Are We Killing Beer?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by hoptualBrew, Jun 21, 2018.

  1. hoptualBrew

    hoptualBrew Zealot (586) May 29, 2011 Florida

    Beer culture today is very different than it was 5 years ago and is a universe apart from 10+ years ago.

    With the proliferation of social media it feels as though many breweries are vying to make the LOUDEST, most outlandishly creative “beers” to advertise on their feeds to draw people in to their taprooms. Beer, at large, seems to have been corrupted through such endeavors.

    It becomes hard to find a brewery that doesn’t do pastry/triple fruited/milkshake/creamsicle/hamburger/cake/popsicle beer. A brewery that focuses and leads with quality beer: water, malt, yeast, hops and let’s the adjuncts play an occasional, background role.

    What becomes of the industry, of beer quality, when most brewers seek to make LOUD beer? Is craft beer losing its soul? Is this experimentation the very essence of craft beer? When is it too far? Too much? Or is there no such thing?
  2. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (5,587) Sep 24, 2007 Washington

    Except for the proliferation of Murkbro beers, thankfully most of this fad seems to have bypassed the PNW.
  3. Beer_Economicus

    Beer_Economicus Devotee (432) Apr 8, 2017 Indiana

    Not sure how to answer this.

    While I am generally not on the pastry stout/IPA train, I will say that there are many beers the US does well. Never really had very many European styles in the US that really hold a candle to European classics though. (A great expection is Live Oak - Hefeweizen.) American breweries had to find something to be good at, and that has been made clear. We soar above the clouds in several styles, most notably BA stouts and IPAs (of various styles, but especially NE style).

    If you want us to be a country of old European styles. That will never happen. Change is here to stay.

    If, on the other hand, you are just wondering if we can seperate popular culture from beer - which those of us on BA highly value and respect, well...I don't know the answer. I don't do social media, but I have read enough about all the beer craziness on it. A bit unfortunate. Without beer going so mainstream though, it might not be as cool as it used to be, and without that kick in the rear, so many people might not hve been driven to invest in their beer ventures. We are a better beer community for the uptick in interest. But, maybe not a better society with all the social media nonsense, secondary reselling, and whaleBro shitlording.
  4. FatBoyGotSwagger

    FatBoyGotSwagger Meyvn (1,116) Apr 4, 2009 Pennsylvania

    It may seem like a long way in a short time but its pretty simple. Basically 10 years ago we made the biggest most bitter IPA (IBU wars). 5 years ago the IPA was 'perfected' hence the soft hazy non bitter IPA maybe originally brewed in New England. Today IPAs have become the canvas for any and all adjuncts, twas previously mentioned lactose, vanilla, coffee, every fruit under the sun thrown into the IPA. Now looking back in hindsight it may seem ruined because there is nowhere to vertically progress but the answer was always in the basics..

  5. HorseheadsHophead

    HorseheadsHophead Meyvn (1,469) Sep 15, 2014 New York

    The only thing that really bothers me in the modern beer scene is the expense. I absolutely love the creativity and diversity of the modern beer scene. In fact, I still believe that we're living in the best era for beer ever. However, the continuing presence of $20+ four packs of beer worries me. The $9-$12 six packs still available from larger breweries are becoming increasingly more appealing than $30 milkshake IPAs.
  6. RaulMondesi

    RaulMondesi Poo-Bah (1,621) Dec 11, 2006 California

    Here here. I bought an organic Samuel Smith Pale Ale the other day for $4. One would think that an imported, organic product would be expensive; meanwhile my local brewery down the street (I’m looking at you, Chapman Crafted), sells 16 ounce cans for $6.99!

    As for the experimentation in beer goes, I like it, it keeps things new. And being a serial ticker, I like trying new and interesting things. That being said, I commonly find myself going back to old standbys because of price, but more importantly flavor.
  7. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Zealot (541) Mar 28, 2009 California

    Yes and no. No, because there are plenty of good breweries that make classic styles. Yes, because it seems like there is a growing trend of new and old good breweries gravitating toward brewing beer that tastes like anything other than malt, hops and yeast. I saw an IG post from a brewery making a blue birthday cake beer and people freaking out on how good that sounds. Hope that’s more of an isolated instance and not the growing norm.
  8. HorseheadsHophead

