Jim Koch Weighs in on Hop-Bombs

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by AlcahueteJ, Apr 25, 2013.

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  1. dan027

    dan027 Initiate (0) Mar 28, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Yeah, like I said, I understand people being a bit turned off by it BUT I love IPA's, they're probably my favorite style. I drink plenty of them and I think Sam Adams IPA lineup is pretty unimpressive but even if Sam Koch thinks IPA's are garabage and have no place in the beer world (which I don't think he's saying btw) it's only his opinion and I could care less. I certainly don't feel like he's taking a shot at me, but now this is only my opinion and I certainly understand if it's not shared by everyone or anyone for that matter. Basically I just think we all need to lighten up and drink a beer!
    TongoRad likes this.
  2. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Defender (662) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    I'm beginning to think there's 3 subsets of beer drinkers.

    Those that love hops (specifically fruit flavors)

    Those that love hops and beer

    Those that love adjunct lagers (specifically light lagers)
  3. wobblepop

    wobblepop Initiate (0) Nov 16, 2008 Colorado

  4. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,035) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    Been feeling like there's a shortage?
    yemenmocha, Norica and steveh like this.
  5. Stevicus

    Stevicus Initiate (126) Jul 1, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    That sounds like the least advocacy of beer ever. Ban that MF.
  6. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,972) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    There it is -- lack of respect of the IPA becomes anti-beer advocacy. I hang my head.

    Uh, not! :grinning:
  7. Premo88

    Premo88 Meyvn (1,492) Jun 6, 2010 Texas

    I don't know Koch's full history, so I can't speak on his true role in all this ... but I fully agree with the idea that America's hop craze has gone well past its peak. Even I can see that, and I'm joining this party waaay late.

    Seriously ... how hard is it to throw hops into the vat until the beer comes out 80-plus IBUs and tastes like a hop salad? There doesn't seem to be much art in that.

    And it's hilarious to me reading some of the reviews of these American IPA/DIPAs that taste like a pine cone , because some reviewers are somehow finding "balance" in them? WHERE?!? You drink some of these things and start to sprout leaves and pee green you've got so much hops in you, but there's balance involved?

    Karbach's Rodeo Clown and Stone's Arrogant Bastard offer some cool versions of a more balanced hoppy beer. I'd love to see more American craft brewers shoot for brews like those ... put some damn malt in there, for crying out loud!
    M1k3y, riemster, dan027 and 2 others like this.
  8. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,316) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    It would not measure 300 IBU. Sorry.
  9. GuzzLah

    GuzzLah Initiate (0) Mar 2, 2013 Illinois

    Captain Obvious to the rescue!

  10. kdb150

    kdb150 Devotee (485) Mar 8, 2012 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    And I've had most of those. They lack complexity. The style almost by definition lacks complexity as it is meant to be all hops, all the time. Which is fine as far as it goes, and I certainly enjoy and appreciate a well-made IIPA. But as a homebrewer, I can see why a brewer would get annoyed at the fact that you can get all the accolades simply by throwing a bunch of hops into the brew kettle.
    Premo88 and dan027 like this.
  11. Stevicus

    Stevicus Initiate (126) Jul 1, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    Not you dude, Koch. If a regular BA made that statement, the freeze would be on.
  12. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,316) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    My sarcasm detector is broken.
  13. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poo-Bah (2,459) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    +1 to Koch's comments & thanks to OP for sharing them.

    I've made similar/related points in the last decade using a spicy food analogy. It's one thing to have an appreciation of authentic spicy ethnic cuisine - Indian, Thai, Korean, etc. - at the serious heat levels that the best chefs can sometimes make (very hot by American standards). But then there's the insane hot sauces with sophomoric names like sphincter screamer, suicide this or that, or whatever. That's sort of what we have as a trend in craft beer - a bunch of sphincter screamers going around and having an excessively vocal & influential role in moving craft beer towards extremes & other novelties.
  14. CassinoNorth

    CassinoNorth Disciple (304) Apr 5, 2013 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Koch has a point, for sure. Though there are some hop bombs that have balance. Heady and Palate Wrecker don't kill me with bitterness. Terrapin Hopzilla was absolutely terrible IMO though...totally boozy and bitter.

