Monday, September 10, 2007

Ten Things That Bug Me - 9/07 Edition

I'm in a good mood, sitting here enjoying the Niners and Carndinals open up Monday Night Football for the season. However, I have realized there are things in my life that bug me, things that are beer related, things I figured I'd share. Feel free to add your complaints, even if to say you hate when people complain online.
  1. Wheat Beer vs Hefeweizen - I'm not an authority on this, but Hefeweizens and Wheat Beers aren't the same. Hefeweizens are beers with banana and clove presence, cloudy appearance, not just unfiltered, but cloudy from the low flocculating yeast - the yeast in this come from Bavaria. Wheat Beers are generally clear, often with an American twang. Oh, and if you have a clear beer from Bavaria, its called a Crystal-weizen.
  2. Stouts are not strong, heavy beers. Too many times I've been with friends or bar-friends who tell me they don't like Guinness because it is too heavy. Too heavy? This is one of the lightest import beers you'll find on the market, and in no way strong. Yes, if you order a Russian Imperial Stout or a Foreign Stout, then this all doesn't matter. I just don't know a lot of people who know what those beers are.
  3. More alcohol doesn't make a better beer. If you're reading this, you probably agree (I have certain assumption about my audience, forgive me). Oh, big beers are almost always fun in some way, but often seem disjointed, messy, hastily put together and with one thing in mind - getting the drinker schnockered. Sadly, some of the most well regarded craft beers on the market fall into this category, but I don't like dragging anyone in the mud. Afterall, these are my gripes, not yours.
  4. More hops doesn't make a better beer. Yes, I love a good IPA. In fact, I probably love them more than I convey in our show or site. However, too often it seems that lots of hops are added to marginal beers to distract my senses from realizing just how marginal the beer is.
  5. Imperials... oh God I hate Imperials. Not the beer, but the name itself. An Imperial American IPA should embarrass anyone. [OK, this one could get rocky, as this is one of my most major gripes. You ready?]
    We all know that the Russian Imperial Stout was originally made in England for shipment to Russia, for the Imperial Court. I appreciate wanting to pay homage to styles of historical importance, but an Imperial IPA has absolutely NOTHING in common with the RIS. It just seems lazy. Oh, and I also hate the word Double in front of our American beer styles. Folks, lets face it now, the Imperial IPA is in no way related to the IPA - the one brewed in England for transport to India. I challenge you, the good brewers of this country, to begin paying some homage to your own creativity, our own ingredients and a taste that is truly all-American (and don't even get me started on the BJCP styles in this regard).
    Seriously, calling our decidedly American high hopped beers 'IPAs' is just odd. I've thought (and griped) about this for years, and even have a few examples for what the style can be called.
    - Cascade Pale Ale, not because of the Cascade hop, but because of the region our hops come from - the Cascades.
    - California Pale Ale, mainly because all we know about the American IPA began with Sierra Nevada, Anchor and New Albion - and yes, I know Bridgeport belongs up here too.
    - Pacific Pale Ale, basically intended to capture the whole west coast.
    - West Coast Pale, same logic as above
  6. Labels can be funny, or cute, but if they are they must have an equal level of detail about the beer itself. I like reading the marketing stuff, really, but am most interested in the OG, Hops and Malts used, Final Gravity, ABV, etc.
  7. Big Craft Brewers aren't inferior craft brewers. I don't want to hear you gripe to me, or anyone else, that Sierra Nevada, Sam Adams or New Belgium "aren't that good". Give me a break. You think Fat Tire, SN Pale, SA Boston Lager are 'bad beers'? Then you're a beer snob, not a beer geek. Snobs know more than anyone else, geeks are eager to learn. Don't be a snob.
  8. Support your local brewers, please. I know a handful of local beer enthusiasts that pride themselves on their procurement abilities, showing off their newest shipments from far away, or their latest scores from the beer store. Strangely though, I don't ever see them proud of our local, wonderful brewers. Of course, the people who are good at procuring are likely the same people who like the hoppiest, biggest and most powerful beers out there.
  9. Share your beer. You don't have to share it with me, but you should share your spoils with those who you think might appreciate it. No, don't go out and give your beer to the closest Bud fan in effort of conversion (the verse about pearls before swine comes to mind), but also understand that everything in life is better shared. I don't know 'what' Jesus would drink, but I'm pretty sure he'd share.
  10. Respect your brewers. This is specifically geared to the homebrewers of the world. Don't walk into a brewery and tell any brewer what is 'wrong' with their beer. It isn't your place and you don't know that much, I promise. You don't have to kiss ass or lie, but if you don't like a beer, change the subject, thank them the beer or just shut up. Now, I talk amongst my friends quite often about the beers I drink, and often discuss my own feelings about a beer with these friends. But to tell a pro brewer that they should have added more hops, more alcohol, Pilsner Malt over American 2-Row... that just ain't my place - or yours.
With that last one there is some hesitation. Afterall, I rate beers here numerically and respect many others who do as well. But I don't do this to "judge", and I don't think you'll find a lot of overt 'fault finding' in my writings. Additionally, I hope you understand that I have no delusions of grandeur, I know I'm not the authority for all things beer.

Well, that's ten things that bug me tonight. I'll have to work on balancing this post with a top ten list of things that I like about beer and beer enthusiasts.