A sensible rebuttal to "Stop Liking What I Don't Like"
January 3, 2016 11:11 AM   Subscribe

Back in May, Slate published an article decrying the trend in craft beers to be overly hoppy (at least according to the tastes of the author). The next day, a rebuttal was crafted (pun intended) and posted the the Bear Flavored beer blog. The main point of contention in the counterpoint article is that more hops does not always mean more bitterness. Additionally, even if some beers were highly bitter, then why complain if some people enjoy them?
posted by surazal (111 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ok, I just realized that these articles were published back in 2013, not last May. Still relevant, however.
posted by surazal at 11:15 AM on January 3, 2016


US craft beer is hella hoppy. Elsewhere less so.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 11:16 AM on January 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


Jeez, there's no need to be so bitter.
posted by box at 11:17 AM on January 3, 2016 [21 favorites]


I feel so much pride in the US beer scene, hoppy or not. I travel to the UK or Europe and I hear the complaint that "Americans only like watered-down beer" and it's at this point just not true. The breadth and depth of beer experimentation in the past decade in the states is just astounding. Cheers.
posted by carlodio at 11:19 AM on January 3, 2016 [30 favorites]


There plenty of non-hoppy American Craft beers. Just stay away from IPAs and APAs.
posted by octothorpe at 11:24 AM on January 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


The intense bitterness of most small-brewer beers is a definite thing. Whenever I go out for a drink I'm much more likely to either get some kind of fruity cocktail, or a glass of cider. Because if I get a glass of beer there's a high chance of it being super bitter and kinda revolting to my palate.

And I really have no interest in developing a taste for BITTERNESS!!!.
posted by egypturnash at 11:25 AM on January 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


The rebuttal is almost impossibly stupid.
posted by shmegegge at 11:26 AM on January 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


This is literally so last year. But I'm in favor of food-based debate, so let 'er rip.

P.S. Downeast cider, if you can get it in your area, is the perfect Fall drink — not too sweet, not too fizzy, just lightly buzzed apple drink.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:32 AM on January 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


Aside from the title (which may have been an editor's idea), the article did not seem all that anti-hop. I agree the rebuttal was stupid.

And horse piss is probably more hoppy than Bud Light.
posted by MtDewd at 11:32 AM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


So last year. The 2015 article is like 'enough with the single-hop session IPAs' or 'quit aging things in bourbon barrels' or something.
posted by box at 11:34 AM on January 3, 2016 [11 favorites]


I love bitter foods, so I'm fine with hoppy beers in general, but some of those IPAs are just pretty nice beers ruined by having an arrangement of dried flowers stuck in them.

(I live withing a 15 minute walk of three craft breweries in the Junction area of Toronto. They have some super hoppy offerings, but are smart enough to offer more than that.)
posted by maudlin at 11:34 AM on January 3, 2016


I like hops. I don't care if you like hops. I also don't care if you don't like that I like hops. I am not 14 anymore, I don't crave anyone approval. Not sure why more people don't have this attitude.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:35 AM on January 3, 2016 [7 favorites]


I'm not a fan of hoppy beers, and I don't mind if other people enjoy them, EXCEPT that it means when I go into my local store, I have a choice of 23 craft beers that are super-hoppy, and maybe three that aren't... so the popularity of the super-hoppy style limits my own choices, because there's only so much room on the shelves and the stores stock what's "popular" rather than going for a more diverse selection, and that makes me sad.
posted by The otter lady at 11:36 AM on January 3, 2016 [54 favorites]


It's definitely a thing that bitterness in food and drink is associated with a sophisticated pallet.

I'm a supertaster and I cannot hang with bitterness. I will forever be that pleb who puts sugar in my tea, eats milk chocolate, drinks cider (dry or off-dry--Woodchuck tastes like a liquid jolly rancher to me), and eschews coffee and beer entirely.
posted by soren_lorensen at 11:37 AM on January 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


I like hoppy beers, but there's some serious "look how bitter this beer is, yes I am drinking it, am I not manly?" shit in the craft brewery scene.

I'd be happier if I could order a beer without having to look it up online first to see if it's going to be "oh this is hoppy in a way where there are nice citrus notes" vs "Oh it's like drinking the stuff they put in anti-freeze to make it not sweet"
posted by Ferreous at 11:38 AM on January 3, 2016 [25 favorites]


There are so many beer styles that aren't hoppy. Whenever I read diatribes against hoppiness, I wonder what breweries or taprooms these people are going to that don't also have a stout or a lager or a saison also on tap. See also: porters, goses, hefeweisens (and lots of other German styles), most Belgians, and other styles. It's easy to avoid hoppy beers, especially at places that list the IBUs of the beers they serve -- that's what that number is there for.
posted by heurtebise at 11:51 AM on January 3, 2016 [8 favorites]


Meanwhile the rest of us are enjoying the hell out of the more recent-ish saison/farmhouse style revival. Tank 7 is my new BFF.
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:55 AM on January 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


I don't care much for delectably bitter, hoppy beers, personally. I like some hops, of course, in a nice pilsner or what have you.

Now, sour -- that's where it's at. Goses, Berliners Weisses, so refreshing.
posted by clockzero at 11:55 AM on January 3, 2016 [11 favorites]


Agree on the Goses - My current favorite is Westbrook Gose, brewed in Mount Pleasant, SC. I had it shipped cross country once so I could share w/friends.
posted by carlodio at 12:00 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Tank 7 was my BFF for a while too, but it's now my second-favorite. Doleful Creature, when the first hot summer day arrives get yourself an Ommegang Hennepin. You will be so happy.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:06 PM on January 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


Hops are great, but when every place has 20 tongue-peelingly hoppy beers, having one porter and one lager available is kind of depressing. And now a lot of non-ipa styles taste like ipa because of the hoppiness bandwagon. I fucking hate these kinds of food trends, they always crowd out other worthwhile stuff in favor of pandering to the folks hopping on the bandwagon.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 12:06 PM on January 3, 2016 [23 favorites]


My only complaint about the prevalence of hoppy beers is not the taste--I love them. But alas, as my 40s come screaming toward me I've found that I get the shittiest, worst hangovers from just a couple hoppy beers. It's a sad fate.
posted by misskaz at 12:13 PM on January 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


I like a couple of hoppy beers, but most of what I like isn't. I would certainly share in the anti-hop resentment if I couldn't get those beers, but Boston is blessed with lots of great places to buy the full diversity of styles in craft brewing.