    I do respect the art of a well balanced IPA such as Lunch.
  15. Errto

    Errto Initiate (0) Oct 20, 2009 Connecticut

    Come down to Connecticut next winter and try this:


    It'll change your life.
  16. krl2112

    krl2112 Crusader (732) Nov 10, 2012 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Agreed. Utopias and triple bock. I agree about hop bombs in general but not about Heady. I am not a hop enthusiast for the most part but to me, Heady is amazing. Just my opinion
  17. aljordan

    aljordan Initiate (136) May 2, 2006 Indiana
    Beer Trader

    The real trick is making a 100+ IU beer that people taste and are suprised. Fat Heads Head Hunter comes to mind.
    HopCraverDave likes this.
  18. djsmith1174

    djsmith1174 Disciple (343) Aug 21, 2005 Minnesota

    I read an article on the extreme Scoville units hot sauces. There's some synthesized hot sauce out there with over 10 million. Come on, an habenero is hot. A Bhut Jolokai is crazy hot...beyond that is pretty much just bragging rights. I'm not sure I would be able to tell the difference. Anything claiming over 100 IBUs is approaching the same type of marketing. I have to agree with Jim, there are way too many IPAs on the market that are less than remarkable. Obviously, there are still some really great ones too. But it is often more difficult to see the flaws in the ones that are subpar than, for instance, a well done lager. I for one would hate to see mediocrity become the common thread for brewers entering the market, so I understand the position. I really didn't read it as being douchey, but rather just having an opinion. I can respect that.
    yemenmocha likes this.
  19. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Defender (662) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    No problem! I read the article and searched the forums, didn't see this posted yet. I figured it would be a hot topic. Combine the most recognized face in craft beer with the most popular style...there's bound to be some discussion.

    I was curious about your take on the article. But I knew I'd hear from you in this thread, it's about Sam Adams.
    yemenmocha likes this.
  20. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,065) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Supporter Beer Trader

    Hop focused does not = lack of complexity. The best ones certainly have complexity, and will surprise you with hidden nuances after a few glasses. As do the best Helles, or the best Hefeweizens, and on and on. Do not confuse complexity with multiplicity, which so many people here tend to do (as well as overrate those that do have a myriad of flavors yet ultimately lack cohesion).

    This is where I think Koch's comments got gratuitous- when he started on the whole 'no surprises' aspect, supposedly in terms of American IPAs. He seems to ignore that those same hollow statements tend to be thrown at other subtler styles by 'beer geeks' all the time. Not much understanding shown in either case.
  21. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,248) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Agreed. And in tracking the discussion its also quite interesting to see how many folks there are who feel defensive and as if they are being personally attacked by the general comments attributed to Koch.
    dan027, yemenmocha and steveh like this.
  22. steveh

    steveh Poo-Bah (1,972) Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Oh, in that case -- let Jim hang his head.

    Uh, not! :grinning:
  23. nc41

    nc41 Meyvn (1,493) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    Interesting and being great are two separate things. He lost me when he cracked on Islay Whiskey's and the peaty smoky, oily greatness that is Lagavulin or Laphroaig, some of the greatest whiskey's come from Islay. IPA's are incredibly diverse, Pliny doesn't taste anything like HT, and both are great DIPA's. He made his money on Boston lagers so you can see where his heart lies.
  24. cartoonshop

    cartoonshop Initiate (0) Jun 6, 2011 Rhode Island

    this is how i visualized the article.

    koch is a fat chick, who is telling you," you know, skinny girls arent that great. she'll be fat someday too.at least i have a great personality"

    heady topper is a bitchy brazilian model, who isnt smart and cant hold a conversation, but i'd pick her EVERYTIME against blubbo.

    i give no shits about complexity,balance. i like beer that tastes good.koch sounds like an old man who cant adapt to a new market. "you kids and your rock and roll music!" **shakes fist*
    Jeslaw94 likes this.
  25. Stephen_M

    Stephen_M Initiate (0) Dec 19, 2012 Massachusetts

    I don't think he is saying hop-bombs or extreme beers are bad. I think what he was getting at is that making an extreme beer for the sake of making an extreme beer is bad. As he said, there are 100 GREAT 80+ IBUs but there are 500 to 1k on the market. He is arguing that what makes a great DIPA is balance and not just throwing hops in so you can say your's is the hopiest.
    Shaun Hill said something similar in his Vanity Fair interview
    " we’re not trying to slap people across the face with flavor and intensity. Just make succinct, enjoyable beer. People will walk into our shop and be like, “I don’t like hoppy beer,” and we’ll say, “Well, what don’t you like about hoppy beer?” And they will invariably respond, “It’s aggressive and too bitter,” and we’ll say, “Have you had our hoppy beer?” So we’ll give them some, and they’ll be like, “Oh my God, I didn’t know that hops and beer could taste like this! It’s so flavorful and feels so good in my mouth.” "

    I think that is what he is getting at.
    either that or "OMG SHAUN HILL HATES HOPS!!!!":grinning:
    dan027 and MugOfGoodness like this.
  26. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,248) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    In other words the discussion is about where we draw the line for "most." You say the glass is partly full, Koch and others say the glass is mostly empty. Now all we have to do is agre on the how many beers "most" or "the best" represent.
  27. BoneyardBrewer

    BoneyardBrewer Initiate (105) Apr 24, 2005 Michigan

    Koch said, "They're big IPAs. There's 100 of them. Are they new or interesting? Not really. I mean they're good, but there's nothing I'm going to learn from tasting that. There's not a huge set of skills to make an 80-IBU beer."

