Jim Koch Weighs in on Hop-Bombs

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

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  1. scootsmal

    scootsmal Initiate (0) Aug 15, 2012 New York

    I respect Jim Koch a ton, and to each his own. I will always hold SA beers since they were my bridge into this hobby. Their Double Agent IPL is tasty, and I will never pass up a Boston Lager or Summer Ale. However, Balance and Harmony only explain about half of their sampler packs. You usually get 2 or 3 good ones, and the other ones are ok at best. I think the IPA market is saturated and he doesnt want to spend the time to make something super unique, he will focus on the rest of the spectrum.
  2. KingforaDay

    KingforaDay Defender (665) Aug 5, 2010 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Very good points, Jim Koch knows more about beer than most of us will ever know. That doesn't mean what he is saying can't be criticized though. Whether he realizes it or not, it's insulting to tell people who like hoppy beers that its just a phase they are going through and that they will someday develop more sophisticated palates. Yea there are a lot of bad IPA's out there but there are a lot of bad beers in every style and some of them are brewed by BBC. And his quote about extreme beers is the most hypercritical thing i've heard. ("There's a real purpose of the brewer's art, which is not to make strange, exotic, extreme.") As Hanzo pointed out earlier, what beer is more extreme than Utopias?
  3. Groomsy

    Groomsy Initiate (0) Sep 23, 2010 Kentucky

    Oh heck, I'll put in my two cents.

    I definitely enjoy the IPA and DIPA styles, but I guess they're not "mainstays" for me, especially during this time year, when I'm usually drinking more pilsners and other lagers.

    I see where Koch is coming from and definitely respect his opinion on the matter; heck, it was through Boston Lager that I actually discovered hop flavors and bitterness. Had it not been for the spicy/floral hop aroma in Boston Lager, I probably wouldn't have had the curiosity to check other beers for similar characteristics.

    That being said, some people just like hoppy beers, and that's all there is to it. There's nothing in that that suggests an uneducated or underdeveloped palate. In actuality, I think it takes a certain palate to appreciate the mix of pine, citrus, and grapefruit flavors that tend to be full force in IPAs. It's definitely an acquired taste, and you experience different magnitudes of the bitterness and flavors as you try more beers in the IPA style.
    harrylee773 and BMitch like this.
  4. Providence

    Providence Initiate (0) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island

    I hear that. You make good point. However, keep in mind that Sam Adams got to "McDonald's territory" (in the craft beer world so to speak) because they were brewing beer they like, without concern of the volume of sales. It just so happens that the beer they liked, became a huge hit. McDonald's doesn't have a quality product. Anyone who understands food won't debate that. Sam Adams does have a quality product and while there are certainly some beer nerds that will disagree with that, it's not across the board, not even close. Cheers!
  5. RBassSFHOPit2ME

    RBassSFHOPit2ME Meyvn (1,126) Mar 1, 2009 California

    I'll bet Jim keeps telling his grandchildren that the music is too loud.
  6. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,331) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    Cool- it looks like we pretty much reach on the meaning of complexity, though I'd say that it comes into play after a glass or two- as you get used to one aspect there is another one to come to the fore, as you said. Sometimes it just means that the experience continues to be a pleasant one, not that there are all of a sudden new revelations. And, yeah, particularly with my faves (like Maximus and Ruination) there are definitely things I'm picking up after a few; that's why they tend to be my favorites, I suppose. In general, though, complexity is not something I have found lacking in the style (I do tend to define it rather broadly, though, considering the overlap between IPAs, strong ales, imperial ambers and the like).

    FWIW- one beer I no longer am fond of is Founders Daytime for just this type of reason- it ceases to be pleasant after my palate acclimates to the hops- kind of the opposite of what a session beer is supposed to do.
  7. GuzzLah

    GuzzLah Initiate (0) Mar 2, 2013 Illinois

    Things Jim says in the pilot brew tasting room:

    Needs even less Hallertau.
    Too much flavor, add some more water.
    Where's my Boston Lager?
  8. BuckeyeOne

    BuckeyeOne Zealot (524) Mar 9, 2008 Washington

    Haiku fail.
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  9. GuzzLah

    GuzzLah Initiate (0) Mar 2, 2013 Illinois

    Probably because it wasn't intended to be a Haiku. :stuck_out_tongue:
    BuckeyeOne likes this.
  10. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Crusader (717) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Just cracked my first Sunshine Pils of the season. Checked the ratings, 3.79.

    The 50th IPA in the American IPA category is a 4.25.

    This illustrates two things in my opinion.

    1) It is in fact easy to brew a good IPA, even easier to brew a double IPA (50th on that list is 4.31)
    2) A good lager won't be rated properly unless it is on the hoppier side (Prima Pils and Hoponious Union)
    harrylee773 likes this.
  11. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,494) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    Firstly, I should state that I am a fan of Troegs Sunshine Pils. It is one of my favorite German style Pilsners along with Sly Fox Pikeland Pils, Victory Pilsners (Prima Pils and their series of Braumeister Pils beers), Stoudt’s Pils, Neshaminy Creek Trauger Pils, etc. It may be of interest to know that Troegs Sunshine Pils has 45 IBUs so it is hopped to the same level as Sly Fox Pikeland Pils and is in the neighborhood of Prima Pils. One aspect of Sunshine Pils that I enjoy is the pleasant bready malt backbone which complements the hopping schedule (there goes that “balance, and complexity and harmony” thing again).

