You may have noticed more reviews than normal in the last couple of weeks. I feel I need to clear out my beer cellar while the beer world has gone a bit quiet. Ammo and I haven’t got many activities planned which extend beyond Sunday afternoon at the pub, partly because ammo is settling into life in Brizneyland and I’m looking for a new HQ for Drunken Speculation. So, for now, the beery discourse is a bit more mundane.
On the other hand, it gets one to thinking about other beery things. To wit, breaking out of our cookie-cutter posts and so, I give you five things that I wish brewers would do as a personal favour to me, an anonymous blogger:
The most disappointing beer I’ve tried recently was Feral’s Boris Russian Imperial Stout. A big deal was made about it online and I grabbed two bottles when I had the opportunity. I’ve only had one of the two and it was 330mL of boozey, thick beer. 9.1% ABV and bugger all real flavour. What a shame.
The thought process seems to be big beer is good beer. Making a good, big beer is clearly very difficult – otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this – but a large swathe of the beer community seems to be under the impression that every second beer being imperial-this or double-that is a substitute for a balanced, well crafted beer. It’s not.
I love a good hoppy beer. Bridge Road’s Hop Harvest Ale is an excellent hopped-up beer. It’s the kind of thing I think about when it’s close to home time. Clearly, some thought has gone into whether the hops will add to the sensory experience.
Then there are beers that are hoppy just because fuck it, who could be bothered. No consideration has been given to balancing characteristics of the hops but to instead engage in an IBU pissing contest. The copy then usually implies that you’re not man enough if you don’t like it. Hops can hide a lot of defects in beer, so maybe more time should be spent crafting the beer instead of dry hopping with whatever’s lying around and calling it a day.
I am aware of Brooklyn Lager, Stone & Wood’s effort and I’m keen to try Moon Dog’s Love Tap at Armakeggon but there seems to be a dearth of seriously crafty lagers on the market. It’s like the entire strain of yeast has been overlooked or, at best, only included for completeness’ sake, ending up being worse than nothing at all (e.g. James Squire’s Sundowner). More thought and more love could be shown to Saccharomyces pastorianus.
What would I do? Well, I’m working on Project Quetzal (mk I and II) but seeing as I’ll never be a brewer, it’s unlikely Quetzalcoatlus will make it to market, so I guess I’ll shelve my dream if someone else will make it for me.
I might get a bit of blow-back for this one. “Won’t somebody please think of the brewers?” with my best Helen Lovejoy impression. If the Innovator’s Dilemma taught us nothing else, a market goes through distinct stages:
- Developing performance, until it surpasses the requirement of most customers (the phase we’re in now, note competitions over hoppiness, ABV, etc)
- Improving convenience of delivery, as customers have a choice between multiple products which meet their requirements and will opt for the easiest to get hold of
- Lowering prices, as competition heats up
Lower prices and more convenience is an inevitable result of the increasing competition in the marketplace, so brewers better prepare for it. Bridge Road’s Posse is excellent and I want to see more of that. I know the lower limit of the price is fixed by taxes, excise and the fact that there are inputs into the brewing process which must be accounted for but there are economies of scale, efficiencies and other business stuff that can be achieved so that I don’t pay $14 for a schooner of beer.
5. Free samples
You heard me. Contact us on the About page. Note: free samples do not guarantee favourable reviews. Or any review. In fact, keep your sample. I need to spend some time thinking about why I spend $14 on a schooner.