    HorseheadsHophead Meyvn (1,469) Sep 15, 2014 New York

    Even ticking is starting to become no longer feasible for me. The standard brew model for most new breweries to release a constant series of one-offs every few weeks, and when each of those are $16-$25, I feel like I have to buy every one for FOMO. I can't keep up with it anymore. I prefer breweries that make a reliable flagship beer that I can buy at any time. Or seasonals.
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  9. chipawayboy

    chipawayboy Devotee (449) Oct 26, 2007 Massachusetts

    Competition and variety are creating incredible new beer options and tributary styles....and reinvigorating interest in tradition at the same time. I think the notion that we are “killing beer” is preposterous. Cheers.
  10. HorseheadsHophead

    HorseheadsHophead Meyvn (1,469) Sep 15, 2014 New York

    I think that's the growing norm, bud.
    RobNewton likes this.
  11. donspublic

    donspublic Poo-Bah (1,599) Aug 4, 2014 Texas
    Premium Trader

    About the only brewery I go to anymore pretty much focuses on the classics. They do a good job with English and Belgian styles and almost always have something on cask. They do tend to have a NEIPA on tap, but you have to now days to pay the bills. They have an outstanding pilsner and use that base beer for a series of lagers with new world hops and they are all pretty damned good. I think things are changing, and have been for the past year. There will be the wild shit, but I think we are going to start seeing more lagers and traditional styles, probably bastardized, but still not to the extreme that a lot of IPA's and Stouts are.
  12. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,459) Mar 12, 2009 New York

    Huh, I can only speak for four or five states in my area, but the plain fact is there has never been a time in the history of this area or this country where there have been as many different styles of beer made excellently as there are now.

    If this is what "dying" for the industry is like, maybe it'll "die" some more. I would love to have more than the thirty or so styles done amazingly I can buy easily here now.
  13. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,459) Mar 12, 2009 New York

    Haha shoulda read through the posts before I made mine. You said it better and shorter, preposterous sums up this thread's theme perfectly.
  14. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (2,276) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland

    I think this is why we are seeing an uptick in interest from the BA community in consumption of AALs recently. BA's need a break from alot of flavor and spending alot of money.
  15. Beer_Economicus

    Beer_Economicus Devotee (432) Apr 8, 2017 Indiana


    Care to explain? That's a seemingly ridiculous statement. Why would anyone want and/or need a "break from a lot of flavor"????
  16. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,459) Mar 12, 2009 New York

    I stopped adding styles when I hit 30 easily available in my area. This is dying?
    Imp. Stout
    Wheat Ale
    Baltic Porter
    Bock Beer
    Kolsch Style
    American Pale Ale
    Blond Ale
    Milk Stout
    Amber Ale
    American Stout
    India Pale lager
    Old ale
    Scotch ale
    Berliner Weisse
    Fruited Sour ale
    Sour IPA
  17. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,243) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

    Exactly. We have similar issues here in CO, with every style have great to amazing representation it seems. I am hung up on a locally produced kellerbier right now that I crave in the summer months. Five years ago this wasn't an option.
  18. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,459) Mar 12, 2009 New York

    Just not enough money to buy em, or time in the day to drink em.

    While this thread is about our hobby dying, most of the time when I am out to get beer I feel like a kid in a candy shop I dreamed about. Only the one I find myself in has even better selection and better quality than the one I dreamed about.
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  19. hoptualBrew

    hoptualBrew Zealot (586) May 29, 2011 Florida

    I see a lot of this type stuff on IG as well. It’s what prompted me to start this thread to be honest.
    meanmutt likes this.
  20. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,243) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

    To be honest, this is why I am a homer. When I reintroduced myself to craft beer I made myself a promise to try all the local beers I can before buying most of what gets distro from out of state. Obviously I don't hold true to that whole heartedly, however I haven't and will never be able to try everything local to me. Ever. On a macro level (meaning breweries like Deschutes and new belgium) there is little difference in freshness, but these small breweries can really get things on the shelf quickly. It makes it really easy to say "should I grab this 5 month old mirror pond? Or this 5 day old Sticks pale ale?". It's a great time to be a Beer drinker, probably a questionable time to be a brewer based on the birthday beer theme.
    cavedave likes this.
  21. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (2,104) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
    Premium Trader

    I agree. I've only been "into" craft about three years, so this seems normalish to me, not having experienced it before the changes the OP mentions. Seems to me that the market for beers will be like the market for clothes. If beer doesn't change somewhat based on demand then breweries will fail. At the same time, like jeans are to the clothing industry, breweries also need to produce traditional beers. It's all good.
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  22. HopsDubosc

    HopsDubosc Disciple (320) Apr 24, 2015 Vermont

    My guess is that places with a relatively new craft brewery scene (wasteland up until 5 years ago) are more plagued by this phenomenon. I'm definitely not hurting for a breadth of styles around here.
    VTBrewHound and cavedave like this.
  23. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,504) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Premium Trader

    Maybe it can seem like a problem if you look at it like craft is one thing, a singular community. But it isn't and never has been; it's always been grass roots, customer driven by smaller niche consumers going out of their way to get what they enjoy. I always say, I don't need my thing to be the most popular; I just need for it to exist, and I'll do the rest. There are numerous factions in the beer scene now, and that's great. Just do your thing, support the places who take care of you, and things'll be fine.