If you're nearby, definitely treat yourself to the American Craft Beer Fest in May/June. Are there 200 hoppy beers there? For sure, but there are 500 to choose from, so there are plenty of other options.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 12:14 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Agree on the Goses - My current favorite is Westbrook Gose, brewed in Mount Pleasant, SC. I had it shipped cross country once so I could share w/friends.

I trust/hope you've tried what Anderson Valley has on offer. I love the Westbrook (in cans, for tubing) and to my untrained palate AV's gose is quite similar.
posted by ftm at 12:20 PM on January 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


Agree on the Goses - My current favorite is Westbrook Gose, brewed in Mount Pleasant, SC. I had it shipped cross country once so I could share w/friends.

It is so damn good. I was pretty upset when it disappeared from my local beer merchant for the season.
posted by clockzero at 12:28 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


I trust/hope you've tried what Anderson Valley has on offer. I love the Westbrook (in cans, for tubing) and to my untrained palate AV's gose is quite similar.

You know, I tried Anderson Valley's gose; and while it was definitely tasty, I just couldn't dig on it in quite the same way. But I guess I'm a Westbrook fanboy. I could literally drink that gose all day.
posted by clockzero at 12:31 PM on January 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


This rebuttal is not well written. I get what the writer of the rebuttal is trying to say - I don't care for ultra-bitterness, either - but I don't think it's gong to leave much of an impression on those who agree with the author of the Slate article.

I live in a homebrewing household where this type of conversation comes up not infrequently. My partner likes extremely bitter beers, or beers that have a lot of bitter hops added, especially to the beginning of the brew process. I can dig a hoppy beer, but by 'hoppy' I mean a beer that has brewed with more aroma hops than bitter hops, because the aroma hops add more flavor and not so much bitterness. Both types of hops tend to be necessary for a good, complex beer. Your favorite not-really-bitter craft beers are definitely still using hops. Again, it's the type of hops used and when and how they are added to the brew process.

Beer is usually not beer without hops (exception: Dogfish Head's ancient ales). If you prefer a beer like Boulevard's Sixth Glass over, uh, Natty Bo, but hate most IPAs, you still technically like a hopped beer. Maligning hops, in general, doesn't serve to educate the public about what they're drinking - I wouldn't quite say that the Slate article maligns them (it does a somewhat better job at explaining how hops work than the rebuttal does), but it doesn't really try to say much more than "too many bitter hops, BAD."

I think the real problem with the craft brew industry, as relevant in 2016 as it was in 2013, is this: much like the dotcom bubble, there's a growing craft brewery bubble. Many (not all!) but many said breweries want to use bitterness in an effort to outdo other breweries. It's a strange, misguided trend but interesting to observe. Only a few of the zillion new craft breweries are going to survive the eventual 'bubble' burst. The ultra-bitter beers are not the reason why the bubble will eventually burst, but I think when it happens we'll see less mania or fetishization of bittering hops.
posted by nightrecordings at 12:34 PM on January 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'd be happier if I could order a beer without having to look it up online first

Lots of similar comments in this thread. Don't you guys have knowledgeable bartenders over there? Or bars that offer samples (* )? It doesn't take a good bartender that long to figure out what you like, and once you reach the point that they remember you next time you show up, you're all set.

*) to be used sparingly after talking to the bartender, not as a way to get free beer.
posted by effbot at 12:39 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


there's a growing craft brewery bubble

I don't know if there is literally a bubble, in that I am pretty sure that most of the people involved don't have any delusions of getting rich and are really just hoping to win the lottery by making a living selling beer. But there are definitely a lot of breweries starting up and a lot of them aren't actually all that good, or more often they have one or two good beers and then three or four that aren't good but that they make in order to have a full selection.

Personally I like a nice crisp northwest IPA, but don't much like the fruity IPAs (the worst of which taste like drinking from your grandmother's perfume bottle) nor the double and triple IPAs. So I either ask for tasters or just tell the bartender what I like and let them steer me, and it works out fine. My experience is that bartenders usually know a lot about the beers on tap and that servers often don't (especially when they are super young), but that is what tasters/samples are for. The worst case is that you end up with a beer you don't like, in which case you just order a different one. I've only had to do that a few times, and even though I make it clear that I am happy to pay for my unwanted beer it has always been comped, which is nice.

I've never been in a place that has 20 IPAs and three others, even after some fishing-story-style exaggeration. Reality is more like three regular IPAs, a couple of double/triples, and then fifteen or so other beers, from stout through to mass market beer like Coors. Places with four or five taps will usually have an IPA or a pale ale, a darker beer, a lager or pilsner, and one or two mass market beers.
posted by Dip Flash at 12:52 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


For me, hops in beer are like internet advertising: generally accepted, but a lot of people get carried away.

I like Andy Richter's review of IPAs: "It tastes like cologne."
posted by rhizome at 12:59 PM on January 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


I feel so much pride in the US beer scene, hoppy or not. I travel to the UK or Europe and I hear the complaint that "Americans only like watered-down beer" and it's at this point just not true. The breadth and depth of beer experimentation in the past decade in the states is just astounding. Cheers.

It's an attitude that's prevalent in Canada too, unfortunately.

The old standard joke: "Why is American beer like making love in a canoe? Bacause it's fucking close to water."

