Tuesday, 17 November 2009

The schlock of the new

Innovation. I'm starting to truly loathe that word. Especially its inappropriate use in relation to brewing. And the subtext that, by definition, "innovation" is a good thing.

I'll be honest with you. I don't want innovative beer. I want tasty, refreshing beer. Beer I want to drink more than a mouthful of. Beer that's a joy to drink rather than an exercise in endurance. I don't want to think "what a clever brewer, how ever did he come up with adding a slight apricot flavour to a Pale Ale?". Or "I wonder what the 17th variety of hop is?". "That's so innovative, making a Mild you have to sip through an enamel straw."

Worshipping at the alter of brewers' egos. It's not for me. I want something to drink, something that lifts my spirits and makes my heart soar. And, in sufficient quantities, will get me pissed. It's really not complicated.

And while I'm on the subject of what I want, festival measures. Nothing smaller than 15 cl, please. Small measures mean, for me, a festival of standing and queueing. I prefer a festival of sitting and drinking slightly immoderately.

17 comments:

Pivní Filosof said...

If there was any actual innovation, we could start talking. Thing is that much of what is considered "innovative" today has been done for ages already. Take the trend of "infected beers" as an example. Germans have been doing it for I don't know how long.

Making something "-er" is not innovative, it's just making it "-er".

Woolpack Dave said...

15cl? You are moderate. Who on earth serves beer in smaller measures than that?

Ron Pattinson said...

Woolpack Dave, at the Copenhagen International Beer Festival 10 cl was the largest measure. Some beers came in just 5 cl measures.

British festivals, with measures up to a pint, are heaven.

Ron Pattinson said...

Pivní Filosof, couldn't agree more. I can't say I've seen much that's innovative in the true sense of the word. Just a load of brewers showing off and a bunch of geeks encouraging them.

Gary Gillman said...

Ron, nothing in the modern repertoire can exceed what you and others have found in the archives. So the innovators of today aren't really doing anything new. Their hop rates at the highest have been exceeded in the past; every fruit flavour and spice has been used before in brewing; beers as strong practically as brandy were brewed hundreds of years ago. Etc, etc. It's been going on for a long time, with a hiatus in part of the 1800's and 1900's, and has started up again. My own tastes were formed in the pre-craft brew (revival) era, so I tend to stay amongst flavourful but non-extreme products, but taste is relative. If people weren't pushing the boundaries today, beer slowly would revert to a flavourless commercial norm. I should point out too that many beer critics consider that the beer world is still not sufficiently innovative, or not in large parts of the country. My own, for one, is still fairly conservative except in tiny pockets. I recall you had difficulty finding an extreme beer on your recent American sojourn...

Gary

Pivní Filosof said...

As for measures at festivals, you should come then to the one in Prague, the only measure you can buy is 0.5l, other festivals here will give you the option of buying 0.3l.

I'm sure you'll enjoy yourself.

mike the miller said...

Innovative beer that is served Super Chilled is the Ad mans Holy Gr-ale.

Ron Pattinson said...

Gary, what the hell do people mean by the beer world not being innovative enough? I find that a ludicrous criticism.

I don't see that the world has suddenly moved from bland to exciting. There's just as much bland beer about today as there was 30 years ago.

Alan said...

Perfect. Fabulously perfectly put. And while we are at it, you know what good beer goes with? A good chair and good company.

Andrew said...

Yeah, bit tight those Danes. It is probably some bizarre legislation we have over here.

Andrea said...

Sacred words... Now I try to enjoy more simple beers than in the past. However, sometimes I forget this idea and a strange new beer catches me... just for one sip or two, then I remeber how better are "normal" beers.

The Professor said...

Amen and amen!
I have been saying this for years, and especially agree with the idea that proportional to the beers available today, there is just as much bland or questionable beer as there was 30-40 years ago. Back then one needed to seek out and find the really top notch stuff that was definitely out there; Other than the fact that there is more stuff to wade through nowadays given the glut of product on the shelves, it is still probably only a 50/50 proposition of finding something new that's worth the inflated price of most of the 'new' product.

I would agree that the 'hero worship' of some brewers (especially here in the States) is getting pretty darned silly. The best of the new guys (and there are a few) just make their beer, make it quite well, and avoid the gimmickry that is becoming so prevalent ('Imperial Lite', anyone?).

Ron Pattinson said...

Alan, very well put. Though, for me, the chair is optional. For short periods.

Then again, my standard drinking beers are St. Bernardus Abt and Prior.

Gary Gillman said...

It is a bid odd for me to defend extreme beers and the culture that goes along with them since rarely do I drink beers more than 5% ABV or with very pronounced hop, yeast or acetic flavours. The bar has moved though since the 1970`s. I think it is great to see innovation and a radical attitude amongst the craft brewing community. It will keep things lively and sustain interest in good brewing as a whole. The regular whisky blends have improved in the last 20 years and it is due in my opinion to the influence and interest created by the single malts, many of which are (frankly) not that drinkable on their own. I see an analogy, broadly, with craft brewing.

And there is a case to be made that in many parts of North America, at any rate, the craft brewing scene is not that dynamic.

Gary

mutleythedog said...

Love Beer festivals meself - stick to pints. Canterbury is my favourite havent missed it for about 8 years...

zythophile said...

"in many parts of North America, at any rate, the craft brewing scene is not that dynamic."

That goes double for the UK, mate. I'm afraid that despite the huge growth in new small breweries, Sturgeon's Law still applies.

Ron Pattinson said...

Er, I seem to have accidentally deleted a comment from Australia. My apologies, it was totally my mistake and totally unintended.