    Like @cavedave suggested, it's never been a better time to be a niche consumer, whether it be beer, music, movies, books, food, etc. So much is at our fingertips now, so enjoy what you got.
  24. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Devotee (498) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    Every brewery wants to make beer that sells, and can pay off the massive amount of money they put into the effort of opening, and staying open. To keep all of the people happy who invested in them. If all you see are the bells and whistles. Perhaps dig deeper, or go two doors down in the cooler. It gets hard when you put your own blinders on, but as you say. The culture is very different. That also includes the amount of shelf space devoted to beer is also very different and it's probably like the cereal aisle is at the grocery store. You have dedicated shelf space that is at eye level for children where all the sugar gimmick cereal is. So, look up, or walk to the end of the aisle where the beer that isn't fussy, or graphic intensive.
    As well. The social media landscape is now a "mature" space, and advertising has burrowed its way in to it. Where as ten years ago. It was not fully understood just how valuable the space it provided for marketing product, or how that could be harnessed to create online hype, which in turn created actual sales.
    Beer, at large, is going to be fine. And even healthier for it, because of the outlandish phase we are in the midst of. The learning curve can go back into making quality beer with the four base ingredients.
    Too, look at what else has happened in the last 5 years with historical styles being re-introduced. And sometimes brought back from being nearly extinct. Sure, breweries will probably also use them as a playground. But, that's what craft beer should be doing.
    I'll say for my neck of the woods. We have the bases covered with breweries that are pretty determined to tweak perception of what is acceptable in an IPA, or a Stout. And we have breweries that refuse to make them because they are into sours, or just lager. And then middle ground of breweries that try to nimble enough to do all of them.
  25. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,343) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    "We" ? :thinking_face: My conscience is clear.

    Beer will survive, hopefully the craze to brew these "innovative" :rolling_eyes: beers will die like so many fad beers have over the decades.
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  26. Fox82791

    Fox82791 Devotee (453) Jun 20, 2014 New York

    Personally, I don't think there is a too much. Experimentation will only lead to evolution in the beer scene, which is never a bad thing. Anything that doesn't taste good will die off, and the successful experiments will continue to improve and evolve. Social media definitely has impacted the beers brewers are making; like you said they are doing everything they can from marketing to the beer itself to stand out in a sea of options. Taprooms will always have the more simple/traditional styles as options, but I don't see foresee the experimentation dying down any time soon. You're seeing it in the food scene as well; new, stylish, "hipster" (if you like to use that term) restaurants are opening with creative, experimental ways of preparing and delivering your food. Being a millennial, creativity and just being different is what sells in a demographic that is extremely tough to market to.
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  27. utopiajane

    utopiajane Poo-Bah (2,532) Jun 11, 2013 New York

    I don't think it's possible to kill beer unless you mean to "kill" a sixer . In fact i see the role of the conoisseur as very important to beer in general. What I see as a detriment to beer is the idea that anything popular could subvert or determine a style. It's not that I mind the pastry stout or the IPL's presence on the shelf but I would not prefer to determine that style by something that is made to be an exaggeration.
  28. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,648) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    I'll chime in from SE PA to simply say that the Beer Culture described by the OP is not what I'm seeing here. Just as @cavedave and @SFACRKnight have described there's a rich variety of choices here, both local and imported, and more than there used to be 10 years ago.

    When it comes to the concerns expressed by the OP, frankly I'd favor the old fart's view of things. As has so often been the case, social media is creating/has created a distorted picture of the reality on the ground.
  29. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,711) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I am reminded of the quote by Mark Twain: “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

    There is no “killing” of beer occurring today. In fact the opposite: there are more types of beer available to me today than ever. More than I can buy and drink. Today is a GREAT time to be alive as a beer drinker.

    Let the good times roll.:slight_smile:

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  30. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (2,884) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Premium Trader

    It's hilarious and becoming somewhat of a pet peeve of mine when people complain about milkshake beers, assuming they've dominated the entire nation's beer culture.