All I know is that every time I go to the US I get my socks blown off by amazing beers.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:59 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


I like the super hoppy beers that taste like licking a pine tree and smell like cat pee. I like to have one of them and then drink sensible beers, but I still like them.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 1:06 PM on January 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


Um I'm complaining that they make too much stuff I don't like - why would I care that some other people like it? Come on!
posted by atoxyl at 1:11 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Hoppiness is to US craft beer right now what butter and oak was to California chardonnay thirty years ago -- a flavor so distinctive that even the most neophyte taster gets the signal "this is different". This was a great marketing tool. It enables lots of people to latch on to a taste and use that as a springboard for exploring different styles of beer. That wave is subsiding. Still, you will always be able to find Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay on the shelf, because people have been trained to like it. This applies equally to Stone Ruination and beers of that ilk. Ain't no thing. Our nation is awash in good beer. Hurrah!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:12 PM on January 3, 2016 [9 favorites]


Anyway I used to drink a lot of west coast IPAs and stuff. I just got sick of them.
posted by atoxyl at 1:12 PM on January 3, 2016


At this point I think that "I don't like hoppy beers" is the equivalent to "I don't own a TV".

I mean I can see preferring other styles but there are some that wear it like a badge of honor.
posted by Ber at 1:23 PM on January 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


I can dig a hoppy beer, but by 'hoppy' I mean a beer that has brewed with more aroma hops than bitter hops, because the aroma hops add more flavor and not so much bitterness. Both types of hops tend to be necessary for a good, complex beer. Your favorite not-really-bitter craft beers are definitely still using hops. Again, it's the type of hops used and when and how they are added to the brew process.

I think you nailed it... from my perspective, we are enjoying a post-Pliny (the Elder, Russian River) era where brewers and hop growers are showcasing hop aromas and flavors in completely new ways. Part of this is brewing technique (massive amounts of hops added added late in the boil and dryhopping), but it's also new hop varieties that did not exist 10 -15 years ago.

SNPA was the beer that originally turned me on to hop aroma and flavor, and for a long time it was the epitome of what a pale ale could be. The new hop-forward beers though have shown there are many more dimensions to explore. Yum.
posted by superelastic at 1:24 PM on January 3, 2016 [2 favorites]




era where brewers and hop growers are showcasing hop aromas and flavors in completely new ways.

The Enjoy By series is doing a glorious job of this although the last few have seemed to run together, for me.

Semi related note, if y'all haven't used it, Untappd is a great way to see what your jerk friends thought of a beer before you buy it; or to impress your jerk friends with a fancy beer you're having; or mostly just to remember what your jerk self thought of a beer you tried 2 years ago. Initially I (internally) laughed long and hard at the concept of social networking for beer, but it's been useful for comparison and record keeping. User name in my profile, happy to add any MeFi beer fans to my network!
posted by ftm at 1:46 PM on January 3, 2016


There is a real critique embedded in this argument. For a period of time the world was away in mediocre IPAs that were hot/alcohol dominant laded up with hops and a ton of malt to buffer it all out. As sophisticated as cola. Fortunately I think US beer culture has mostly moved past that. For reasons the non-US craft world never really went through this stage.
posted by JPD at 2:03 PM on January 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


Reality is more like three regular IPAs, a couple of double/triples, and then fifteen or so other beers, from stout through to mass market beer like Coors.

Eh, I've been in a few brewpubs where of, say 7 or so beers on the menu, more than half are pitched as "super-hoppy," and at least one of the others is a 12% ABV monster (another fetish of American breweries). Fortunately for me, I am happy to drink a beer or two and call it a night, so I can usually find something that makes me at least not unhappy. My closest beer store has a fairly small selection and once I cut out the super-extra hoppy beers and slight weird flavored beers, I often only have 2-3 beers to choose from out of maybe 3 dozen kinds.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:09 PM on January 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


There are some palates that simply do not respond to bitters in the same way as others. It's a genetic thing, 23andme can identify it for you.

I finished my search for all the craft beers a while ago because so many new beers were coming to market it became impossible to keep up. Now I am testing ciders, yum! True word, before Prohibition ciders were much more popular than beer in the States.

As for hops, different hops have much different flavors, some are only mildly bitter. Worth investigating if you are considering brewing your own.
posted by nofundy at 2:22 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm in Wellington, craft beer capital of NZ.

It's a hop-ridden wasteland. There's nothing but Garage Project, Panhead, Kereru, Parrot Dog, and Tuatara.

I think the last beer I had might have had room for some water in it, but I'm pretty sure it was just a bottle full of hops.

People are dying of thirst from drinking beer.

Basically the apocalypse has come early, with stupid beards.
posted by happyinmotion at 2:25 PM on January 3, 2016 [10 favorites]


before Prohibition ciders were much more popular than beer in the States.

This is also the era when cannabis was severely outlawed in the US, so I have to wonder about the transition from cider to beer possibly being affected by farmers switching from hemp to hops.
posted by rhizome at 2:36 PM on January 3, 2016


More about the math of barley vs apples I suspect.
posted by JPD at 2:45 PM on January 3, 2016


*passes 40 of Counrty Club malt liquor throughout thread, to cleanse the palate*

Just relax and get your buzz on, kids. I dig the fancy beers myself, but I enjoy the cheap swill, too. It'll all do the job.
posted by jonmc at 2:48 PM on January 3, 2016


Basically the apocalypse has come early, with stupid beards.

Hopocalypse would be a good name for a beer though I'm guessing it's taken and has been for ages.
posted by atoxyl at 2:59 PM on January 3, 2016


Yup, Drakes - I guess I've probably seen or even had Hopacalypse.
posted by atoxyl at 3:01 PM on January 3, 2016


Drake's Hopocalypse
posted by octothorpe at 3:02 PM on January 3, 2016


What about "Hopocalypse Now?" Legal issues?
posted by atoxyl at 3:03 PM on January 3, 2016


I'm pretty sure that every single hop based punning beer name has already been taken.
posted by octothorpe at 3:08 PM on January 3, 2016 [7 favorites]


I travel to the UK or Europe and I hear the complaint that "Americans only like watered-down beer"

I heard this a lot in the 90s. Last year, though, not so much. As American craft brews have been imported, it's really muted the anti-American beer types.

