilization. More beer! Sure, sometimes I want a beer and have to choose from beer with blueberries, hard cider, IPA, something with cloves or lemon, wheat beer and something I can't figure out what it is. I'd like a nice amber. My beer version of Get Off My Lawn is It's beer, and it shouldn't have fruit, nuts, herbs, spices or wheat in it. Beer with pumpkin is for kids. Blueberries are for pancakes of muffins. But, mostly, I can taste a couple beers and find one that I will enjoy far more than Coors/Bud.”

Ha – that's a pretty good summation of the vaunted Reinheitsgebot, what most people call the "German Purity Law." What's funny to me is that many breweries love to claim they're following that Reinheitsgebot whilst they're producing a hefeweizen or something wheaty like that, which is a flagrant violation of the Reinheitsgebot. Honestly, I think purity of beer is great, but the Reinheitsgebot is awful and wrong in plenty of ways because it bans wonderful beers that are plenty pure. There are tons of Bavarian and German beers that were eliminated or had to face real threats just because this arbitrary rule was put in place.

For example: altbier, "old beer," brewed with aged yeast, is flatly against the Reinheitsgebot, which demands fresh yeast. But it's awesome! If you ever wants something utterly and completely different, something that tastes unlike any other beer I've tried, in a most intriguing and surprising way, you should try the insanely good Uerige Doppelsticke, a strong "sticke" (meaning "secret" – many breweries in the Rheinland prize their best strain of aged yeast as their "sticke") that is a thick, carmel concoction with some bitterness and some rich, dark sweetness.

I love American beers, and I love the experimentation we've done over the past few years – we've done so much research into beers and learned how to make many of the old traditional varieties well. But I'm still waiting to try my first really good American altbier.
posted by koeselitz at 8:20 AM on August 1 [5 favorites]


Here in Chicago, local craft brews go for $9 and up for a six pack.

Oh man. I've been in Philadelphia a bunch this summer (granted, mostly Center City) but buying six-packs of craft beer was impossibly expensive in that city. $9 would be a bargain!
posted by andrewesque at 8:22 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


my first really good American altbier

Baltimore's Union Brewing makes a pretty wonderful altbier.
posted by troika at 8:23 AM on August 1 [5 favorites]


But I'm still waiting to try my first really good American altbier

Jeez, I can only think of two I've ever had: Southampton's Secret Ale and Long Trail Ale, both of which are just-okay (although Long Trail comes in cans and sure tastes great on a camping trip).
posted by uncleozzy at 8:23 AM on August 1


I love craft beer, (well, ok, any beer) but I cursed Miller the day they quit making Southpaw.
posted by bellastarr at 8:25 AM on August 1


A couple years ago I started a miniproject to have a craft/local beer from each state in the order they were admitted to the union, but kind of dropped off maybe 20 states in just because it was months between each state as they were too hard to find and I hard to rely on traveling friends to bring something back. I am about to re-start the project, now, because the varieties of beers available have just exploded. Even just three or four years ago it was so much more difficult to find these beers - now I can get almost all of them without leaving the DC area.
posted by troika at 8:25 AM on August 1


Well, $9 and up for a six pack that is produced four miles away, in the same city? Dunno, seems pricy to me. But I pay it!
posted by jeff-o-matic at 8:25 AM on August 1


But I'm still waiting to try my first really good American altbier.

Sierra Nevada and Victory's collaboration Alt Route.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:27 AM on August 1


I remember when high grav beers made it to Georgia around 2002/2003 (I think?) and everyone was just thrilled. To celebrate the fact my friends and I had never had any high grav beer before--when you don't have a lot of money, you drink cheaply--so we went out and bought a four-pack each of Trois Pistoles and Maudite.

No one felt very good the next morning. But then this was when no one was really teaching/showing/explaining how you drink beers like these. Eventually that changed, but until then, unless you had traveled to where high grav beers were common, you didn't know you probably shouldn't drink them as swiftly and as casually as, say, Miller High Life.

When I moved to QC five years ago, it was weird to see how ubiquitous Unibroue beers were. There you get them not only in the big bottles, but in sixers or twelve-packs. (For the record, I definitely outgrew them after our stint in the province, but I can say I prefer their Blonde du Chambly for a nice session beer.) As much as I didn't like a lot of stuff about living in La Belle Province, I do miss their beer. Toronto has a really nice scene and Kingston's getting there too, it just makes me grumpy that the Beer Store exists and I cannot just go buy beer at the damn grocery store like a civilized human being. (Sorry, sorry, that just came out.)
posted by Kitteh at 8:27 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


Also, if you are Untappd, hit me up with a friend request. I know some other MeFites on there and I love to see what everyone drinks.
posted by Kitteh at 8:28 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Muskoka Detour is fantastic.

I was lucky enough to be in one of the taste sessions to select the beer that Muskoka Brewery used for their Detour. We only sampled 3 beers, and they were already fairly certain which beer they were going to use, but were still open to feedback. The recipe they ended up using was the best of the bunch in my opinion, but the unfiltered Mad Tom recipe was pretty good too
posted by Mahogne at 8:28 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


If anything there is room for a lot more craft beers. I was in Asheville a while back where there are 17 breweries in a city with 85, 000 people. If NYC had the same ratio it would have 1700 breweries.
posted by plastic_animals at 8:29 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


too many craft brewers.

oh, I don't know. My current fave brewer just came to my attention in the last year. He lives two blocks over and delivers fresh options (in recycled Grolsh bottles) every month or so out of the back of his woodwork shop. His summer pilsner is, dare I say, world class.

keep on brewin' in the free world.
posted by philip-random at 8:31 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


There are so many new breweries in Florida that laws are being proposed to insure it doesn't eat into the profits of the politically connected distributors.

Ah Florida, so strident about being anti-regulation till it costs a donor some money.

The strategy in the article about limiting growlers to only 2 specific (non-metric) sizes is actually a zombie bit from the old Florida playbook; they stifled our access to stuff that wasn't major corporate productions for a long time via a supposed consumer protection regulation like that on bottle sizes. Stuff had to be exactly 10,12,16 or 40oz (as I recall; I might have the exacts wrong) and there was no wriggle room for metric conversions. So if you bottled something at 0.500L you couldn't distribute it, which kept out a lot of import too.

This was often shrugged off as an "oversight" yet somehow year after year it never got fixed in the law. Ever so coincidentally legiscritters from Busch areas seemed to be the problem. Go figure.
posted by phearlez at 8:34 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


Most people complaining about this are mainly complaining for the sake of complaining.

Or recently moved to the Pacific Northwest. "If you liked HOP BASTARD and HOP ABUSE, try our new HOPPAGEDDON!" This really varies a lot regionally, which is of course mostly one of the nicest things about drinking local — it's not like other styles aren't available at all, but the Northwest beer scene is still mouth-puckeringly hop-crazy as a whole.
posted by RogerB at 8:37 AM on August 1 [4 favorites]


> Hoptical Illusion

Oh, don't knock it - it was one of the very first craft IPAs to come out (I couldn't find its original release date but I found a review from 2004). Plus, the label is extremely entertaining - and it's a very tasty beer, I still buy it.

