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Most Overrated Beer?

I'm a huge craft beer fan, and I'm particularly fond of American micro brews. Sometimes though, I think they are a little too "explosive". I had the Founder's Breakfast Stout a few weeks ago, and I have to say, I didn't think it lived up to the hype. It was better than almost anything out there, but to me, it was a little bit overdone on some of the flavors (way too much espresso, almost burnt). Westvleteren 8 also comes to mind (really good, but if I was blindfolded, would I have thought it was the top 20 in the world?).

Anyway, does anyone else feel that way about some highly rated beers?

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  1. Actually, I feel compelled to defend the Breakfast Stout. I love good coffee and good stouts, and Breakfast Stout is the best coffee-infused stout I've ever tasted. In most other brews of this style, the coffee flavors taste as if they are derived from weak or stale coffee. In the Founders' brew, the coffee flavors are good -- and they meld beautifully with the dark malt (and, IIRC, there's some chocolate in there too).

    1. The KBS lived up to the hype. One of the best beers I have ever had on draught.
      A beer for me that did not is the DFH 120min.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Diego Sanchez

        I'm an IPA guy and DFH 120 is over the top even for me. As is Dale's Pale Ale (it's hopalicious!).

        With all the choices we have these days at all price points, the thing that amazes me is how beers like Heineken, which used to be a "premium" back when there were far less choices, still commands an above average price in today's market.

        1. re: Diego Sanchez

          I agree with that, DFH 120 min and the WW Stout are almost closer to cordials, which is good but not what I want in a beer.

        2. Perhaps you should have named this thread BEERS I JUST DONT GET rather than MOST OVERRATED as that description is bound to cause feathers to ruffle as the WORST BEER thread has done lately.

          That being said we all have some things that seem to be very popular or held in great esteem by many others that we just dont find nearly as enchanting. Whether its music (Im sorry but Bruce Springsteen just does nothing for me), Movies (why is everyone saying this latest Star Trek movie is so great?) or Beer. And for me, the beer everyone else seems to worship that I just dont get is Fat Tire. Sorry. Tastes fine but whats all the fuss about? Yet beer heads act like its the second coming of Jesus Ale. Why?

          And since Ive gone there Id like to also add that Disney World is boring, Steven King is a hack and apple pie is a mediocre dessert...

          There. Have I skewered enough sacred cows for one day?

          7 Replies
          1. re: Insidious Rex

            I've yet to meet anyone I'd consider a serious beer geek who likes Fat Tire, and I know a huge number of serious beer geeks. The Fat Tire worship I've seen mainly comes from people who I consider more casual beer fans: they know that macro lagers are bland and uninteresting, but they still like a sweeter, less assertive beer.

            I agree with most of your other comments (esp. re: Star Trek, totally baffling), except the apple pie one. A well-executed apple pie is absurdly good - unfortunately it's also really hard to come by.

            1. re: Josh

              My grandfather (who died in 1990) made THAT apple pie. Apples were firm and tart but the juice of the pie was a sweet contrast. Crust was flakey and bumpy with solid apple under every curve. I miss my grandfather.

              1. re: Josh

                Fat Tire didn't used to be insipid, back when Jeff L. was still brewing it in his basement. It was quite hoppy and balanced back then. The marketing decision to remove most of the hops and change Fat Tire into a craft beer that people who don't like beer will still drink was brilliant for New Belgium -- just look at the amazing beer factory they've built with the profits.

                Fortunately, New Belgium still makes some good brews. I vote Fat Tire as by far the most overrated beer, at least by sales volume.

                1. re: danbob

                  Unfortunately for Fat Tire, I tried it after having had Widmer's and Anderson Valley's Amber Ales.

              2. re: Insidious Rex

                Agred, New Belgium is a bit overrated. Although I hear good things about their Abbey style.

                1. re: ohdaylay

                  Their Abbey is solid, as is what I'm assuming to be their take on a sour ale, La Folie. Their Wit, however, is one of the worst beers I've ever encountered.

                2. re: Insidious Rex

                  Hands down, Fat Tire is the most overrated beer.

                3. "Westvleteren 8 also comes to mind (really good, but if I was blindfolded, would I have thought it was the top 20 in the world?)."

                  What beers would you rate in the top 20 in the world?

                  Thanks

                  12 Replies
                  1. re: Chinon00

                    I'd be interested to know this too, as Westvleteren 8 is my favorite beer in the world.

                      1. re: Josh

                        Yes. While the 12 is an exceptional beer and probably in my top 5 or so, I've enjoyed the 8 more than any other beer I've ever had. Just a matter of personal taste. Can't go wrong with either.

                      2. re: Whisper

                        Let me make clear that the West 8 is awesome, maybe I was just expecting perfection, which is why I was curious. I hope I'm not ruffling too many feathers, I'm honestly just curious. Anyway, top 20, not necessarily in order:
                        1. Boon Oude Geuze Mariage Parfait
                        2. Goose Island Night Stalker
                        3. Gulden Draak
                        4. Harviestoun Old Engine Oil (Barrel Aged)
                        5. Smisje Wostyntje (Mustard Ale)
                        6. Hoppin Frog BORIS The Crusher
                        7. Rochefort Trappistes 10
                        8. Three Floyds Dreadnaught Imperial IPA
                        9. Three Floyds Oak Aged BlackHeart English IPA
                        10. Van Den Bossche Buffalo Belgian Stout
                        11. BeerMania Mea Culpa
                        12. Deschutes The Dissident
                        13. Bells Expedition Stout
                        14. Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout
                        15. Chimay Blue
                        16. Dark Horse Fore Smoked Stout
                        17. Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
                        18. Struise Pannepot
                        19. St Feuillien Brune
                        20. Hales Red Menace Big Amber Ale

                        1. re: Shaggy

                          That's one hell of a nice list, the ones I know anyway.

                          1. re: Shaggy

                            Chimay Bleu over Westvleteren 8? I respectfully disagree.

                            1. re: juantanamera

                              I knew I should have left that one off. I have to be honest though, it is always excellent, it ages well, and it didn't cost me 20 Euro.

                              1. re: Shaggy

                                I do agree on Chimay Bleu aging well - a friend shared an older bottle with me once, about five or six years old if I recall, and I found some really interesting flavors in it that I don't normally find in a fresher bottle. I don't dislike any of the Chimay beers, I just prefer some other examples of similar styles. Perhaps I am also a bit biased because I've had the Chimay so many times, but only get to try Westvleteren beers on rare occasions. I'll admit I'm not immune to the hype!

                                1. re: juantanamera

                                  Yeah it ages amazingly. Another one that ages quite well is Trader Joe's Holiday Ale. It's made by Unibroue. I had a 4 year old one recently and it had mellowed impressively. Surprisingly good stuff, esp. for such a low price.

                                2. re: Shaggy

                                  I recently, with great excitement, opened my treasured bottle of Russian River Consecration and found it very good but not quite among my favorite sours. To me, the fruit was a bit too dominant and the lambic-like characteristics a bit muted. I still enjoyed it quite a bit, but considering the reviews this beer has been receiving I was a bit let down. Certainly not the most overrated, but not quite as good as I had hoped.

                                  1. re: juantanamera

                                    If you haven't already, try the Mariage Parfait, it's really sour and amazingly good, sounds like it might match what you're describing. If you can get your hands on an aged bottle, even better.

                                    1. re: juantanamera

                                      Man I loved Consecration. Toasted my engagement with it, in fact. I like that it's a bit more fruity/winey, with less dominant lambic flavors. I view it as a unique beer, not belonging to any one particular style.

                          2. Any of the Red hook beers, I've tried them on and off since the later 80's and they do nothing for me. I also don't get the love for 6 Points beers.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: MOREKASHA

                              I agree with both of those points, and I really want Red Hook to be better, being a New Englander.

                              1. re: Shaggy

                                Red Hook is from Seattle. I think you might be thinkng of Harpoon...

                              2. re: MOREKASHA

                                Their products have generally been unexciting, I agree. I sort of liked the original version of their coffee stout (Double Black?) -- the one they had out around 1994.

                                Red Hook's newish Long Hammer IPA is okay. It's certainly better than the alleged example of the style they had out in the 80s.

                              3. Before I get jumped on, let me say I do love this beer, BUT it does not live up to the Hype.
                                I am talking about Pliny the Younger. Here in the Philly area, the hype bordered on hysteria. Went to one bar for a 10 am release and there was a line 50 deep waiting for the bar to open. I drove by and kept going. When I finally did have one, it was very good, but I can think of a half a dozen IPA/DIPA's that I like just as much if not better, and don't have to race around or stand in line for. The avarage time around here for a keg from tapping to kicking it was 30-40 minutes. That is crazy!

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Chefmonty

                                  These would be my top 10 at the moment, subject to change now and then:

                                  1 - Westvleteren 8

                                  2 - St Bernardus Wit

                                  3 - Moinette Blond

                                  4 - Westvleteren 12

                                  5 - Gueuze Girardin 1882 Black Label

                                  6 - Weihenstephaner Hefeweissebier

                                  7 - Pannepot Old Fisherman's Ale

                                  8 - St Bernardus Tripel

                                  9 - Rochefort 10

                                  10 - Damnation

                                  Not saying these are "the best" beers in the world, just the ones which I've had and enjoyed the most. There are still a number of brews out there I haven't tasted yet such as Isabelle Proximus, Masala Mama and Närke Kaggen Stormaktsporter and a few others which I'd like to try someday and could possibly make it into my top 10.

                                  1. re: Whisper

                                    Nice list, I forgot about the Black Label.

                                    1. re: Whisper

                                      Great list, though I find the Moinette to be kinda hot and fusely. I love that an American's Belgian-style brew made such an overwhelmingly Belgium-centric list. Love the Girardin, get it regularly at my local pub.

                                    1. Stella Artois - Just another marginal euro lager that I unfortunately hear sometimes being taken way too seriously.

                                      27 Replies
                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                        Stella Artois is the Corona of the 00s. It's a beer for yuppies who don't really know anything about beer but who assume they look sophisticated ordering something with an "exotic" name.

                                        1. re: Chinon00

                                          The other night I was sitting with a friend at our local craft beer bar. Guy goes to bar, doesn't look at the giant chalkboard in front of his face or any of the handles, barks out that he wants a Stella. Server informs him they don't serve Stella. "OK, give me a Newcastle." Sorry, no Newcastle either. "OK, give me a Guinness."

                                          Not once did this guy look at any of the myriad other choices right in front of him. The marketing of Stella is annoyingly effective.