I compare it to the disdain for American soccer in Europe -- the MLS was terrible, the men's national team was a joke, and now... well, it's not terrible. The MLS will never be the EPL or the Bundesliga, and the national team will never be a superpower, but no one is laughing anymore.

(I just wish we could start making more sours in the US.)
posted by dw at 3:15 PM on January 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


What The otter lady said . I really like some really hoppy beers, but they are so prevalent that my other favorite styles are crowded out. The hop / stout duopoly needs to end. There's definitely a toxic masculinity thing going on where MOAR IS BETTER and if you like subtle flavors you are a pansy.

heurtebise’s post perfectly illustrates the problem. They listed a bunch of alternatives, none of which I want. I want to see more ambers, ESBs, Scotch ales, barleywines, etc. It would be great for beer-centric bars to have a couple pilsners, a couple stouts, a couple IPAs, a wheat or two, a sour or two, and a couple ambers (or something approximating each of those). Instead you get a couple of each but the malty beers' spots are taken up by IPAs #3-#6.
posted by Tehhund at 3:21 PM on January 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


I love bitter beers and have been really happy with the trend, but I can certainly see why craft beer enthusiasts who prefer maltier beers would be a little resentful of all the resources being dedicated to stuff they don't like.

Every year around Christmas, I get some Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. I'd just assumed that they used a different recipe every year, because it seemed to be getting less bitter over time. But I was wrong. It's the exact same recipe. It's my palate that's changing.
posted by ernielundquist at 3:21 PM on January 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


Every year around Christmas, I get some Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. I'd just assumed that they used a different recipe every year, because it seemed to be getting less bitter over time. But I was wrong. It's the exact same recipe. It's my palate that's changing.

Heh, two years ago I found that Sam's Octoberfest was having a glorious year. Then this fall... intolerably sweet. Sam Adams helpfully, but briefly, informed me via twitter that no, the recipe had not changed.
posted by ftm at 3:25 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


American craft beer this decade has gone the way that the British palate went in the 1970s when we finally discovered chilli peppers. Yeah, getting away from teh bland is good: but there's such a thing as going too far and the Bitterness Wars are a clear case in point.

Hops are supposed to be there as a preservative and to add aroma and a bit of flavour. They're not there to smash your tongue with a baseball bat of lip-curlingly acrid WTF that stuns the senses and leaves you unable to taste anything else for an hour!

(Source: this is my opinion, speaking as a casual CAMRA member married to a former brewer who is far more serious about her real ales than I'll ever be.)
posted by cstross at 3:32 PM on January 3, 2016 [8 favorites]


Every year around Christmas, I get some Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. I'd just assumed that they used a different recipe every year, because it seemed to be getting less bitter over time. But I was wrong. It's the exact same recipe. It's my palate that's changing.

This seems to be a thing with more bitter flavours in general. I'm not getting the same pleasure from my strong black teas (commercial Assam/Kenyan mixes) that I used to get, but I've been drinking 5+ mugs a day since my teens, so ...
posted by maudlin at 3:56 PM on January 3, 2016


Super hoppy IPAs / Cascadian black ales are like eating flowers, or blowing your nose on towels then putting them back in the middle. I do all three, but I don't admit it in public.

MORE ASBEST...I mean MOSAIC
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:03 PM on January 3, 2016


I think we've just passed Peak Hops in Toronto, but I still find it necessary to ask about hoppiness in their drafts when in a new bar, and the waitstaff are always helpful.
posted by Artful Codger at 4:10 PM on January 3, 2016


I feel like it's kind of boring and pointless to argue over matters of taste. Personally, I love hops, and while I've tried many beers that I didn't particularly like, I've never had one that I found too bitter to be appealing. So all the "omg macho bitterness" stuff doesn't make a lot of sense to me personally because beer just isn't that bitter. Maybe I'm a hypo-taster or something? But anyway, I don't really care what beers other people do or don't like.
posted by threeants at 4:13 PM on January 3, 2016


Yeah, this seems a little... two years ago? I mean, not even last year, because 2015's trend was extremely sour beer, which I loved, but I do feel like we've moved on from hoppiness being the signal for "hardcore beer snob."
posted by Solon and Thanks at 4:13 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Being a prince sour is the new IPA hoppy enough for you badge of honor.

I suspect funky and wild yeast beers will be the next badge of honor because people can drink mega hops laden bitterness and intense sourness but a lot of people are going to draw the line at beers that taste like cheese and smell like a men's locker room.
posted by vuron at 4:19 PM on January 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


Know what I do when I'm at a brewery or taproom that doesn't have a beer I like?

I fucking well find another brewery or taproom I do like.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:22 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Hoppy beers aren't on the cutting edge anymore, but I suspect that's part of the problem. They've trickled down so that they're really kind of everywhere.

There's a craft brew focused liquor store nearby, and probably 80% or so of their beers are IPAs, APAs, or something similar, maybe another 10% sours, and the remaining 10% are everything else. I'd wanted to find some interesting special occasion beers for people who liked maltier beers, but it was all just the same stuff they have everywhere.

The really trendy stuff is usually pretty easy to avoid if you want to, but I do get the impression that hoppiness has reached a saturation point where it would be pretty annoying if you didn't care for it.
posted by ernielundquist at 4:44 PM on January 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


Nthing what everyone has said about how frustrating it is to go to a beer store with 40 different kinds of beer and find maybe one thing that isn't super strong and bitter. Or, like, the shit I got from a bartender at a place with 30 taps and 60 bottles when I asked if the brown ale was hoppy: "well it's not going to be a Newcastle." Thanks, guy.