Oh, and I love the fact that there are all these beers of all different types. Please keep it up!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:38 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Actually, the best part about Hoptical Illusion is that you can get 32oz of it for $5 from the beer stand in Penn Station.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:42 AM on August 1


There are so many new breweries in Florida that laws are being proposed to insure it doesn't eat into the profits of the politically connected distributors.

The issue(s) with the three-tier system for alcohol regulation... it's tough on craft breweries, because alcohol regulation moves very slowly and most of the laws on the books for various states are still structured around a pre-craft model: most of the regulation affecting the relationship between suppliers and distributors is weighed heavily in favor of protecting distributors from the bullying power of suppliers like Bud and Miller. But when you're a brewer selling a max of 100BBL into a state in a given year, distributors have way more power than you, and in most places the regulations haven't been corrected to account for the imbalance, so craft brewers are at the mercy of distributors.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:42 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


I just wish that I could easily buy six packs of craft beer and not have to buy a whole case of 24, I'd gladly pay $9 for the privilege.
posted by octothorpe at 8:45 AM on August 1


I'm not knocking it, exactly. There's a brewery here (Flying Monkey that I referenced upthread) that has a beer named exactly the same thing.

My mother grew hops when I was a kid. Eating them straight off the vines (or whatever the technical term is) would have been less hoppy than drinking that beer.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:45 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Speaking of regulation, we have a law here that says that every alcohol label must be registered with the state, for a $200 fee. That is meaningless to a big brewer, but for an out-of-state craft brewer, it really puts a damper on things. It's often not worth it for someone to distribute a limited edition beer here at all.
posted by smackfu at 8:48 AM on August 1 [3 favorites]


I am late to the next style trend discussion but here in Cincinnati we have at least three craft breweries that are doing extensive experiments with aging their beers in used bourbon barrels. It is really nice being able to take flights of the same beer in aged and unaged versions and see what a remarkable thing that process does to the liquid.
posted by mmascolino at 8:52 AM on August 1


Speaking of regulation, we have a law here that says that every alcohol label must be registered with the state, for a $200 fee. That is meaningless to a big brewer, but for an out-of-state craft brewer, it really puts a damper on things. It's often not worth it for someone to distribute a limited edition beer here at all.

Connecticut is even worse than that, before you can even register the label you have to pay $40 to get a Unimerc code for it (Unimerc is one of those things where it seems like it was envisioned as a national-scale registration database for labels but only three states that I know of have adopted it) and the turnaround time for Unimerc codes is north of 30 days.

We're in some 20 states and every new release costs us a few thousand bucks just in label approvals.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:52 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


A modest proposal:

Right now, there are some really punishing taxes and regulations on breweries and distilleries, such that it's actually quite surprising that the craft beer industry exists as it does, to say nothing of the nascent craft liquor industry.

On the other hand, calling Sam Adams or its ilk a "craft" beer reduces the term to uselessness. While I'm certainly glad to be able to get non-swill beer anywhere in the country, simply having more breweries fight for national distribution -- given that modern logistics probably does result in a 'natural number' of national breweries that's far lower than in the past -- doesn't seem especially productive.

So, therefore: we should eliminate the punitive licensing, paperwork, and production-time excise taxes on beer and liquor, and instead replace them with interstate distribution taxes. Or, to make the whole thing a little less biased against small-state manufacturers, maybe a miles-from-the-brewery distribution tax. If you want to drink beer from Boston in California, that'll cost you -- it had better be good beer, and worth it. And vice versa.

This would ensure that there would be room for interesting local breweries at the local taphouse, while discouraging dumping by major breweries. It basically puts the tax burden on those companies who are taking advantage of economies of scale, and can thus afford to pay it. I bet if you played with the numbers you could probably even make it revenue-neutral.

Of course, this would never happen, because Miller/Coors/ABInBevExxonMobil (or whoever the fuck owns them this week) would never allow it; they're actually fighting to turn the screws on small breweries and preserve the ridiculous tiered distribution schemes many states have, but it would be nice.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:54 AM on August 1


$200 is a lot. In North Carolina it's still $10 to register a product. I imagine that will be going up, though; this year they're doubling what it costs for a restaurant to have alcohol permits.

But when you're a brewer selling a max of 100BBL into a state in a given year, distributors have way more power than you, and in most places the regulations haven't been corrected to account for the imbalance, so craft brewers are at the mercy of distributors.

The thing is, though, that distributors want to sell this beer. It's where the excitement is in the industry. Bud and Miller distributors are fighting for craft beers just as hard as smaller wholesalers who aren't affiliated with one of the big three. The problems crop up when Anheuser-Busch and Miller-Coors work to discourage the smaller guys from getting a foothold, whether through pressure on retail chains or state governments or their own wholesalers.

Working within the 3-tier system I know I'm biased, but distributors genuinely view themselves as partners with these smaller breweries who would never be able to sell their products widely on their own. We want them to succeed, because if they do, we do.
posted by something something at 8:56 AM on August 1


Interesting question about overkill about to happen in my neighborhood. Here in the South Loop of Chicago, Printers' Row, we have Kasey's, a sports bar with over 50 beers on tap. Two blocks away a place called First Draft just opened with something like 60 beers on tap. Across the street from First Draft, a place called Villains is opening soon, also with over 60 beers on tap. A few blocks from there, a micro brew place called Vice City is about to open, right near The Scout, a huge sports bar with a big selection (not sure how many though, estimating all these numbers, but all are huge numbers), and there's even Gino's Sports Bar on Dearborn which features a dozen or so local brews on tap in addition to many, many bottles.

Will be interesting to see how this goes. I'm skeptical about these mega-selections in a way. Some of the kegs just aren't going to be turning often enough, and that means old beer. Double Scotch dark Smoky Hop-Hammer is going to sit and sit and sit, while more popular sellers get switched out regularly.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 8:58 AM on August 1 [3 favorites]


at least three craft breweries that are doing extensive experiments with aging their beers in used bourbon barrels

May I introduce you to Innis & Gunn?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:58 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


The trouble is when the brewery puts out some product that doesn't sell well, and the distributor stops caring about them, and then the brewery has no power to get out of the contract.
posted by smackfu at 8:58 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


I was lucky enough to be in one of the taste sessions to select the beer that Muskoka Brewery used for their Detour.

Was this a job? Volunteer? Had to sleep with someone?

Whatever, sign me up.
posted by Kabanos at 9:03 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


How, oh, how will the invisible hand ever sort this out?
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:04 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


May I introduce you to Innis & Gunn?

Had a "point" when I was staying at Rick's in Edinburgh last year. Delicious. Highly recommend.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:08 AM on August 1


The thing is, though, that distributors want to sell this beer. It's where the excitement is in the industry.

Yeah the Florida regulation issues have never been a sop to the distributors. They wanted the limited size selection problem solved as much as we consumers did. It was all the people who were already massively set up to service the existing sizes who kept paying to keep the reg in place.