                                          1. re: Josh

                                            They did a great job marketing Stella on premise as an elegant product, served in nice glassware.

                                            1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                              I was buying some Blind Pig at Whole Foods and the cashier asked me why I pay $5 a bottle for beer. I told him to try one and he'd never drink another Bud.
                                              He defended himself by saying he drinks Stella some times. I didn't have time to get into it.

                                              1. re: tofuburrito

                                                Stella's marketing director is a god.

                                                1. re: Chinon00

                                                  I visited the Stella brewery in Leuven several years ago. At the time they operated a floor maltings across the street. We visited that as well. You will probably not be surprised when i tell you that it's now gone.

                                                  1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                                    What a shame. So many traditional things like this going the way of the world. As far as Stella Artois goes, it's not so bad, and very undeserving of the hate that beer geeks like to heap upon it. They seem to be putting in the category of "big brewery products" and dissing it mainly for that reason. For what it is, it is a good beer.

                                                    1. re: The Professor

                                                      You mean for an industrial light Euro lager it's a good beer? The reason it gets a lot of hate is because it represents all that is horrible about marketing. A substandard product is given a name, look, and story that portray it as the zenith of beer. That kind of crap is not only irritating, but how many pubs are absent a good, local craft brew because they have a handle occupied by a marketing concept masquerading as a beer.

                                                      1. re: Josh

                                                        I don't think a bar selling Stella is likely to have chosen a local craft beer if Stella were not available. If Stella is there, it's at the expense of another similar beer.

                                                        1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                                          I've seen it happen, mainly in pubs whose owners don't know beer, or have clientele who don't know much about beer.

                                                          1. re: Josh

                                                            I agree it can happen. And you also find 'regular' bars that have been turned into craft establishments by a savvy salesman.

                                                        2. re: Josh

                                                          I know what you're saying, but the micros do their share of "marketing" too, usually positioning their products as naturally better because they are made in a small plant. Well, that sounds great, but the reality is that it just isn't so. With the explosion of small breweries of recent years, there is certainly a fair amount of lousy beer coming out of those smaller plants as well.

                                                          Just to clarify, I am and have always been a fan of so called "craft" beers and specifically more a fan of micro brews than the bigs (with a couple of worthy exceptions among the bigs) and was playing "devil's advocate" a bit since I do not regularly partake of Stella Artois. I've had it, it's not bad, but would never be a first choice. But to say that it, or more importantly, any big brewery products are "masquerading as beer" is just plain silly. Especially silly if any big brewery product that is a cut above the norm is summarily dismissed because it competes (successfully in some cases) with the so called "craft" segment.

                                                          Being in a business where I have been a visible part of "marketing" products, I know the mechanics of it and the psychology of selling, so I tend not to pay attention to _anyone's_ marketing...not the big brewers, and not the so called "craft" brewers. The "craft" of the beers I like comes through loud and clear in the taste. Doesn't matter how big or small a brewery is. If the beer is good, they get my $$$.

                                                          1. re: The Professor

                                                            I think your experience working in marketing may have skewed your perceptions. I know a lot of craft brewers, and the last thing on most of their minds is marketing - for the most part they're preoccupied with making their orders and keeping their draft accounts happy (a few prominent and notable exceptions notwithstanding).

                                                            Craft brewing isn't automatically better, though I would say it typically is. When it is better, it's not because it comes from a small plant. Larger regional craft breweries operate out of giant plants, but they still make good beer.

                                                            Knowing how hard craft brewers work at making their beers, it really rubs me the wrong way to see that passion dismissed as a conceit to gain market share.

                                                            I think part of the reason that people generally think of smaller production as resulting in a better product is because of the closer attention that can be paid to every step of the process, plus the freedom and flexibility that comes from not needing to cater to the lowest common denominator.

                                                            I met a Miller brewmaster, who makes Miller Lite products. He told me that they have a 10 barrel system they use to make experimental beers like imperial stouts, IPAs, etc. They give them away to people near their brewery, because they wouldn't be able to put such products on the market.

                                                            I do agree that the initial boom of microbreweries in the '90s produced a fair amount of substandard beer. But I think the more recent boom has been much more consistent in terms of the quality of the beers. Judging from the medals won at international competitions, it seems that others agree.

                                                            1. re: Josh

                                                              Agreed that some not-so-good 'craft' beer was issued during the '90s boom. Today the quality is generally there, with perhaps some boring craft brew out there, but not bad in quality.

                                                              AB's pilot plant (I believe it's associated with their Michelob company now) has produced all manner of interesting beer. Your neighbor Mitch Steele was involved in a lot of that back in the day.

                                                            2. re: The Professor

                                                              "I've seen it happen, mainly in pubs whose owners don't know beer, or have clientele who don't know much about beer."

                                                              A smart pub owner will stock what sells, period. Since Stella sells, it is on the beer list, and a selection that does not sell is omitted.

                                                              1. re: Sdenred

                                                                It's a bit more complicated than that, particularly with draught. it's not at all uncommon (and it's often illegal) for suppliers to provide lucrative incentives to pubs for putting their beer on tap. Who do you think can best afford to provide these incentives? The huge importer or the small craft brewer?

                                                                And regarding what sells, well, it's a combination of what sells and what brings in the most margin dollars.

                                                                1. re: Sdenred

                                                                  Lots of things sell. This is one of my biggest pet peeves with the pro-macro swill argument put forward by people in the industry. It's as though if you don't have some giant brewing conglomerate's product on tap people will simply stop drinking beer. Local pub here, complete with smart owner and everything, doesn't have Stella. The only non-craft tap he has is Guinness, and the other 19 handles sell quite well. It is possible to educate your audience about alternatives.

                                                                  1. re: Josh

                                                                    Stone's sales people walk into a bar equipped to show them how they will make more money on a full-priced keg of Stone than a discounted keg of a mass-market beer. On top of that, carrying Stone makes them unique and the mass-market keg does not.

                                                            3. re: The Professor

                                                              I appreciate that Stella is one of those gateway beers that gets people away from Bud. I just don't like that it is sometimes portrayed as a craft beer, which isn't completely their fault. I think for a lot of craft beer geeks it's about sharing something they love, no different than when your friend who's in a band tries to convince you that Nickelback isn't necessarily the great rock band of all time. He's not dissing Nickelback, he just wants you to get into the Beatles. (Sorry for the analogies, it's the best I can come up with.)

                                                              1. re: Shaggy

                                                                I've never heard of Stella being portrayed as a craft beer.

                                                          1. re: Josh

                                                            Getting back to the Westy vs. Chimay conversation; whichever side of the fence you're on in that debate, most wouldn't turn either one down. I also think most would agree that all the abbey ales are made extremely well and which is better comes down to a matter of personal preference. It would be interesting to do a blind tasting of Westy, Chimay, Westmalle, Duvel and Rochefort and throw in Unibreu and Lost Abby to see how the North Americans stack up. If anyone decides to host such an event, please invite me, I'd love to attend.

                                                            1. re: tofuburrito

                                                              I went to an event like that, in a way, at O'Brien's in San Diego. It was a tasting of all the authentic trappist ales, and included all three Westvleterens. It also included Koeningshoeven, which I guess is the only non-Belgian trappist monastery that makes abbey ales.

                                                              The Westy 12 was definitely a cut above the others, IMO.

                                                              1. re: Josh

                                                                I have to admit that despite the ridiculous hype the Westy 12 remains the best beer I have ever tried. I even went into it thinking "how damn good could this be really" and it floored me nevertheless. As I recall it is the only beer Ive ever sampled that seemed essentially flawless from nose to finish. Which is a semi-revelational experience for someone who naturally tends to find flaws in everything he ingests no matter how enjoyable.

                                                                1. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                  I'll have to try it again. I'm retrying the Founder's Breakfast Stout, and there are things about it that either weren't there the first time, or I just didn't notice. For example, there was no head when I had it in a bar, which is strange, for anyone who has had it before.

                                                                  1. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                    "I have to admit that despite the ridiculous hype the Westy 12 remains the best beer I have ever tried."

                                                                    I can't say I've ever had a more enjoyable beer either and I was floored as well. Nonetheless, due to availability and cost I'm perfectly content with other options. I don't feel like I'm missing out when it comes to Belgian ales.

                                                                  2. re: Josh

                                                                    I thought of the Pecos monastery that makes beer in NM, but that's Benedictine.

                                                      2. Stella's a decent beer, admit it. Is it worth the hype? No. Is it worth buying at full price? No. Is it better than say, Miller High Life? Yup. On sale — and in context — it gets the job done.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: ohdaylay

                                                          I guess it depends on your definition of "decent."

                                                          1. re: ohdaylay

                                                            The clue to your answer is the last sentence. I guess if you're drinking to get wasted then Stella would definitely "get the job done". Not sure what other job it could do.

                                                            1. re: Josh

                                                              deplete your bank account at a rate quicker than justified by the taste

                                                          2. Had the Three Floyds Dreadnaught this weekend and I think it may fall into the category of overrated. Don't get me wrong it's a good beer but not as great as it's ratings indicate.

                                                            I tasted the Alpha King, Dreadnaught and Ballast Point's Sculpin IPA and the Sculpin was the clear cut winner. I think the Sculpin lives up to it's hype.

                                                            25 Replies
                                                            1. re: Diego Sanchez

                                                              Wow Id be hard pressed to call the Dreadnaught "overrated". It may be big but its quite a good beer to my tastes. Well constructed and refined for its style. Its big but in a fine tuned manageable kind of way unlike many double IPA's that are just an out of control sand paper explosion of abrasive hops with no sense of union or cohesiveness. Which is frankly something Im tired of now that everyone and their brother has a couple double IPA’s out.

                                                              1. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                I've never had Dreadnaught but in this day and age "overrated" may not always be that much of an insult. The first, second and tenth time I had Pliny the Elder it was no where near the hype that it generated; no beer could be. I don't think Diego Sanchez meant to put the beer down as much as he/she meant to highlight the often out of control celebration of certain breweries and styles.

                                                                Thanks

                                                                1. re: Chinon00

                                                                  I think Pliny holds it's own in the hype department.

                                                                  1. re: tofuburrito

                                                                    I agree with that. Unlike Chinon my first taste of Pliny (The Elder) absolutely floored me. Probably because it was my first real taste of the style, and the beer (and the hype) rarely reached the east coast at that time. So I didnt have a major preconception of what it was going to be. And now, many years down the road, after Ive had too many big hoppy beers to count, I still find Pliny to be much better then most in that department. It doesnt blow my mind like it did for that first pint but its still in my EXCELLENT category no doubt about it and one of my favorite beers. I actually prefer it to The Younger.