    Permit me to offer an alternative explanation of the numerical rating disparity between the 50th ranked IPA on BA and Troegs Sunshine Pils. I wouldn’t state that it is so much that it is ‘easy’ to brew an IPA but that BAs as a rule have a preference for BIG, BOLD beers and they rate accordingly. Pilsners as a rule are not a favored style of BAs so a beer like Sunshine Pils will not get as much ‘love’ as Supernaut IPA (the 50th ranked IPA).

    If you compare the No. 1 IPA (Fuzzy Baby Ducks IPA) with the No. 1 German style Pilsner (Tannenzäpfle) the numerical ratings are 4.52 vs. 4.09.


    P.S. I highly suspect that Tannenzäpfle has well less than 40 IBUs.
  12. YogiBeer

    YogiBeer Initiate (0) May 10, 2012 Illinois

    If you guys really think koch doesn't "have ths ability" to brew a world class iipa... then you're out of your MIND, and are detached from reality.
  13. BuckeyeOne

    BuckeyeOne Zealot (524) Mar 9, 2008 Washington

    But let me ask you:
    Why wasn't it a haiku?
    It's now all the rage.
    M1k3y likes this.
  14. sacrelicio

    sacrelicio Initiate (0) Feb 15, 2005 Minnesota

    I agree that if a beer sucks, I don't care how crazy or extreme or exotic it is.
  15. beertardis

    beertardis Initiate (0) Feb 12, 2012 Rhode Island

    i couldnt have said it better myself
  16. tiffanya

    tiffanya Initiate (97) Aug 14, 2006 Washington

    Yay BBC! See you there.
  17. HipsterBrewfus

    HipsterBrewfus Initiate (0) Jun 3, 2012 Maryland

    Are you following me around the interwebs, Lady :stuck_out_tongue:
  18. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poo-Bah (2,482) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    Was going to say something similar and you were far more polite that I. The rating disparity says little about how easy it is to brew a good IPA. The rating disparity says everything about the people here.
    fsvan, JimKal, dan027 and 1 other person like this.
  19. Jirin

    Jirin Aspirant (282) Apr 28, 2013 Massachusetts

    I'm not a fan of super-hoppy beers myself, but I have some beer drinking friends who love them, and they've been drinking beers a lot longer than I have.

    That's the big thing I don't get about this article.

    'And there is an early stage where you want the hoppiest stage that you can get.'

    In my experience, when people first start drinking beer (Like I did a year and a half ago), hoppy beers are way too strong for them. This idea that hoppy beers are something beginners like because it's cool is just plain wrong.
    LCB_Hostage and EdH like this.
  20. flyingtoaster

    flyingtoaster Initiate (0) Jun 24, 2007 California

    Except I wasn't there. I'm 28. I'm sure that back in 1986 they were doing the same thing that small breweries are doing now, just like Bud, Miller, and Coors were doing in upteen twenty-six.
  21. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poo-Bah (2,482) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    No, they weren't.

    It's not even a remote analogy here. BMC were all about reduced flavor beers, beers that were intended to be consumed by people who didn't really like the taste of beer all that much. Sam Adams has always brewed flavorful beers. There's just no analogy whatsoever to the McDonald's thing here. None.
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  22. SenorHops

    SenorHops Initiate (0) Aug 10, 2010 Rhode Island

    "It's like drinking Bud or Miller or Coors. You know what you're going to get, you're not going to be surprised. If you're surprised it's generally a bad surprise."

    Yeah, kinda like most BBC beers. Same exact malty sweet grain bill. Funny. It doesn't take skill? How many world class beers do you brew Mr. Koch? You're only a step above Bud, Miller and Coors. Keep pushing your Cherry Wheat and leave craft brewing to the brewers with more respect for the craft. What a pompous ass.
    davelag likes this.
  23. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Crusader (717) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    I disagree with some of this. Remember, he replaced the White Ale (a very popular style among the masses) with Noble Pils. In my opinion that's a risky move, but he made a beer that won over the every day beer drinker and craft beer drinker.
    harrylee773 likes this.
  24. SenorHops

    SenorHops Initiate (0) Aug 10, 2010 Rhode Island

    And he just doesn't because he doesn't "feel" like it. Hahahaha. Why do you think Latitude 48 is sooooo mediocre. Is Jim just teasing us with his super sweet IPA?
  25. ratbraz

    ratbraz Initiate (0) Jun 13, 2011 Pennsylvania

    He never said you shouldn't brew extreme beers. He just said that its a big trend and while many are good, most get repetitive. The majority of Sam Adams beers are well balanced.