That said, nonsense like this
a provision to require the craft breweries — when they reached a certain size — to sell 80 percent of their bottled, canned and kegged beer to the distributors and then buy it back if they want to sell it on their premises
certainly shows that distributors are more than happy to back inanity that protects their fiefdoms regardless of whether it hurts consumers and manufacturers. Which I get - everyone wants their business to continue to exist, even if it only exist because of legislative baloney. The annoying thing is that the individual citizen seems to be last on the list of people considered. Unless you Think Of The Children, of course.
posted by phearlez at 9:09 AM on August 1 [3 favorites]


FFFM, Innis & Gunn is excellent. I've only come across one place in Toronto that has it on tap though - The Caledonian. Check it out if you've not been.
posted by modernnomad at 9:09 AM on August 1


Working within the 3-tier system I know I'm biased, but distributors genuinely view themselves as partners with these smaller breweries who would never be able to sell their products widely on their own. We want them to succeed, because if they do, we do.

Oh, I didn't mean to imply that distributors are the bad guys, because I agree, I see our distributors much more as partners than necessary evils or whatever. The issue though is that (as has happened for us) if a brand gets neglected by its distributor and sales fall off, we'll go months without an order from them and we can't really even begin to look at other distributors with the same territory unless we can show some state-required 'Good Cause' (which varies by state) for severing the contract-- and lack of sales is often not sufficient. Meanwhile the next state over our stuff is selling like hotcakes.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:10 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


IT COMES ON TAP????????????????????????
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:11 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


each one boasting a different hop pun.

Hoptimus Prime
Black Hops
Java the Hop
Cure what ales you
Hopstitute
Imperial stout trooper
Tricerahops
Hell Or High Watermelon
Hopportunity Knocks
Just the TIPA
Hoptical Illusion
Men in Bock
Genghis Pecan
Boom Shakalager
Groundskeeper Spilly
Mama’s Little Yella Pils
For Those About to Bock
There Will Be Black
IBUsive
Stop, Hop and Roll
Alphaphylactic Hop
Dry Humpkin
Hoppy Seconds
Yippie Rye Aye
Citra Ass Down!
Spruce Willis
You Will Fail Ale
Goser the Gosarian
Apocalypse Cow
Pandora’s Bock
Me, My Spelt, and Rye
Wet Hop American Summer
Hoppy Ending
Modus Hoperandi
Smooth Hoperator
Hoppocalypse
Hopperbolic
posted by Kabanos at 9:11 AM on August 1 [4 favorites]


It comes in pints?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:13 AM on August 1 [3 favorites]


it does!
posted by modernnomad at 9:13 AM on August 1


Sierra Nevada and Victory's collaboration Alt Route

Is very tasty!

I love about half the beers in the Beer Camp case, but the other half are eh -- so I'm reluctant to spend the $40 to buy another one.
posted by Slothrup at 9:16 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


I'm paying attention to how local brewing intersects other areas of the culture. I have a couple of friends who are experimenting with growing hops on a small scale (all row agriculture here is on a small scale because mountains). Some of the area hops producers are making a go of it. People who had never kept truck gardens are planting smaller kitchen plots and putting in a few hops plants instead. Hops are turning into a (very) small cash crop.

I could link to lots of pictures of hops plants but it seems Facebook is down right now. Which is kinda unusual, I think.
posted by workerant at 9:17 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


I think one of the things that is really important is that beer be available in local shops, with reasonable hours. Places in my old neighborhood in Chicago that were unremarkable liquor stores when I lived there, now have extensive fridges of American and European craft beers. Last time I was back, I nearly fainted walking into one or two of them.

Similarly, in Quebec, the small brewery scene is huge (Dieu du Ciel and Trou du Diable being but two notable examples among many), and much more developed than in Ontario. Distribution in depanneurs (corner stores) rather than government outlets has a lot to do with this. Many beers from local breweries are available in the shops in Montreal, and society there has so far failed to collapse (although it might seem that way to Ottawa or Calgary). I do appreciate the LCBO because their wine selection is excellent, and the taxes support things I like, but their beer buyers need help. And the Brewers Retail Triopoly has got to stop. Like now.



pssst- feckless, if you fancy a pint or two, I'll be at the Embassy around six or so, after I hit up 7 Lives for tacos.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:24 AM on August 1 [4 favorites]


Stone and Lagunitas both have 4.5% or so IPAs that are pretty ok.

I like Firestone's Easy Jack also.

(Also, I was a bit tired of mega IPAs, but Stone's Enjoy By fresh IPA on tap was amazing.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:27 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


There is no such thing as too much beer.
posted by doctor_negative at 9:29 AM on August 1


TheWhiteSkull --

EXACTLY. It's my understanding that beer taxes are higher here than they are in QC (of course, this may all be fearmongering amongst the Beer Store's monopoly), but frankly, I'd rather go to my local dep to get a sixer of something good than stand in line at a Beer Store which, tbh, smells gross and has all the customer service warmth of being slapped in the face with stinky fish.

Also, if we could be allowed to just recycle our empties at a grocery store instead of making a trek to a specific store (and sometimes you do not live close to a Beer Store) to do so, that would be also be aces.
posted by Kitteh at 9:30 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I don't really drink big IPAs anymore, but Enjoy By is amazing. (I also made an exception for Heady Topper, which really does live up to the hype and is surprisingly well-balanced, especially considering that it whiffs like a handful of very fresh hops.)
posted by uncleozzy at 9:30 AM on August 1 [3 favorites]


I am heartbroken that I can't find any of the good QC beers here either. Except at maybe beer bars. The LCBO is sadly deficient in that regard.
posted by Kitteh at 9:31 AM on August 1


I love about half the beers in the Beer Camp case, but the other half are eh -- so I'm reluctant to spend the $40 to buy another one.

Costco have it at $36 locally; I'm waiting to see if it ends up at a $*.97 clearance price.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:37 AM on August 1


Man, it's a fabulous time to be a craft beer drinker in the US. I was mostly into cocktails for a while because it seemed like there was more variety; but now there are so many beer choices that going to a craft beer bar or even the supermarket is an adventure. Plus, some of the local places by me have started doing beer shares, so I signed up for one and I get to pick up some wacky new stuff every month. If having this much beer is wrong, I don't wanna be right.

tyrr, come back to Brooklyn and we shall go to the Double Windsor!
posted by ferret branca at 9:38 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


The only problem with the number of breweries in Portland is that there are not enough days in the week to go to all of them.

Plus, now apple cider is becoming a huge thing and that just exacerbates the option paralysis.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:44 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


America also has "too many" musicians, artists, dancers, film makers, comedians, clown, etc. like all post-industrial societies. Worse, their work has zero marginal cost, meaning it can be effortlessly reproduced online.

At least craft brewers and chiefs can justify their overpopulation by saying that their work has non-zero marginal cost, meaning more output is required for more individuals to appreciate their work. Artist, musicians, etc. cannot defend their work similarly.

All these entertainers, both with zero and non-zero marginal cost products, can justify their labors better than the manager, administrator, real estate agent, soldiers, advertiser, cop, politician, lawyer, etc. in that all those professions actively harm our society and economy by spending resources to control other people by waisting their time.

I'm fine with a society in which far fewer craft brewers are paid because very little "useless" work gets paid. I'd bet that an awful lot more craft beer would be available though as many of those lawyers and administrators who currently do "negative work" would choose to brew for fun.

