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Weekend Beer Notes

[ 160 ] May 18, 2013 |

This thread was a classic illustration of what generally happens when people discuss craft beers on the intertubes.    For obvious reasons, nobody wanted to defend the actual argument being made by the article under discussion — i.e. “Craft breweries should avoid making their best-selling beers because Tom Freidman’s apocryphal cab driver craft beer fanatic found a mild 30 IBU saison ‘too hoppy.'”    So, instead, we got reiterations of some banal points, most notably the indisputable point that hoppier does not always equal better.  And, yes, yes, there are some craft brewers that add excessive hops as a botched gimmick, proving that IPAs can be screwed up just like any other style.  And I suppose there are beer snobs who look down on people who don’t primarily drink very hop-forward IPAs; I’ve never personally met a beer snob who looks contemptuously when someone orders a porter or trippel, but, hell, it’s a big country, I’m sure they exist somewhere.   And…so what?  I turn things over to djw:

What he meant, of course, was “I don’t like ESBs”. It’s true of even the most ecumenical beer drinkers with wide-ranging taste that there’s some style they don’t like. Myself, I don’t care for Hefeweizens. But unlike this silly article, I’m careful to recognize that drawing broad conclusions about the appropriate direction for an entire industry from my own tastes is probably not a good idea.

There’s something weird about the way people who don’t care for hop-forward beers to infer all manner of strange things from this. People who don’t like wheat beers, or stouts, or hefeweizens, or whatever, generally avoid drinking them and call it good, whereas people who don’t care for hop-forward styles are rarely content with such a simple, straightforward approach. The “bigger is better” accusation is particularly absurd. Like most fans of the Imperial IPA style, I find some 100+ IBU hop-bombs sublimely well balanced, and others a one-note throat punch of a beer. I wouldn’t expect people who don’t care for hop-forward flavor profiles to be able to tell the difference, for the same reason I’m not good at distinguishing between a mediocre hefeweizen and an excellent one. But, crucially, I don’t deny that such a distinction is impossible to make about hefeweizens.

I’ve never understood what problem such arguments are supposed to be addressing. There are vastly more good beers available in all styles than there were 10, let alone 20, years ago. The preference that some beer snobs have for IPAs hasn’t diminished the availability of other styles of beers. So what are people kicking about? For people who don’t like pilsners to repent and admit their false consciousness? I don’t get it.

Speaking of excellent craft brews, I don’t know how often they put them on, but if you ever have a chance to attend one of these Dogfish Head nights, they’re strongly recommended. In a musical theme, I was able to try both the Bitches Brew and the Hellhound on my Ale (the latter of which I had never tried in a bottle), both of which are superb. Of what I was able to sample from the rest of the table, the Burton Baton was especially fine. (I was tempted to try Dogfish’s barleywine, but had too much work to do this weekend.)

And, finally, I would like to present the following exhaustive list of circumstances under which a pub that doesn’t have dancing should play recorded music at volumes high enough to drown out any conversation:

None. There are no such circumstances.

I look forward to the contrarian article about how when you sit down for a beer with friends there’s nothing more awesome than having to yell to not even be able to make yourself heard.

…and, yes, as noted in comments this applies with perhaps even greater force to coffee shops, although I’ve never encountered it outside of Astoria.

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Comments (160)

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  1. MAJeff says:

    Funny this should be posted just as I’m getting ready to head to the beer distributor in preparation for a weekend of cleaning/re-organizing the apartment. I’m going to get whatever craft beer looks good and happens to be on special, be it a super-hopped IPA, or a nice gold lager. Just. Want. Beer.

  2. Steven desJardins says:

    Loud music is known to increase drinking, precisely because it’s too hard to carry on a conversation instead.

  3. Eric says:

    According to Dogfish Head’s website, not only are they no events in my area, they don’t sell their beer within a 100 mile radius of my zip code. Maybe I need to move.

  4. djw says:

    The argument I find particularly weird is the “but hoppy beers are crowding out better styles” line. There are thousands and thousands of beers being made. If I committed to trying every beer (or even just every non-hoppy beer) that came on tap in the three beer bars in my neighborhood alone, such a project would require I become a full-time alcoholic.

    • You mean a wealthy alcoholic.

      There are a lot of us poor sucker out there, further shortening out lives, by drinking sh*tty beer, wine, and hootch! ;-)

    • Shakezula says:

      Hoppy beers are the kudzu of liberal fascism! Or something. Fortunately there is a cure for such anxieties – More beer.

    • Laughing Loafer says:

      Fair enough. At restaurants with smaller taplists, though, it can be harder to find malt-forward styles other than stouts. If you’re looking for a brown/scotch/red ale, it can be hit and miss. This is more the fault of restaurant managers than brewers, though.

      • Anna in PDX says:

        My SO is pretty much a stout-only beer drinker. As you can probably tell from my handle, we live in beer Mecca. Yet there are many bars, including some beer only places, that do not have any stouts on tap. Usually you can find bottles Guinness in these places, it is true.