Even if the beer scene has moved on from xtreme amounts of hops (and honestly, I think the baseline has been permanently shifted), there's still a clear preference for really strong flavors. Sours and lambics are really popular. High alcohol beers are still a big deal. I've looked in many places, and it's really hard to find sub-5% ABV beers that are not incredibly sour or bitter. I have told people that's what I was looking for, and they've straight up laughed about how I wanted to drink watery piss beer.

A while back I decided that Anchor Steam works just fine for me, even if it's still slightly bitter to my palate. Now that's all I ever drink, because literally everything else I've ever come across* in recent years has been a punch in the face one way or another, even if it wasn't because of the hops.

* The exception being Trumer Pilsner, but that beer does not exactly get loads of respect, and I don't know how easy it is to find outside the Bay Area.
posted by teponaztli at 4:53 PM on January 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


My local liquor store just started filling growlers, which would be great, but four or five of the six taps are invariably occupied by IPAs or APAs.

Bring on the Goses! Bring on the Rauchbiers! Hell, bring on that cloudy English cider that smells like horse shit (but tastes so good)! There are so many delicious things to drink; why are we still going full-bore on the hoppitamoppita?
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:57 PM on January 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


You know that guy that always goes on about how all food isn't spicy enough, has his own bottle of hot sauce he even takes to restaurants, and always orders the Vindaloo extra spicy and is upset that it's not caused him to choke a little when he eats it?

I feel like American craft brew IPAs are all brewed by that guy, except replace spiciness with hopiness.

It's not a competition. Sure, you can handle that much, but some of us don't want to have to suffer through our beer. Please, just stop it. I'm crying.

I like an ale that I can drink 4 pints of and then go to work the next morning. Preferably <5% alcohol, and easily possible to drink without the "smash your tongue with a baseball bat of lip-curlingly acrid WTF that stuns the senses and leaves you unable to taste anything else for an hour" (thanks cstross)
posted by Jerub at 5:00 PM on January 3, 2016 [9 favorites]


Not to start a derail, but there is one upside to beers being incredibly hoppy: with a dearth of non-hoppy beers to choose from, I started getting really into ginger beer instead, and now I've tried a really large number of brands from around the world, both alcoholic and not. I even thought about having a blog where I reviewed ginger beer, but then I decided I'd be more into that than anyone else.

(Favorites: Maine Root Ginger Brew, Ginger People Ginger Beer, Jamaica's Finest Hot Hot Hot, Crabbie's Original (alcoholic).)

Anyway, I can say, in spite of my last comment, that it seems like there might be growing respect for milder sessionable beers than there used to be, even a couple years ago. Which, if true, is great, because it means more people will take them seriously enough to make them. I'm not exactly keyed into the beer scene, but it's a vague sense I've gotten in the past year or so.
posted by teponaztli at 5:10 PM on January 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


teponaztli, have you tried Not Your Father's Ginger Ale? It's delicious, and makes a fantastic Dark & Stormy.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:25 PM on January 3, 2016


I am pleased at the trend in overly hopped beers as I'm of the mindset that if it doesn't hurt it's not strong enough (see the sour balls I once bought that gave me mouth sores), and beers like this are now gloriously available to me here in Australia; but I also agree with most of this thread in that if it's becoming passe in Australia there's definitely too much of it in America right now.

This also pushes foreign stouts off the shelf, which is less pleasing.
posted by solarion at 5:25 PM on January 3, 2016


I sympathize with the people calling the timeliness of this into question, but the hop arms race is absolutely still a thing in California, which is a factor in why it's kind of a shitty place to like beer. The rest is distribution: all of the good Colorado brewers don't seem to make it out here (oh how I miss Odell and Left Hand) so the rest is mostly samey bullshit like Racer 5. I was neutral on IPAs before I moved here, but now the lack of variety is actively annoying. I mostly just drink Tecate now, because fuck everything.
posted by invitapriore at 5:42 PM on January 3, 2016 [5 favorites]


I suspect funky and wild yeast beers will be the next badge of honor because people can drink mega hops laden bitterness and intense sourness but a lot of people are going to draw the line at beers that taste like cheese and smell like a men's locker room.

The goal isn't actually to find the beer that alienates the most people, though the cheese and locker room beer might win.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:46 PM on January 3, 2016 [5 favorites]


Over the holiday weekend, I've had a barleywine, a strong ale, a couple of Belgians, and am presently drinking a hoppy amber. The hoppy beer is probably my least favorite of the bunch, but I've gotten so that there are a few like this one (Ballast Point Calico) I will drink occasionally. I'm lucky to have a local craft beer store that isn't just an IPA-Mart, but the swing away from all-hops-all-the-time has taken a while to pick up momentum.
posted by briank at 5:57 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


I suspect funky and wild yeast beers will be the next badge of honor because people can drink mega hops laden bitterness and intense sourness but a lot of people are going to draw the line at beers that taste like cheese and smell like a men's locker room.

I thought I liked farmy, funky beers, and I mean I do, but we went to the Funkatorium last week and 2 of the beers I tried were all Gas Station Bathroom on the nose. Waaaay to much. I kind of wonder if these were just off, but fuckit, people came to the Funkatorium and they're going to pretend to like it. I guess one man's Off is another man's Delicious.
posted by ftm at 6:01 PM on January 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


ftm, my friends and I also found Octoberfest unpleasantly sweet this year, despite normally enjoying it. So I think Sam Adams must indeed have done something a bit different, even if they didn't mean to.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:06 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


On the topic of low ABV, not-super-bitter beers, I did notice a mini-trend of "session" beers this summer (does seem to be more of a summer thing). New Belgium has Slow Ride, which is an IPA but not a super strong one, and their Shift lager is also mild yet tasty. Founders, Terrapin, and 21st Amendment all have session IPAs that aren't super over hopped.
posted by jeoc at 6:44 PM on January 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


So last year. The 2015 article is like 'enough with the single-hop session IPAs' or 'quit aging things in bourbon barrels' or something.