                                                                2. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                  Like I said, this in no way is a bad beer...a pretty good beer at that but I guess I was expecting to be blown away.

                                                                  This goes for the same with Dark Lord. if I ever get my hands on it I will be expecting something special. If it does not exceed my expectations then I will be disappointed.

                                                                  1. re: Diego Sanchez

                                                                    I agree Diego, it's an awesome beer, but Dreadnaught is a little too one note for me. Don't get me wrong, I would build a home and raise a family in the 3 Floyd's brewery if I could.

                                                                    1. re: Shaggy

                                                                      Most overrated: stella artois\heineken. Great beer that i haven't been able to find in ages is Tucher Dunkles a german brown that i thought was awesome!

                                                                      1. re: showthyme

                                                                        wow...I remember Tucher! That Dunkles was a favorite of mine too. Haven't seen it around these parts (central NJ) in a _long_ time, although t is apparently still imported by Edelweiss. Looks like it's only distributed in the southeast.

                                                                        1. re: The Professor

                                                                          I haven't tried their dunkles, but I loved Tucher's Bajuvator doppel.

                                                                  2. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                    Freshness is a huge factor in Dreadnaught - within a month of bottling and sitting on a warm shelf, it starts to go downhill quick. Still one my favorites despite other great DIPA's out there.

                                                                    1. re: LStaff

                                                                      Absolutely. But then freshness is a huge factor in any IPA as the hop oils tend to dissipate quite quickly leaving a very uneven malt bomb to deal with. Ive certainly wasted many a hard to find rare IPA by "saving" it for just the right time... And theres nothing worse than cracking open a Dreadnaught-like beer and being overwhelmed by the malt that had been built to match the original monster hop signature. Its enough to make you cry. Drink all your IPA's as soon as you get em people!!

                                                                      1. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                        Question: Then which styles of beer are more age-worthy?

                                                                        1. re: Chinon00

                                                                          You can put away Imperial Stouts. Barley Wines. Complex bottle conditioning Belgians. Certain sours and barrel aged specialties. Many of these will actually improve/evolve with time. Everything else I would treat as food and avoid long term storage.

                                                                          I have friends who actually prefer putting away big IPA's for a few years to come back to them when they are "mellower". They seem to genuinely enjoy this. When they suggest this to me though I want to pitch the bottles at them because I buy hoppy beer because I want to TASTE the hops and making such a suggestion is tantamount to suggesting buying a Lamborghini and then letting it age to the point where it doesnt accelerate quite as fast because you are left with a "nice smooth ride". I file all this under Completely Missing The Point…

                                                                          1. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                            Some people like the taste of a mellower IPA. Double IPAs, when aged, come across more like barleywines. It really depends on what kind of hoppiness a beer is exhibiting.

                                                                            Any bottle-conditioned beer should improve, or at least change, with age.

                                                                            1. re: Josh

                                                                              Yeah thats pretty much what these friends tell me. But I have to wonder why you wouldnt just get a Barley Wine if thats what you want. You know? Seems to make eminently more sense than buying a great double IPA and sitting on it for a couple years. Unfortunately, the only thing I taste when I drink an aged IPA is a hop vacuum and I find it tragic... Makes me wonder, when the Brits first started bringing IPA’s over to India how did they really taste? Because certainly after 6 months or more at sea they too would have been altered in terms of their hop signature. But then I know English IPA’s (and Barley Wines for that matter) are a whole different animal than American ones.

                                                                              1. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                                Barleywines are often brewed to be sweeter and more alcoholic than DIPAs, and they usually have a different grain bill. The flavor of an aged DIPA is reminiscent of barleywine, but is hardly the same. I like aged DIPAs, personally, depending on the DIPA. I wouldn't want Pliny the Elder or Pure Hoppiness aged, but others work well for me with a little age on them.

                                                                                1. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                                  A good IPA (to me) is one that is brewed strong with enough hops to provide a very intense bitterness, enough to remain after a long period of aging before bottling (with a generous dry hopping for a period just prior to bottling to bring an intense and fresh 'nose' to the beer).
                                                                                  Yes, an IPA should have an intense bitterness, but the problem with most current day IPAs is that there are harsh, green hop flavors present in many of them that reflect inadequate aging. If made properly, the beer would be hopped out the wazoo with the loss of some bitterness from aging expected and taken into consideration...but still allowing for a 75 IBU+ bitter intensity that is at the same time a 'cleaner' kind of bitterness. Almost every IPA I've tasted in the last 10 years (and I've tried a LOT of them) fall short of this quality.
                                                                                  A lot of them are good, no doubt about it, but I have yet to find one that rates as "great" compared to my favorite IPA from years ago.

                                                                                  1. re: The Professor

                                                                                    ". . . but I have yet to find one that rates as "great" compared to my favorite IPA from years ago."

                                                                                    Name, names. ;)

                                                                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                      Sorry Chinon...
                                                                                      I didn't name it because I was referring to an IPA long unavailable, which I first tasted more than 40 years ago (although it's a fact that beer afficianados who remember it almost universally agree that there hasn't been one better).
                                                                                      Also, since I preach a lot about the old BALLANTINE IPA, I have begun to feel that when I evoke the name, that it gets mighty tiresome for some folks to hear. Michael Jackson and Jim Robertson both waxed poetic about Ballantine IPA about it in their various books, but words don't even begin to capture the remarkable intensity of this classic brew.

                                                                                      So yes, for me Ballantine IPA is still the one to beat...it is the benchmark (and I know I'm not alone in this assessment).
                                                                                      The micro industry makes some great beers, and I am a devoted fan of quite a few of them...but a lot of "beer people" today are so entrained by the often misleading hyperbole of the microbrew segment of the industry that they find it hard to believe that from 1933 (at least) until 1971, the nation's then third largest brewing company was making a long aged (1 year) knock-your-socks-off -bitter IPA that rivaled and in most ways bettered anything that's made today. The old Ballantine brewery closed back in '71, and for a decade the new custodians of the brand name kept true to the various original Ballantine brands and formulas (especially the IPA and Ballantine XXX Ale), but then dropped the ball by reformulating and cheapening both brews, and eventually totally discontinuing their best and most distinctive one...ironically enough right at a time when it could have finally found a wider and more savvy audience that would have been willing to shell out the premium price.

                                                                                      1. re: The Professor

                                                                                        If my fil is to be believed, much of the "clean bitterness"/dryness in Ballantine IPA came from not only a substantial use of hops, but also from the wood it was aged in.

                                                                                        I am surprised that they would not bring back the original IPA - or even one of its lesser incarnations in this day and age.

                                                                                        1. re: LStaff

                                                                                          Tho' Ballantine and Falstaff both highlighted the "aged in the wood" aspect of IPA, most sources note that the aging tanks were lined with brewers pitch, so it wasn't quite as "woody" as today's "barrel aged" beers.

                                                                                          Pabst CEO Kotecki suggested the possiblity of a return of Ballantine IPA in this somewhat fact-challenged sidebar article to a Beverage World story on Pabst a couple years ago http://www.beverageworld.com/index.ph... (heck, just a revival of a truer version Ballantine XXX Ale would be good enough to start off with).

                                                                                          Since that article Pabst has "revived" Schlitz "Gusto", Old Style, Primo and McSorley's (new recipes, etc.) but hasn't touched Ballantine (except to say "Dry Hopped Flavor" on the case). And Kotecki is now gone from Pabst.

                                                                                          Certainly, if they did revive the IPA, they'd be better off using a craft brewery to make it (Anchor, Dogfish Head or Sierra Nevada all have a history of Ballantine "fandom") rather than Miller, The Lion or City/Latrobe- their current line-up of contract-breweries.

                                                                                          "Pabst" (which is in reality what's left of the "S&P Corp." which owned Falstaff, General, Pearl and Pabst) of course, is the same company that dumbed down the IPA over the years, as it closed breweries and changed the recipe, lowered the ABV and IBU's, and shortened the aging period.

                                                                                          There was a brief period when they brewed BIPA in Milwaukee and, apparently, marketed the same (or a similar beer) using the Pabst Old Tankard Ale brand, but soon after S&P shuttered Milwaukee, too. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi... (Note the article says BIPA was brewed by "Falstaff" their sister company, but there were no Falstaff breweries left in 1992, and the final version of BIPA said "Milwaukee" on the label at the time.)

                                                                                        2. re: The Professor

                                                                                          Wow - I didnt know anyone else liked Bally Ale like that ! I still can drink a bally ale (even tho it tastes hardly at alike the original) faster than I could a glass of water !! LOL

                                                                              2. re: Chinon00

                                                                                Purely by accident, I got about two cases of large 750(?) with cork and small btls of hennipin and ommegong. It was a close out sale - really good deal - I wasnt that crazy about either of them - I tend to like stouts/porters for dark and ales for regular drinking. So I lugged them around, in self-storage, at camp - down to -10 or so - only a few froze, but when I had NOTHING else I had one. Then after about 10-12 years I took a couple over to some summer folk, thinking what the heck - get rid of it !! (Remember I wasnt crazy about it) My neighbors went crazy !! Thought it was the best stuff they ever had !! They were more wine connoisseurs than beer folk !! But they were on target !! It was great and only had a few btls left !! So aging some beers really works ! To me it went from lousy, bitter, off tasting to some great drink !

                                                                              3. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                                Its not so much the case of hop flavor/aroma fading that turns me off to non-fresh IPA's. Its the qualities the hops give when they are showing signs of oxidation - like grassy, metallic, and caramel flavors. I am fully convinced that most craft drinkers think that is how some beers/ipa's are supposed to taste.

                                                                                1. re: LStaff

                                                                                  Ballantine IPA certainly had no loss of flavor/bitterness/aroma after a year in wood (not surprised to learn that the wooden aging tanks were pitch lined since that was pretty standard procedure; what _i_s surprising is the degree of oaky woodiness that came through in the beer if that was the case).
                                                                                  As far as the aroma goes, I have yet to find _any_ commercially made beer today that has anywhere near the aroma that BIPA had.

                                                                        2. I may not have the chops to post on this subject, but a couple of years ago while in Switzerland my wife and I enjoyed an assortment of the local beers, but were pretty disappointed when served Tuborg. And it was all over. Don't know if mediocre can be raised to a new level, but this was a good try at that.