        • Laughing Loafer says:

          And often when stout is available, it comes out ice cold. Which means it needs to sit for half an hour before it’s really worth drinking. *sigh*

      • Nathan Willard says:

        Or lower-alcohol beers. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been to a beer bar and seen 15 beers, 14 of which are 6%+ ABV. Now, there are some good reasons for that, but, man. I’ve got to drive home.

        The new move towards hoppy session beers has been nice. My local brewer has a 4% one that’s great (though not as good as the amazing <4% Even Keel from Ballast Point).

    • UberMitch says:

      I dream of retiring to be a full-time alcoholic.

    • Coronel Arcadio Buendía says:

      If you think beer snobbery don’t favor IBUs, you’re not enough of a beer snob. This may or may not mean anything for people who don’t like them, and I don’t think there’s a lack of non bitter beer available, but that impression is not wrong.

    • (the other) Davis says:

      I’ve experienced the crowding-out phenomenon regularly at small-taplist joints. There are a few places I go regularly (for non-beer reasons) where I’ve gotten used to being railroaded into the single low-IBU option. Sometimes the low-IBU option is so bad (21st Amendment’s watermelon beer springs to mind) that I go for the IPA anyway.

      I don’t blame the brewers for this, though—it’s entirely a problem with the establishments that don’t understand how to create a proper tap selection.

    • Mayur says:

      They don’t in the actual production market, but they sometimes do at craft beer bars.

      I work for a craft beer distributor and thus know a lot of serious beer snobs. They’re basically ALL fine with high-IBU beers, while I hate them. When we go to our best accounts (which are, obviously, trying to brand themselves the “best” craft beer bars in NYC by some measure or other), there are often some tap sets that have nothing of which I’m really fond. Weirdly, we can go to a beer bar with a similar level of knowledge and equivalent number of taps and find several things I’ll drink; it’s catch as catch can.

      I think craft brewers obviously should make whatever they make best and want to do; simultaneously, I lament the relatively small selection of excellent domestic pilsners, Flemish sour ales, lambics, and ciders. I think it’s worth noting that some of the specialists in those styles end up rocking beer advocate ratings and awards, and I often wonder about whether that’s just because the field is smaller, at least domestic-wise.

      Honestly, the other complaint I have is that domestic stuff consistently feels less sessionable than its foreign counterparts. It seems like an Americanism to always add MORE; compare Napa Cabs/Merlots and Sonoma Pinot Noirs to Bordeaux and Burgundy. For example, the amount of booze, malt, and sugar in Ommegang’s beer means that even though Belgians tend to be my favorite beers on the planet, I have a hard time drinking more than 5-6 oz of Rare Vos, Abbey Dubbel, Gnomegang etc. I can easily down a large-format of Rodenbach Grand Cru, Liefmans Oude Bruin, or hell Leffe without thinking about it.

  5. bspencer says:

    Can’t we have flame wars about stuff *I’m* interested in?

    Blog about stuff I like, Scott! ;)

  6. Mean Mister Mustard says:

    Craft beers are growing so numerous that the pricing seems to be, when on sale, little more than the standard brews. This is a good thing.

    Speaking of Craft, I just have one question for Obama; “How many Craft Mercs are on the Public payroll each month within the contiguous 50 states?”

  7. Mean Mister Mustard says:

    strike contiguous,

  8. I’ve actually heard people complain that there are too many varieties of beer and wine out there.

    ZOUNDS!
    EEDJIT’S!!!

    Go back in time to the early-mid 70’s, when I was coming of drinking age.

    In my neck of Upstate NY, if you wanted a wine NOT made in NY, then you had your choice of Mouton Cadet red, or Mouton Cadet white.
    And Freixenet was about it for inexpensive bubbly wines – not that there were many good champagnes to choose from either.
    Then the CA wines started coming in, and they were so much better than the stuff we had in NY – except the Rieslings, which are still great.

    And as for beers, there were few foreign ones to choose from.
    Pretty much Lowenbrau, Fosters, and Heineken (back then, Lowenbrau and Fosters were brewed in their respective countries, and weren’t yet the swill made here in the US, that they sell today).
    The little green Heineken bullet was a chick-magnet, ’cause it meant you had a job, and could afford it.

    And the only thing memorable about the excremental local beers made by big breweries in NY and Philly, was their jingles, which you heard whenever you watched or listened to a ball game.

    To this day, though, I still have a fondness for an ice-cold Ballentine ale on a hot summer day – or 2, or 3, or 4, or… COMATOSIA!

    • pete says:

      What was the name of the appalling cheap (I think Italian) red wine that, when opened, turned out to be slightly fizzy? I bought it once, in Atlanta ca 1980, and then to my shame made the same mistake again less than a year later. I had moved there temporarily from California because my partner was getting a credential at Emory, and the choice was … less extensive.

    • Sherm says:

      My dad still wanders around singing “my beer is rheingold, the dry beer, think of rheingold whenever you try beer…”

    • Sherm says:

      I just wanted to add that Schaefer is the one beer to have when you’re having more than one.

      • rkd says:

        Hi Neighbor! Have a ‘Gansett!

      • “… Schaeffer flavor, doesn’t end
        Even when your thirst is done.
        So, for the most rewarding flavor
        In this man’s world,
        And for people who are having fun –
        Schaeffer, is the, one beer to have,
        When you’re having more than one!”

