…amongst those that should know better.
It’s the time of year when many people reflect on the 12 months gone by, and often those reflections take the form of ‘Top 10’ lists. Such lists, whilst trivial, are usually good fun, so why not do one myself? Well actually this one has nothing to do with looking back on the last year in particular, but it is in the form of a ‘Top 10’, and I suppose that some of these have gained momentum during 2011, so here it is.
10. All craft (non-macro) beer is good, and all local beer is good.
Simply put, it isn’t. This of course comes partly out of the general, green mantra surrounding ‘local is always better’ (and as such is not confined to beer), but it is something the newish beer crowd has latched on to and won’t let go. The effect is that there is a lot of mediocre (and in some cases really bad beer) out there, that gets more traction than it otherwise should.
9. It’s wonderful to have more beer in cans.
Mmmmm, well I suppose it’s nice to have the flexibility that cans can offer, but far too many people are sacrificing the quality of the beer for the convenience of the container. I’d rather have inconvenience and better beer if the other choice is more convenience with an inferior beer. In short, the container should not overrule the contents – it seems as though too often recently that’s exactly what happens, as people settle for lesser beer simply because it’s canned.
8. It’s limited, it must be great!
Obviously this has been going on for years, but I believe it’s now totally out of control. Hype has reached new levels for countless numbers of beers, that can be replicated and bettered, by simply walking down to your local store and taking something comparable off the shelf. The cost will be a fraction of the hyped beer and be accompanied by zero inconvenience and zero hysteria. Obviously the brewers LOVE the perpetuation of this myth!
7. Session beer is now gaining popularity in the USA.
Errrrrrr, no it isn’t. There’s STILL virtually no, 4% and under beer that you can buy on a regular basis in the USA. It’s even pretty difficult when considering only beer brewed regionally and locally (which used to be a small oasis) to find truly low ABV beer. Lot’s of talk here, but little action – a really strong myth.
6. More is always better (number of breweries and number of beers).
The level of growth in the craft industry in the US is simply unsustainable. It’s flooding the market with mediocre and poor beer and shelf space is at a premium more than ever. It also has the effect of leaving old beer on shelves for extended periods of time. A popular fallacy in the US is that this will be a good thing because ‘the market will decide’, and the poorer breweries will be driven out, making the landscape stronger. In reality, good beer is actually losing shelf space to ‘trendy’ beer, and brewers that are making ‘better’ beer are suffering. With close to 900 breweries in planning stages in the US, there’s a really precarious situation brewing, and a bubble about to burst. I think we’re already in a saturated market for GOOD beer.
5. More is always better (taps in bars).
Sure, if you want low turnover, and indiscriminate selections. Another old myth that is hanging on, and really says as much about the US psyche of ‘more is always better’ as it says about the beer scene here. Of course, the lack of discrimination is rampant in all facets of beer culture in the US; this is just one example.
4. Imperial and highly hopped = better.
An old, old, old myth in US beer circles that just won’t go away. There’s been lip service to this trend being reversed, but as #7 evidences, this just isn’t true and hasn’t changed to any degree.
3. British beer is undergoing a massive revolution inspired by American brewers.
This is an interesting one, that, if you live in the USA and know little about the British beer scene, or if you are under 25 and live the UK, there would appear to be some truth to. Amongst those groups, brewers like Thornbridge, BrewDog and Kernel are ‘all the rage’, and of course in the case of BrewDog they are the ones that make all the (literal) noise. The reality is quite different and remains that the overwhelming majority of magnificent beer drunk in the UK is traditional in its style, ABV and brewed by low-key brewers that still put substance over style. Don’t be fooled by the juvenile posturing and adolescent attention seeking.
2. If it’s from a country with a (relatively) new brewing tradition, it MUST be great.
First it was Italy, then it was the Scandinavian countries now it’s New Zealand. The fawning over incredibly expensive, ordinary beer is a really only a symptom of the lack of discrimination mentioned above.
1. You can put ANY beer in a cask and get a good result.
No, no, no, no. NO! The whole POINT of cask presentation is to accentuate the subtle, gentle nuances that occur over a 1, 2 or 3 day period. This relies upon beers being low-hopped, malt forward and relatively low ABV. If you put a 10% Imperial IPA in a cask, you’re missing the WHOLE point. Now, it is true that virtually ALL beer tastes better in a cask then a keg, but that’s a different argument and not one I’m making here, rather a huge amount of beer that is being presented in casks in the USA is simply not beer that will showcase the presentation at all well – the vast majority of people in the US are missing the point of cask beer. My (current) #1 pet peeve about the beer scene in the USA.