Art is about play. Artistic fun is what will survive when we fix our broken exploitive growth centered economy.

Also, craft brews help limit alcoholism if (a) one adopts the rule that one rarely ever drinks the same beer twice and (b) beers are so strongly flavored that drinking anything boring is painful but drinking each beer is an ordeal.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:45 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


" How can you pick a pint on a 100-brew tap list?"

Duh.
posted by Mitheral at 9:48 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


America doesn't have too many craft brewers, but it does have too many craft brewers engaged in a "how many hops can I jam into this IPA" pissing contest.
posted by breakin' the law at 9:54 AM on August 1 [9 favorites]


Unibroue may not be craft, but Fin du Monde is still delicious. It's one of my go-to table beers; Unibroue's size means I can find it on the cheap even in crappy grocery stores.

Honestly, I think purity of beer is great, but the Reinheitsgebot is awful and wrong in plenty of ways because it bans wonderful beers that are plenty pure. There are tons of Bavarian and German beers that were eliminated or had to face real threats just because this arbitrary rule was put in place.

Fun fact: the Reinheitsgebot was never actually about purity. It was passed because wheat beers were so popular that wheat got really expensive, and bakers complained to the emperor of Bavaria that the price of wheat was rising too much and would make bread unaffordable.

In fact, the law contained a specific exception that wheat beer could be brewed for and consumed by the Emperor and his household.
posted by Itaxpica at 9:56 AM on August 1 [4 favorites]


I came to call BS on this premise, but I see it's been done nicely already. I love trying new things. Never get tired of it. At some point there will be economic pressure and some will disappear. Too much beer is a problem that will solve itself if left alone.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:01 AM on August 1


Would be interesting to see if people could tell same beer brewed in different places apart in a blind tasting.

well, the bass ale i used to buy in michigan came from england and it had a distinctive hard water taste that made the beer

i bought a six pack about a year ago and found out it had been brewed in canada - and thanks to the different water, it didn't even taste like the same beer

very disappointed
posted by pyramid termite at 10:02 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


So sick of over-hopped stuff and cutsey-poo HAHAHA names (Moose Drool?.. Eff off.)
posted by jeff-o-matic at 7:52 AM on August 1 [+] [!]


I agree with you about Moose Drool, it is an awful name (not so much "cute" as just... gross; the illustration on the box is literally a Moose with drool splashing like water out of its mouth.)

OTOH, I'm not going to pass it up because it such a lovely brew. Plus, the name is memorable and even prompted my husband to try it... so there are up sides to a 'cutesy' name, I suppose.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 10:03 AM on August 1


In the interests of full disclosure, however: I generally dislike IPAs. I've tasted a handful that I've enjoyed, but mostly I find them too one-note and I don't like the strong aftertaste.
posted by breakin' the law at 10:04 AM on August 1


I can't wait until people stop complaining about hoppy IPAs. That's the style. Hops have distinctive flavors and people who like hoppy beer really enjoy the different subtleties and aromas and flavors.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:09 AM on August 1 [9 favorites]


Beware of the Fin du Monde though, it's like 9% alchohol and will knock you flat on your ass.

Oh, yes. Fortunately, I learned that lesson at home on the couch and not out at a bar. I drank two of them while watching TV and then realized that I couldn't get off the couch.
posted by octothorpe at 10:11 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


There are good hoppy IPAs and bad hoppy IPAs. Good hoppy IPAs (I mentioned Heady Topper up thread) have complex hop profiles that interplay well with each other and the malt profile. Bad hoppy IPAs are just one-note bitter. A good hoppy IPA is a beautiful thing - and a consummate test of a brewers skill. Because of this, there are a LOT more bad IPAs than good ones.
posted by Itaxpica at 10:12 AM on August 1 [7 favorites]


I'm not complaining about hoppy IPAs. I'm complaining about the fact that, as someone said upthread, you can walk into a beer bar and five of the eight taps will be IPAs. IPAs are hoppy, I get that, but some of us like other kinds of beer and would like to see some of the energy put into IPAs put into other varieties.
posted by breakin' the law at 10:14 AM on August 1 [5 favorites]


Because of this, there are a LOT more bad IPAs than good ones.

I am, as I've said, no expert on IPAs, but this feels very true to me.
posted by breakin' the law at 10:15 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


you can walk into a beer bar and five of the eight taps will be IPAs

Along the same lines, in the serious craft beer places around here that only have a dozen taps, it's very common to find 10 of the 12 at over 7% alcohol. Sometimes you don't want to get wasted and just want to drink some beer.
posted by smackfu at 10:20 AM on August 1 [10 favorites]


In any case, the wife and I are right now finishing up the business plan for one of our own. Yes, yes, sorry honey, I'll get back to the financials.
posted by oneironaut at 10:25 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Along the same lines, in the serious craft beer places around here that only have a dozen taps, it's very common to find 10 of the 12 at over 7% alcohol. Sometimes you don't want to get wasted and just want to drink some beer.

^This.^

Last year we were at local microbrew festival and didn't sample as much as we'd have liked as at least 50% of the beers we wanted to try the most were at 8% or higher. I mean, it was a cold October day and had the festival been held during the summer, we would have walked, but as it was we drove and not a lot of tastings were had.

I'm generally down to have a couple of pints at 7% max, but anything higher either has to be the only beer I have for the night or served in a much smaller glass. I am an IPA fan in general, but I am more against having super high grav for the sake of "how far can we push this ABV, you think?"
posted by Kitteh at 10:30 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


This is like, the fourth craft brewing bubble we've been in. There will be a harrowing, but it won't really change much.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:37 AM on August 1


My local preference, Tibbs, definitely does the whole "too much ABV" and "too much cleverness" but the beers are so very delicious so I keep going back.

His brews:
Common Law IPA (i don't get the joke with that one...)
A-Tibb-ical Pale Ale
Hell-Jen Belgian Tripple
Citra Your Ass Down IPA
For Richer or Proter
Auslander Hefeweizen (don't think that's a pun tbh)
Strawberry Blondshell
G'Morning Coffee Stout
Grapefruits of Wrath Pale ale

Most of these are 6% but e.g. the Tripple is 10% (10%!) so I usually just have one brew. Tibbs, brew softer and I will drink more!! Not that he has a problem selling more, he "Tibb"-ically finishes his week with most of his brews run dry.
posted by rebent at 10:38 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


I kind of wish there were beer tasting events. I have no idea what "hoppy" tastes like in particular for instance. It might help narrow down the staggering possibilities.

I know I generally like stouts and red beers in general. Also Blue Moon, 1554, Fat Tire, Pilsner Urquell. (I even like Corona Light as long as there's lime -- I only recently discovered just how shockingly hideous it is without.)