                                                                          1. I have to agree that the most overrated beer would be a tie between Heineken and Stella. Not that they are the WORST beers though.
                                                                            I wouldn’t go out to seek them specifically but they are drinkable over a Budweiser or MGD people…

                                                                            However as “craf” beers go I find Nector IPA to be the most overrated. I find it on tap or cask all over the NY metro area, and I feel like it tastes like water.

                                                                            Not a fan of Chimay, Duvel, golden drauk, either. And why am I seeing the pig slap crap everywhere, it really is awful stuff.

                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Asumnuthin

                                                                              I think the vast majority of beer drinkers who venture beyond macro have mostly positive things to say about Chimay, Duvel & Gulden Draak. Even if you don't like Belgian ales I don't think you can make a reasonable argument that they aren't well made.

                                                                              1. re: tofuburrito

                                                                                I’m sure they do, which is why I began the sentence with “not a fan of”

                                                                                I didn’t say they were poorly made, I said I thought they were overrated… huge difference

                                                                                Oh and P.S. I enjoy Belgian ales in general it’s not a style complaint in the least

                                                                                1. re: Asumnuthin

                                                                                  What was "pig slap crap" in reference to?

                                                                                  1. re: tofuburrito

                                                                                    Probably means Pork Slap from Butternuts.

                                                                            2. Blue Moon, Heineken, and Beck's (St.Pauli Girl) are overrated.

                                                                              34 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                                                                  Heineken is bitter, Beck's and SPG usually have a "skunkiness" one doesn't find in the best pilsener (Budvar/Czechvar), and Blue Moon is bland compared to witbiers from Belgian breweries.

                                                                                      1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                                                                        I'm not really a big Heineken fan, but i prefer the skunky bottles over the cans which aren't skunky.
                                                                                        Not sure why, maybe because as a teen, the only imported beer I had was in the green bottles, Heinekin, St. Pauli girl, Beck's, Moosehead, so I thought all good beer was supposed to taste skunky.

                                                                                          1. re: elgringoviejo

                                                                                            Skunkiness in beer is not a characteristic that the brewer wishes to achieve. It is a function of the beer being light struck/ mishandling. On the otherhand bitterness in beer is a characteristic that is desireable by brewers and beer drinkers. Some of the most highly regarded pale lagers are marked by their bitterness (e.g. Victory Prima Pils, Sly Fox Pikeland Pils)

                                                                                            1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                              yeah, i know that.
                                                                                              My point was that as an uneducated imported beer drinking newbie back in the late 70's, i thought skunkiness was one of those acquired tastes. Virtually all the first imports i drank (mentioned previously) were almost always skunky. I got to where i came to like the skunkiness common in all the green bottle imports.
                                                                                              Maybe it is nostalgia, but now I prefer the bottled heineken, which is almost always a little skunky to the canned which isn't skunky or as flavorful.

                                                                                              1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                                                Yes, skunkiness is definitely part of the 'imported taste' for many folks!

                                                                                                1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                                                  I was actually responding to elgringoviejo's analysis (SEE below):

                                                                                                  "Heineken is bitter, Beck's and SPG usually have a "skunkiness" one doesn't find in the best pilsener (Budvar/Czechvar), and Blue Moon is bland compared to witbiers from Belgian breweries."

                                                                                                  I'd also like to address elgringoviejo last comment about Belgian wits. Elgringoviejo, what are your favorites other than Hoegaarden?

                                                                                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                    I prefer Hoegaarden to Blue Moon. Also, Heineken has a taste that is not pleasing to my palate, aside from the "bitterness" of English pale ales or pilseners.

                                                                                                    1. re: elgringoviejo

                                                                                                      Thanks for your response. However in your earlier post you stated that Blue Moon was bland compared to witbiers from "Belgian breweries". That's FAR different from stating that you personally "prefer Hoegaarden to BlueMoon" as you've stated today. Thanks for the clarification. As for your second statement in regard to Heineken it is somewhat unclear. Could you clarify that as well?

                                                                                                      Thanks

                                                                                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                        Can't be more precise about why I don't like Heineken, it just doesn't seem to have the same clean taste as my favorite pilseners, such as Victory, Budvar (Czechvar), Rebel and Gambrinius. Although the lighter lagers from Saranac are quite up to Budvar standards IMO, I personally greatly prefer them to Heineken

                                                                                                        1. re: elgringoviejo

                                                                                                          It is the last part that confuses me when you say ". . . aside from the "bitterness" of English pale ales or pilseners." Are you saying that Heineken has a particular bitterness that turns you off versus the bitterness found in say Victory Prima Pils of Samuel Smith Pale Ale?
                                                                                                          Listen, I'm no fan of Heineken and don't understand its popularity from a standpoint of flavor profile either. Having said that though I'd add that your rationale for not liking it was as clear as mud. I've never liked it because the Euro lager style at its best just isn't at all challenging or complex.

                                                                                                          Thanks

                                                                                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                            Henieken just seems to lack the good, fresh taste of my favorite pilseners, such as Victoy and Budvar.

                                                                                                    2. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                      ok,
                                                                                                      I'm about to get us off track here, but at least i am being upfront about it.
                                                                                                      These posts bring up some lingering questions that I have had for a while.
                                                                                                      In my experience, for most of my 30+ years of legal drinking, the majority of green beer bottles are skunked. This is a given.
                                                                                                      This is as Chinin00 reports due to beer being exposed to light, etc., etc. I believe this is true.
                                                                                                      Now if this is the case, and if brewers do not want their beer to be skunky, why do so many, especially the ones previously mentioned keep putting their product in the green bottles thus allowing it to get get skunky?
                                                                                                      This brings up another question. Miller and Corona are in clear bottles. If i remember correctly (it has been years since i had either), they are not skunky. Devoid of flavor, yes, but not skunky. Why is this?
                                                                                                      I have heard that Miller puts chemicals in the beer to make it less susceptible to reaction with the light.
                                                                                                      Or is it some other reason, like to get skunked there must have been more of a presence of hops or malt in the first place to react with the light?

                                                                                                      1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                                                        From what I understand, those clear bottle beers you mention can avoid the pitfalls of skunking (which can occur in less than a minute by the way!) because, instead of using hop flowers to bitter their beers, they use a special hop extract called tetra-hop. The isomerized alpha-acids in this product have a slightly different molecular structure than naturally isomerized alpha-acids, and are immune to the effects of light. So bad beer is skunk free! Unfortunately its usually flavor free too... Although let me amend that by saying there are certainly some very GOOD beers who have been known to use hop extract (why one of my favorites, the infamous and much loved PLINY THE ELDER comes to mind...) but for the most part they dont use clear bottles. Its the clear bottle crowd thats infamous for using extract. And probably because their drinkers dont really like the taste of hops and its cheaper to use clear glass.

                                                                                                        1. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                                                          I've been told that Miller conditions the bottles with something (a chemical process I think) that keeps the beer from being light struck.

                                                                                                          1. re: tofuburrito

                                                                                                            Possibly. Im sure Jess will know. Although it makes me wonder just how much some of these beers will actually be effected considering how little hops they put in their beer. I wonder what the parts per million threshold is exactly. Sounds like an experiment waiting to happen. Someone buy some miller high life and a good light bulb...

                                                                                                            1. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                                                              Miller uses a special hop extract where the alpha acids aren't susceptible to UV light. Corona gets skunked.

                                                                                                        2. re: TroyTempest

                                                                                                          To address your first question about why Heineken for example would continue to use clear green bottles if it lead to this "skunk" phenomenon rather than switching to something else I could only guess that fundamentally altering packaging might confuse the customer. And I figure too that sales are still high so why would they really care.
                                                                                                          As for the second question I've heard similar things about additives to beer to stop skunking but I don't know much else about it.

                                                                                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                            Heineken USA's Dutch brand sales (which I guess would be the various Heineken beers, plus Amstel) are down 12% for six months.

                                                                                                            Sam Smith changed to dark bottles a while back, so it can be done.

                                                                                                          2. re: TroyTempest

                                                                                                            One should also remember that people throw the term 'skunky' around quite freely, and often incorrectly. I have often heard people describe _any_ hoppy aromatic or flavored beer as 'skunky' when it is not really the case at all.

                                                                                                            I _have_ experienced 'skunky' beer...and one whiff tells you precisely why it got that name. It literally smells like a skunk's perfume.

                                                                                                            With regard to the green bottle thing, it is interesting to note that Henekin doesn't use green bottles exclusively...their dark lager is packaged in amber/brown bottles.

                                                                                                            1. re: The Professor

                                                                                                              One time years ago on a cruise I drank quite a bit of Heineken- it came in green bottles but they were a very different shape from what I see in the store- and they were decidedly *not* skunky. I figured it was a different style that they created for Europe or the islands and to be perfectly honest, I missed the "skunk"...

                                                                                                              1. re: Clarkafella

                                                                                                                Without a doubt, LUCKY Lager is the best beer in the world, I dont want any arguments, its final, done, the best!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                                                                                1. re: NorfolkGuy

                                                                                                                  Back in the day we called it Lucky Laxative.

                                                                                                            2. re: TroyTempest

                                                                                                              Agree about the green bottle skunk syndrome. For someone wondering, compare one of the Heineken 5L self carbonated mini kegs to a bottle. Big difference.

                                                                                                              And as much as I hate to admit it, fresher beer is usually better, exceptions above noted.

                                                                                                              1. re: Ken H

                                                                                                                Just wondering why you would say, " hate to admint fresher is better"?

                                                                                                                1. re: MOREKASHA

                                                                                                                  The whole concept was 'invented' by Anheuser-Busch, which in general I'm not a big fan of their beers.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Ken H

                                                                                                                    That is not true. In fact, AB's freshness initiative was a direct response to Boston Beer's long-standing policy of open-dating.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                                                                                                      And before that (at least since Repeal) almost all US brewers gave their beers a shelf life of 3 months or so, pulled out of date stock, always recommended drinking their beers as "brewery fresh" as possible, etc. (In fact, scores of brewers used the phrase "Brewery Fresh" in advertising campaigns over the years- all except those "shipping" breweries from far away, exotic locales like St. Louis, Golden, CO and Milwaukee, anyway.)

                                                                                                                      Granted, the date codes were not always easy to find or figure out (altho' most have always been based on the "day of the year" calendar) but with a little effort, it was done by knowledgeable/caring beer drinkers.