        I watched and listened to a lot of Yankees and Mets games.
        And Knicks, Rangers, Giants, Jets, and Nets games.
        A LOT!!!
        So, those jingle have been etched in my brain since I was a kid.

        My Uncle worked for all of the major breweries in the NY area – he used to bring a 1/2, or so, cases up with him, for me and my Dad, when he’d come for a visit.

        He also used to joke that he always knew when a major brewery was going to go out of business soon – because the first sign, was when they decided to hire him – and he knew they going down! He was a great machinist – just had sh*tty luck working in the, then, declining local beer brewing business.

        Oh, and a special shout-out to the GREAT Bob and Ray, for their portrayal of Bert and Harry Piel, on the radio and TV.

        THOSE were great ads!

        • PSP says:

          Hampden Brewery. I grew up in Hampden County. I got the tray. But, they closed when I was eleven. So, I can’t tell you if it was any good. I know they made a mild in the far distant past.

          Some homebrewers opened up a new Hampden Brewery in the 90s, but I moved away and don’t know if it lasted.

          • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

            Years ago, while visiting a friend in Detroit, I had a Cinci Cream Ale, which also featured the Handsome Waiter (and the slogan) on the bottle. It was, well, a cream ale, i.e. America’s least distinguished beer style.

          • Ken Howes says:

            I think the Hampden brand was bought by BBC (Berkshire Brewing Company), who brewed the dark ale, very different from the original Hampden Ale, which my dad used to drink. I thought the dark ale there in the late 80’s and early 90’s was very nice, basically a brown ale.

        • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

          A colleague of mine from Oregon and I were singing the Hamm’s jingle at a party on Thursday.

        • Sherm says:

          We use to buy that in high school. The IGA never carded, and they sold it for $1.99 a six.

          • Linnaeus says:

            The IGA never carded

            I guess IGA didn’t stand for “I Get Attention” back then.

          • HA!
            That ‘ain’t nothin’!!!

            Back in the mid-70’s, we could get a case of “Joe’s Beer (Ortlieb’s) – FOR $1 A CASE!

            And the only worse beer I ever encountered than that rancid swill, was Iron City, and, Fife and Drum.

            Saweeeeeeeeeeeeet Jayzoooooooos H. Keeeeeeeerist – making meth in his outhouse – there were some absolutely un-drinkable beers and ales, back in those days!!!
            Unless you were a teenager!
            We’d f*ckin’ drink any f*ckin’ thing, back in those f*ckin’ days.
            There were no f*ckin’ choices!
            You drank, what you could f*ckin’ get!!!

            And, as much as I hate to say it, if someone pours me an ice-cold Genny Cream Ale right now, I’d remember those day’s fondly, and think better of our world.

            The beer choices were much simpler – but, so was the world.

            And, did I ever tell anyone, that we used to walk to, and from, school, uphill – both ways!!!

            Hey!
            You kids! GET OFF MY F*CKIN’ LAWN!!!!!!!!

            • PSP says:

              Joe’s beer had gone up to $5 a case when we in grad school in the early 90s. Steigmayer (sp?) was only $4.50, but there are places even broke students won’t go,

  9. Scott P. says:

    Part of the peroblem is that if I go to a beer store and pick a random craft brew, there is about a 98% chance that it is to hoppy for me. And it’s impossible to find IBU figures for craft beers. So if I want to try someing other than a hefeweizen, I’m SOL. Would it be too much to ask for a brewing company to put out something, anything, that isn’t an IPA?

    • djw says:

      it’s impossible to find IBU figures for craft beers

      The overwhelming majority of craft beers available on the market have IBUs reported here.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      Would it be too much to ask for a brewing company to put out something, anything, that isn’t an IPA?

      Well, no, which is presumably why they all do.

      • Erik Loomis says:

        What do you mean? I was at a Pennsylvania brewery on Thursday and they had 1 IPA out of 10 taps. I couldn’t find any alternative to super hoppy beers!

        • Scott Lemieux says:

          But the mere presence of an IPA presumably ruined the whole experience!

          • Erik Loomis says:

            Yeah, it really made me feel oppressed since I felt everyone who was drinking it was looking down on me.

            Of course I was also drinking it.

            • Jeffrey Beaumont says:

              Look, you guys may have a different experience, but let me relate mine. I live at least part time in Asheville, NC, which has for several years been trying to make itself the Portland of the east coast. We have something like 12 breweries in a town of less than 100k people, and both New Belgium and Sierra Nevada are moving major parts of their operation here.

              So there are of course dozens of local beers, and new ones out every month. we also get more than our fair share of other craft brews imported in.

              Personally, I do find the hops thing overwhelming. Many many beers that are not IPAs, pale ales, or anything that should be hoppy are none the less amped with hops… porters, english ales, hell even most of the fruit beers. I even ran into a hopped up pear cider, which was the strangest thing ever created (no good either).

              I love beer. Guinness is my standby, but I drink all sorts of beer. But 80% of the craft beers/microbrews/locals I try are too hoppy for my taste. Moreover, I know, anecdotally of course, that I am far from alone in this. I think that is what the Slate article is trying to get at. I am not sure why Eric, Scott, David etc feel the need to belittle this opinion.