The 2015 version: just because you can brew a sour, doesn't mean you should.

(Seriously if I have one more craft "Flemish red!" that's so buteryic it tastes like drinking a glass of human vomit I'm gonna... well, vomit. The Belgians blend them for a reason, dammit)
posted by Itaxpica at 7:05 PM on January 3, 2016 [5 favorites]


Who said you even have to drink beer to enjoy hops anymore? Because now Hopwater is a thing, apparently.

(Full disclosure for anti buzz-marketing/Pepsi Blue purposes: I've never seen this drink for sale, but they did hand out free promotional bottles of it at the last beer-tasting event I attended this past summer. I got the grapefruit variety, and it tasted exactly how I imagine a bucket of used Pine-Sol tasting. So, it's more like Mopwater, amirite?)
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:36 PM on January 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


I've certainly seen Hopwater for sale but full disclosure the product is from Cincinnati and I live in Cincinnati. Pretty much every brewery taproom and better beer bar seems to carry it. I have yet however seen anyone order one.
posted by mmascolino at 7:45 PM on January 3, 2016


My homebrew store sells hop candy - about a dozen different varieties where each is made with a different breed of hop. It's actually a really good way to get a sense of the flavor profiles of different hop varieties.
posted by Itaxpica at 8:24 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Some of those 'IPAs' seem to me to be IPA about the way a pile of raw garlic cloves is chicken Kiev.
posted by Segundus at 8:24 PM on January 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


Founders is my go to these days. I'm a fan of bitterness but can empathize with people who don't and are annoyed at the over-representation of double- and triple-IPAs in the beer sections of grocery stores. Kind of like how comic book movies and TV shows have been dominating the theatres and TV screens.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:48 PM on January 3, 2016


At this point I think that "I don't like hoppy beers" is the equivalent to "I don't own a TV".

Is this something I'd need to know Janeane Garofalo's beer preferences to understand?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 9:56 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


A super-great thing about being middle-aged-ish is having been a kid when 90+% of American beer was really shitty lager and living through a beer renaissance that has moved the goalposts so far that people now complain about things like hoppiness.

Get off my pine-cone-embittered lawn with your whines!
posted by aspersioncast at 10:19 PM on January 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


Don't worry, be hoppy.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:27 PM on January 3, 2016


At this point I think that "I don't like hoppy beers" is the equivalent to "I don't own a TV".

I don't like hoppy beers and my annoyance with their ubiquity is that I'm not a beer snob and so it's really hard for me to figure out what I can order when I'm out for dinner or drinks at beer-heavy places because I don't know enough to decipher the menus but I tend to get weird or dirty looks when I ask for non-hoppy beers. It's pretty much turned me off ordering beer at all anymore.
posted by jaguar at 10:29 PM on January 3, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm on the flip side of most vocal participants in this thread. All I drink are IPAs. I prefer them, and conveniently due to a few fun health conditions, they are the only beers my gut can handle. Actually, all I really drink are California IPAs, the best of which are often low on malt, filtered, and high on aromatic hops.

I'm bummed out when I hear people say the IPA trend is nothing but a bitterness arms race. Predominantly out here on the west coast at least, people prefer citrusy and aromatic IPAs. My current favorite beer smells like cutting open fresh grapefruits, mangoes, and passionfruits when you pop the cap and pour. Another tastes and smells of fresh pineapple along with hints of cannabis, oranges, and bergamot. Hops are so much fun because compounds in hop oils from different varietals and cultivars can include all of these flavors, resulting in complex and delicious beers when done right.

The fact of the matter is that most craft brew drinkers, especially in the US, prefer IPAs. For those who try to say that this means we must all enjoy nothing but bitterness or tongue curling stuff or beers that "all taste the same," I guess I'd politely say that seems unfair.
posted by Old Man McKay at 1:42 AM on January 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


If a teenager discovers hot sauce for the first time, they often put it on everything. That is what beer in the U.S. often tastes like to me. A young person discovers a single ingredient and then over uses it in a naive attempt at sophistication. They then gets grouchy when you point it out to them.
posted by sxipshirey at 3:12 AM on January 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


The fact of the matter is that most craft brew drinkers, especially in the US, prefer IPAs. For those who try to say that this means we must all enjoy nothing but bitterness or tongue curling stuff or beers that "all taste the same," I guess I'd politely say that seems unfair.

I don't think all hoppy beers necessarily taste the same at all. It's just that there's a quality of intense bitterness shared by pretty much all of them that I can't stand.

There's definitely a strong element of individual taste. My partner loves IPAs. One thing I've noticed is that she and I probably taste things really differently. She'll get a craft beer and to her it'll taste floral, while to me it'll taste unbearably bitter. It's like how cilantro tastes like soap to some people. Chalk it up to genetics or whatever, but the point is that what may taste complex and refreshing to you might just taste nasty to me.

This is why I really have no judgment for people who like IPAs, but because the style so heavily dominates American beers, it is, as I and other people have been saying, really frustrating if your own palate is incompatible. And because of it, other styles have gotten much more hoppy as well, with the end result that the majority of American beers - not IPAs, but most craft beers of all styles - is made to suit a palate that is fundamentally different from mine. I don't think anyone's an idiot for liking Racer 5 (my partner loves Racer 5). It's just that if you don't like hops, then it really does seem like your only options are tongue-curling bitterness or Tecate.

It may be a rich and complex world of flavors for you, but because people like me probably physically cannot experience it in the same way you do, to us they really do all sort of taste the same.
posted by teponaztli at 3:22 AM on January 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


At this point I think that "I don't like hoppy beers" is the equivalent to "I don't own a TV".

I lived in the Bay Area two years ago and I'd often end up in, say, a dive bar in the Mission which would have a big blackboard behind the bar listing all the beers, and the list would be 75% IPAs with maybe one lager and one stout. All we're asking for is some balance.

