Are we spoiled in 2019?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Beer_Stan, May 23, 2019.

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  1. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (3,661) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Moderator Society Trader

    What are you, a lawyer, with that kind of answer? :wink:


    Here in Chicago(land) where I live, yes, I am spoiled. The array of styles available, variety of distribution, and quality of options can stand with any region in the US. However, I travel a lot for work, and I can safely say that there are other regions where the variety, quality and freshness are very lacking ... So I feel that the level of "spoiled" varies greatly depending on the region.

    However I do think there is a tendency to conflate variety/quantity with quality. Give me one well made beer of any style over 4 poorly made examples anyday. (or whats more common today, 8 beers that are exactly the same other than a slight tweaking to the % of hops used ... )
     
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  2. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,190) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Trader

    I went beer shopping two days ago.

    My first stop was a beer store. Of the bottles I looked at, a majority of them were 3 years old and I put them back. I felt very lucky finding a 6 pack of a nice US craft lager from this year. It had no price on it. I brought that 6 pack to the register. They rang me up and the bill was $16. I have the feeling that some of those new 6 packs will still be in that store 3 years down the road as well. I certainly did not feel spoiled as I returned to the car with my beer.

    My second stop was a grocery store. Along with the food I was picking up, I was able to purchase a 6 pack of Hofbrau Original that was bottled this year for $10. When I got home and was putting the food away, I thought about how the Hofbrau bottles were now brown glass and I felt very fortunate.
     
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  3. Joe13

    Joe13 Initiate (37) Aug 7, 2018 New Jersey

    I'd just like to see MORE breweries brewing different styles. I'm sort of tired of breweries releasing a new rendition of the same 5 NEIPAs they released the week prior with maybe just a different hop added. Don't get me wrong, I do love these sugar bombs sometimes, a good IPA can be great. But with so many different styles out there why not give variety? I'm not big into trading, so its not always easy to find certain things locally.
    Beer isn't like wine, where a winery grows maybe just Pinot Noir grapes due to their terrior or because their vines are 100 years old. They certainly aren't going to plant new vines every year.
    A good brewer should know how to brew a multitude of styles. Just like a good cook knows how to cook different cuisines. But then again it comes down to the consumer. People are buying, and brewers are providing. So maybe its us? Or are we just settling with what we have?
     
  4. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,190) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Trader

    I look at it a different way. Both dishes involve cooking a bird, but I don't have a real need to eat at a restaurant that can make a good Peking duck and turkey mole poblano. I'd rather visit a restaurant that specializes in making an excellent version of one of those dishes and doesn't bother with the other.
     
  5. Joe13

    Joe13 Initiate (37) Aug 7, 2018 New Jersey

    Touché
     
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  6. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,190) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    But I should add that I'd clearly prefer the specialist if I had options to get the other cuisine elsewhere... but the preference between a specialist and a jack-of-all-trades is less easy to determine if your options are very limited.
     
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  7. Izzy_Izumi

    Izzy_Izumi Initiate (132) Aug 3, 2017 California
    Trader

    Yes, we live in a comedy of choice. There's so many around me that make such good beer that "spoiled" may be understating it. In fact, there are breweries I go to for ONE drink. And there are some that, by all accounts, make good to great beer...but never go to.
     
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  8. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,417) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    Let's see, we are sitting here probably dodging work by using our pocket super computers to debate whether having more and better beer widely available constitutes us being spoiled...I'm going with yes
    I do understand the burnout on the hype machine styles and the vocal/visible cultural domination they exert. But even if you just look at Bells, SN, ommegang, all of us can probably get some or all of those brands and their portfolios represent at least a dozen styles all well made and by no means just hops and pastry stouts
     
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  9. Izzy_Izumi

    Izzy_Izumi Initiate (132) Aug 3, 2017 California
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    Phone? I'm on the work PC.
     
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  10. AZBeerDude72

    AZBeerDude72 Poo-Bah (2,124) Jun 10, 2016 Arizona
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    LOL nice!

    Same here
     
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  11. Joe13

    Joe13 Initiate (37) Aug 7, 2018 New Jersey

    Same.
     
