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Jan 9, 2008 12:05 PM

"Monster beers" reviewed by Asimov in the NYTimes

Their favorites:
Dogfish Head 90 Minute
Weyerbacher Double Simcoe
Lagunitas Maximus
Oskar Blues Gordon
Victory Hop Wallop
Mad River Steelhead
Flying Dog Double Dog
Moylan's Moylander Double IPA
Southern Tier Unearthly
Great Divide Hercules Double IPA

They tastes 25 but didn't name the ones that didn't make their list.

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  1. Saw this article. I must admit, i'm not really a beer drinker so I can't comment on their picks, but I did enjoy reading the article an Asimov's comparison's between "old world" brewing and American brewing.

    1. I'm torn because I have issues with the idea of "more is better" fundametally. Creativity can be expressed in ways other than this. However, I can only say that I personally adore Dogfish Head 90 Minute, Weyerbacher Double Simcoe, Victory Hop Wallop, and Mad River Steelhead along with Pliny the Younger, Pliny the Elder, and Weyerbacher Eleven.
      And I really respect Gordon Oliver but I didn't agree with his comment that the term "double" IPA is an insult to the style. I mean isn't the term double interchangeable with "imperial" (which has been applied to stouts for example for some time)? And furthermore as the article points out the terms abbey dubbel, abbey tripel, doppelbock have been around for a while as well.

      9 Replies
      1. re: Chinon00

        Yeah I think Oliver is being nitpicky...It is perfectly appropriate for American brewers to devise new style names and classifications for the new styles of beer they are developing. If these beers don't fit old world styles, they need new names.

        And I think these beers are major advances in the world of beer--I love many of them, and even in Belgium, beer capital of the planet, brewers are experimenting with hoppier beers (e.g. De Ranke XX Bitter, a "Belgian IPA")...maybe largely for the American market, but I am sure there are European beer lovers who enjoy the American IPA style.

        I agree that some beers overdo it, but when perfectly balanced, many monster-hopped beers are amazingly complex and delciious, as the article concurs.

        It was interesting that Brooklyn and Southampton had no beers in the top 10. I wonder if they excused themselves from the competition since their brewers were on the panel.

        1. re: kenito799

          Garrett has always been opinionated, and he holds much respect for tradition (although a brewer of an extreme beer could also hold that respect). One could make a case for Garrett's being an extreme brewer when he introduced Black Chocolate Stout and Monster, both pretty big for their time and place.

          1. re: Jim Dorsch

            Interesting back and forth with Garret Oliver about Extreme beers here:


            When asked about Brooklyn's participation in Beer Advocate Extreme beer fests in the past, this was Garret's response:

            "My views are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of The Brooklyn Brewery as a company. The Brooklyn Brewery attends the EBF when invited. I do not attend myself, even though I'd probably enjoy a lot of the beers. My objection may strike many people as semantic and philosophical, but it is quite concrete to me.

            It's not about the beers. I pour these beers regularly in tastings. I love Oggi's Hop Juice; drinking it is like having hop oil swabbed directly onto your brain. It's about the message. And to me, "extreme" is the wrong message, plain and simple.

            Language matters. For every person that "extreme" turns on, it turns off three people. If you're selling Mountain Dew or skateboards, that's fine - you really aren't going to get everyone else anyway. It's not fine for my beer. My message is inclusive. "Extreme" is exclusive. Go to any event tagged "extreme" and note the homogeneity of the crowd.

            So I reject the word, and consider it an aspersion. We all have concepts and words that we accept and those we reject. I reject this one. We'll still make the beers we make, and people can put their own labels on them if they wish, but that's my outlook."

            1. re: LStaff

              Garrett is a smart dude. I completely agree with his perspective here. The "extreme" marketing angle attracts a lot of meatheads, who often seem only to care about high alcohol or hop levels. As much as I do enjoy DIPA, I also can enjoy simple lagers and wheat beers too.

              1. re: Josh

                I agree with your thoughts on the "extreme" concept. Just look at the picture that was used with the article!