    For the record, Kansas City does not have anybody producing milkshake beers, nor do we have them sitting on our shelves. In fact, we only recently (within the past year) got NE IPAs with more regularity than twice a year. The only triple fruited IPA I can think of landed on our shelves from New York and seems to be one and done. Pastry stouts are a rarity around here, save for a handful of distro'd beers. I can walk into a craft establishment and order a craft lager and follow it up with a hefeweizen followed by a DIPA.

    In conclusion, I think the beer culture in my area is fine. Don't get caught on the things you don't like. There are thousands of breweries out there, some one has b
    #30 Harrison8, Jun 21, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2018
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    BIGPOPPAS Disciple (336) Aug 5, 2016 New Jersey


    Couldn’t agree more .. There are so many great choices in so many styles that it’s hard to make a decision most days when reloading ..
    Sadly though I think with so many options , there will be some brews that will fade out unless the craft culture continues to boom , because there will be some shelf sitters just like in the food industry .

    If distro also continues to grow with some breweries then that will add even more options . My bankroll runs out before the beer options in my area .

    Cheers !!
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  32. ypsifly

    ypsifly Meyvn (1,029) Sep 22, 2004 Michigan

    In the 90s people were griping about fruity beers, today people are griping about haze/pastry/sparkles...etc. Only difference is now everybody has a voice on the internet so the discourse is a little louder. Somebody will always be drinking, brewing or celebrating something you don't like, and the beat goes on.....
  33. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,246) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado

    For better or worse, there are quite a few people drinking beer now that don't actually like "beer flavored beer." I don't know if that's good or bad, but it does seem to offer growth opportunities where they previously didn't exist. It does make me wonder if we'll look back on this era like wine drinkers look back on the Bartles & Jaymes era of the 1980's.
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  34. champ103

    champ103 Poo-Bah (4,329) Sep 3, 2007 Texas

    I love Holler for pretty much all those reasons, I am assuming thats who you are talking about :slight_smile:

    I am really enjoying the new Gently IPA and Saison they have.
    donspublic likes this.
  35. Kraz

    Kraz Initiate (83) Feb 12, 2018 Indiana

    The difference is the market is different. It is a much broader market now. My significant other who never cared for beers now drinks quite a few thanks to the approachability of juice bombs and pastry stouts. There are more people drinking beer now more than ever, and to get your share of that market you make things that don't sound like beer. Then us beer people will find what we like and stick to it while everyone else is waiting for the next can release. It is fine, it is evolution and progress. There will always be good lagers and pilsners and west coast IPAs out there. It's ok
    islay likes this.
  36. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (2,451) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Premium Trader

    Cue the NEIIPA, NEIPA and Sour IPA aren't actually styles responses :stuck_out_tongue:
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  37. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Champion (834) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    Speaking as an old fart I agree. I've been drinking beer since before many posters here were born. This is a golden age for beer no doubt about it.
  38. EvenMoreJesus

    EvenMoreJesus Champion (866) Jun 8, 2017 Pennsylvania
    Premium Trader

    Here's the issue. "Beer Culture" and "Beer Availability/Diversity" are two, very different things.

    There is no question that great beer is more available that it used to be. It is, literally, everywhere.

    Although I believe that diversity is suffering, the overall amount of beer produced and the amount of breweries producing that beer is increasing, so you get more people doing more different things, like great lagers, than you did before, even though overall diversity is waning.

    Beer culture, on the other hand, is horrible. Most people don't want to learn about beer any more. They just want to stand in line for cans of hazy NEIPAs and drink at the new neighborhood brewery with their friends and their friends dogs and/or kids. Both of those things will lose their shine in rather short order, so although it might seem like craft beer culture is growing, it's not. More breweries don't mean better culture. More breweries just means more breweries.

    The lack of interest in craft beer by the average craft beer consumer coupled with waning diversity are things that I believe will hurt craft beer in the long run. Like Ragnarok, it has already started.
  39. hoptualBrew

    hoptualBrew Zealot (586) May 29, 2011 Florida

    Great responses. Perhaps it is regional. And perhaps social media is misleading. A lot of positive feedback here, cheers.
  40. AZBeerDude72

    AZBeerDude72 Meyvn (1,388) Jun 10, 2016 Arizona
    Premium Trader

    Interesting you mention cost. I was just looking at one of my local guys who has been booming. They just lowered their costs on 4 packs, their flagship IPA is now $14 a four pack down from $18-20. Their DIPA 4 packs were running $22-20 a 4 pack now $18. And their new offerings are coming out around $14.
    I think we may be seeing the beginning of pricing wars, with so much beer out and its cheaper and cheaper the hot breweries are being forced to now play ball or maybe lose sales. Curious if this starts to happen all over country. Would love to hear from others if they are seeing cost reduction anywhere?