              • Sherm says:

                Agreed. And fruit in beer is pure nonsense.

                • Eli Rabett says:

                  Framboise lambec, the champaign of bottled beers. Better on tap but best on a hot day.

                  And, oh yes, Altbierbowle aus Muenster.

                • Linnaeus says:

                  And fruit in beer is pure nonsense.

                  Gonna have to differ with you on this. I like the lambics that Eli mentioned and one of my favorite summer beers is Pyramid Apricot Ale.

                • Erik Loomis says:

                  Yeah, just because a lot of fruit beers are done poorly doesn’t mean that fruit beers are bad. Take sour beers, many of which are fruit-based and can be incredibly delicious.

              • Jay B. says:

                SoI randomly checked out a menu in Asheville, not because I don’t believe you, but because I was curious what would constitute a normal tap list in that part of the country. I love craft beer too and i used to live on the east coast, the East Coast style of IPA is much maltier than the West Coast style IPA. So I start losing the plot about “too hoppy” right there. Dogfish Head, for example, has plenty of hops, of course, but plenty of malt too. The stuff out of NYC was very mild too, Brooklyn, Sixpoint, etc.

                Anyway, I checked out the On Tap menu at Pack’s Tavern. I know nothing of the bar or the bar scene in Asheville, but they tout 30 taps or something. I see milk stouts, scotch ales, nut brown, Pils, lagers, ESB, ryes, lambics and wheats, in addition to IPAs (but no Imperial IPAs). I know the Lindeman’s lambic is tart/sweet, but they use almost no hops and I clearly don’t know what the local Asheville breweries use in terms of recipes. I don’t remember Bell’s being a big hop brewery, but that might have been the style I drank too.

                Maybe it’s just your palette? I don’t know, but the varieties on this sample page seem to run toward all tastes and certainly multiple styles. I can’t imagine that they load up on hops for Nut Brown Ales, but in any event, it’s clearly not the fault of IPAs and their adherents.

                And I know for a fact that the beer that this guy said was too hoppy in Portland is just not hoppy at all. The brewery just doesn’t make it hoppy.

                • djw says:

                  Yeah, I drink a lot of beer in a lot of different styles in both the pacific NW and the midwest, and it’s hard for me to make sense of this argument. Because American brewers are, as a group, more experimental, with less allegiance to classic styles, you’ll occasionally find beers with amped up IBU’s derived from hops relative to the standard for their style. But this is hardly the norm–at the vast majority of the dozens of breweries I’m familiar with, the majority of non-hoppy styles have IBU levels within the normal, standard range for the style by traditional European standards.

                  For Martin, Jeffrey, others: can you identify some specific examples of beers with excessive hop-derived bitterness relative to their style? I’m curious if this is a significant difference in our palettes, or if I’m just not drinking the beers you’re talking about.

                • Sherm says:

                  My questions: What kind of beer do the American craft brewers make best and do any of them make lagers and pilsners (my preferences) which are comparable to the ones brewed by the Germans and the Czechs? I get the sense that the best craft beers are simply not my style and that the rest that they make is just mediocre. I would love to be wrong.

                • Jeffrey Beaumont says:

                  Packs is not one of the breweries. Corporate place, but lots of local and craft beer to be sure.

                • Jeffrey Beaumont says:

                  Examples of too hoppy brews I can list off the top of my head:

                  All of the Highlands Brewing Company selections, unfortunately including their Stout.
                  Everything north of Oberon in the Bells Brewery family, especially their most-common Two-Hearted.
                  The whole Sierra Nevada catalog.
                  I could go on, not helpful.

                • Pils says:

                  If you are on in the mid Atlantic regions you can probably find good craft versions of German pilsner – Victory, Stoudts, Sixpoint Troegs. Out west both Rogue and Trumer make a good pils though I enjoy the ones from PA more. For Czech style, Sam Adams makes Noble Pils and Summerfest that should be readily available and there is also Lagunitas Pils and New Belgioum Blue Paddle(if you find Noble Pils I would not go out of my way looking for these)

                  I really enjoy Victory’s Prima Pils and Troegs Sunshine but both have higher IBUs than pilsners made in Germany or the Czech Republic. The other beers I listed are good but not great.

                • Sherm says:

                  Thanks. I tried the Laganitas Pils a couple of years ago and found it mediocre. I’ll give the Victory Prima Pils a try sometime.

          • tonycpsu says:

            Exactly. It’s sort of like how gay marriage has totally ruined it for straight people.

            Would it be too much to ask for a church to marry a couple, any couple, that isn’t homosexual?

        • Scott P. says:

          I don’t live in PA anymore.

  10. trollhattan says:

    Jeez. “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.” “Then don’t do this.”

    Rinse, repeat.

    With nano-brewers springing up like headlice at a sixth-grade sleepover, somebody in a town near you will make a beer just for you. If not next week, in a month or two.

    Unless you live in Utah.

    • Davis says:

      Have you heard of Polygamy beer? It’s slogan is “why just have one?”