                                                                                                                      This concept that A-B "invented" dating coding and that it's just a scam to sell more beer (I think it's safe to say that US brewers have destroyed a lot more beer than has ever been thrown out by consumers as "too old") has been annoying me for awhile. In fact, I started collecting some citations of "pre-A-B BORN ON" (man, I hate that terminology) examples for a while. Not quite done, but, for example: http://sites.google.com/site/jesskidd...

                                                                                                                      1. re: JessKidden

                                                                                                                        Jess, you created that page? Its nice to see someone take the time to put something like that together, I enjoyed it

                                                                                                                        1. re: JessKidden

                                                                                                                          Some of those quotes are weird. I've had aged beer that definitely improved over time. It seems these comments are specifically directed at non-bottle conditioned or low alcohol beer.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                            Well, yeah, they all do date from the era in the US of the final dominance of "adjunct light lager" and NOBODY was cellaring them. The breweries, of course, were talking about the beers they brewed at the time.

                                                                                                                            I think it'd have been pretty strange for the brewmaster of Billings Brewing Co. to say, in 1951, that "...beer deteriorates with age regardless of what container it is in unless you're talking about some weird high alcohol or bottled conditioned ales, stouts and barleywines that haven't been seen much in this country for a few decades but just wait till your grandkids are of drinking age! .” <g>

                                                                                                                            The point of the quotes is more to suggest that A-B's emphasis on "shelf life" and freshness was nothing new in 199-whatever when some hotshot in the PR department decided on "BORN ON" dates to replace the frogs that year. In fact, the "freshness" aspect was more commonly used AGAINST them in the previous era when they only had one (and then two, then three and....) breweries and they were shipping beer in from afar and invading the local's markets.

                                                                                              2. Cantillion---hated it

                                                                                                I love Orval and Rodenbach, but couldn't drink this

                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: niquejim

                                                                                                  Which Cantillon did you have? They produce several beers, with distinct flavor profiles.

                                                                                                    1. re: niquejim

                                                                                                      Interesting.

                                                                                                      Sour beers can emphasize a couple of different kinds of sourness, lactic and acetic. Rodenbach and other flemish reds are more acetic (vinegary), where lambics tend to be more lactic. The Cantillon Kriek is usually one of their more approachable varieties, so if you don't like that one, then they may not be the brewery for you.

                                                                                                      That said, I'm not sure I'd consider a beer overrated for not being to my taste. To me, the term implies something that's not made well yet still receives accolades. I think Cantillon's skill in what they do is inarguable. Just my $0.02.

                                                                                                      1. re: Josh

                                                                                                        To a point you are correct, but above you stated
                                                                                                        Quote
                                                                                                        " I guess if you're drinking to get wasted then Stella would definitely "get the job done". Not sure what other job it could do."

                                                                                                        While I don't like Stella their skill in creating a popular and consistent lager are inarguable.
                                                                                                        Maybe I got a bad bottle, but I won't buy it again to find out at that price

                                                                                                        1. re: niquejim

                                                                                                          Yeah, I probably would retract what I said about Stella. :-) (And Fat Tire for that matter)

                                                                                                          Cantillon is an authentic lambic producer, and those beers are definitely not to everyone's taste.

                                                                                                2. Up here in Seattle I run into two culprits of overhyped beer. The first is patently rediculous: Pabst Blue Ribbon. Utterly unenjoyable piss that the hipster kids drink by the truckload.
                                                                                                  The other is Guinness. If you ask the average person around here to list some good beers, it might not be on their list, but if you bring it up, the reaction you get is one of worshipful longing. I dislike the beer, and find it to be hard to drink even when paired with complimentary foods.
                                                                                                  With excellent local brews coming out of our ears up here, I just don't understand how PBR and Guinness seem to have won the hearts and tastes of so many.

                                                                                                  11 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Bihlbo

                                                                                                    Easy answer. PBR is a simple, cleanly made beer (albeit a shadow of the actually quite good beer it once was), and Guinness quite simply _defines_ dry stout. It is the standard, everything else is a variation on the theme.
                                                                                                    The new breed of beersnobs love to hate on Guinness because it's made by a big company and because you can't stand a spoon up in it like many American stouts, many of which are overdone and not nearly as balanced as the roasty slightly sour and refreshing tartness of Guinness.

                                                                                                    I can sort of understand the "I don't get it" factor of PBR's popularity...anyway it's not even really PBR they're selling these days but a cheap imposter with a PBR label...but Guinness is in a class by itself. It's a dependable brew, not like the hit and miss crapshoot that buying "craft" beer has become lately.

                                                                                                    1. re: The Professor

                                                                                                      I don't understand this need for people to use terms like "beersnob." If you like Guinness and PBR then drink it, no one cares. If there are others who prefer more flavor why would you feel the need to criticize their personal preference. In my experience the snobby ones are the macro crowd who seem to think they are more manly for drinking water with a small amount of flavor and alcohol.

                                                                                                      1. re: tofuburrito

                                                                                                        whoa, amigo...don't get defensive.

                                                                                                        I wasn't criticising your preference...drink whatever you like. That's what I do, and my choices sometimes surprise my beer snob friends. There is certainly plenty of choice for everybody's tastes, especially in these more beer savvy times.

                                                                                                        And please...I am anything _but_ a member of the "macro crowd"...I have supported and been a cheerleader for the so called "craft" movement since it began 30 years ago and in fact searched out more characterful beers since long before that. Hell...my favorite beer 40 years ago was one that was hopped at 75 IBUs and got a year of aging in oak before it was even bottled (a concept now being revived by some small brewers, at great expense).
                                                                                                        Occasionally I rise to the defense of the macro brewers because there very definitely IS a snob faction out there that rejects out of hand ANYTHING the big companies make simply because they are big companies. The bigs are making plenty of worthwhile beers, especially in light of consumers' willingness to be more adventurous. If anything, the big brewers are rediscovering the craft, at least in some small measure. But they still have to cater to the vast majority of beer drinkers (probably better than 95%) that want that weak yellow fizz water.

                                                                                                        My main point was that as much as I support and admire what the better ones do, the so called "craft" movement is not the be all and end all or saviors of the beer world. Granted that there is a lot of crappy, thin and weak macro product out there (which again, the biggest majority of beer drinkers prefer)...but lately the so called "craft" brewers seem to be so bent on pushing the envelope that they are losing sight of the real craft of making truly great beer in favor of gimmickry. Just my own ranting opinions, of course...others' mileage may vary.

                                                                                                        So please...I was not calling you out as a snob, just mentioning that there ARE for sure plenty of beer snobs out there. I know because I hear them at my local pub (a great and progressive beer spot) pontificating and quoting amateur judging guidelines and proclaiming that the Brooklyn IPA (or whatever other beer) they are drinking is not really "to style".

                                                                                                        1. re: The Professor

                                                                                                          I agree about the 'bigs'. A lot of my friends don't like some of my more extreme beers (in their eyes). So I keep some more mainstream on hand. I think Michelob is doing a heck of a job blending the craft and macro. One of my favorite 'non craft' beers is their Amber Boch. It is IMHO a good beer with a great price tag. I wouldn't call it extremely innovative or ground breaking, but a great session beer or for when I have non beer geek friends over.

                                                                                                      2. re: The Professor

                                                                                                        I think you're oversimplifying the reason a lot of beer geeks don't go for Guinness. In many places, it's the one decent beer on tap, but is too often ruined by dirty tap lines or spigots. So in that respect, ordering Guinness in a random bar is a total crapshoot, and one that rarely yields good results.

                                                                                                        So if you're in a bar that *does* know about beer, and does maintain good, clean lines, the odds are good they have a dozen beers more interesting than Guinness.

                                                                                                        As an avowed beer snob, I have no problem with Guinness at all. As you say, it's the textbook example of dry stout. But given the choice of dry stout vs. any number of other styles I find more compelling (witbier, sour), why would I opt for it?

                                                                                                        Also, I think there are craft-brewed stouts on the market that are a more interesting quaff than Guinness flavor-wise. Avery Out of Bounds Stout is far and away my favorite stout in existence. GIve that one a try and see if you don't find yourself a little nonplussed by Guinness.

                                                                                                        1. re: Josh

                                                                                                          Well stated as always Josh.

                                                                                                          There are plenty of other stouts out there, for sure. In the last 35 years of working on the road I have tasted scores of them and other "craft" beers (being in show biz does have some advantages, even if steady income isn't always one of them) and many of them are indeed very good. In recent years though, owing to the opening of hundreds of new small breweries, about half of the time trying something new is a bust anymore. I have tasted literally scores of beers that warranted tasting only once.

                                                                                                          So as a former card carrying and now 'reformed' beer snob, I have become a bit more wary and quite a bit more forgiving of the larger brewing companies (especially as some of my favorite 'small' brewers have graduated to the ranks of being larger ones).
                                                                                                          In a bar situation where the product is craft-draft, I always ask for a sample taste anymore. And again, it's a 50/50 shot that something new I try winds up tasting like something simply very badly made. And the hurried production of yeasty and green tasting beer that the vast majority of brewpubs serve has pretty much put me off of _that_ whole segment for the most part (except for a few notable favorites).

                                                                                                          But hey...for every beer I hate, there will be plenty other people who love it (and vice verse). It's all good...there's plenty of choice out there these days.
                                                                                                          It bears repeating..."one man's elixer is another's poison".

                                                                                                          1. re: The Professor

                                                                                                            Not feeling defensive, hard to determine tone in forum posts but in my mind it's a friendly conversation. I don't get why you have to use terms like "so called craft." What's wrong with that term? Why is it snobby to discuss beers in depth?
                                                                                                            To me, defending the macros is like defending McDonald's or KFC and saying they deserve respect because not everything they make is the food (or beer) equivalent of crack.
                                                                                                            The macros are not exactly sitting idly by and saying to each his own, they media blitz against the "craft" brewers.

                                                                                                            1. re: tofuburrito

                                                                                                              Glad you didn't take offense.
                                                                                                              I don't think it's at all snobby to discuss beers in depth...I have discussed beers in depth since my first tastes of Bock Beer and India Pale Ale 42 years ago.
                                                                                                              It is the out-of-hand rejection of anything made by larger breweries (even when the beer is good) that has come to bother me of late. That's why I use the term "so called craft" ; the micro industry's own hype is getting as tiresome as some of the big brewer marketing we've been bombarded with. It is their incorrect assertion that "because their beer is made in smaller quantities by a smaller company it must be better" that has become bothersome. While it is sometimes true, plenty of the product out there certainly proves that it is not always true.

                                                                                                              The craft is in the making, not the size of the brewery... and while there are plenty of brilliant, well made, and innovative beers coming from these artisinal brewers, there is probably just as much that is just plain badly made.
                                                                                                              Same with the bigs.

