Random Beer Thoughts: August 2019

Craft Beer Isn't Dying

I have seen way too many articles recently about the impending death of craft beer, mostly bemoaning the rise in popularity of hazy IPAs and pastry stouts. A particularly egregious example was written for The Growler Magazine, and frustrated me to the point that I felt the need to pen this response. Craft beer isn’t dying, in fact there is no better time to be a beer fan.

When I saw a recent article titled “Here’s What’s Killing Craft Beer” I assumed it was another doomsday article, but I actually agreed with some of the points made here. If brewers and beer writers don’t love the current trends in the industry the best solution is education. Many of the same people who moved from chugging Natty Light at college keggers to waiting in line for Tree House can releases can eventually appreciate a wide range of beer styles beyond hazy IPAs, they just need influences beyond the trophy-hunting Instagram culture. If enough people develop an appreciation of Belgian styles, well-made lagers and dark beers that aren’t loaded with sugar the demand and production of these styles will follow. The key problem is educating without coming across and pretentious, and the article above fails pretty badly in that regard.

Stone Cow 3

One other article from me: here is a recap of my family’s visit to Stone Cow Brewing this month. A top notch facility all-around, great atmosphere, yummy food, well-crafted beers, and probably the most family-friendly brewery I’ve ever visited.

The environmental impact of the beer industry has been a big topic recently, with many eco-friendly breweries looking for ways to minimize any negative effects their brewing and packaging have on the environment. Some eco-conscious breweries have installed solar panels and on-site water treatment. The Mass Brew Brothers have a two-part blog on this topic, covering the issues with the plastic used in can carriers and cups, and the positive impact of drinking local. Ball Corporation has another potential solution, introducing lightweight and easy-to-recycle aluminum cups that can replace the disposable plastic cups at stadiums and beer gardens. It will be interesting to see how many local venues purchase these.

It seems like every week there is a social media uproar over the name of label art on a new beer, usually something sexist, racist, flagrantly violating IP, or just stupid. Fortunately, The Beer Babe is here to help, she has made a handy poster that will allow any brewery owner to quickly decide if a potential new beer name is OK, and it is available for sale!

Worcester Magazine has an interview with CraftRoots Brewing co-owner and head brewer Maureen Fabry, where she refutes some of the broad-brush points made in a recent Boston Globe article about the lack of diversity in local beer. I think there is absolutely much more work to be done to make craft beer more inclusive and diverse, but stereotyping all craft beer fans as white male hipsters does nothing to help the situation or further the discussion.

Idle Hands Brocktoberfest

The imminent arrival of fall means cooler weather, football season, and a flood of maltier beer styles highlighted by marzen/Oktoberfests. Idle Hands is releasing their tasty Brocktoberfest beer and their website has an informative history of the style. I need to drink some of the IPAs in my fridge to make room for more fall beers!

October has an article on the rise of “regular beer”, meaning pale lagers brewed by craft breweries. I’ve always hated the idea that pale lager is “regular beer” or that it’s the style of beer that “tastes like beer”. I realize that the vast majority of beer consumed in the US and worldwide is still pale lagers, and most people associate the flavor of beer with the flavor of pale lager, but there are a ton of other styles with as much or more history than pale lagers. Are you saying that stout/porter, lambic and saison don’t “taste like beer”? I think moving on from the idea that pale lager is the “normal” beer flavor and everything else is an “other” is important to bring a variety of styles into the mainstream.

2019 Oxbow 4

A great reference for beer fans: Oxbow has a glossary of beer terms on their website, especially helpful if you want info on different Belgian styles. I had a similar page on Hoppy Boston for a while but deactivated it because I never found time to flesh it out properly. I might try to revisit the page at some point.

George Lenker has a summary of a survey from the Mass Brew Brothers asking what people look for in a brewery. The biggest ones for me: great beer, variety of options/styles, and a family-friendly atmosphere.

Brewery openings and news: Provincetown Brewing is open on the Cape, mixing beers with social activism. Martha’s Vineyard based Bad Martha Brewing is opening their new location in East Falmouth soon. Night Shift just announced that they are opening another new brewery, this time in Philadelphia.

Interesting beer releases: Aeronaut Brewing is releasing For the Birds IPA, a collaboration with the Massachusetts Audubon Society. All five Worcester breweries have collaborated on a coffee brown ale. Harpoon has a new limited release called Allston X-Mas IPA, named in honor of the annual September 1st move in and move out shit-show around the big Boston colleges. I lived in Allston for 5 years while I was in grad school, and I don’t miss that mess at all, but I am surprised it took this long for a brewery to name a beer after the event!

Baxter Bootleg Fireworks

Baxter Brewing founder Luke Livingston has decided to retire from running the brewery at the ripe old age of 34 (and that makes me feel really fucking old). Operations manager Jenn Lever will take over as president of the company.

Massachusetts might have a ballot measure to eliminate the laws that limit the number of liquor licenses held by a single retailer, allowing more chain convenience/grocery stores to sell beer/wine. I’m actually against this as a beer geek, I like beer-specific stores that understand how to store/handle/rotate the product and worry that these specialty shops would be adversely effected if every corner store sold beer.

Boston Chefs has a profile of Remnant Brewing in Somerville.

Tree House Front Sign

The new Tree House Brewery in Charlton has led to a massive increase in production and a corresponding increase in visitors. To help the town manage the increased traffic the brewery is paying for improvements to Route 20. Tree House also announced that they are going to start roasting their own coffee.

Event: Art and Ales featuring Aeronaut Brewing will take place at deCordova Sculpture Park on September 12th.

That is it for August and the summer. Thanks for reading and, as always, feel free to pass along anything that you feel needs to be featured in this post. Cheers!

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