      • Red_cted says:

        “Take some home for the wives.”
        I love the illustration on the label, featuring the righteous Mormon dude and the three wives, which are obviously “the smart one, the cute one, and the hard working one.”

    • Thlayli says:

      In the last few years, I have done two multi-week work stints in Utah. The most surprising thing about the experience was that I never had any trouble finding beer. It may have been 3.2, I don’t know if that’s even still a thing. Hell, the grocery section at Target had beer.

  11. trollhattan says:

    BTW, has anybody thanked Jimmy Carter recently for the resurgence of American brewing?

    Thanks, Jimmeh!

  12. DocAmazing says:

    Beer-wise, I live in the best of all possible worlds. Inner-city liquor stores stock Sierra Nevada, at a minimum. Astounding craft brews are available at Costco. Unassuming grocery stores carry a wild variety of porters, trippels, maibocks and IPAs. My only regret is that I can never get it together to go on the Anchor Brewing tour.

    • djw says:

      The last time I was in SF, I called about a week in advance about the Anchor Steam tour, and the person who answered the phone laughed at my folly. Apparently this event requires some serious advance planning.

      • Red_cted says:

        That’s a shame, because they’ve built an absolute shrine to craft brewing. If you go there on the winter solstice the sun shines through the taproom window in such a way that you can admire the beautiful color of the brews–particularly Old Foghorn barley wine.

  13. Major Kong says:

    Maybe one of the beer experts can help me.

    Certain beers seem to cause what I would describe as an allergic reaction, almost like an asthma attack.

    Yes, apparently I’m allergic to beer, what cruel trick of nature is this?

    What I can’t figure out is why some beers seem to bother me and others don’t at all. Is it the hops? The yeast?

    • Erik Loomis says:

      I have a good friend who had to stop drinking beer and wine entirely because the yeast triggered horrifying migraines. Since he is Irish, the transition to an all-whiskey diet was relatively smooth.

    • TT says:

      I usually avoid hoppy beers because more often than not they give me headaches ranging from mild to piercing. The taste of most IPAs in general is not to my liking, but even those I do like I tend to drink only rarely because of the headaches.

    • It could easily be the hops, but it could also be the strain of yeast. I’ve had an annoying nasal drip reaction from certain bad lagers (Henry Weinhards Private Reserve comes to mind). I’m generally not a huge lager fan anyway, so it’s not a big loss to avoid those. And luckily good German and Czech pilsners don’t bug me at all.

      • EJ says:

        Interesting, Hank’s messes me up too – this was more of a bummer in college when I was more budget conscious (since, while it’s far from the best beer made, it’s pretty decent for the price). Sam Adams is another, I can have just one and I’ll feel like I went on a 3 day bender the next morning.

  14. Shakezula says:

    Maybe it is a young person thing, this bickering about beer. When I were a lass, Corona was a fancy beer that we never drank because we couldn’t afford it.

    Now, I go to the tiny local organic food store and there dozens of different beers from different breweries and I’m not even sure they sell Corona. I live five miles from the 1st brewery to operate in DC since Prohibition.

    Long story short, I propose we be glad there is so much beer we can be picky about breed.

    P.S. Get offa mah lawn.

  15. wjts says:

    The preference that some beer snobs have for IPAs hasn’t diminished the availability of other styles of beers.

    Although it may just be confirmation bias or bad luck on my part, it seems as though it has. Not infrequently, I’ll go to a bar with a fairly sizable draft selection and have the choice of 8 variations on “H. Hop Hoppity Hopkinson’s Hopstravagant Hoppaballooza Hopsplosion Hopsimum Hopperdrive” from six different breweries, Yuengling, and IC Light.

    • MattT says:

      I’ve literally never been at a place that had multiple craft beers where they didn’t have some not particularly hoppy options. The styles I have seen get a bit squeezed out a bit more than I’d like are more in the medium hoppiness range. There was a restaurant near me that had an oatmeal pale ale that I quite liked, which I’d estimate was somewhere in the 30-40 IBU range. They stopped serving it, according to the bartender, because it was too hoppy for the lager people and not hoppy enough for the IPA people. That said, I’ve seen a lot more of these kind of medium hop level pale ale turn up in stores recently, but it is a style that can get lost in places with a limited number of taps. Fortunately, there are many other good styles of beer.

  16. Davis says:

    This thread makes me so glad I like IPAs, and Dogfish Head is readily available around here. Never had the 120 minute, though.

    • tonycpsu says:

      I dig hops, but 120 Minute is a bit much for my tastes. 90 Minute is the right balance for me if I’m in a really hoppy mood, with 60 Minute as a good “daily driver” type beer you can find anywhere and enjoy a few of.

      • djw says:

        Yeah, 120 minutes is interesting, but in the two times I’ve been able to try it, there’s just a little too much going on for my taste, and too much sweetness for an IPA(ish) beer. In my relatively limited experience with them I find that beers that cross the 15% alcohol threshold are not likely to be successful.

        • Davis says:

          Hey, here’s an idea. Let’s start an argument about peaty single malts. I like Laphroaig, and a lot of people can’t stand it.