                                                                                                              In the end, they're all in the same business, and for the same reason: profit and fighting for consumer dollars.

                                                                                                              As far as media blitzing by big brewers against smaller ones, I don't really see that...they are only doing what they have always done (establishing all important brand recognition). What I do see is the big brewers responding to a rather small threat to their bottom line by seeing the trend towards fuller flavored beers and reaching back to their own traditions to bring out more beers of real character. As much as I hate to say it, AB-Inbev (whose products I have mostly loathed in the past) has done a particularly good job with regard to their specialty beers...characterful and yet achieving balance. They certainly have the technology and the best trained master brewers in the business---their main problem is that they still have to make the kind of beer that the vast majority of beer drinkers want, the lightweight fizz that feeds their bottom line.

                                                                                                              The irony of all of it remains the fact that some formerly small brewers have become quite big brewers...at least one of them seems poised to actually go international within the next two years. It will be interesting to see whether these fine "microbrewers grown up" will begin facing the same hate once reserved for the established macros, simply because they have grown to be too popular.

                                                                                                              1. re: The Professor

                                                                                                                American macro beer makers have some of the best equipment and the best brewers in the world. They use their expertise to make beer that is consistently bland and lacking in flavor -- no mean feat -- because their marketing departments have determined that the vast majority of American beer drinkers want beer that is as flavorless as they can possibly make it. Have the macro brewers conditioned American beer drinkers to avoid the flavors of hops and malt? Probably. But we are where we are and for the foreseeable future, they're probably going to continue to make beer with corn and rice rather than barley malt because that's what their customers want (or at least what their marketing departments tell their customers they should want, which comes to the same thing). They're not in the business of making good beer per se, but in making money and if they make more money making flavorless beer they will continue to do so. It's up to the beer drinking public to change that and while the number of craft beer drinkers is growing dramatically, 90% of American beer drinkers prefer macro lagers. I have no doubt that macro beer makers are capable of making good beer if they felt there was a significant market for it, but so far that's not the case.

                                                                                                                1. re: chuckl

                                                                                                                  Well put.
                                                                                                                  I would only argue the point about using corn and/or rice as adjunct grain; this is an example of where the micro industry gets a little overzealous in their self hype and begins to rival the kind of marketing misdirection that the bigs use. The truth of the matter is that plenty of fine beers (and at least a couple that could be termed 'world class" ones) have been made using corn or rice adjunct. However, yes...there are a number of mainstream beers where as much as half of the grain bill can be something other than barleymalt, and I would agree that such beers are on the lower end of the quality and flavor spectrum.

                                                                                                                  It may be a rather surprising fact that the vast majority of fine ales brewed in the UK over the last 125 years have used not only corn in some cases, but also various forms of sugar as an adjunct to the barleymalt. It certainly doesn't necessarily make them inferior brews.

                                                                                                                  1. re: The Professor

                                                                                                                    not to mention whatever the Belgians choose to put in their beers. The difference, I think, is that the Brits and Belgians add things to make their beer taste more flavorful, not to make them taste "smoother," which I interpret as tasteless, or as the marketers would say, more "drinkability."

                                                                                                    2. PBR, Fat Tire and Stella.

                                                                                                      Any one of these may have been a better beer back in the day. But now they are just undeserving beneficiaries of a supremely marketed hipster zeitgeist. Fat Tire, like several other New Belgium brews, is just foul; off-balance and badly weird. Sorry to say that, I live in CO. And New Belgium is capable, like Left Hand, of good things. But mostly, I think a lot of the Belgians are better from Belgium, or thereabouts.

                                                                                                      La Folie, Russian River, Lost Abbey... I have to reflect a bit about my last statement.

                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: bmiddleb

                                                                                                        "But now they are just undeserving beneficiaries of a supremely marketed hipster zeitgeist."

                                                                                                        Stella Artois?!

                                                                                                        1. re: bmiddleb

                                                                                                          PBR has almost no marketing support. The only 'supreme' thing about their marketing is the company's unmatched discipline in keeping their hands off.

                                                                                                          I haven't had Fat Tire in a while, but recall it to be solid and balanced, just what many people seek in a beer. For whatever reason, this brand resonates with a huge cross-section of people, hence I couldn't call it a hipster beer.

                                                                                                          Stella has benefited from positioning as an elegant beer. Again, not exactly a hipster brew.

                                                                                                          1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                                                                                            Hmph… thought this was a relatively straightforward point and cheap shot. Wrong again! Okay, so maybe “hipster” was the wrong word (but I’m not takin’ it back in the case of PBR, because I see it all the time). And clearly, I don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to the marketing.

                                                                                                            But what explains the huge popularity of these three crappy beers (IMHO, natch)? It seems to me, when I'm at a bar, restaurant or liquor store, that people who feel that their tastes have evolved in some direction, be it maturity or added coolness, past the chugging stage, can often be seen buying one of these three beers.

                                                                                                            And I think these people are wrong! - none of those three beers is a sign that one's tastes have become more sophisticated. But I think the people buying them believe they are signifiers of exactly that. What many people believe are improved tastes are really just trendiness (of which we're all guilty to some degree). In most of the settings where I see people ordering one of these three products, something better is available, which is what’s so notable to me. And I really get the feeling (though this is all just pure conjecture) that the people buying these three beers, much of the time – i.e., leaving cost and potency issues out – think that they *are* buying the better, more sophisticated product.

                                                                                                            1. re: bmiddleb

                                                                                                              I've never seen or heard about any hipster drinking a Stella or a Fat Tire. PBR is different thing. The deal with Stella is that it looks the part (cool name cool label with some apparent history) while tasting like the same old yellow fizzy water-beer. So I agree that for some they are getting the look of an accomplished drinker while their tastes haven't developed at all.

                                                                                                              1. re: bmiddleb

                                                                                                                We're pretty much agreed on Pabst.

                                                                                                                In my observation, all kinds of people have had Fat Tire while visiting or living in places where it's popular (it's not sold where I live), and want to buy it when they get home. I don't see signs of faux sophistication, but I don't doubt that it exists, and you've seen it. Neither do I see it with Stella, and again, that doesn't mean it's not there.

                                                                                                                The issue of 'better' is a slippery one, as there is room for subjectivity, image, many factors that have nothing to do with the taste of the beer.

                                                                                                          2. Blue Moon. Every bar in CT has to have it. It is the number beer on tap...for what reason? I dunno.

                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: triggs73

                                                                                                              i dont like blue moon out of the bottle. it's interesting, but not inspiring. regarding the other comments on this thread, fat tire is definitely overrated, and i think stella is overrated relative to its marketing, but not overrated if you know what you're getting. for the kind of beer it is, which is a pretty low standard beer, its good. i like it better than spaten's flagship, and i consider it a good beer for taking a break from pilsner urqelle, which of course is much better, but can be tiring day in and day out.

                                                                                                              1. re: CaliForever

                                                                                                                I also do not drink Blue Moon out of bottles, but will indulge draft once in a...well ya know. . It's just not worth all the hype they put into it.

                                                                                                              2. re: triggs73

                                                                                                                no, it's not great beer in an absolute sense, but if it serves as a gateway to better craft beer, I don't see anything wrong with it. Most people aren't going to jump from bud lite straight to Allagash White. But they might get there in stages.

                                                                                                                1. re: chuckl

                                                                                                                  B-Lite to Allagash white NO! It's like asking my grandpa to stop driving a dodge and buy a toyota...BUt I have converted Blue Moon people to Allagash White.

                                                                                                                  1. re: triggs73

                                                                                                                    that's what I'm saying. It's a progression. You go from a no-taste lager to a relatively bland wit bier to a good American representation of the classic Belgian style. My point being that you need that Blue Moon stepping stone in between.

                                                                                                              3. Shiner Bock.

                                                                                                                People in these parts (central TX) drink it by the cargo ship load. And, in explicably, so do other folks around the country who want to want to borrow some of the Texas vibe. In the mid-micro category, a Sam Adams will always be a better choice.

                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: ricodanles

                                                                                                                  I almost put this one myself, but for whatever reason didn't.
                                                                                                                  ricodanles,
                                                                                                                  I see that you are new to the Austin area, welcome.
                                                                                                                  If you'll indulge me, my perspective on Shiner Bock and it's place in the local beer scene. When I came to central Texas in the late 80's, most places had some assortment of the big 3 on tap, and usually nothing else except Shiner Bock. Oh, occasionally you'd find an import here or there, but usually a lager like Beck's, St. Pauli Girl, etc. and some places had lots of taps with a big selection, but not most.
                                                                                                                  While it is not a true Bock, and doesn't compare to the best bocks out there (i didn't find this out until later ), it almost always was one of the best beers on tap, and usually was the same price as Bud\Miller\Coors. After seeing sales take off especially among the college aged, and it's mystique growing retailers and bar \ restaurant owners started pricing it like an import or microbrew, thereby dooming it to its now over rated status.
                                                                                                                  I talk to some people, and they say it used to be better 20 years ago. Personally, I don't think so. I just think that there were less good beers to be easily had, etc., etc.

                                                                                                                  1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                                                                    Nothing wrong with Shiner Bock...it's a tasty and refreshing beer.
                                                                                                                    Like other American bock beers (Genesee, Yeungling, and similar products formerly made by Pabst, Ballantine, Schaefer, and most other big brewers) they are indeed quite different from strong German bock beers and the various micro bocks that emulate the stronger German style.
                                                                                                                    Those who feel a need to categorize such things usually put SHiner Bock and similar products it into their own category. And others totally dismiss beers like this because they don't slam you over the head and overwhelm your tastebuds.
                                                                                                                    But these beers can be damned refreshing, and often a welcome change from the current fad of more/bigger/hoppier.
                                                                                                                    The micros are doing some amazing stuff...but by no means do they have a lock on the making of good beer.

                                                                                                                    1. re: The Professor

                                                                                                                      I agree with TT that Shiner Bock is overpriced. If it were priced like Yuengling or Michelob, I'd say it was a good value. However, if they can charge more for it, then good for them.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Jim Dorsch

                                                                                                                        Actually, when I last bought Shiner Bock, it was priced similarly to (or slightly less than) Yeungling.
                                                                                                                        I bought it on one of my yearly trips to northern Kentucky.
                                                                                                                        That said, I do have to say that the newly re-introduced (in bottles) Yeungling Bock is a bit more satisfying for a beer of it's type.
                                                                                                                        I don't but a lot of commercial beer, but I have to say that even with the glut of new micro products introduced in the last year,the appearance of Yeungling Bock in bottles was one of the biggest treats for me. Good stuff! And a welcome respite from all the over the top stuff that seems to be the vogue nowadays.

