Friday, November 7, 2014

Have craft brewers jumped the shark?

I have a question for beer lovers and common sewers, I mean connoisseurs: Has the whole craft beer industry jumped the shark?

In recent years there's been a growing trend towards extreme levels of hops and flavors not normally associated with beer. Some of the flavors I've seen or heard about - that have gone way out on the limb - include chile peppers, avocados, coconut curry, oysters, pine needles and even smoked ham and bacon! Hey, I'm all for experimentation, but I think we've reached the point where brewmasters have become self-indulgent to a certain extent. To use a pop music analogy, it feels like the craft brewing industry is nearing the end of the disco era, or the "hair metal" band era of the late 80s.

To continue with the music analogy, I think we're approaching the point where we're going to have to take all those albums (funky beer recipes) up to Comiskey Park and burn them after a White Sox game to make my (our?) point. It's time to get back to the roots of great beers.

While sipping on a German pilsner last weekend I came to the realization that the Germans, English, Irish and the Belgian Monks perfected the art of beer making several centuries ago. The reason these traditional beer makers have survived all these years is because they have focused on flavor. Sadly, many American craft brewers seem to have abandoned this fundamental reason for drinking beer. I'm certainly not bashing all American craft brewers. There are many who are making some absolutely great beers, such as Anderson Valley's Boont Amber Ale and Brother David’s Double Abbey Style Ale, or Big Sky's Moose Drool, or Deschutes Brewery's Black Butte Porter, or Highland Brewing Company's Gaelic Ale, or Mt. Carmel Brewing Company's Amber Ale - to name just a few. Unfortunately, very few places sell these brews on tap, opting instead to sell the outrageous flavors of the month.

All I'm saying, is give taste a chance! Am I the only one going "against the grain"?



David Worth said...

...and peanut butter & Jelly beer We're getting pretty far out into the weeds on some of these

The Smoky Mountain Hiker said...

David - you're absolutely right - that one probably takes the cake for most extreme...

Anonymous said...

Has "The Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog" jumped the shark? I notice more posts lately that have nothing much to do with GSMNP hiking.

The Smoky Mountain Hiker said...

Anon - you obviously haven't been reading this blog for very long. Since the beginning I've occasionally wandered outside the boundaries of talking about hiking or the Smokies.

Whenever there's something to report on or discuss concerning the Smokies, or hiking in general, I'm on it - but new material isn't always available. I try to broaden the perspective of this blog to discuss news items concerning the Blue Ridge Parkway, Cherokee National Forest, or any hiking destination in the region. Sometimes I'll go even further to discuss something completely outside of my normal topics if there's really nothing else going on.

Are you commenting because you were offended by this post?

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog weekly for probably about five years. I find it a great source for what is happening in the GSMNP and region. This includes hiking, nature, and legal issues.

I am not offended by the beer article, just think it is irrelevant to the topic of your blog.

I thought it ironic that you write about jumping the shark at the same time as posting an irrelevant article to the blog. Thus my comment asking if you were jumping the shark. Can't you see the irony of posting something to more or less take up space because "there's really nothing else going on"?

I believe you have other blogs/outlets and thought the beer article might fit better elsewhere.

I do like your blog and intend to continue reading.

The Smoky Mountain Hiker said...

Anon - point well taken. For the record, my hiking blogs are my only outlet.

Thanks for being a loyal reader, though.

Happy trails!