        • Matt says:

          I really, really like the 120 minute IPA. But, you can’t drink many because of the alcohol, and it’s very expensive- I think the cheapest I’ve ever seen it was about $9/12oz bottle and $15 isn’t rare. I’m not sure if it’s even available now- it wasn’t for quite some time.

          • djw says:

            Iirc, they recently spiked a batch because it came out wrong, making it more scarce than usual for a while. Supply never meets demand, and I think they use some kind of lottery system for sending it out.

            • Matt says:

              Yes- that’s my understanding, too (and what I was told while at the brewery tour a while ago. You could get some at their brew-pub then, but not much elsewhere.) (Sadly, I’ll say that the food at the dogfishead brewpub is only okay, and not worth the trip on its own, but the beer is great, of course, including some not put out for general sale, though often for good reason.) Tours of the brewery have to be scheduled quite a bit in advance, though you can just show up and do a tasting and buy beer there.)

      • (the other) Davis says:

        I noted this in the other thread, but the 90-minute IPA is a remarkable beer—I personally dislike almost all IPAs and other high-IBU beers, but the 90-minute has a permanent place on my top-five beer list.

  17. MAJeff says:

    To hell with too hoppy, what’s with all this rye beer crap?

  18. Martin says:

    Classic straw man-ism from Scott here. Nobody’s saying non-hoppy beers aren’t available, and the weird vibe you sometimes get from hop enthusiasts doesn’t have to tip into condescension to be annoying. Often the peer pressure takes the form of enthusiasm, as in, “Isn’t this hoppy beer awesome?” and you’re forced either to be a liar or a wet blanket. To me the interesting thing isn’t the content of the response to Paul’s post, it’s the volume. a LOT of people are annoyed at the many hoppy beers that have been popping up all over the place, and also annoyed at some of the behaviors of beer enthusiasts. There’s some real resentment out there. You can pretend that those people are overreacting or saying false things, or you can acknowledge it. I know the path you took.

    • Jay B. says:

      Often the peer pressure takes the form of enthusiasm, as in, “Isn’t this hoppy beer awesome?”

      What an odd thing to call peer pressure.

      “Hey, I really like this thing!”
      “Stop pressuring me!”

      Here’s what an actual human would say if they didn’t like it (like a conversation I had last night):

      Me: Here try a swig. I like this Rye IPA, I think it’s killer.
      Other guy: I’ve heard good things…[sips]. Nah, too hoppy for me.
      Me: Cool.

      Fin

      • Uncle Ebeneezer says:

        Another real conversation I had at a local brewery:

        Me: So what’s your best beer?

        Crafter: Depends what you like. We have a handful of IPAs, a Red Ale, a Stout, and a Pilsner currently.

        Me: What do you recommend?

        Crafter: I love the stout the most, but some people think it’s too dark. Some of the IPA’s are a little too hoppy for my taste, but they’re our biggest sellers, by far.

        When he brought my beer, he handed me a customer feedback card and encouraged me to let them know what I think, by filling it out or doing a Yelp review. Anyways, most of the craft breweries I’ve been to seem to take a pretty sincere interest in trying to provide beers that their customers want, which is why I find the Slate article to be more likely much-ado-about-nothing, rather than an expose of some big problem within the craft beer world.

      • Martin says:

        Do you really find it that odd? In-group connoisseurship often has an edge, whether it’s appreciation of the jokes of Arrested Development or knowing your way around good coffees/beers/wines/bands. If someone asserts that they like Neutral Milk Hotel, but you actually prefer the Captain & Tennille, you risk becoming a pariah in that little conversation. If you prefer to pretend that no conversation works like this, that’s your prerogative, but it shows very little insight into human nature. In the real world, aesthetic preferences are *frequently* offered up as a way to define the world and the people in it into people who get it and people who don’t. That’s a lot of what this conversation is about, and a lot of the reason that people are hostile to hop enthusiasts. You might even say it’s the *reason* that people are overstating the prevalence of hoppy beers, as in Scott’s original post here. They’re exaggerating it because they don’t like being on the butt end of someone else’s snobbery or connoisseurship. But according to you, that phenomenon is just made up by me.

        • Jay B. says:

          Maybe you just hang out with assholes.

        • Jay B. says:

          To further my thought, of course people have preferences and then they often self-select into groups based on that preference. I get that people have enthusiasms. But unless you are fourteen, “peer pressure”, is kind of a joke, especially in craft beer overall. I can absolutely see beer snobbery in a craft beer v. mass market beer lens — I think people shouldn’t drink shit and the some of the people who do are obviously bewildered by craft beer and the amount of knowledge some people have about it — but I clearly don’t see it in the idea of craft beer overall. It’s a silly thing to be mad at people who prefer a certain type of well-made beer over another and I think that the problems of the article and the persecuted likes of you are one of the dumbest things I’ve seen in a while. There is no problem, and yet there seems to be a lot of raging.

          And yes, there are evidently a bunch of people on the Internet who think hopheads are oppressing them, somehow, but then, if we judge by Internet participation, we live in a nation of libertarians.