I actively dislike Newcastle Brown Ale and Stone Levitation.
posted by Foosnark at 10:39 AM on August 1


I miss Schoenling Little Kings Cream Ale. 8 oz. bottles, brewed by Hudepohl in Cincinnati.
posted by theora55 at 10:41 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


'Hoppy' tastes like grapefruit. I love grapefruit juice, but not hoppy beer.
posted by theora55 at 10:42 AM on August 1


Foosnark, at all the breweries I've been to, the bartenders are really knowledgeable about what they've got on tap. You can ask for a flight which is a number of 1/4 or 1/3 pint cups full of different types of beer. Go when it's not too busy, sit at the bar, and ask if they can help explain why beer X is different from Beer Y.
posted by rebent at 10:42 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


Definitely agree with rebent. Even if you are in a bar or restaurant with a good draft selection it is totally appropriate to ask for a taste of a certain beer. They will give you an ounce or two of it to try before ordering. So there is little downside to experiment since if you don't like it you can always fall back to a brand or style you already know you will like.
posted by mmascolino at 10:49 AM on August 1


Ooh, let's play the "what beer is next on the hype train" game!

Gose. Seriously. It's gone insane over the past two years and is on the boards at any brewery worth mentioning. . Too bad there's not a decent American version yet, but Anderson Valley's is the top of the heap. However Bayerischer is still the classic example and top dog. Light, salty, a gentle tartness and a grainy mouthfeel.

As I have waaay too many opinions about beer, I shall refrain from boring you all. But I will say this: Evolution and Capitalism are far more cold and unemotional than those of us who are in the top tiers of either would like to believe. Many mediocre breweries will die. Many excellent breweries will also die. This is just how life (and the market) works, it's neither fair nor poetic, it's best just to have another pint and not think about it too much.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 11:14 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


This article is ridiculous because most of the actual, small craft breweries have no desire to become the next Sierra Nevada or whatever. Like one of the better locally made brews near me is made by a schoolteacher, he has one red IPA and just recently added a lager. He rents space at a commercial brewery to do his brews, then he just hires some dudes he knows to drive kegs around to bars and that's it. He's never going to let it get bigger than that, he's just a teacher who runs the beer thing as a hobby and he just happens to be really fucking good at it.

That has actually felt like the latest fad for a while now: wit beers, these coriander/citrus "white" beers like Blue Moon. Craft breweries all over the damned place seem to be producing them. I dunno. I'm not a huge fan of the type

You should try Deschutes Chainbreaker if you can get it. More like a Belgian IPA but still "white" enough for the Blue Moon drinker. I've homebrewed several batches of this "style" and haven't gotten it nailed down perfectly yet, it's a hard balancing act between the Belgian yeast and hops, but I like it.

America doesn't have too many craft brewers, but it does have too many craft brewers engaged in a "how many hops can I jam into this IPA" pissing contest.

Have any of you people complaining about this actually been to a bottle shop recently because the trend for the last year+ has been "session IPAs". There's still plenty of hoppy IPAs out there but everyone has been moving away from this for a while.
posted by bradbane at 11:17 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


Along the same lines, in the serious craft beer places around here that only have a dozen taps, it's very common to find 10 of the 12 at over 7% alcohol. Sometimes you don't want to get wasted and just want to drink some beer.

No kidding. My favorite regional beers are mostly in the 5-6% range which is strong but ok if you are aware and aren't slamming them, but every so often I run into one that turns out to be well over 8%. That's bordering into wine territory, and I'd prefer to be warned ahead of time so as to approach it with some respect. Unfortunately none of the bars and restaurants local to me list ABV numbers; sometimes when I travel I'll see those printed on a beer list and I always really appreciate that.

Foosnark, at all the breweries I've been to, the bartenders are really knowledgeable about what they've got on tap. You can ask for a flight which is a number of 1/4 or 1/3 pint cups full of different types of beer. Go when it's not too busy, sit at the bar, and ask if they can help explain why beer X is different from Beer Y.

I agree, and would add that in addition to tasting at breweries, almost any good beer-centric bar will be fine pouring you tastes of whatever they have on tap if they aren't busy, usually a couple of sips in a small glass. It's always free for tastes in my experience, but if I wanted to taste more than a couple I'd offer to pay upfront and tip generously, and of course many places will offer curated flights as well.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:30 AM on August 1


It just really kills me that I can be at a restaurant where there's a small brewery literally next door, or on the same property, and they aren't serving the local beer. There's probably more than one reason for this, big reasons surely being distribution laws and economics -- but it still kills me.

I mean, it's not like I'm advocating some radical hyperlocal agenda, but in this case the alley where the Budweiser truck pulls up is farther than the door where the beer kegs come out of the brewery. I mean, come on.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:34 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


My favorite regional beers are mostly in the 5-6% range which is strong

no it isn't
(speaking Canadian here)
posted by philip-random at 11:36 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


I mean, it's not like I'm advocating some radical hyperlocal agenda, but in this case the alley where the Budweiser truck pulls up is farther than the door where the beer kegs come out of the brewery. I mean, come on.

There's a White Castle next to a brewery around the block from me ... seems like a natural synergy.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:41 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


I drink a lot of both craft beers/microbrews/artisan/whatthefuckever beers and cheap shit. I like them all. Being able to enjoy both is like being able to enjoy both foie gras and deli chopped liver, chateubriand and White Castle burgers--the sign of a well rounded individual.
posted by jonmc at 11:45 AM on August 1 [3 favorites]


America also has "too many" musicians, artists, dancers, film makers, comedians, clown, etc. like all post-industrial societies

But not enough world class soccer players.

Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada says it costs $4-5 to ship a case of beer from Chico to the East coast (which is why they've recently opened an East coast brewery)

Beer costs exactly the same as packaged water to ship. This is why it's so expensive to ship, water is heavy. If that particular beer can't risk being warmed up too much, then it's as expensive to ship as milk, which is very expensive to ship.

I agree, and would add that in addition to tasting at breweries, almost any good beer-centric bar will be fine pouring you tastes of whatever they have on tap if they aren't busy, usually a couple of sips in a small glass.

I have seen brewers charging a bit for thier very expensive and high end beer tasters, but they'll make it a measured 5 fl.oz. pour.

We've seen several waves in US brewing.

1) MY BEER IS HOPPIER THAN YOUR BEER!
2) MY BEER IS STRONGER THAN YOUR BEER!
3) My beer is aged in a whiskey barrel!
4) My beer is red!
5) My beer is sour!

We're starting to see

6) My beer isn't that strong at all!

And let me tell you, if we can establish session beers in the US, that will be a very, very, VERY good thing.

I do have to give props to Schlafly, who did fall in line by putting their imperial stout in bourbon barrels, also did an interesting thing by putting their barleywine into new oak barrels. It came out very nice indeed.

And, of all the small brewers I've been to, the one I'm seeing as Most Likely To Become A National Brand is Urban Chestnut in St. Louis. They make very nice beers, and they're run by an ex AB brewer and an ex AB packaging manager. They've recently built a staggering large brewery, with 15,000bbls initial capacity, and scalable up to 100K bbls, which is Boulevard/Dogfishhead scale.

They're also very good at lager style beers, which is unusual (but obvious given the AB brewing history of the brewing staff.) Note: They do not brew AB style beers, they brew good lagers.

I drink a lot of both craft beers/microbrews/artisan/whatthefuckever beers and cheap shit. I like them all.

I have a six pack of Bell's Amber and most of a case of Yuengling in my fridge right now, so I'm right there with you.
posted by eriko at 12:02 PM on August 1 [5 favorites]


Gose. Seriously. It's gone insane over the past two years and is on the boards at any brewery worth mentioning.

