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Craft brewing has been a booming business for the last few decades or so. Of course, with the rise of these small breweries comes the rise of silly gimmicks. Most of these trends stem from marketing magic, trying to trick you into buying things you don’t really want, while some are just baffling craft beer trends that need to end. I’m proposing we collectively agree to let these fads slip silently to the wayside. Let’s keep the focus on what makes craft beers great and what sets them apart, not a bunch of ridiculous barroom trends. Some are annoying, some are pompous, and some are just plain weird. Beard beer anyone?
Making Canning Sound Like Something Great
Canning is fine. Cans are lighter, easier to transport, allow less light, etc. Bottles are also fine. So are growlers. Kegs: fine. All of these methods for storing beer are fine. There might be certain advantages to one or another, but in the end the beer is likely to taste the same. It comes down to personal and situational preference. So when certain craft beers sell their cans as something special, think twice before jumping on the bandwagon. Here’s an example thought process: This stout comes in a can. Do I like stout? No. Should I buy this beer? Probably not. This IPA comes in a can. Do I like IPA? Yes. Should I buy this beer? Yes. So there you go, a simple rubric to see if cans matter. And don’t even start on the special cans that turn colors or talk or whatever.
Restaurants with Terrible Beer Selections
Remember going down to the local family restaurant with dad, ordering your pancakes and needing something to wash them down, and all the restaurant had was Miller and Bud? There are many things wrong with this scenario, but let’s just stick with the beer. Craft beer trends have steered the public towards more niche tastes. And it’s everywhere, even small town gas stations have more variety now. So why shouldn’t large scale restaurants add a tap or two? We demand something a little more interesting with our “Spice and Fury Donkey Nachos.” Large scale restaurants like this are the entry point for the uninitiated, it’s their responsibility to educate the public on the subtle flavors and variety of this grand institution of brewing.
Local Beer Doesn’t Mean Good Beer
That brewery down the street might be convenient, and we’re all for supporting local economies, but just because something’s local doesn’t make it good. Let’s look at a lemonade stand: it’s convenient, sure. And it’s supporting the kids across the street and their budding business acumen. That’s all well and good, but if they just squeeze a lemon onto a mountain of sugar, you’re not going back for a second cup. It’s similar to the can issue, if it’s a local beer that you enjoy, then great, by all means drink up. But think about what you’re buying, if you don’t enjoy it then why buy it? And don’t let your pushy friends guilt you into enjoying something that you know, deep down, is inferior.
The IPA “Freshness” Myth
“I like IPA’s because you can really taste how fresh the hops are…” We’ve all met someone who makes this ridiculous claim. To each their own, but the freshness of an IPA is like the notes in a wine: maybe it’s there, but when you talk about it you sound like a pretentious alien who tried to replicate conversation. If you’ve convinced yourself that IPA’s taste fresh, fine. I’ll continue to drink them because I like the flavor of hops, you can tell yourself whatever you want, just don’t tell me. This is absolutely a craft beer trend that needs to end.
Strange Ingredients for the Sake of Strange Ingredients
True story, I once tried a beer made with yeast cultivated from the brewer's beard. It sounds gross, but the beer was good and that’s what’s important. The problem was, I didn’t try this beer because of its stellar reputation, I tried it based on some weird marketing BS. It’s interesting to mess around and experiment, sure. But releasing one beer after another for the sole purpose of putting weird stuff in them is insanity. Maybe it triggers a placebo effect, causing the drinker to search for something that’s not really there, maybe it’s just annoying. Who am I to say? Just stop it.
Quantity Over Quality
With the boom in craft beers over the years, we’ve seen a predictable drop in quality. The industry has been watered down by a huge influx of breweries. The benefits of small craft breweries is that they can focus and take their time to make a superior product. What’s the point of having a brewery if you’re producing crap? I’d like to go into a store, find a craft brew from a small brewery, and be able to assume a level of pride and quality in the beer that I can’t find from bigger operations, and if small breweries are treating it as a get rich quick scheme that’s not going to happen.
With craft beer trends, sometimes there’s good intentions behind the madness. Session IPAs are a good idea in theory, a low alcohol version of a typically high octane beer. You can have a couple without ending up pants-less on the lawn. The thing is, I want to drink more than one IPA because I like the strong flavor (not because of the freshness mind you, see previous points) and not because I’m trying to cry-dial all of my exes. These lower alcohol alternatives lack that hoppy goodness that I love. So, like certain vegetables and Tang, I’m not going to have a lot because it’s not as good as the alternative.
These inverted tap systems basically just invert the proportion of nitrogen and carbon dioxide added to the beer when pouring, resulting in a slightly different flavor. Just like some other craft beer trends on this list, this is a gimmick. It was kind of interesting to mess around with, but does it make the beer better? No. Does it add anything of value to the beer? No. It’s. Just. A. Gimmick. Are you seeing a trend yet? Adding something new just for the sake of something new doesn’t really accomplish anything, it’s overrated, and I hope to never hear of this blasphemy again.
Social Media Bragging
This doesn’t only apply to beer. If you update your friends with what beer you’re drinking, where, and when constantly, it’s not only annoying, but you start to look like you have a problem. If you try some interesting beer that you’d recommend because you know your uncle Terry loves porters and this one was exceptional, by all means go ahead. But if you’re just throwing out beer names to win some make believe badge, get over it. UnTappd is a great tool for keeping track of beers that you liked and getting or making recommendations, let’s just not go overboard, ok?
Hard Soda That Claims to be Beer
Root beer isn’t beer just like ham isn’t beef. Hard root beer, or cider, or whatever else is out there, can be great. Especially on a hot day when you want something nice and cold and sweet, these drinks go down easy and have a nice nostalgic feel. But they’re not beer. In the end, it comes down to the same thing that I’ve repeated in nearly every item on this list, drink what you like. Stop cramming new junk down my throat when I just want something well made. If we want something sweet and a little alcoholic, we’ll buy a hard soda. If we want a beer, we’ll buy one. But stop trying to trick us. These sneaky craft beer trends need to end, now.