          • Martin says:

            *rolls eyes* So in other words, it’s stupid to feel judged by beer snobs unless you drink shitty beer, in which case you totally deserve to feel judged. The reacting to condescension is all completely on my side unless it’s “in a craft beer v. mass market beer lens.” In that case no amount of pretentious opining about the superiority of this beer over that beer could ever be enough. The real problem is that I have met in my life people who care enough about beer to evangelize about beer — your word was “assholes,” I believe. I’m delighted to be assured by the person who’s trying to son me that people aren’t actually trying to son me.

            Look, you’ve got a point, these aren’t big stakes here, and everyone’s overreacting a bit. The hopsy people are taking things a little too seriously, which would normally be endearing, but the people who aren’t that invested in beer sense a conspiracy to convince everyone that hops are super tasty, and like any emperor who isn’t wearing clothes, it deserves to be called out from time to time. Like it or not, the agenda to promote hops ended up in a backlash — that’s not the fault of people who didn’t really like hops.

          • Martin says:

            Another quick point: ordinarily I would agree with you about peer pressure, but the subject here is the (usually public) consumption of alcohol. I don’t think it’s strange to suggest that there’s a lot of social pressures surrounding the subject, even past the age of 20 or 30.

    • tonycpsu says:

      Someone needs to coin a neologism for people who tendentiously invoke the straw man fallacy by changing the original argument. Nobody is saying that anyone is saying that there are no IPAs available (though Scott P. above comes pretty close to that.)

      The argument being addressed here is the one from the original Slate article and echoed by some commenters in the last thread that the presence of IPAs crowds out other styles, or significantly impedes one’s ability to get these styles. There is a lot of support for that position, and zero evidence for it.
      There is a ton of innovation going on in non-hoppy styles all over America and throughout the beer producing world.

      • Walt says:

        Bullshit. The article says nothing like this. Did you read it? I mean, it’s Slate, and if anyone doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt, it’s them, but the article simply says nothing your summary, or Scott’s.

        • tonycpsu says:

          Yes, I read the fucking article. It’s about non-hophead beer snobs feeling “alienated” by the amount of hoppy beers out there. It talks about brewers adding hops to cover imperfections. It talks about how we don’t even notice hops anymore. All of these are, with varying degrees of explicitness, making a commentary on the market catering to hopheads.

          • Scott Lemieux says:

            Yeah, if the thesis of the Slate article isn’t that there are too many hoppy beers that are crowding out other styles, I’d love someone to tell me what the argument actually is.

    • Walt says:

      Straw-manning a Slate article is like parodying an Onion article. The original article says nothing at all resembling Scott’s paraphrase. In fact, it says this:

      Not all craft beer is hoppy. There are many craft breweries that seek to create balanced, drinkable beers that aren’t very bitter at all, like Patrick Rue’s the Bruery in Placentia, Calif., and the Commons Brewery in Portland, Ore. Among the non-hoppy yet complex and delicious American craft beers available are Widmer’s hefeweizen, New Glarus’ cherry and raspberry beers, and Full Sail Brewing’s Session Lager (a beer specifically developed to serve as a refreshing counterpoint to overhopped beers). America’s independent breweries make beers to suit every palate, not just the ones that revel in bitterness.

      The conclusion of the article is this

      Craft brewers’ obsession with hops has overshadowed so many other wonderful aspects of beer. So here’s my plea to my fellow craft beer enthusiasts: Give it a rest. Let’s talk about the differences between wild and cultivated lab yeast, and the weird and wonderful flavors that are created when brewers start scouring nearby trees or flowers or even their own beards for new strains. Let’s geek out about local, craft-malted barley and how it compares to traditional imported European malts. And let’s start preaching a new word: Craft beer isn’t always bitter. Who knows? Maybe we’ll finally win over some of those Bud Light fans.

      It doesn’t say a goddamn thing about how craft breweries should stop making IPAs. The article is addressed to beer snobs.

      • titan says:

        If you ever have the misfortune of finding yourself
        in Placentia, CA a trip the The Bruery tasting room
        will help you feel better. If you are especially down
        and it is Thurs-Sun then you can also swing by the tasting room at Bootleggers in Fullerton for more self-medication.

      • Well since the article was evidently addressed specifically to me, I would answer it:

        “We are doing exactly that already. You need to get out more.”

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      Often the peer pressure takes the form of enthusiasm

      As far as I can tell, all this means is that among craft beer fans people who like hoppier beers outnumber people who don’t. I don’t see the problem, and I’m not sure what the remedy could be unless it’s people who like hoppy beers who are supposed to either lie or be wet blankets.

      I also note again that the article under discussion made the “too hoppy” complaint about a beer that is not remotely hoppy, suggesting strongly that the “too hoppy” complaint has become a empty signifier of reverse snobbery, like “hipster.”

      • Martin says:

        I don’t see how this is really responsive to what I wrote. It’s hard to understand my comment as communicating demographic data, which you seem to infer by stating that I must have meant group X outnumbers group Y…. I don’t think I said that, or the opposite of that.

        On your second point, so what? The fact that SNL’s caricatures of NPR on-air personnel were exaggerated and resonated among people who have no interest in NPR doesn’t mean that NPR personalities are somehow immune from that criticism, and the same applies here. It’s a smoking gun.

