Warning: this is a rant. A justifiable rant, but a rant nonetheless. It’s a rant formed around the idea that the craft beer world has become far too obsessed with “trendy” beer, so much so that we’ve forgotten the roots of craft beer.
I’m talking about the fad beers. The “Red Velvet Cake Imperial Stouts”, or the “Double Juicy Mango Milkshake IPA”, or even worse the “Glitter Beer” of the world. Look, there’s nothing wrong with these styles; in fact, it’s great that there continues to be a level of experimentation that leads to brewers producing crazy ideas like this. BUT, the problem lies in the industry, and consumers, being incredibly obsessed with the next wild and crazy idea; the next fad beer, or special release, that’s going to take the market by storm.
This is not what craft beer should be about. When’s the last time you went to a brewery or liquor store and said to yourself “I want one of the core beers. One of those fundamentally good beers that are brewed all year long.” I’m willing to be it was a while ago for most of you. That’s a problem. There’s a reason a brewery has a core lineup; it’s because these are their best beer! They brew them all year long, and they know exactly how they want to make it. It’s not some crazy experiment that may or may not work out (and if it doesn’t call it a ‘Milkshake’ and it’ll sell like mad).
We need to start supporting those core beers again. The beers that helped the industry move away from the terrible macro beers being produced and showed us what craft beer could really offer. Beers like classic IPAs; you know the clean, crisp, filtered kind. Beers like german pilsners, scotch ales, witbiers, saisons, bocks and more. These styles have been around for centuries for the simple fact that they are reliable and damn good.
This is not a rant that doesn’t hold merit. While the beer industry goes crazy with flavours, the seltzer market is booming, and I mean absolutely booming, because consumers are looking for simple. No one would say Whiteclaw is a great tasting beverage. No, Whiteclaw is boring, but it’s extremely drinkable to the point where you could have easily have a dozen without even trying. Drinkability is what’s driving consumer behaviour right now, so why would we lean on some excessively sweet “Fruit Loops IPA” as the great new thing in beer?
I have to applaud the breweries that have remained focused in this endeavour. Breweries like BC’s Dageraad, that have never strayed from staying true to what they are, and producing clean, classic beers that are absolute killers.
But that doesn’t mean other craft breweries are lost causes. Rather that trying to sort out what the hot new release is, maybe the next time you’re at a brewery, stick to the staples. Grab a core beer, and remind yourself why it is that brewery exists in the first place. This is going to benefit you in two ways: One, you’ll get a chance to go back to the basics and really remember what it is you like about certain styles. Two, you’ll actually get a strong sense of whether or not that brewery is even good. There’s no hiding in the basics, you either know what you’re doing or you don’t.
Can we please just start drinking good quality, basic beer again? (Rant over.)