At this stage I've kinda swung back to liking the way it is in central European (especially German-speaking) countries where you go to a bar and everyone's drinking the one local beer that was made down the road and it tastes well-balanced and clear and you can drink it all night and not feel like an alien has laid eggs in your brain the next day.
posted by kersplunk at 4:36 AM on January 4, 2016 [6 favorites]


I'm in Wellington, craft beer capital of NZ.

It's a hop-ridden wasteland. There's nothing but Garage Project, Panhead, Kereru, Parrot Dog, and Tuatara.


Good lord, I hope that's tongue-in-cheek... Wellington is an amazing beer city and Garage Project does way more than hoppy stuff. Wabi Sabi Sour, Cereal Milk Stout, Hellbender barleywine, Aro Noir, that beautiful Baltic Porter (get the barrel-aged... Jesus...), Cockswain's Courage, La Calavera Catrina (a watermelon chili beer) just to name a few.

I'll chuck in the Oatmeal Stout from Panhead just to even it out too.

Anyway, to pigeonhole Garage Project - of all breweries - as a hop-centric-to-the-exclusion-of-interesting-other-options brewery is pretty ridiculous. Those guys deserve sainthood or knighthood or a special Haka in their honour or whatever it is you Kiwis do to celebrate your best and brightest. GP makes amazing stuff.
posted by GamblingBlues at 4:42 AM on January 4, 2016


Right now I'm staring at a tall boy of Bells Two Hearted in my beer fridge that one of my pals left here Saturday night. I've told them that they can bring that stuff over but they have to take it with them when they leave because at some point I will run out of beer that I like and the trek to the corner store will be too great and I will drink the damn thing, grimacing the whole way down.

Wild Heaven Brewery here in Decatur,GA has some good non hop-fuck options, my particular fave being the Ode to Mercy brown ale and the Emergency Drinking Beer which is basically a bright, light lager with a slight touch of sour, great for tailgating and the like.
posted by dudemanlives at 5:27 AM on January 4, 2016


Good lord, I hope that's tongue-in-cheek... Wellington is an amazing beer city

I'm living in Wellington right now. Sure it looks great if you're a devoted beerhound and getting the good stuff imported to you, or you only drink at breweries or whatever, but if you're here and just going to the pub for a natter and a pint it's honestly kind of overwhelming. I'm not keen to hook into a $17 longneck when I'm out and about. I want a pint on what's on tap, I ask the bartender to recommend me something nice and not too bitter, and right now it's still 2:1 odds that what I get recommended to me is Another Bloody IPA.

I guess it's a criticism of the bars more so than the breweries, but even so. Wellington rates itself highly on its pub and bar scene but there's a lot of sameyness, and more than a hint of beer wank among the locals.
posted by raena at 5:50 AM on January 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


At this point I think that "I don't like hoppy beers" is the equivalent to "I don't own a TV".

Exactly the opposite, to some of us, actually. But I am mollified by the seasonal release of Brooklyn Winter Ale and Trader Joe's Winter Brew, and the fact there are always several Scottish ales to fall back on at the local beer emporium.
posted by aught at 6:21 AM on January 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


where you go to a bar and everyone's drinking the one local beer that was made down the road and it tastes well-balanced and clear and you can drink it all night and not feel like an alien has laid eggs in your brain the next day.

It's fun as a tourist, but not sure I would be such a fan if I lived there.
posted by smackfu at 6:53 AM on January 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Wow, the crazy hops arms race is a giant pet peeve of mine... and yeah, I know I'm being unreasonable. But all over the US people suddenly start caring about brewing good beer again (as in, first time since before the frickin' prohibition!), and they're consistently brewing beer that's profoundly unenjoyable to me, and I *like* bitter things (and yeah, beer).

My way of coming to terms with this is that it's basically the same as a 5-yr old liking crazy primary colors and tacky music... You know they'll come around and develop some kind of reasonable taste, probably. But in the case of American beer, I'm not holding my breath, it took ze Germans and Belgians like 800 years...
posted by kleinsteradikaleminderheit at 7:41 AM on January 4, 2016


Oh, and an example of why I think I should get away with that kind of condescending assholery: The other day I was at some craft beer 'showcase', and I asked for their least hoppy beer. They looked at me like I asked for a Coors light. And then gave me their *most* hoppy beer without telling me.

In their defense, it was otherwise pretty good. In my defense, I may have actually asked for their "least over-hopped" beer. Wait, that's in their defense too...
posted by kleinsteradikaleminderheit at 7:53 AM on January 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm more a wine guy than a beer guy, but I still like a nice relaxed beer on occasion. The emphasis on hoppiness reminds me of the emphasis on ripeness in some American wines...the higher alcohol and more in your face the flavors, the better. It's like Spinal Tap, TURN THIS SHIT UP TO 11! It doesn't make for a good product IMO. Especially in summer, I prefer something like a Dos Equis with lime to these bitter/alcoholic monstrosities. I don't know why American cuisine is like this so much, I think it's because we don't really develop our food/drink at the neighborhood pub or over the dinner table, but in some kind of hype/publicity arms race.
posted by zipadee at 8:06 AM on January 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


The emphasis on hoppiness reminds me of the emphasis on ripeness in some American wines...the higher alcohol and more in your face the flavors, the better.

Oh, thank you. I'm a wine drinker, too, and I was trying to figure out the wine equivalent.
posted by jaguar at 8:36 AM on January 4, 2016


that's exactly what it is. It even has a lot of hidden sugar to buffer everything else like new world froot does.
posted by JPD at 10:27 AM on January 4, 2016 [2 favorites]



Right now I'm staring at a tall boy of Bells Two Hearted in my beer fridge that one of my pals left here Saturday night. I've told them that they can bring that stuff over but they have to take it with them when they leave because at some point I will run out of beer that I like and the trek to the corner store will be too great and I will drink the damn thing, grimacing the whole way down.


