… in 2023, as a fifty-six year old beer drinker of 40+ years.
1. Use the term, “West Coast IPA”.
Trying to get people to define what they actually mean by this, usually elicits all manner of responses that lack any kind of consensus, or cohesion or clarity. That’s not surprising since there is no such ‘style’. What used to be simply a phrase to describe an American IPA that was brewed on the West Coast (and perhaps had some typical, dank, piney, big, bruising palate crushing characteristics à la Ruination), has come to mean (I think) any, “non-hazy” IPA. Err, we already have a style designation for that, it’s called an American (D)IPA. It’s not hard, stop making shit up.
2. Go to breweries with tap lists like this one.
This is the Tap List of Dot & Line Brewing here in Fort Wayne, IN today, 4/21/23. It’s VERY typical of so many breweries that I walk into these days. A seltzer (not beer), two “smoothie sours” (whatever the hell they are, but they’re not beer), two enormous stouts one of which is filled with candy bars, three hazy IPAs that I won’t drink, one wheat beer laden with more fruit, to leave a Cream Ale that I would (and have) drunk, and a 9% Imperial Porter that might drink but there we go again, more adjunct shit. What that boils down to is a single beer out of eleven that I would drink.
I’m not singling Dot & Line out here, they just happen to provide a great example that is being repeated all over the place. I’ve met the brewer and he seemed like a sensible bloke, who knows beer, which for me makes that list all the more tragic. The reason I’m aware of Dot & Line’s list is that I check it regularly since they are local to me, and in the hope that I might see something that doesn’t look like that – so far that’s been pretty much in vain, although they do make a nice Vienna lager which is HUGELY welcome. Why not more, simple, traditional, relatively low ABV styles on a regular basis? Why not stouts and porters with no shit in them? Or why not three beers out of eleven that I might want as a legacy drinker?
3. Refer to fake (kettle) ‘sours’, as sours.
If you brew an actual Gueuze, Flanders Red, Oud Bruin, Gose, ‘Lambic’ or a Berliner Weiss and you don’t add fruit, then I’m in. If you make molten sour patch kids, then just stand up and call them what they are, candy based beverages for children, and don’t insult Europe’s great tradition of brewing real sour beer.
4. Drink Hazy ‘IPAs’, beers with chunks or glitter, fake sours (see above) or melted candy bars masquerading as ‘stouts’.
For much of my drinking life I’ve pretty much lived by the the mantra that I’ll drink any beer at least once. That was true for years and years and years. I always felt it gave my criticisms more gravitas, and showed that I was well-rounded in terms of my experience. However, beer that looks like orange juice is a singularly unappealing optic to me, and the soft, squidgy nature of New England IPAs mean they just don’t taste like beer to me. As a result I’ve long since changed my original philosophy on drinking anything once, and I’m not going to drink ‘beer’ that I think is shit.
5. Embrace cans.
I hate them. They are inelegant, often suffer from under carboation in several styles, and remove the sheer beauty, majesty and sophistication of something corked & caged in 750 or 375 mL. I’m 100% uninterested in environmental, packaging and transporting concerns, arguments or issues.
6. Pay Tavour, $6.99 for 16oz of a simple beer (Pilsner, Brown Ale, Pale Ale etc.) from a brewery that’s 10 minutes old.
I’ve written about this before and this phenomenon is totally nuts. I really, really want to support new breweries, and I am willing to take a chance and buy beer from them, but there is ZERO chance of me doing so if you’re offering me the equivalent of $31.46 a six pack, PLUS shipping, from a TOTALLY unproven brewery, when at the beer store I can get 66 oz of Pilsner Urquell for around $10. How does any other decision compute for a person that knows anything about beer? I’m dumbfounded.
7. Allow people to use the word ‘lager’ without specificity.
The silly bandwagon hype over lagers has been bugging me a while now, but when a bartender says to me, “Would you like a lager?” I just about lose my shit. My response is curt, and usually goes something like, “I dunno, is it a Doppelbock or is it an American Adjunct?” How can you be lumping these things together in one sentence? It’s dumb; do better, and until you do I’m going to call you on it.