In a world of near-infinite choice and instant communication, breweries are constantly trying to keep up. The moment you hear about a new trend, you need to hop on board before the wave crashes.
That’s not necessarily bad — it does mean more options and innovation for us beer lovers — but maybe brewers should take a step back and reflect on their actions from time to time. Just because everyone else is jumping off a cliff into a big pool of glitter beer, that doesn’t mean you should too. I actually like glitter beer, but still!
Of course, we know this is all subjective, but it’s 2019 — I’m required to have a strong opinion about everything, and you’re probably going to read it, because you’re curious. That’s modern journalism, baby!
So here are the trends Revue would love to see announce their retirement so some new contenders can join the fray, for better or worse.
Right off the bat, I just want to say that I don’t think this is a terrible idea conceptually. People like IPAs and people like lactose in beers. It’s an interesting experiment that happens to have far outlasted its necessary lifespan. I either want an IPA that’s bitter and floral and citrusy or I want a lactose brew that’s sweet and creamy and smooth. It’s like chasing Malort with Bailey’s — you’ve ruined them both. So why are there still milkshake IPAs on tap and on shelves all over? My hope would be that it’s because no one’s drinking the stuff, but I know in my heart that’s not true.
Perhaps the most egregious example of this is the HollanDaze double IPA from Westbrook Brewing Co., out of South Carolina. There’s not just lactose in there, but … egg yolks. Must we play god? Does our hubris know no end?
I’d still try it though.
Sexist Beer Labels
Despite the fact that just as many women drink craft beer as men, the industry itself has been quite the boys’ club. It doesn’t help when two burly, bearded white dudes open a brewery and release a beer called, like, “Lick My Kriek” or something, and it has an illustration of a sultry woman fondling some cherries.
Of course, there’s plenty of debate to be had over what counts as “sexist.” Is an innuendo automatically offensive? I’ve heard some people take umbrage with Odd Side Ale’s Bean Flicker, but plenty of women I know have no issue with it. Personally, I think the biggest issue is label art and names that explicitly objectify or make a joke of women. Naming your beer “Panty Peeler” or “Wailing Wench” or “Naughty Girl” is alienating a huge portion of people — potential customers — just to appeal to the kind of dude who’s going to harass your female employees and patrons.
That being said, we’ve noticed a few breweries tweaking labels and marketing to be more universally appealing. We won’t name names, but certain local breweries could maybe learn from their peers instead of childishly leaning into being defensive.
This isn’t an official style, but rather a catch-all term for those beers that are 100-percent sweet, loaded with extracts, and have zero nuance whatsoever. In my opinion, if you’re dumping bags of sugar into your brew at the end, you’re doing something wrong. I love ridiculous, over-the-top beers, but at a certain point you might as well just drink a fruit wine — or better yet, dunk your Krispy Kreme doughnut right into a stout.
Then again, the Amazon is on fire and the ice caps are melting, so if a “Maple Truffle Ice Cream Waffle” stout sounds like your thing, maybe you should just go for it.
Believe it or not, this one isn’t completely intentional — it’s actually an unfortunate side effect of creating certain kinds of aforementioned milkshake IPAs, pastry stouts, and other fruited brews. Basically, when you add fruit or sugar post-fermentation, you’re giving any surviving yeast more to eat. When yeast eat, they poop out carbon dioxide, which is not at all an ideal process to happen in a sealed metal can. The only way to keep those yeast from eating is to keep them cold, which means your beer can is now a heat-sensitive, portable, potable bomb. Oops!
While it wasn’t dangerous in any way, Brewery Vivant had this issue with some — not most — of the bottles of a recent Strawberry Rhubarb Sour. The refermentation led to a volcanic strawberry rhubarb eruption when the bottles were opened, resulting in quite the kitchen mess and drastically less beer to drink. Of course, Vivant offered to make it right with whoever experienced this.
Some breweries have leaned into the explosions by labeling their beers with a ticking time bomb and reminding you to keep the can cold. Cute, but hardly a solution. Maybe just add the fruit before fermentation, or look into stabilizing with chemicals or pasteurization. No one wants shrapnel in their fridge just because the power went out.
I like haze, but does it all have to be hazy? Should that really be the goal of your beer, or should you be focusing on crafting a delicious tasting brew and maybe let the haze happen if it happens? Just sayin’.