    • sparks says:

      I descend to the spit take when given a hopped-up beer.

  19. Johnny Sack says:

    Speaking of Dogfish, I’ve been trying and failing to find one of my favorites by them-Midas Touch. Anyone know a place to get this one in either DC or NY?

  20. malraux says:

    If we’re ranting about all things beer, then I’ll toss mine in too. Would the craft brewers stop putting caffeinated items in their stouts. A good stout doesn’t need cocoa nibs or coffee to pick up either of those flavors from the roasted malt. I don’t like consuming caffeine past noon to avoid staying up all night, so a pint or two of a caffeinated stout is right out.

  21. Haystack says:

    None. There are no such circumstances.

    Coffee shops, too.

  22. Incontinentia Buttocks says:

    My totally anecdotal sense is that we hit peak IPA about five years ago and that the beers currently on the rise in popularity among craft breweries are imperial stouts and various Belgian styles, esp. saisons.

    It seems clear to me that, when it comes to craft brews, as with most other things, most are mediocre, some are excellent, and some are terrible. When a style grows in popularity, one notices a huge growth in mediocre examples of that style (along with an attendant, smaller growth in excellent and terrible examples). So that while first-rate imperial stouts (e.g. Sierra Nevada’s Narwhal and the various Great Divide Yetis) are now more readily available, there are still more unbalanced, alcohol-tasting imperials out there. Until very recently, and for a decade or two, this process was most notable with IPAs (before the rise of the IPA, it was “American ales” and porters that seemed most ubiquitous among craft brews).

    I do think that one hangover of the IPA wave is that lazy brewers sometimes toss uncalled for hops into traditionally less hoppy styles, so that a subset of mediocre, e.g., saisons, are mediocre because they’ve been carelessly overhopped (e.g. Flying Dog’s Wildeman Farmhouse IPA, which, despite its name, is really a very hoppy saison). Don’t get me wrong. There are good, hoppy saisons. But pulling off a hoppy saison seems to be more, not less, difficult than making a good, but more traditional, one.

    • stickler says:

      There was a big fire at one of the major hop storage facilities in Yakima, what, three or four years ago? Anyhoo, it wiped out a very non-trivial amount of the nation’s hop harvest for that year, and here in the PNW many beer geeks were eager to see what effect an impending shortage would have on craft and microbreweries.

      Turns out, the price of hops did spike, and we did indeed see some interesting takes on Scotch ales, nut browns, and stouts. So most brewers are just fine making less-hoppy beers.

      Very hoppy beer is still more expensive to brew, even though the shortage and price-spike was short-lived. So brewers must have good reason to keep churning out the IBUs. I suspect that reason might be “customers.”

  23. Matt says:

    For people in the west (or at least the Mountain West) let me put in a plug for O’Dell Brewing. There are lots of craft brewers in the Denver area, but O’Dell (out of Ft. Collins) is my favorite by far. Unsurprisingly (to anyone who pays attention!)they have some pretty hoppy beers (the Myrcenary Double IPA is my favorite) but they also make porters, pilsners, amber ales, a great chocolate milk stout, and many others. See here:

    http://odellbrewing.com/beers/

    They do their own distribution and don’t go all that far from Colorado, but if you can get it, it’s really nice beer, and the brewery tour is nice, too.

    • Uncle Ebeneezer says:

      Looks like alot of good stuff on their menu. I’ll have to make a trip up there next time I’m visiting family in Denver. We went up to Boulder last time and had several great beers at Mountain Sun Brewery. Always looking for a good excuse to ditch the family craziness for a day, especially if it can involve good beer.

    • burnt says:

      They make fabulous brews but they are more widely available than you might think. Every liquor store in the Twin Cities sells Myrcenary (I kid, I kid, but it’s a lot) and it’s 852 miles door to door for me to get to their brewery. Their double pils is very good, and I’ve always had a soft sport for their 5 Barrel Pale Ale.

      • Matt says:

        they are more widely available than you might think.

        Good to know, though not nationally available, or so the person at the brewery says. (Not in the East, especially.) I think they have a feature on their web page that tells you what stores near you (if any) sell their beer. I expect that’s easier because they do their own distribution.

  24. JazzBumpa says:

    I just want to say that in between reading this, watching the Red Wings astounding 4-1 win and getting regular updates on my grandson’s baseball game [8-7 win] I consumed a New Holland Dragon’s Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout, – 10% alcohol – and am in a very nice place, indeed. [Oldest granddaughter got top spot in dance comp today, solo and duet, and that didn’t hurt either.]

    According to the label: “Roasty malt character intermingled with deep vanilla tones, all dancing in an oak bath.”

    No hoppiness at all, and I missed the vanilla. Pretty challenging beer for my taste, though, and I quite like Guinness.

    Cheers!
    JzB

  25. JR says:

    “People who don’t like wheat beers, or stouts, or hefeweizens, or whatever, generally avoid drinking them and call it good, whereas people who don’t care for hop-forward styles are rarely content with such a simple, straightforward approach.”

    My statistically meaningless personal experience disagrees with your statistically meaningless personal experience on this.

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