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Weekend Beer Notes


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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