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  12. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (3,661) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Moderator Society Trader

    PC? Cant relate ... I'm on a Mac. :stuck_out_tongue:
     
  13. thesherrybomber

    thesherrybomber Devotee (405) Jun 13, 2017 California
    Society Trader

    Sheesh, the only place I can get Hofbrau around here are Total Wine and BevMo!
     
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  14. rozzom

    rozzom Champion (878) Jan 22, 2011 New York
    Trader

    For sure you're totally right - but to OP's question of specifically being spoiled in 2019 (vs just having some level of access), do you think you are as spoiled / more spoiled when it comes to non-trend breweries/styles as you were in say, 2013? Anecdotal and possibly not representative of the entire country, but in NYC we're definitely not.

    Obviously the broader question of being spoiled - looking at all beers/styles/breweries - is up for debate, and most people on here are going to argue that we are at peak spoilage (no pun about "shelf" beer intended).
     
  15. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (7,219) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Society Trader

    We are sure reaping the benefits of having so many beers/styles available to us but another factor is the benefit that the communities receive by having breweries in town. So much goodwill!! Prost to the Brewers!
     
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  16. denver10

    denver10 Poo-Bah (2,938) Nov 17, 2010 New Mexico
    Society

    Having never been to either country, I wouldn't know. But if we are not than that to me is a testament to the greatness of the German and Belgian beer culture and does not take away anything from how great I have it here in little ol' Albuquerque.
     
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  17. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (11,567) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
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    @guinness77 is completely correct! There are so many new beers released each year now that even if you drank six new beers a day you'd only be scratching the surface!
     
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  18. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (2,995) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
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    Similar to @zid, I just went to my beer store at lunch and picked up a mixed sixer...sticker shock of $27. Only 1 beer was a BA beer as well which I expected to be expensive (new Founders Imperial Gose). 2 16oz cans of a couple local IPAs and pale ale....$7.99 each.

    So no I don't feel spoiled, I feel robbed on the current pricing for locals. These are generally pretty good IPAs from this particular local, but its far from top tier IPA makers. Other beers were pretty cheap, Flying Dog for $2 and something else for like $2-$3 a can. Granted 3 16oz cans technically gives me a 7th beer in theory but still...my avg. mixed sixers between 2010-2017 were usually around $15-$18...closer to $18 if I grabbed a high ABV or Barrel aged 12oz'er.
     
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  19. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (11,567) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
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    @nc41, I'm going to put this on a t-shirt: "I haven’t a clue here, it’s great and it’s a fucking mess all in one stroke"
     
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  20. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (11,567) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
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    One issue with this is yeast management. It'd be great for a brewery to brew English ales, Belgian styles, American everything, and German hefeweizens and lagers but... that all requires different yeasts and it's not often possible, financially, in a small brewery to be able to handle all of those different yeasts.
     
  21. Joe13

    Joe13 Initiate (37) Aug 7, 2018 New Jersey

    Just go the Rogue route and throw in some of your brewers beard hair
     
  22. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (11,567) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
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    Belgium used to be known for the number of different beers they had available but the United States has left them in the dust. We now have so many more breweries than they do that it seems impossible they could ever catch up. I'm not saying that in a good or bad way, I'm not rooting for either country, but for now it's a fact.

    As for Germany, I recently traveled to Bamberg / Franconia because they have so many breweries in such a small area. It was great, and they had great beers, and many different styles available. Today I have just as many breweries within driving distance from my home and even more styles to choose from. I'll never pooh-pooh Franconia but damned if we aren't caught up.
     
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  23. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,190) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Trader

    I had to look that up:
    That might be tasty, but if it's a Gose then we are not as spoiled as we think we are. :slight_smile:
     
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  24. rozzom

    rozzom Champion (878) Jan 22, 2011 New York
    Trader

    "Have we hit rock bottom in 2019?"
     
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  25. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,428) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
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    Ha, you’ll have people wondering.
     
    #65 nc41, May 24, 2019
    Last edited: May 24, 2019
  26. guinness77

    guinness77 Meyvn (1,420) Jan 6, 2014 New York

    We could all complain about how much we spend on beer but almost none of us can complain at the choices we now have. I used to think spending $4 on a Sam Smith or a half liter Schneider bottle was a lot, now that’s peanuts.