                                                                                                                        1. re: The Professor

                                                                                                                          Yuengling is getting up there in price too. Here in PA, it's a local beer and priced slightly above the big guys, but I've seen 20-50% premiums charged for it outside PA.

                                                                                                                          I've always like Shiner as a sort of all-purpose anytime beer. But it's now at $26 a case, which is just $2 less per case than stuff like Yards or Great Lakes. That shouldn't be. So I agree that it's actually an OK beer, but not at that price - thus, overvalued.

                                                                                                                2. Delerium Tremens. Not a bad high end brew, but I have heard it regaled a bit too often.

                                                                                                                  1. morning all you ex-colonials.
                                                                                                                    as someone from the motherland,i've spent much of my miss-spent youth sampling many types of beer,including those from britain/france/germany/holland/denmark/belgium/luxembourg/spain etc and must say that some of most overrated beers come from the strip of land that lays below canada and above mexico.

                                                                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: JessKidden

                                                                                                                        Nice.

                                                                                                                        That post does beg a whole host of questions, doesn't it? Come on englishdavid, lets name some names...

                                                                                                                        1. re: TongoRad

                                                                                                                          hello tongorad old bean,which names would you like me to name?

                                                                                                                          1. re: englishdavid

                                                                                                                            Hey- I'm not an old bean yet...maybe a moderately old one, though... ;) And one who's had quite a few pints in his time as well.

                                                                                                                            You took a pretty broad swipe (and, yes, I get that you were engaging in a bit of good-natured poking) at the American brewing community in that post, is all, and if I had to guess I'd say that your impression of our beer is a few decades behind the times. I could be wrong, but a good place to start would be to find out just what you think is overrated. Sierra Nevada? Stone? Anchor? Deschutes? When somebody mentions American Beer to me those are the sort of companies that immediately spring to mind, and none of them are close to being overrated.

                                                                                                                            1. re: TongoRad

                                                                                                                              good morning old chap,it's 0753hrs on this side of the pond,and yes your right about the swipe.
                                                                                                                              we don't get that many of your yank beers over here,just bud (i prefer the european bud),michellob (unsure of the spelling) and coors.
                                                                                                                              it would,howevere,be a pleasure for us in blighty to sample one or two of your more "proper" beers.

                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                              1. re: englishdavid

                                                                                                                                Well no wonder. If thats all I knew from the states Id be even less charitable than you were in your comments. Lets get this guy some mixed selection cases from say Bell's, Sierra Nevada, Russian River, Stone, Victory, Brooklyn, Three Floyds, Allagash, Ommegang, Port Brewing, etc. etc. etc. pronto!

                                                                                                                                1. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                                                                                  Send that Bell's and Russian River through me; I promise to forward it on :) . Although I may just take a cut, you know, just to cover my expenses...

                                                                                                                                  englishdavid- rest assured- if you were to make it to the states these days you will have fairly easy access to quality beer, wherever you may end up. And, depending on the city you visit, cask beer is becoming more popular as well.

                                                                                                                                2. re: englishdavid

                                                                                                                                  You need to update your knowledge. Judging American beers by those three would be like judging British beer by Tennant's.

                                                                                                                      2. Most overrated beer? Go to your local grocery store and pick out every so-called American microbrew. You can be sure that 95% of those products are borderline inedible alcoholic monster swill. For real beer hop on a plane and disembark at any central European location.

                                                                                                                        35 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: tevis

                                                                                                                          Which microbrews are you talking about? Surely you don't mean that every craft beer made in the US is swill?

                                                                                                                          1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                            No, of course I am exaggerating. I won't win any popularity contests, but I've had a lot more bad American craft beer than good. Part of this may be that English styles predominate in the US, I much prefer almost all continental beers, especially Czech, Bavarian, and Belgian. But IMO good beer is similar to good wine: it is about subtlety, complexity, and ultimately should be a joy to drink. There is a terrible dearth of good pilsners, German lager/helles style, and other lagers and good lighter ales in the American craft beers. It's exactly the same problem that exists with most American wine. The American craft brews that I will support are the ones that make good drinkable beer with top ingredients and subtlety in palate. Bigger and bolder is not necessarily better.

                                                                                                                            1. re: tevis

                                                                                                                              Other than the fact that I enjoy British styles as much as Continental styles, I couldn't agree with you more. The so called "craft" industry is doing some great beers, but there's probably an equal share of crappy ones as well. My only loyalty is to whoever makes good beer...most often it's the smaller brewers, and I am happy to hand them my money...but sometimes the bigs get it right too (and they are beginning to do so more and more, which I do not view as a bad thing).

                                                                                                                              1. re: The Professor

                                                                                                                                Right on, nice to see someone with a similar view. The good news is that, I think, we're finally starting to see a turn toward more American craft brewers trying to focus on complexity and drinkability, not just producing an Imperial Stout with a massive flavor profile and 10% abv (well, you get the idea). My real hope is that we'll see the American industry, whether it's bigger producers like Sam Adams or even the little ones, making more "everyday" beers. In my neck of the woods, for example, we have Mac n' Jacks which is only available on tap, a little local producer with a super product and I usually order it if I'm at a restaurant or pub and it's available. All things being equal, I'll always buy the local if I can.

                                                                                                                              2. re: tevis

                                                                                                                                I agree with you, there. And, there are some American examples of Continental styles. Victory's Prima Pils, and Brewmaster's Pils (which they do with different noble hop varieties), are both excellent examples.

                                                                                                                                The trend towards massive beers is an unfortunate focus of some craft brewers, but there is a lot more than that going on, and it sounds to me like you might be closing your mind to good options out there because of your bias.

                                                                                                                                Try any of the Russian River Belgian-style ales. Or Jolly Pumpkin. Or Allagash. Or Ommagang. None of those are ridiculous, over-the-top massive ABV hop bombs.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                  Why is the trend towards massive beers unfortunate? If people like them and enjoy comparing them and talking about them, why is that a bad thing? Because some people don't like them, no else is supposed to?
                                                                                                                                  There are plenty of beers in every imaginable style, I'm sure everyone can find beers they like.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                                                                                                                    It's unfortunate because they are rarely made well. Fusel alcohols and acetaldehyde are way too common in massive beers. It takes a lot of skill to make a big beer that's enjoyable to drink. Trappist breweries have managed this well, and English breweries, and there are some American craft brewers who have, too. But the misses are a lot more common than the hits, and bigger simply isn't always better.

                                                                                                                                    If you go to a craft beer bar these days, it can be difficult to find something that's not heavily hopped and/or high in alcohol. I don't usually feel like being plowed after 2 pints. The fetishization of massive beers has resulted in a skewed beer landscape, where people get all excited about beers because they're really high in alcohol, while seeming not to give any credence to how well the beer is made, or if it's any good.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                      I guess things are different in your location. I can't think of any place I've been that makes the effort to offer a variety of beers, whether brought in or brewed on-site, that doesn't cover a broad spectrum of styles.
                                                                                                                                      In my experience the ratio of high alcohol beers that are not made well is no greater than the ratio of lower alcohol beers that are not made well.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                                                                                                                        I don't agree about the ratio. I've drank a lot of craft beer over the past 8 years, and good high alcohol beers are rare, IMO. They are often plagued by fusel alcohols or acetaldehyde. There are obviously exceptions to this, but I am usually surprised when I have a high alcohol beer that is drinkable, not the other way around.

                                                                                                                                        Note: by "high alcohol" I mean greater than 8% abv.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                          Josh, you just said more articulately what I was originally trying to say. Nothing wrong with the "big flavor" beers at all, just too many of them are of poor quality and IMO it would be better to see brewers focusing on the entire spectrum of products (including drinkable everyday beer) and less on trying to create the Duvel or Chimay--two of my favorite beers but I don't want to spend my life sampling lesser imitations. There are of course a number of great American lagers, pilsners, pale ales, etc. but I think there should be more--and more availability across the country. That's my hope.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: tevis

                                                                                                                                            I've been reluctant to ask for examples of high-alcohol beers that you consider not well made but now I feel like I have to because I'm not sure what you're talking about. It doesn't seem to me there are so many beers over 8% that we're being smothered by them. Almost every brewery or brew pub that serves their own beer to the public has several options under 8%. I think it's rare that you look at an in-house beer list and see multiple 8+ choices.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                                                                                                                              If you're at a place that makes their own beer, then no, that's less likely. Pubs, though, which buy beer from these breweries, often have a long list of beers hovering at the higher end of the spectrum - at least that's been my experience. Also, since IPAs and Pale Ales are normally around 6%, then that rounds out the problem - your choices too often are limited to hoppy lower-alcohol ales, or high alcohol ales with off flavors or brutal hop character.

                                                                                                                                              I'm not saying this is all the time, mind you. I drink a lot of craft beer, and that is far and away my preference. But there are times I've gone to local pubs and seen only one or two things out of a list of 20+ beers that I have any interest in drinking. On the other hand, there's another craft beer place here that makes an effort to have a well-rounded list, with numerous lower alcohol and/or non-hoppy beers on it, and there I can always find an abundance of options to choose from.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: tevis

                                                                                                                                              And I'll just throw my two cents in here. The idea that one could walk into a microbrew store and close his/her eyes reach into the frig and be highly likely to pull out a hop bomb is not true. These big beer do receive a lot of press and adjulation from fans but they do not dominate in numbers. There are many micro wits, hefes, stouts, porters to name a few.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                I think you're right when it comes to bottled product. I was speaking more of the craft beer bars in my area. In San Diego IPAs and DIPAs tend to dominate the landscape, and more often than not if you're looking for a simple low alcohol beer without tons of hop character, you're out of luck. It may just be a regional thing, because a lot of people here like to boast about what big hopheads they are.

                                                                                                                                            3. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                              I agree with Josh that the really good, well made high-alcohol brews (and while we're at it, other 'extreme' types) are something of a rarity. Having made such brews myself as a homebrewer (for going on 39 years) it becomes clear that such brews usually benefit from a longer aging in bulk prior to packaging, something that most small commercial brewers are unwilling or can't afford to tie up tank space to do. I find it very ironic that in this 'new age' of beer, few brewers are tackling the 9-12 month aging which several of the big brewers of years gone by were more willing and able to do 40-50 years ago.
                                                                                                                                              Perhaps on some level the typical impatience of most homebrewers has created a tolerance (and even a taste) for flavors in 'young' beer that at one time would have been considered a defect, especially in these stronger styles. It could even be that in a subtle way it has enabled the current fad of pushing every flavor, strength, and ingredient envelope to its present almost comical state.

