Now, I’ve had a few of these beers. Some I’ve found so sweet and sickly a mouthful has been more than enough. Others have been much better balanced and I’ve enjoyed 440mls of it. Rarely have I returned for a second go of the same beer. I like a West Coast IPA. There, I’ve said it.
This is fine. We all have different palates and as often say to others – there’s always another beer. Rest easy, I find plenty.
But to me the recent penchant for these styles of beers has created a couple of issues, from what I’ve observed.
Firstly, there seems to be an increase in accusations of ‘this isn’t as good as last year’s version’ or ‘this beer has changed’. Now I’m no expert on beer, I know what I like but that’s about as far as it goes. Then again, neither are the vast majority of folk I hear these complaints from, though of course everyone is perfectly entitled to their opinion. Let’s take a look at the two gripes in turn. It’s not as good as last year? Really? They remember exactly what a beer they had a couple of times when it was last brewed tasted and smelt like? A year later. They haven’t been influenced by their emotions at the time and afterwards and how that all evolved in their memory. What they read about it on social media. What they’ve read on social media this year – the bandwagon effect. Or, perhaps they’ve also been pouring fruit smoothie or Lilt beers down their neck for the last two months and expect that same intense flavour hit from this orange infused west coast IPA? Who knows whether the beer is as good as last year or not. Is it even any different? It doesn’t really matter, it’s a good discussion to have and I’ve said it myself many a time (or this is better than last year). But the disdain with which I have heard such accusations be spat out is something else at times. Oh and this beer has changed – I hear this a lot. I dare say sometimes it’s an accurate observation by people with a much better understanding than mine, particularly given the outstripping of supply with demand for some hop varieties, but with some of the beers this has been thrown at, I really can’t taste it. Perhaps again, the intense flavours of certain beers, that seem to be being consumed in abundance, are having an impact on what punters taste when they return to their regular beers – my beloved West Coast IPAs seem to be a particular casualty of this perhaps because they were flavour of the month not too long ago.
Secondly, perfectly decent beers also seem to be getting a caning for being ‘poor’ quality when they really aren’t in my humble opinion. As a case in point I’m going to regale my recent experience of Out of Town Brewing’s IPA on keg. We had it on tap at the bottle shop I work in. Before I’d had the chance to try it I was told by more than one person that it was shite. Too thin. No flavour. Nothing about it. A 6.8% IPA – thin and flavourless! Eventually I got around to trying it. For me it was a really good beer. A West Coast IPA that had good body and mouthfeel with a piney, chewy flavour and texture to it – reckon there’s a bit of Chinook in there but I’m not great at picking out hops. Initially I just scoffed inside my head at the naysayers, but then I started to think about what drew them to their conclusions. Who knows but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was a combination of taste buds impacted by current trends in beer styles and the good old hype machine that is ‘dictating’ what we all should be drinking and liking - that seemed to have, what was for me a 70+/100 IPA, down as a loser for some.
So whilst these smoothie and Lilt beers remain flavour of the month, enjoy them if they’re your thing. But hey, give the good old West Coast IPA (or whatever other style) a fair crack of the whip when you next have one.
As always, your thoughts on the topic are always welcome, as is constructive criticism of the content and/or the blog in general.