    The only difference was the shop used to be a shelf, maybe two shelfs, long. Now the store is bursting to the brim with all sorts of beer.

    The price thing is what you make out of it. I live in a pretty expensive place...a mix-6 for $27, is expensive. You could always buy cheaper beer. There are a lot of breweries like Otter Creek, Jack’s Abby, Sierra Nevada, etc doing 12-packs or 15-packs for less than $20 and the beer is good. What I guess I’m getting at us that there are numerous options much more affordable than $27 at your disposal and the beer is still good.
     
  27. thesherrybomber

    thesherrybomber Devotee (405) Jun 13, 2017 California
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    Well... I didn't mean in terms of number of breweries alone, though I do think its one sign of a mature culture. Its more... Belgium is known for Trappist ales, unconventional ingredients and methods, Germany beer gardens, lagering, purity laws, England, cask ale, pubs. How about US? How many styles or specific expressions from breweries are considered IT, the last word, and have kept that status for decades? Or is it unfair to compare to countries that have had such a head start? Are we like "everyone else", ie Japan, New Zealand, Brazil? No disrespect to them, but a lot of the most important innovations happened long ago.
     
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  28. rozzom

    rozzom Champion (878) Jan 22, 2011 New York
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    I guess number of breweries is fair enough. But in any other respect I don’t think any one country can be said to leave any other in the dust. I’ve never really viewed it as a competition. All of the countries being discussed have something that is unique/additive to the overall global beer scene.
     
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  29. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (11,567) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
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    Ahhh, I was going to touch on that but didn't want to make my response too long. Yes, there's a certain amount of style and charm and integrity that the US seems to be lacking in. A lot of that has to do with history (there are small breweries in Germany that still use wood-fired kettles!), and a lot of it has to do with our disregard for history (everything new is better, right?). But to a certain extent that's actually what puts us ahead because we just do it whereas others seem to hold back.
    What I can say is this, beyond not having a solid culture or tradition in the US we are still on par with Belgium/Germany/England and we're ahead of Spain/Italy/France/Ireland. I've never been to Japan, etc. We have many styles that are now ours (Steam beer, cream ale, black IPA, NEIPA, etc.), and I think that over time if things continue we will develop more of a beer culture and unique traditions, but for now the massive amount of choice IS the culture.
     
  30. ypsifly

    ypsifly Meyvn (1,077) Sep 22, 2004 Michigan

    I celebrate the old days when there were fewer beers on the shelves and even fewer assholes chasing them with no FB fueled FOMO and hype egging them along. I miss every brewery having at least one Brown, Porter or wheat based ale.

    Now get off my lawn!
     
  31. QuakeAttack

    QuakeAttack Zealot (550) Mar 19, 2012 California

    My initial reaction to the thread was "Hell yeah!". However, after reading your well thought-out post, I would still lean towards "Hell yeah". This is primarily from starting my beer drinking the early 80s and living through the microbeer boom/bust in the late 80s and early 90s. Even with the limitations that you mentioned (focus on limited styles), the quality and options compared to the past is still staggering. Also, I love old ale, stock ales, wee heavy and other malt forward styles. While harder to fine, they are still available (unlike in the 80s when you had to buy international beers).
     
  32. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (2,995) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
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    As far as freshness..I think it has been pretty static status/quo over last decade. I do think stores are more aware and trying to improve that, but the volume has increased substantially as well, so its kinda a wash IMO. FW beers were old on the shelves in 2010...people still complaining today in 2019 so nothing new there.

    # Options of beers and brewers have improved.

    Style options...I think overall probably more out there but you have to find them hiding between all of the IPAs. Need to be a pro beer shopper.

    Quality I believe has improved overall as well

    Availability, ease of acquiring has improved

    Price increases are horrible though especially for the newer local options (in my area)
     
  33. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (11,567) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    Regarding Belgium, my point was that they were known for the actual number of different beers they produced. It was in the hundreds. The US now introduces thousands of new brands each year. I'd call that leaving them in the dust. But I don't see it as a competition either, these are just the facts. You are correct, and I agree, that every country contributes something (and Belgium and Germany more than most), but the question was have we surpassed them, and to a certain extent the answer to that is yes. One final note, I'll just end with this, in my travels I've found that overall the smaller US breweries produce a better, more balanced and rounded product than the smaller breweries in France, Germany, Ireland, Austria, Italy, Spain, and England. It's not always the case, but in my opinion, for the most part it's true.
     