That would definitely explain why I've started seeing it everywhere after having one for the first time a month or two ago. Luckily for me, it turns out that it's a style I quite enjoy, so I'm happy to have it blowing up right now.
posted by Copronymus at 12:12 PM on August 1


If that particular beer can't risk being warmed up too much, then it's as expensive to ship as milk, which is very expensive to ship.

Which is the case for Sierra Nevada and probably most craft breweries. The difference is that nobody in their right mind would ship milk clear across the continent, whereas it's almost expected that small brewers do it. Add in the relatively-high tax on beer and you're pricing your product on a knife's edge.

I do frequently skip beers when I'm out at the bar because I'm loathe to pay $7.50 or $8 for a pint. Sometimes this means that I get a decent local brew for $6 or $6.50. Sometimes it means I settle for whatever's cheap-ish.

(I noticed just now that Sixpoint's Tesla just went on tap at my local at $6.50 ... it's a bit big and stunty for me, but the price is sure right.)
posted by uncleozzy at 12:12 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Related to price of beer.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 12:15 PM on August 1


Yeah, at least two of my local breweries have come out with gose lately and it is real tasty. I'm definitely a fan of the move toward sour and away from super-hoppy beers.
posted by ferret branca at 12:16 PM on August 1


I love session beers. I mean, don't get me wrong I will take a couple of 7% or higher in one setting, but a really really good session beer is the best. That way everyone can enjoy it and not have to worry to terribly if they're getting drunk too quickly. (As always, please drink responsibly and do not drive, please!)
posted by Kitteh at 12:19 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Speaking of Goses, this one I had before I left Quebec. I had never had a sour beer before so it caught me offguard. I rated it unfavourably--the shame!!--so I plan on grabbing another bottle when I go to Montreal next weekend now that I know what to expect.
posted by Kitteh at 12:21 PM on August 1


Gose. Seriously.

I was drinking a Westbrook Göse over the fourth of july weekend and I had this ephiphany that Gose and Geuze are pretty damn close to the same thing. I felt like schmuck.

I visited the Cantlllon Brewery in '04 and fell in love.
posted by JPD at 12:23 PM on August 1


It might not be classy. Hell, it might be girly garbage. But the other day I was sitting at an outdoor patio bar and I ordered a UFO Big Squeeze Grapefruit Shandy and oh my lord it was delicious. And I'm not into fruit-flavored beers like Blue Moon or Magic Hat #9, but this tasted like actual juice+beer.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:24 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Oh, I love shandies! I am also quite interested in Radlers but none of my usual haunts have any available.
posted by Kitteh at 12:26 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


A decent beer and a nice-tasting lemon soda are preferred, but nobody will fault you for mixing St. Pauli Girl and Sprite. I mean, maybe some people will. But not me.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:28 PM on August 1


We went to a beerfest recently and one of the distributors was pushing Schöfferhofer Grapefruit Weizen-Mix. They seemed a bit peeved that UFO was doing so well with their Grapefruit Shandy, but the German version is only 2.5%, so that's a hard sell.
posted by smackfu at 12:30 PM on August 1


Oh, my gosh, shandies and radlers are THE BEST. I haven't seen many (any?) craft shandies/radlers, what are some good ones available on the east coast?
posted by troika at 12:30 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


troika, even though I don't like a lot of their stuff, I think Sixpoint makes a pretty good radler (mostly grapefruity). It's available in cans, at least in NYC.
posted by ferret branca at 12:33 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Ooh, some Google research has revealed that a sixer of this German radler is available at my local LCBO. No love for the Canadian radler brand, though. None in stock. Booooo.
posted by Kitteh at 12:36 PM on August 1


America has too many shit craft brewers.

FTFA.

And the Invisible Hand will fix all three of those adjectives, soon enough.

In the meantime, I won't touch an IPA or "pale" anything unless it's recommended by someone I trust. Life's too short to drink random yeast-piss laced with alpha acids.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:37 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Oh, my gosh, shandies and radlers are THE BEST.

You don't need to buy them premade. A beer you like + lemon soda (perhaps not too sweet, so maybe not Sprite or 7Up), and you're done. Buying them premade means you're letting someone else choose your beer for you and that, my friends, is blasphemy.

Sorry WhiteSkull, I can't tonight.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:40 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


You might be able to find Narragansett Del's Shandy in New England. Otherwise, it's hard to find a craft shandy. Beer bars usually have a cider, and that's their one token sweet option. Bars that have macro taps will usually have Leinenkugels (from SABMiller) and don't feel the need to have anything else.
posted by smackfu at 12:43 PM on August 1


Buying them premade means you're letting someone else choose your beer for you and that, my friends, is blasphemy.

I really don't mind someone choosing a beer for me! Asking someone knowledgeable what they like, or having the bartender at a place with an extensive beer list straight up surprise me is how I've discovered some of my favorites.
posted by troika at 12:45 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Same here! The bartenders at The Alibi and The Brooklyn are mad geniuses at taking note of what I like and surprising me with something I might not have ordered and ended up enjoying.
posted by Kitteh at 12:47 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


I was making a joke and not referring to informed experts suggesting something you may like based on the preferences you have conveyed to them
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:49 PM on August 1


troika: “Oh, my gosh, shandies and radlers are THE BEST. I haven't seen many (any?) craft shandies/radlers, what are some good ones available on the east coast?”

I like Harpoon's UFO Squeeze a bit – it's a grapefruit beer, and pretty refreshing, and also the beer part is pretty good. Hard to get their UFO varieties outside Massachusetts, though, from what I've heard.
posted by koeselitz at 12:53 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Too bad there's not a decent American version yet

Lost Nation in Vermont does a spectacular gose, but they only serve it at the brewery/do growler fills.

Gose and gueze are both sour but that's where the similarities end - they're very different beers (they even get their sourness from different sources). I've always wondered if the etymology for the names is related though...
posted by Itaxpica at 1:01 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Gose. Seriously.

Gruits are starting to pop here in coastal New Hampshire, thanks primarily to Earth Eagle. Talk about sour!

Del's Shandy is readily available in these parts as well, and it's worth the hunt.
posted by schoolgirl report at 1:13 PM on August 1


Anyone here dig jester king?
posted by Annika Cicada at 1:16 PM on August 1


I have a great place to get fancy beers and a place to get good cheap beers (and yes there are degrees of quality there too) and I visit them every saturday and both places know it and understand completely. Olde English 800 and La Fin Du Monde can coexist in the same fridge and liver.
posted by jonmc at 1:26 PM on August 1


Gruits are starting to pop here in coastal New Hampshire, thanks primarily to Earth Eagle. Talk about sour!

One of the Italian guys makes a Gentian-bittered beer that is like the perfect IPA to me.
posted by JPD at 1:26 PM on August 1


Perfect IPA, or alcoholic Moxie? Either way, count me in.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:32 PM on August 1


I'm totally not snobby about cheap beer at all; my problem is that I can only really scratch that itch when I go back home to the States and bring my cheapo of choice back. Beer prices here in Canada even for cheap beer means it really isn't cheap beer anymore. I mean, when a domestic costs nearly as much as a craft, I don't feel it's a good move.
posted by Kitteh at 1:35 PM on August 1


Ooh, let's play the "what beer is next on the hype train" game! We had west coast tastebud-eraser IPAs, then gigantic imperial stouts, now sours. Maybe rauchbiers next?