Man what, bells two hearted is really well crafted! It's got a reasonable amount of bitter notes but they're logical and work in unison with the rest of the flavor profile.
posted by Ferreous at 10:56 AM on January 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh, Bell's is another brewer that appears to not make it over the Continental Divide. Sigh...
posted by invitapriore at 12:16 PM on January 4, 2016


I happen to be lucky enough to live less than two miles from Side Project Cellar, so I am there at least once a week. The good news is that Side Project, as a beer brand, does not participate in the hoppy wars. The "questionable" news is that their focus is upon barrel-aged blended sours--their refined yet delicate skill at making balanced and complex sours has encouraged other breweries to do likewise, albeit with questionable results.

(Tangent: last winter, I went overboard on stouts and porters to the point where I sought relief in IPA's. After many years of being "eh" about IPA, I finally got it last year. Nowadays, I'm sliding a little bit towards being "eh" about IPA, possibly because I've followed a similar path--ironic, since Missouri has finally gotten around to getting Alesmith, Alpine, and Ballast Point in the last couple months.)
posted by stannate at 12:36 PM on January 4, 2016


Reading this and following some links makes me realize that what I don't like about really hoppy beer is the flowery taste. I already knew I didn't care for the grapefruit taste in beer. I don't want blueberries, pumpkin, nutmeg or most other foofy additions to my beer. I am grateful to the wonderful rise in craft brewing for being able to get tasty beer, so carry on, just try to make some nice amber ale and traditional beers.
posted by theora55 at 12:52 PM on January 4, 2016


invitapriore: "Oh, Bell's is another brewer that appears to not make it over the Continental Divide. Sigh..."

That's too bad. Bell's Oberon is probably my favorite hot weather beer.
posted by octothorpe at 1:02 PM on January 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Bell's is also not in New England for some reason, but NY isn't that far away.
posted by smackfu at 1:24 PM on January 4, 2016


"Oh, Bell's is another brewer that appears to not make it over the Continental Divide. Sigh..."

It started distributing in California last fall. Founders is coming in February.

I set my palate in Michigan, where Two Hearted was the IPA of choice. Then I moved to LA, and complained mightily about the lack of decent beer here for, well, about four years. In the last four years, there's been an explosion and it's awesome. But… the points upthread about the XTREME bullshit of craft brewing are OTM. The West Coast IPA mantra of WE WILL SKULLFUCK YOU WITH HOPS blotted out a lot of other beer styles, and while that's starting to shift, there's still a ton of equating new tastes with forceful ones — whether that's the super sweet Belgians, the super sour Goses that everybody started making a couple years back, or the super imperial stouts and porters that are practically port wine. A lot of breweries seem to need some beer that they are THE MOST at in order to establish a name for themselves, and nobody seems to do that by being the MOST EXTREMELY WELL BALANCED ESB THAT WILL CRUSH YOU WITH ITS IMPECCABLE DEPTH OF FLAVOR.

Still, that said, I've been incredibly happy with the way that the craft brewing scene has broadened out — there are even decent stouts and porters being brewed in LA now, something that was barely a seasonal glimmer five years ago. And I understand some of the trouble with trying to make session beers a bigger thing — it's often hard to justify paying craft beer prices for session beers, especially since part of the session is that you'd drink more of them. It's less bang for your buck than getting ALL THE HOPS in a pint.

One thing that I have been really happy about is the increase in the number of breweries doing black ales and lagers — the variety that the roasted malts give you to play against the broader palette of hops available these days is really nice, and can allow some great, subtle stuff. Plus, since it's not the most-extreme anything, the prices are still relatively low.

(Finally, and I know this makes me a dick, but part of why I endorse a backlash against superhopped IPAs is that my wife's cousin, a total broheme, has gotten really into craft beer over the last two years and is now doing the search for the most extreme hop brews he can find. I pounded plenty of overhopped shit [and oversweet Maudite] back when I first started drinking legally, but that was like 15 years ago, and until pretty recently he was all, "I don't know why you don't just want a Bud Light," so I'm getting to enjoy some gently patronizing snobbery at his expense, and by extension, all bombastic hop-fuckers'.)
posted by klangklangston at 5:19 PM on January 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


Also anyone who thinks that all hoppy beers are big shnarsty tastebud-erasers needs to get ahold of some Vermont-style IPA stat to see what great brewers can do with good hops and restraint. Heady Topper is 100% worth the hype (though not exactly easy to find), as is any IPA coming out of Grimm in NYC.
posted by Itaxpica at 6:10 PM on January 4, 2016


Enjoying a very non-hoppy Weyerbacher Merry Monks right now.
posted by octothorpe at 6:30 PM on January 4, 2016


I live in Chicago. I used to be ashamed of my profound hatred of hoppy beers (I also don't own a tv) until I realized that being a relatively young lady comfortable with walking into whatever dive is on the corner, sidling up to the bar, and ordering a Miller Lite is a surefire way to earn the unwavering devotion of every single old man in the room. And those guys ALWAYS have the best stories.
posted by floweringjudas at 6:49 PM on January 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


ordering a Miller Lite is a surefire way to earn the unwavering devotion of every single old man in the room. And those guys ALWAYS have the best stories.

My partner is really into beer, including IPAs and Tripels and stuff I could never drink.

Years ago she and a friend went to a brewpub kind of bar together. While they were at the bar waiting to order drinks, an older guy walked over to them and started talking at them about beer, which was framed along along the lines of "you girls don't know anything about good, beer, let me show you what good beer is!" So he bought them a couple glasses of the most expensive beer in the bar, which was, I think, Delirium Tremens. Then the beers came out and they just completely ignored him for the rest of the night while they drank awesome free beer.

She only recently told me this story for the first time, and we high-fived.
posted by teponaztli at 5:10 AM on January 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


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