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  34. rozzom

    rozzom Champion (878) Jan 22, 2011 New York
    Trader

    I’d call that “the US makes more unique beers than Belgium” but I guess we’re both free to describe it how we want.


    (Must not bite, must not bite)

    Ok can you clarify what you mean there? Are you saying that (despite likely comparing completely different styles to each other) that US breweries just make better beer period? Or are you saying that their portfolios as a whole are more balanced and well-rounded in terms of selection?

    Either way - with all respect - it does sound like you’re making a case for “US is the best” despite claiming that you agree it’s not a competition. Obviously you’re entitled to. I guess (as a Brit who’s been living in NYC for 11 years, who has travelled to all the same countries) I’ll agree to disagree on that front (on the need to rank; I’m not claiming the US is not the best but somewhere else is)
     
    #74 rozzom, May 24, 2019
    Last edited: May 24, 2019
  35. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Meyvn (1,417) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    I might be in an outlier area because we haven't kept up with the times but were ahead of the times 10 years ago. We have locally made Peters
    Porters, stouts that aren't imperial or BA, Vienna lager, dubbels, trippels, gruits, barleywine, and various mixed ferm ales. Our newest local brewery seems to be focused on traditional styles, especially lagers. We have a local that brews all kinds of uncommon styles including shwarzbier, steam beer, English milds, and various Weiss-es. And of course all sorts of IPAs. On top of that we get some distro from California and Oregon.

    Granted, I wouldnt call any of our locals truly world class but they are by and large solid and especially considering some of the styles they are better than anything that I've seen in this country and fresh
     
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  36. chitoryu12

    chitoryu12 Savant (953) Feb 2, 2009 Florida

    I definitely get it, despite being only 27. After over 360 reviews in a year and a half it becomes really obvious how many beers are identical or nearly identical to one another. I've had more than enough large bottles of bourbon barrel-aged stout to be tired of it and still have never found an IPA I liked.
     
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  37. rozzom

    rozzom Champion (878) Jan 22, 2011 New York
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    So you joined BA aged 17? Massive respect. Youngest BA ever (at the time)?
     
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  38. guinness77

    guinness77 Meyvn (1,420) Jan 6, 2014 New York

    I’ll add my last .02 to this thread....

    I do believe this is the Golden Age of Beer for this generation, in this country, I really do. I think the bubble is about to burst on a lot of shit in the beer world.

    How many more breweries can there possibly be? How much more product can the retailer really carry without having to dump more than half of it? How many more IPAs, and any kind of variety of IPAs, can really be made? How many more breweries can co-exist and actually not only sustain growth but turn a profit with all the competition around? What happens when breweries like Tired Hands, Tree House, Monkish, Other Half, etc have 10 years in the business and they’re not the cool kids in the neighborhood anymore? What happens if 20-year-olds want more cocktails, wine, and alcoholic club sodas, lemonades and the such (which is already happening)? What happens when people don’t want to spend $120 on a case of beer because “they’ve had it already?” What happens when AB, Coors, Miller, Heineken, Constellation, etc buy your “local?”

    There are a lot more questions I could ask and I could go on and on, but if you look at the world of beer in a vacuum, there’s nowhere to go but down at this point. Maybe that actually makes some of you happy, and I’d understand that. But, we are most definitely spoiled, so enjoy it while we still are.
     
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  39. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,190) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Trader

    If a brewer within driving distance of me made a beer I liked half as much as Schlenkerla Fastenbier it would be a miracle. :grin:

    Going by just the numbers and variety, I hope we've "surpassed" them. The shops by me with the best reputation and best variety are partially monuments to beer rather than places with tons of actual purchase options. They are filled with fridges of beer from 2011. They are wasting electricity keeping beer cold that is effectively a display rather than inventory. Maybe other countries are just as bad, but it would be nice to think that they don't suffer the same fate.
     
  40. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (11,567) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    "I haven’t a clue here, it’s great and it’s a fucking mess all in one stroke" applies to almost everything these days, and not just in the U.S.
     
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