Yes please!
posted by capricorn at 1:44 PM on August 1


Certainly major breweries do when they're brewing something from elsewhere (e.g. Guinness; almost no Guinness you've ever had has even heard of Ireland) in order to maintain consistency.

Au contraire. All Guinness sold in Ireland, the UK, and North America is brewed in St. James's Gate.
posted by amorphatist at 2:17 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Ooh, some Google research has revealed that a sixer of this German radler is available at my local LCBO.

Kitteh: Do a taste test between the Schoefferhofer Grapefruit and the Austrian Stiegl Grapefruit, if you can find it. You'll thank me later.
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:47 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


even session IPA's!!

|'m just waiting for the day when someone markets and Imperial Session IPA. I get the marketing choice, with "Session IPA," but it bugs me. Just drop the I.

'Hoppy' tastes like grapefruit.

That's probably just Cascade hops, (or maybe some other West Coast varietal), which are pretty common aroma hops, especially in west coast style IPAs and Pale Ales. Which is why I don't tend to like west coast style IPAs. Hops actually have a pretty big variety in aroma and flavor, here is a handy guide.
posted by Gygesringtone at 3:21 PM on August 1


'Hoppy' tastes like grapefruit.

Really? Not to me.
posted by jonmc at 3:26 PM on August 1


I haven't seen many (any?) craft shandies/radlers, what are some good ones available on the east coast?

I can't speak to the West Coast, but in Chicago, we have this lovely place called The Radler, that obviously has all your radler needs well taken care of.

I've had a few there. It's a good place.

That's probably just Cascade hops, (or maybe some other West Coast varietal), which are pretty common aroma hops, especially in west coast style IPAs and Pale Ales.

A grapefruit nose is Cascade. A GRAPEFRUIT!!! nose is Centennial, which if often called the Super Cascade, or Citra.

A number of US hops -- Apollo, Bravo, Calypso, Chelan, Horizon and Newport -- are very high alpha humulone, thus, very strong bittering hops, which is one of the reasons APA and American IPAs tend to be much hopper than their UK precedents. A couple, Columbus and Super Galena, are extremely high alpha hops. US hops, as a class, tend to be higher alpha that UK/German equivalents, and when those hops were grown here, they became a bit higher in alpha humulone from wild pollination.

The three hops in the classic West Coast APA are Centennial, Columbus and Cascade -- if you hear the "the 3 C hops", those are the three.

The most interesting US hop to emerge recently was San Juan Ruby Red, which they found growing wild in Colorado. This put it well away from the German hops that grew in the Midwest and the UK style hops that were originally brought to the Cascades. While both the Midwest and Northwest hops have evolved/been bred into unique American styles, SJRR is truly unique, having almost no characteristics common to other US/UK/German hops. It's just recently been cultivated enough to really get into beer, and if you get a non-fruit beer with a sweet fruity nose, there's a chance that's SJRR.
posted by eriko at 3:42 PM on August 1 [4 favorites]


kitteh, you can find the Stiegl radler in most LCBOs in Toronto. It's quite refreshing.

fffm, memail me anytime you feel like stepping out. I often hit Bellwoods brewery on a Sunday evening.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:50 PM on August 1 [2 favorites]


TheWhiteSkull --

I am sure I could probably find it another LCBO here in town, but the Barrack St location is literally two blocks from my house! But next time I'm in TO, I'll be sure to check it out!
posted by Kitteh at 3:55 PM on August 1


This is not a good article. It does not back up its claim with sufficient evidence. This article has gathered some relevant data, although its a few years old.

It allows us to say that if the US had the same number of breweries per capita as x it would have y breweries. For some beer drinking countries:

x(Country).......................y(Breweries the US would have)
Germany.......................5,074
England.........................3,804
Canada.........................3,532
Australia........................3,344
Czech Republic..............7,560
Scotland........................3,650

So 3000 looks like a fairly reasonable number
posted by Touchstone at 3:58 PM on August 1 [2 favorites]


What your numbers are telling me right now is that we have a brewery gap with Germany. This shall not stand!

I'm a bit drunk right now.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:24 PM on August 1 [6 favorites]


From what I've heard, though, some areas of the United States (Colorado in particular) actually surpass all of the countries on that list in per capita number of breweries. I don't have time to check, unfortunately, but might later if I can.
posted by koeselitz at 4:31 PM on August 1


Imperial Session IPA

what
posted by shakespeherian at 4:56 PM on August 1


Imperial Session IPA

what


Short session?
posted by stp123 at 6:18 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


I'm holding out for Session Imperial Session IPAs. Sometimes I just want to have three or four beers and have no idea if I'm going to be blitzed.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:37 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Oh, well what you want then is a Russian Imperial Session Roulette: five of every six beers are a nice 4.5%, but one is 11%. The skill is in brewing them so that you can't taste the difference.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:53 PM on August 1 [5 favorites]


All Guinness sold in Ireland, the UK, and North America is brewed in St. James's Gate.

This seems to disagree, though on a fine point; draught is brewed in Ireland. Cans and bottles are brewed in Toronto and New Brunswick by Labatt.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:33 PM on August 1


I was drinking a Westbrook Göse over the fourth of july weekend and I had this ephiphany that Gose and Geuze are pretty damn close to the same thing.

Westbrook's version is very sour because they make it that way, it is possible the traditional gose was much more sour, but the modern version has a much more nuanced, gentle sourdough bread tartness. I'm not very fond of Westbrook's for this reason (they also seem to have zero consistency lately so I can't tell if I'm going to get a sour bomb or a salt bomb or something I really want. But I digress...).

The history of the gose and its revival is pretty fascinating too, and if I had more time on my hands, would make a great post on its own. I brewed my own gose this summer using brettanomyces and got a stunningly crisp and dry beer that was far closer to the original than most of the commercial versions I can get my hands on currently. It disappeared too quickly and will have to reappear on tap in my house soon.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 10:03 PM on August 1


I miss Schoenling Little Kings Cream Ale. 8 oz. bottles, brewed by Hudepohl in Cincinnati.

Hudepohl, Schoenling, Burger, Bavarian, Wiedemann -- all go back to the 1880s or earlier.
posted by JackFlash at 10:05 PM on August 1


The contest over who can add\change what letters to IPA will eventually culminate in someone creating a Session Imperial Rye Indian Brown Ale (SIRyeBA), and all will love it and despair.

