Craft beer increasingly is complex, and not just when it comes to taste. In recent months I’ve noticed a significant increase in the number of people who are more than a little emphatic about challenging their taste buds. I’m for this, really, making an effort to try all the new beers one can has a very specific appeal. For many of us, anticipating in craft beer has to do with feeling as if vetting the beers is part of our job. Not that we’re gatekeepers, but more like we’re mavens guessing at the next trend and which brewery is doing the best of the hot new style.
Fitz Hahn’s story in the Washington Post, though, hits on a concern I’ve been raising myself late,y, although he goes about it in a different way. He noticed the fall of “flagship” beers, which is almost understandable because of craft beer’s hipster leanings. Too often many of the same people who fondly recall how Boston Lager or 60 Minute changed their beer lives wouldn’t order them today. They’re still great beers but those of us swept up in a new culture of unlimited choice often don’t want to waste our time with a beer that we know well.
That’s fine for today, but I worry that we’re helping cause a divide between novices and craft beer veterans. Demand for beers that challenge that palate may begin elbowing out the pale ales, pilsners and lagers that have a wider appeal among people who aren’t already into craft beer. That would be too bad. I know that craft beer is hipster heavy and therefore vaguely discursive but that doesn’t have to be the case. We probably can do with a little more appreciation for the 60 Minutes, Boston Lagers and Sierra Nevada Pale Ales and a little less derision.
As for me, I’m rediscovering how satisfying it is to drink local pale ales, pilsners and porters that are just beer flavored. It’s a flavor worth celebrating every once in a while.
Drink what you like and be happy.