    Judging the IPA's produced by Sam Adams I would say you have a lot to learn when it comes to making them.

    There's probably 100 really good 80-IBU IPAs, and there's probably 500 or 1,000 that are out there. It's not that they're bad.

    And yours would fall in that 500-1000 range.
  28. EdH

    EdH Initiate (0) Jul 27, 2005 Utah

    I haven't read the whole thread--I just want to place a bet that there'll be a Sam Adams DIPA within a year.
  29. joeebbs

    joeebbs Initiate (0) Apr 29, 2009 Pennsylvania

    I think a lot of people are missing this great part from all this:

    "I think you go through stages as a beer drinker. And there is an early stage where you want the hoppiest stage that you can get. ... But you get through that stage, and then you're looking at the real fundamentals of quality, which to me is not just a lot of flavor but is balance, and complexity and harmony. That's kind of where I am. Let me see what flavors they put in there and how they came together. Because that I'll learn from."

    I am at that point in my beer drinking career. Sure, I will buy a KBS or a Hopslam when it comes out. But I look forward to having more of the "to-style" beers more-so than the "how many ABVs can we get this up to" or "we made a Yam beer" styles that are out there.

    A lot of the comments here seem to be all about "I LOVE MY HOPS AND YOU CAN'T TAKE THEM AWAY FROM ME." Don't worry you'll still have your hops. But you're missing out on a lot of great beer if that's all you want to drink. And if you that's what you enjoy than so be it. But it's as narrow-minded of beer drinking as only drinking Miller Lite because it's the only thing you like.
  30. flyingtoaster

    flyingtoaster Initiate (0) Jun 24, 2007 California

    Boston Beer Company generally responds to what consumers want, but I think a lot of diehard craft fans prefer brewers who instead create desire by brewing beers that they like, without concern for volume sales or public opinion. Sam Adams does indeed have Utopias and their homebrew collection, but they are otherwise the McDonalds of craft. And if the top chef of McDonalds took Koch's tone about fast food, I would be the first to say, "Hey, wait!"
  31. BMitch

    BMitch Initiate (170) Jul 10, 2012 Virginia
    Beer Trader

    The amount of snobbery displayed in this thread is ridiculous.
    dan027, StarRanger, kingofhop and 3 others like this.
  32. MugOfGoodness

    MugOfGoodness Initiate (57) Dec 12, 2006 New Hampshire
    Beer Trader

    There is a double IPA from Sam Adams - its the Third Voyage - its 85 IBU and sells in a bomber-esque bottle (1 pt 6 oz) and its decent - Cascade and Simcoe.

    But its no Heady Topper or Lawsons or Alchemist - all those cats are in the bucket he labels:

    "There's probably 100 really good 80-IBU IPAs"

    So something else in Boston or nearby has irked the king of craft beer - I would bet Sam Adams has a tasting panel - Jim attends, they round up a batch of beers at the local Boston package store and taste away.

    Jim probably had some hop bombs that weren't balanced and he's looking beyond the good IIPA and at the bad IIPA without calling out breweries (which is classy) by saying they aren't "really good" so they aren't necessarily bad - they just aren't cream of the crop which is normal in any market.

    Some products are better than other products - right?

    5 pages of responses to Boston.com / Globe material that didn't make the cut for the print edition - I would think its touched a hoppy nerve!
    dan027, yemenmocha and joeebbs like this.
  33. fox227

    fox227 Initiate (0) Nov 19, 2010 California

    I live in San Diego County and I'm pretty sure that hoppy beers give people pleasure down here! I know it works for me. Whenever I try out a new brewery, I look for their IPA first.
    BMitch likes this.
  34. kdb150

    kdb150 Devotee (485) Mar 8, 2012 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    I agree that hop focused does not necessarily equate to a lack of complexity. My point is that most of the highly rated IPAs and American double IPAs I've had do. There isn't much subtle or nuanced about a heavily hopped beer, and I daresay that if you are noticing things after a few glasses of a DIPA, it might be the alcohol doing the thinking for you :wink:

    Complexity isn't, "Oh, I can taste floral, citrus, and pine notes from the hops!" Complexity involves flavors which unfold throughout a sip. A beer that tastes different on the front, middle, back, and sides of the tongue, and then brings more to the party after it's gone. That is non-existent in every IIPA I've had not named Heady Topper, and that is NOT simply because the beer is heavily hopped. Many an American barleywine and RIS are heavily hopped, but they bring a lot more to the experience because the brewer is trying to express other flavors as well.
  35. Longstaff

