I haven’t written one of these posts in quite awhile, not because I forgot about the series but because this semester has been so busy that I haven’t had much time to do much of anything at all, and especially rather trivial pursuits such as this. But since I’m watching the Chiefs-Pats, I might as well scribble some words down.
Back about 8-10 years ago, you couldn’t go to a brewery or beer bar on the west coast at least without running into the Black IPA, or Cascadian Dark Ale, as it was known in the Northwest. That latter name probably made sense, because in the last decade IPA has come to mean “a new style of beer with hops.” But the problem with these beers is that they mostly weren’t very good. The overly roasted malts, which were too burned for my taste, were a bit too much. I didn’t mind it every now and then, but it wasn’t a real favorite. Then I realized at some point, I think when I actually saw one again at a brewery in Bend that didn’t last very long, that this style had almost completely disappeared seemingly overnight. And I can’t say it caused a lot of weeping.
I feel the same is going to happen with the latest thing in the beer world, the Brut IPA. I first ran into this over the summer at Crux in Bend, which is one of my favorite breweries. After having a wonderful barrel-aged sour, I decided to try their version of this. And I thought it was not very good. The Brut IPA is supposed to mimic the dryness of Brut champagne. And while I guess that’s different, it is also bad. I figured maybe it was just the particular beer. So a few days later, while in Eugene, I had another, brewed by Fort George, another favorite Oregon brewery. It also was bad. Basically, the style has an almost astringent taste, at least for me, without a very interesting body or even much in the way of hops, thus going back to my previous definition of what is called an IPA today. This article gives a bit of history, using an enzyme that is commonly used in stouts to take out some of the sweetness. That makes sense in that context. But this is likely to be another flash in the pan style whose disappearance is unmourned. At least I hope so.
In other beer news, the vile Bill Coors died. Burn in Hell.
Goose Island sales numbers are cratering. I can’t say I am too sad about that. The microbreweies selling out to the big conglomerates have been disappointing, not even in terms of selling out, but in that some rather meh flagship beers are everywhere and they mostly aren’t that interesting. In the case of Elysian, which has allowed it to sell here in Rhode Island, what has happened is that 2 or 3 standards are available, which are OK, but not that exciting, and then all the interesting stuff remains only available in Seattle and surrounding environs. In other words, it’s the worst of what big companies do, taking up valuable shelf space for meh beers. No reason to buy Goose Island’s basic IPA or the 312 when you could buy something better from a local brewery. And I can’t say I am sad to see corporate strategies to push out local beers fail.
I will be in San Antonio this week for a conference. I understand the San Antonio brewery scene is not very good. But I would like to bring a few beers back to share with friends. What Texas breweries should I look out for in the stores?