Category Archives: other blogs

How Much Does New Matter

I’ve seen this conversation happen a little more and finally someone decided to write out one of the detriments to the craft brewing industry.

Now, I’m going to set aside the “but the youths” element from that essay-because every craft beer drinker I know, myself included, has looked at a menu, seen something they never saw before and said, ‘that, please’ instead of beers they know and have had before.

And I am no longer a spring chicken. I’ve been legally drinking for almost as long as the craft beer industry has been a thing.

However, I would agree that too many breweries, especially new ones, try to give customers too many options, instead of focusing on 5 or 7 styles and doing them really well.

Are IPAs necessary in this market? Sure. Make two of them, because the demand is there. But is a lager, stout or amber ale going to be unwise? Heck no; those are styles customers, even customers who aren’t incredibly savvy to the beer market, are going to recognize.

That leaves a couple taps left over and there are a lot of options; from seasonal rotators (that means 3-4 months of one beer, so brewers can refine the recipe and customers can get used to the product) to just some different options; hefes or saisons or brown ales. Whatever; just get a set of beers locked in, with some options for the brewers to experiment as well!

This, I want to note, is one reason why I do the “Common Ales” series. Picking up a beer at a Fred Meyer or Safeway means that my options narrow down. Plus, it let’s be come back to beers that are tried and true, so I don’t lose sight of the history.

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State of the Homebrew

Here’s an interesting take on homebrewing in America: namely, less people are doing it than before.

What I am reminded of is that anecdotes are not data, and that the fact that less people have to Google “homebrewing” as a term isn’t necessarily an indicator that the hobby is “dying”. I know that in the homebrew club I belong to, membership has been slowly on the rise-but again, that isn’t proof.

In a rare instance, the comments of the essay are worth reading: bringing up other reasonable concerns such as ‘we don’t have as much money as we used to’ (provably true), ‘you seem to need a LOT of specialized equipment now’ (false, but with qualifiers), or ‘homebrew shop websites are kinda trash’ (well…YMMV) as reasonable barriers to entry.

The one argument that I think holds water is that commercial breweries are prolific enough, both in volume and scope, that the needs of most of the audience is being served. Gluten free ales? You got it. Belgian browns made with chocolate and peanut butter? Someone’s doing it.

Part of the drive to homebrew does come from wanting to make the beer that the market doesn’t provide…but if the market is providing then what you have is a nice hobby. A hobby that maybe you don’t have to put as much time into as you did before.

For the time being though, I see new people getting into it and at least as far as my homebrew club is concerned, a drive to educate and help new people learn and connect. Connections with people are what keep anything lively and thriving: community matters.

Still, I have to wonder if homebrewing will become-if it isn’t already-the kind of thing that people who knit, or rebuild old cars do.

Best Labels 2018

One of the best things about the maturity of the craft beer scene is the attention to labels that has developed over the past few years.

This list of favorite labels from 2018 is a fantastic example of what I mean: nobody was trying to push designs like this in 2000, and the scene is better for these developments.

But maybe you’d like to vote on some yourself? Well good news! Someone else is taking a poll here.