    Longstaff Initiate (0) May 23, 2002 Massachusetts

    I guess most in this thread havn't been around craft beer long enough to drink/remember SA Hallertauer Imperial Pils - a real hop bomb that could stand up to some of the hop bombs of today - especially the pilot brew and the first year's release. I find the comments Jim made odd considering how excited (to the point of near giddiness) he was about this beer when I sampled some with him at the brewery in JP. He was so into it that after he finished his sample, he grabbed mine out of my hand, stuck his nose into it, took a big swig and then spouted out descriptors for the next minute. Don't let him kid you, this guy loves his hops - unless he's "evolved" since then:rolling_eyes: .

    But I get what the point he is trying to make about the brewers art and flavors coming together - a concept that is somewhat lost amongst the big flavor beers being brewed today that are no more than the sum of their parts. Some brewers get it, not too many beer geeks though - at least from those who have always that have come to the party in the last 5+ years or so.
    caskstrength and AlcahueteJ like this.
  36. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,113) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    You asked a question. I am not sure whether it was rhetorical or not: “Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen is in there, how come hefeweizens aren't dominating the ratings?”

    The answer to that question is that most BAs prefer BIG, BOLD Beers: IPAs, DIPAs, Imperial Stouts, Barrel Aged Big Beers, Strong Belgian Ales (e.g., Quads, etc.), etc.

    I personally think that a fresh Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen is truly a beer of beauty! Having stated that, I think that Heady Topper is absolutely awesome. I also really enjoy drinking Russian Imperial Stouts (Old Rasputin, Storm King, BCS, etc.) and Quads (Rochefort 10, St. Bernardus Abt 12, etc.) and on and on.

    I homebrew a number of beers that are subtle by BA standards: Kolsch, Wit, Bitter Ale, Pilsners, etc. I suppose I am not a stereotypical BA since I like both BIG, BOLD beers and beers that have “balance, and complexity and harmony”.

  37. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,113) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Michael, I think that LambicPentameter did a pretty good job in his post highlighting some of the controversial comment that Jim Koch stated in the interview (I highlighted a few in bold for emphasis):

    “In reading Jim Koch's comments, I think there is a lot to reasonably criticize. While he does say some things that I agree with and are generally harmless (For example "At the end of the day the purpose of the brewer's art is to make beers that give people pleasure."), he couches that amidst comments like these:

    "They're big IPAs. There's 100 of them. Are they new or interesting? Not really."

    "There's not a huge set of skills to make an 80-IBU beer."

    "It's not that they're bad. It's like drinking Bud or Miller or Coors"

    "If you're surprised, it's generally a bad surprise"

    "and then you're looking at the real fundamentals of quality, which to me is not just a lot of flavor but is balance, and complexity and harmony"

    "There's a real purpose of the brewer's art, which is not to make strange, exotic, extreme."

    Jim Koch did not do himself any favors by implying that anybody can make a ‘good’ 80-IBU beer. Also comparing the hoppy beers to “drinking Bud or Miller or Coors” is inappropriate. I can also expound on the hypocrisy of the statement about brewing “strange, exotic, …” but why bother.

    I am uncertain whether Jim Koch made these statements purposefully to generate controversy or maybe he just wasn’t thinking things through?

    All that I can say with certitude is that controversy has ensued.

    I wonder if Jim Koch would like to take back some of those statements now?

    TongoRad likes this.
  38. reverseapachemaster

    reverseapachemaster Aspirant (244) Sep 21, 2012 Texas
    Beer Trader

    There's some truth to his comments but he always seems to muddle a good point with his douchey attitude and desire to market his products 100% of the time. He's right, there are lots of craft drinkers out there who only appreciate the biggest beer and confuse balanced and even delicate beers with being bland because all they have trained themselves to taste is whatever flavor is undeniable in the beer. It's unfortunate because a lot of well made beers/breweries get overlooked because they aren't trying to make another IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIPA or barrel aged stout. Craft brewing has always been about taking beer to the next extreme step. It's a thirty year old trend. There was a time when Boston Lager was a really out there beer for many people. His point would be a lot more valid, related to his personal opinion on the subject, if the QC on his products was still solid and he wasn't out there making an increasingly larger profile of beers with an extreme slant, like Utopia, the New World series and whatever those four packs of big beers are.
  39. WeymouthMike

    WeymouthMike Devotee (455) Jun 22, 2004 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    I like drinking hop bombs including Heady Topper from my Sam Adams perfect pint glass,does that make me a rebel?
  40. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,113) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    You should be drinking the Heady Topper from the can, like it says on the can!:wink:

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