Now that I have a bit more time to sit down and write out my thoughts, let me just add that I love when people mess with styles. I love when brewers think "you know what would taste good?" and then put a lot of effort into pulling that off. I even have a soft spot for word play in my beer names. It's just that IPAs are particularly prone to this, and for some very sensible reasons: they're strong flavored, so the brewer can add other stuff without throwing off some delicate balance; the strong flavor also gives any unpleasantness that the experimental whatever brings something to hide behind; all those hops added at different time gives the brewer plenty to work with flavor wise to compliment the changes; the malts profile can be changed without the beer becoming all about the malt; it's a style that a lot of people drink, so there's more built in customer to a variation on IPA than to a new and exiting Porter; most breweries make one, so they don't have to create a new base recipe as a starting point; and 'hop' is pretty easy make puns out of. All of which leads to the impression that brewers are just screwing around with IPAs just to show they can, something the article seems to imply, but never gets around to saying.

You do see the same free spirit in Belgian strongs, stouts, and sour beers, for most of the the same reasons, and even occasionally in German styles. The difference is that, in general, because of the history of the craft brewing, IPAs are what people think of when they think of Craft Brewing.

Now somebody get on a IRyeBA, it sounds tasty and is fun to say, just please don't age it in oak.
posted by Gygesringtone at 7:47 AM on August 2 [1 favorite]


This seems to disagree, though on a fine point; draught is brewed in Ireland. Cans and bottles are brewed in Toronto and New Brunswick by Labatt.

To be clear, Guinness Draught (keg, can, bottle) and Guinness Foreign Extra Stout in the US both come from Ireland.

The one that isn't brewed in Dublin is called "Extra Stout". I've only ever seen it bottles.
posted by philip-random at 9:11 AM on August 2


but the German version is only 2.5%, so that's a hard sell.

BUT THAT IS THE POINT OF A RADLER.

Take your standard German lager (strength 5%) and mix it 50-50 with lemonade; as the name suggests it's a lovely refreshing drink for your touring cyclist, who can have a couple and continue on his way without wobbling all over the road.

I don't tend drink shandies/Radlers very often, but when I do I want them to be weak and refreshing; if I wanted a session bitter (or a best bitter, or some head-banging strong ale...) that's what I'd ask for.
posted by Jakob at 10:50 AM on August 2 [1 favorite]


I mean I like radlers but literally the only time I drink them is when I am actually bicycle touring.

When I was cycling across Europe they had them in cans in most stores and they were all pretty terrible, along the lines of Mike's Hard Lemonade or something.

A good one though, mixed by a bartender on a hot day at the top of a mountain...
posted by bradbane at 11:35 AM on August 2 [1 favorite]


A week or so ago I visited my buddy Joe Walts who just started up a brewery in Tacomah called The Narrows; if you get a chance, you should definitely give it a try. He used to be the assistant head over at Asylum in Wisconsin outside Madison, but he's got a lot more freedom now.

It was interesting talking to him about different brewing models. They're at the marina, with an absolutely gorgeous tap room, but wisely made the choice to focus on distribution. It's lucky because despite being a gorgeous building there's practically zero foot traffic, so selling at local bars makes up the bulk of their revenue. Which is a little bit of a shame because they have some taps there that they don't do elsewhere that are fucking delicious, including one of the best double IPAs I've ever had.

It's kinda funny, their regular IPA is pretty good as a session beer, but because of massive demand he can't get enough cascade hops to make a wide distro beer with them despite being just across the mountains from the biggest hop-growing area in Washington. So he saves them for the DIPA and even that's not the aggressive, Stone-style HOP SKULLFUCK that so many of the IPAs are around LA. (Though thankfully, that's starting to retreat.) Instead, what I really like about it is that you can pick out a bunch of different hop flavors in succession, like a bit of Cascade grapefruit in the nose, then transitioning to the orangey, appley and piney hops one after another. The only real danger is that it's up around 11% but doesn't taste like it at all, so it's really easy to underestimate and find yourself much drunker than you expected.

He also makes a black saisson that's a limited bottling run, so if anyone up there sees it, I'd recommend picking it up.

That is a trend that I'm enjoying, the upswing in black ale/black lager, etc. For the longest time in LA, it was overhopped IPAs or super boozy Belgians/barleywine/sweet and fruities, which I just can't take past a tiny snifter. I'm also glad that the sours seem to be on the wane after a big explosion of them a couple years back. But it's really nice to start getting dark beers again that aren't imperial stouts or anything — growing up in the Midwest, I was used to having a bunch of stouts and porters, and bemoaned their lack in LA for years, so now that they and a bunch of other dark varieties are coming through it's a lot of fun. I really dig that roasted malt flavor (oh, and Angel City here has started brewing a white stout that is blonde as Barbie but still has that toasted flavor somehow — it's really good too, much better than when they started brewing it a couple years back).

One thing that I do wish would be easier to do is ship small amounts of booze across state lines. We had to smuggle, like, 12 22s in a suitcase down rather than being able to ship them.
posted by klangklangston at 2:08 PM on August 3


You don't need to buy them premade. A beer you like + lemon soda (perhaps not too sweet, so maybe not Sprite or 7Up), and you're done. Buying them premade means you're letting someone else choose your beer for you and that, my friends, is blasphemy.

My preference for shandies, which I'll share for anyone else living in Texas, is the Bombshell Blonde ale from Southern Star combined with Central Market Lemon Ginger Italian Soda.
posted by nath at 2:13 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


More people should make their own beer. After getting my feet wet helping with a couple of batches way back in college, I resumed homebrewing fourteen years ago and have been brewing regularly ever since. At the time I was living in Manhattan and tired of paying $9 or $10 for a six pack of decent beer at the local bodega when I knew I could make better for less. Before long I was doing all-grain brewing in my little studio apartment and winning awards in local competitions. It is a fun, satisfying hobby, and not difficult to make really good beer if you are careful with cleaning and sanitation, plus it's a lot cheaper than buying the good stuff at the store.
posted by exogenous at 8:06 PM on August 5


The problem with homebrewing, for me, is that I prefer lagers and they necessitate a temp I'd need more equipment to accomplish.
posted by phearlez at 8:21 AM on August 6


The only thing Australian "craft" brewers seem to be able to manage is endless fucking variations of India pale ale, which on the grand scheme of things is like an evolutionary cul de sac. It's like nonsense medicine for trembling cowards, shivering on a camp bed under fifteen blankets. Oh it's clean and crisp? Well why don't you melt down some dryer sheets and drink those instead? Have you heard of this new thing called "wine"? I want a beer that is like having a big sweaty pungent nutsack in my mouth. I want it to taste like cigar-smoke-stained leather and almost-burned toast and I want it chewy and thick like slug juice and I want it to absorb ambient light and sit in my belly like a cannonball. Anybody who doesn't like the same beer I do is wrong.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:53 PM on August 6 [4 favorites]


Fuck yeah, beer you can choke on if you don't chew it enough is the best beer.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:01 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]


I want beer you can live on.
Bock typically has a higher nutritional content and alcohol content than other beers. It is traditionally brewed for celebrations and holidays. Because of the higher nutritional content, bock was used by German monks during Lenten fast – a liquid substitute for food. We celebrate Bockfest™ on the first full weekend of March because of this historic association with Lent.
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:15 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


Bock is great, Erdinger is one of my favourites (primarily because it's the most readily available, I would likely have a different favourite if I could ever find any). Puffing Billy had the same watery chemical taste that all Little Creatures brews suffer from.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:36 PM on August 6


« Older Advice on how to be creative from people who are   |   We call it a home. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post