Divided By Style: Saying “Hell Yes!” or “Hell No!” to Novelty Beer
@DontDrinkBeer recently tweeted in very Thanos fashion that, “Half of all beer styles, must cease to exist.”
Finding that Tweet after typing “Glitter Beer” into the search box was not all that hard. Neither was finding hot takes from all over the spectrum.
And it doesn’t just happen with one colorful take on beer. It doesn’t take reading too many comments on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit to see that opinions of all kinds are divided and that your opinion is wrong according to many, whether it is or not. That holds true for our world of crafted beer as well.
The Style Divide
The divide may be pro/con on hazy beer or the latest battleground, glitter beer. In a few months, the division machine will be working overtime on Brut IPA’s or Rosé beers. The consumer is left to sift through conflicting tweets and blog posts to determine where they stand because most of these beers are not making it to the local beer shop for them to taste test.
I say this as someone who still has not had a 2018 version of glitter beer. I have tasted Sparkle Pony from Three Weavers, one of the beers cited as the starting point for the style, (and it is darn good) but it certainly did not look glittery to me at the time. Not nearly as much as some of the GIF’s that I have seen online. So, my opinion on the trend should carry little weight because in the end, it is all about how the beer tastes, followed by aroma, appearance, price point, who brewed it and whatever else is important to the buyer. All I (or anyone else) can do is voice my admittedly temporary position on the matter. A position that should not be set in stone tablets.
You can certainly not like how glitter beers look or how hazy IPA’s taste but you cannot tell everyone that they should also share your view on those topics. If you cannot end a beer discussion with, at the very least, a hearty “agree to disagree” mentality then you may be just a skosh too rigid in your orthodoxy.
The rigid ones that I have encountered seem to be broken into four camps:
- The “I Just Want a Beer” Crowd – If you would like to go back thirty years to the simpler times when a brewpub had a porter, amber and red ale only, then, by all means, hop into that DeLorean. Yes, simple beers that you don’t have to analyze are fine, but to be aggravated by the new and pine for the old days will leave you further and further behind.
- The Traditionalists – They have their styles and they don’t understand why people are monkeying with them when they are perfectly fine. What they fail to understand is that the U.S. craft beer industry is inextricably linked with innovation. Who else would dry hop a pilsner or drop every conceivable fruit and vegetable into a Berliner Weisse when both styles are fine and dandy without?
- The New Old Timers – If you refuse to recognize styles after 2010 then you are just as bad as the parents who can’t understand their children’s choice of music. Just because you are West Coast IPA for life doesn’t preclude a brewery from doing a new, updated version of IPA. You can have both pale ale and a THC infused beer. It is not either/or.
- The Only New – If you look at your beer tasting history and you see only Hazy or you see only the hot names like Weldwerks or Alvarado Street then you might need to snap out of it and start expanding your horizons to other beers and breweries.
What’s Your Take?
When I am asked my view on hazy IPA or other trending beers, I respond with a standard line. “I have tried X amount of them and about X% have been good and the rest have not been my cup of tea.” I may add extra doses of snark depending on how low that good percentage is but the point being, is that I focus on the good ones and I always try to add why I liked or disliked a certain beer. Was it a flavor component that turned me off or was the beer unbalanced?
Throwback case in point is the Cascadian Dark Ale aka Black IPA. When the style first blossomed, I tasted many from different breweries but never really found many that mastered the tricky balance of dark and roasty with the hop bitterness. Most fell on one side or the other of that fence. But I never disparaged the style because many others found beers that they loved.
Since trends are not going away anytime soon, at some point we in the beer world will need to learn how to talk and let people know what we think without creating a ruckus. Maybe, #beertwitter can show the rest of Twitter and the other social medias how to actually debate.