                For craft beer to cross the chasm and gain mainstream acceptance, they need to address the image is being created. Part of the problem is that some of the brewers reflect that image as well, so they may not have the same perspective about the issue.

                In any event, I just focus on the beverage and I am really looking forward to the Extreme Beer Festival in Boston next month.

                1. re: brentk

                  Image is lovers have a valid argument that beer is easier to pair with food than wine, and some forward-looking fine restaurants offer fine beers as well as wines. So there is a potential fine-dining customer who might be unlikely to order something called "Ruination" or "Exterminator" or "HopSlam" with goofy graphics on the label while shelling out over $100 a person at dinner.

              2. re: LStaff

                Thanks for posting that quote, Oliver explains his point well and it makes a lot of sense.

                1. re: LStaff

                  I see his point, and agree with it; the term shows a certain amount of disrespect to a noble beverage, in my view. However, I can also see the advantage, from a marketing point of view, of having one or two beers that you can call 'extreme' or whatever, and get some of the meathead crowd to drink them; maybe it'll wean them off of Coors Light or whatever they're drinking now, and eventually expand their palates. I'm not a marketing guy, though, so this could be fantasy....

            2. re: Chinon00

              I don't think that it's creativity being expressed, so much as a few labels trying to cash in on their novelty beer. It'll likely work, too, with so many subtleties being lost on the modern palate.

              My Blog:

            3. I guess that one could suggest that both the light lager drinker and the extreme beer drinker have something in common; both exist on the margins and neither really respect “beer”. The former gravitates toward products that have had virtually all beer character removed. While the latter is in pursuit of such an ultimate extreme experience that “normal” beer (i.e. Pilsner, Stout, Pale) can lose its context and becomes inconsequential and useless to many of them as well.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Chinon00

                Or…one could suggest that the "extreme" beer drinker is an explorer, willing to sample and enjoy products that are the result of American brewers’ blood, sweat and tears (although hopefully not literally).

                And while we’re at it, one could also suggest that a statement that accuses “extreme” beer drinkers of not respecting beer is totally ignorant. I believe you’re intent was to say that people who only drink these beers may lose an appreciation for more subtle styles but that’s a lousy way to say it and I take offense.

                I believe that most of these beers do in fact have subtlety and balance of flavor and aren't simply hop-monsters. As an avid beer explorer and former skateboarder, I abhor the word "extreme" in anything and agree with Garrett Oliver’s philosophy. The word “extreme” is a marketing gimmick and cheapens the end product. Let’s not group anything made in the US over 6% ABV into one category, please!!!

                1. re: Ralphus

                  Balance is relative, in some ways. If you've a palate that's adjusted to more extreme degrees of a flavor, then what appears balanced to you will be different. Someone not accustomed to spicy food might find a given rendition of muttar paneer out of balance while a person with a palate tolerant of spicy food finds it perfectly seasoned.

                  It seems you're talking Chinon's comments personally. Nobody is saying that anyone who likes so-called "extreme" beers is a de facto meathead. It's that the marketing of beer in this way attracts a crowd who seem to be in it for something other than the flavor.

                  1. re: Ralphus

                    I'd like to say first that I stated previously that I adore Dogfish Head 90 and some other "big" beers.
                    To continue, we all have our personal tastes. But if one finds him or herself suddenly unimpressed or dissatisfied with broad categories of non-extreme beer, to the point of deriding them, then need I say more? I have a friends who are "big" beer fans and who find Czech and German Pils for example boring (categorically). Moreover, I gave one a Wolaver’s Pale Ale once to try. He told me that it was ok but something was missing. It didn’t have enough “umph”.

                    1. re: Chinon00

                      That clears up the statement pretty well. Seems like people are being desensitized to subtler styles due to the recent oversaturation/focus on big beers. I just wasn't sure what you meant by extreme beer lovers not respecting beer. Apologies if I was over-abrasive. I get excited about beer!!!