                                                                                                                                              Having said that, and despite my rant, I will add that I think that there _are_ some real hi-test and hi-flavor gems out there in the retail jungle...you just need to wade through a growing amount of crap to find them amongst all of the wannabes. There _is_ more to choose from than in years past, more of both the good and the bad.
                                                                                                                                              At least the expedition is a fun one.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: The Professor

                                                                                                                                                Care to share some examples of what you consider part of the growing amount of crap?

                                                                                                                                                1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                                                                                                                                  For myself, I'm not interested in naming names. Sorry.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                                                                                                                                    I think I'll take a pass on naming them too. There wouldn't be much point, really.
                                                                                                                                                    Other than it would be a fairly lengthy list, the other reality is simply that one man's crap is another man's gold.
                                                                                                                                                    It's just harmless fun (if a bit futile) to argue about what's good and what's not. Everyone really has their own list already.
                                                                                                                                                    But thank heavens for stores that sell single bottles. It makes weeding out the suspect products a much less expensive proposition.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Professor

                                                                                                                                                      What I've been trying to get at is there is a difference between not liking a particular beer or style and saying it's not well made. I've had beers I haven't liked but I can't recall too many times when I thought a beer wasn't well made.
                                                                                                                                                      Considering the negative adjectives being tossed around towards high alcohol beers I can't help but think it's more a dislike of styles rather than a lack of skill on the brewers part.
                                                                                                                                                      I unapologetically stand behind the vast majority of double IPA's and imperial stouts I've had. I think most are in the very good to great range.
                                                                                                                                                      Enjoying the conversation as I fly my hop flag and celebrate diversity (and probably not impressing the ladies or showing how cool I am).

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                                                                                                                                        I've judged beer in a few different competitions, and took a several weeks-long class in beer judging for BJCP certification. Once you've learned the flavor of acetaldehyde, it becomes really obvious to you when present. And acetaldehyde is an off flavor that shouldn't be present, which usually comes about from incomplete fermentation, as acetaldehyde is an intermediate stage in alcohol production.

                                                                                                                                                        I've noticed that a great many big beers are plagued by this particular problem. Fusel alcohols are also not desirable, though I'd say that's a less frequent problem than acetaldehyde.

                                                                                                                                                        One of my favorite beers in the world is JW Lees' Harvest ale, which is 11.5%. Another favorite beer of mine is Russian River Consecration, which is 10%. Still another is Russian River's Pliny the Elder, which is both hoppy and around 8.5%. Chimay Blue, Rochefort 10, Westvleteren 12, Koningshoven Quad, Brooklyn Local 1, Anchor Old Foghorn, etc. etc.

                                                                                                                                                        There are several big, high alcohol beers that I enjoy. When they're well-made I have no complaints. The problem is when people aren't sufficiently careful when making them. I think a lot of times people simply see the large ABV and/or IBUs, but don't consider how well the beer is actually made. Just my $0.02 from a lot of time spent going to beer events and listening to people around me.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                          Josh...absolutely right on all counts, including the favorites named (except Brooklyn Local 1...I'm not crazy about that one).

                                                                                                                                                          The BJCP program _is_ great for training the palate to identify various flavor components ...both good ones and bad ones.
                                                                                                                                                          (Their beer 'styles' classifications, on the other hand, are becoming a bit of a joke among brewers and beer lovers...but are harmless enough as long it's kept to the homebrew competitions and as long as folks don't start trying to apply the guidelines to commercial beer, where such guidelines have no relevance.)

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: The Professor

                                                                                                                                                            Local 1 is best enjoyed after 1+ years of cellaring.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                            Your points are well made. What I was disagreeing with was some of the sweeping generalizations about American craft beer and the people who enjoy them.
                                                                                                                                                            I really don’t think any brewpub, brewery, or restaurant that specializes in beer can stay in business without offering lower alcohol beers. The vast majority of people who drink beer do not go for the high end on ibu’s or abv.
                                                                                                                                                            I tend to home brew in the 5-6 % abv range so I appreciate having the options of some of the more extreme styles available when I go out or go beer shopping. It’s exciting for me and I thoroughly enjoy it. Of course there are hits and misses but I’m glad American brewers are pushing the limits.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                                                                                                                                              Must they "push the limits" in the same general pattern so often? I've had an issue with that description of big beers for awhile.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                                                A local brewer, who used to brew for Stone, commented to me that he thought low ABV beers were just as extreme, in their own way, as big beers. He's very interested in the idea of producing radically low alcohol beers that still taste good and offer good hop character.

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                                                                                                                                                I think limit pushing is actually fairly rare in brewing. Considering that big beers have existed for a long time in Europe (British barleywines, German doppelbocks, Belgian quads), are American brewers making 10% beers pushing meaningful limits? I guess when you get into really high ABVs, then sure, or sourness.

                                                                                                                                                                I guess Avery and Dogfish Head are the most obvious examples I can think of, pushing into the high double digits, and Brewdog in Scotland. Though how successful these massive beers are varies a lot. I've enjoyed some of them. Brewdog's Tokio is surprisingly good considering its largeness.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                                  In your dream world what are the offerings (brewed in-house) when you walk into your local establishment? This isn't directed at anyone it particular.
                                                                                                                                                                  I'm just curious as I'm generally pretty happy with the variety and quality of what I find.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                                                                                                                                                    For me, I think the ideal (and what I have had the most luck with in these places) would be a nice ESB ...maybe in the 1.055 OG range, 45 IBU while maintaining a subtle background malt sweetness.
                                                                                                                                                                    I like a 70 IBU IPA as well, but with one or two exceptions, most of the IPA's I've had in 'brewed-in-house' places tended to have a lot of green flavors (in all fairness though, I _do_ recognize that many people these days _like_ those green hop flavors. But to me, it's a defect).

                                                                                                                                                                    In a brewpub situation in addition to ESB I've also enjoyed some Browns of variable strengths, and I've had a few very outstanding Porters/Stouts.
                                                                                                                                                                    But I have almost always been disappointed by their stabs at IPA, Barleywine, and Scotch Ale (three of my favorite styles). They don't fare well for me mainly because most brewpub beer seems a bit rushed as far as process goes. I understand that this is necessary, especially if a place becomes popular and they have to get the product out quickly. But for my tastes, these styles need at least some age on them to pull everything together.

                                                                                                                                                                    So for me, the brewpub thing is a bit hit or miss.
                                                                                                                                                                    I've been to scores of them over the last 25 years (I am in show-biz, and spent a fair amount of time on the road). I am not one of those who sit at the bar and pontificate, and can usually find something to enjoy even if the offerings are, shall we say, variable. And I always enjoy conversation with the brewers if they happen to be in attendance during my visit.

                                                                                                                                                                    Maybe I'm so particular since I'm a long-time homebrewer (39 years as of this July) who has done a lot of research, tasting, and consultation with professional brewers and participated in quite a few tastings with a noted beer writer who happened to show up at my 'local' rather frequently 25 years ago).

                                                                                                                                                                    So my opinions on beer are my own and I generally find it is rather like discussing politics, so in social situations at my 'local' I generally just drink what I like and keep quiet about the beer (and we talk about politics.LOL.). Oddly enough, my real 'beer snob' period was in the early 1970's. Thinking back, I probably served as comic relief among my friends who were quaffing gallons of Miller and Bud while I was drinking Bally IPA, Trommer's All Malt Lager, Pabst Bock, Stingo, and any number of imported Dunkles and Festbiers...though once they tasted them, I wound up sharing a lot of it.
                                                                                                                                                                    No wonder I was always broke.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Professor

                                                                                                                                                                      The local beer store used to carry Stoudt's Scarlet Lady ESB. I really miss that beer, it was wonderful.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: californiabeerandpizza

                                                                                                                                                                      Not necessarily brewed in-house, but what I like to see on draft: good sour beer (berliner weisse, gueuze, kriek), dry stout, porter, lager, marzen, Belgian singel, witbier.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                    Josh, I have to completely agree with you on this one (and I dont always!). Beer bars now seem to show off their cool by dominating their menu with extreme beers. And when I stumble across a simple Haufbrau lager or a Jever or something I get terribly excited because its so hard to find those kinds of WELL made session beers among the throng of 800 pound gorillas for newly seasoned beer heads to brag about knowing about. I too love me some big hoppy IPAs and Imperial Stouts when Im in the mood but Im not ALWAYS looking for a Barleywine to impress the ladies with. Especially in July... And I live on the east coast and even from here I know how hop dominate areas like San Diego and San Fran can be. Are there any places those in the know can sneak off too to find some spectacular lagers or session ales in the west? And not just a token one or two. And yes I have had and do enjoy Moonlight Brewing's offerings. But that has seemed to become the exception that proves the rule on the west coast.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                                                                                                      As a resident of Seattle and former resident of SF, I would agree that this particularly true in the West, especially the Pacific Northwest where lamentably many of the best breweries (e.g., Rogue, Hale's, Deschutes, etc.) tend to focus on high alcohol and/or very heavy, dark beers rather than good session brews.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: tevis

                                                                                                                                                        I think Rogue makes some good beers that don't match that description. They make a couple of different lagers, and the Mom Hefeweizen w/ ginger and coriander is pretty tasty.

                                                                                                                                                        I like Full Sail's Session Lager and Session Black. They're not the same as a great German lager, but I find them pretty enjoyable for a simple session beer.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                          Thanks, I'll look for the Rogue beers. I'm a huge fan of Full Sail's pale and amber ales, for some reason I can't seem find the Session beers up here though!

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Insidious Rex

                                                                                                                                                        I'm from Philly and that might be more of a west coast thing. There is one place out my way which is notorious for "big" lists. Out of 27 taps one time they offered a wee heavy, a doppelbock, a tripel, a strong ale, an imperial red ale, an imperial amber, two imperial wits, three double ipas and five imperial stouts. Just a tad top heavy huh? But in general the beer bars in our area tend to be balanced with hand pulled smaller pale ales common.  

                                                                                                                                          2. La Fin Du monde
                                                                                                                                            Maudite
                                                                                                                                            Hennipin
                                                                                                                                            Rare Vos
                                                                                                                                            One 750 ml bottle gives just the right amount of buff.
                                                                                                                                            Worst I had is Coors Light