    NAaWw MEeEN?
    harrylee773 likes this.
  26. BigJim5021

    BigJim5021 Zealot (594) Sep 2, 2007 Indiana
    Beer Trader

    The dude just hates hoppy brews. He definitely seems like a troll considering he uses a term as gag-inducing as "sheeple." However, there's someone out there with 2000+ reviews that I find to be far more insufferable. I won't name him (not that it would be hard to figure out who it is), but his rDevs are consistently on the negative side for just about everything and his reviews are just packed to the brim with wanking dismissive comments that paint him as the biggest snob imaginable. It just seems like a clear-cut attempt at being the ultimate contrarian solely to gain attention.
    gcamparone likes this.
  27. itsiilegal

    itsiilegal Initiate (0) Feb 13, 2013 California

    BBC can make insanely unique beers that rock. But really.. with what and who you have at your disposal you should be making better beer with better people everyday.
  28. IrishKevin

    IrishKevin Initiate (0) Apr 11, 2013 Massachusetts

    I am a liquor/wine/beer salesman, I was in a meeting Friday an the VP was saying how sweet wines like moscato are the entry to getting people into finer wines, then he mentioned that flavored whiskey s like JD honey get people into other better whiskeys. These more in your face flavors (sweet or hoppy) are more assessable to a wide variety of palettes.

    I tend to agree with JIm Koch and my VPs opinion based on my own experience. When I got into good beer about 12 years ago not many hop bombs were around, but Trappist beers were all the rage and I got swept up in it even traveled to Belgium. The malty sweetness of a nice double was easy to like. I then expanded into all different styles. For the record I still love a super hoppy beer once in a while, just not all the time
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  29. BigJim5021

    BigJim5021 Zealot (594) Sep 2, 2007 Indiana
    Beer Trader

    Like I said, I don't generally see the moscato drinkers graduating to anything else. Ditto white zin drinkers. The blend drinkers definitely have a tendency to branch out. As for the people getting into craft -- in my experiences -- I would say that 99% of the time they start out enjoying ambers, browns, porters and stouts before finally branching out into IPAs (though I still have far more craft customers that exclusively enjoy malty beers than flat-out hop heads).
  30. YogiBeer

    YogiBeer Initiate (0) May 10, 2012 Illinois

    Sweet... to you. Abrasive to some. Well balanced to many.
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  31. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,527) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    Because a Pils is harder to brew well than an IPA means exactly what? IPA's are not a passing fad, people buy them because they like them, and if your a brewer you need to notice the trend and supply the demand. SA IPA is ok, but it's not earth shaking, if he looks down on the brewers skill level in crafting IPA's beat them then.

    I have a guy I work with who's brewing DIPA's, first shot hit a Sucks clone, a few tweaks it could even be better. This stuff is only 4 days old and it's tremendous.
  32. YogiBeer

    YogiBeer Initiate (0) May 10, 2012 Illinois

    What if Koch's market ISNT crazed hophead tickers?
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  33. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,045) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    How's his Pils?
    AlcahueteJ likes this.
  34. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,527) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    He did make an IPA effort. He does spend a lot of resources creating brews that are out of the box kinda brews. I think he sees himself as a beer craftsmen, an artist, the IPA guys are just hacks loading up brews with mega hops to make a buck. But mediocre IPA's are just that mediocre, just because you can load them up with hops doesn't necessarily make them good. IMO there are more bad one's than good ones, top end brews like HT/Abrasive/Pliny just to pull out 3 names are tremendously interesting to drink, and they don't fry your palate and scorch them with hops. I like his lager, I think the Boston Ale was his best effort, I understand a little where he's coming from though, no right or wrong just his opinion.
  35. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Crusader (717) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Why does he have to make an earth shattering IPA? I'm pretty sure Boston Lager outsells everything but maybe Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (not counting seasonals). If I had to guess, IPAs are the best selling craft style because there are so many, not because any single IPA is outpacing Boston Lager.

    More sessionable beers are the ones selling in high volume, a 7% IPA doesn't fit the bill, especially if you need to consume them fresh. JessKidden can probably chime in on this, but I believe Victory Headwaters Pale Ale is their best selling beer. This would mean it sells more than Hopdevil, Hop Wallop, and the hoppier Prima Pils. Headwaters is balanced, drinkable, and only 5.1%

    I would say Koch would be better served trying to creat something like Headwaters than another IPA.
  36. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,527) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    I agree, I think Headwaters is Victory's best brew as well. SA IPA is just OK, is his goal to make a middle of the road IPA in a flooded market and a sea of average? I don't think so. If he offering it up just because everyone else does? I don't drink IPA's like Hop Devil anymore unless I go to a Phillies game, I've had too many great ones to go back to middle of the road stuff. Palate shift can be a frustrating thing, brews I used to love just don't work anymore. And guys who love IPA's don't worry about the sessionable aspect unless they're out and it's dangerous. I don't care much about ABV, if they made great Ipa's at 5% I'd be happy as hell, but the style makes it hard to counter hops with malt and get low ABV. I'm sure your right about market share as well, SA lager sells, a lot, probably as you say right behind SAPA, but if your heart and resources won't allow you to craft a great IPA why do it? Better to do one thing well than many that are average.
  37. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Crusader (717) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    I knew I had read this recently. Headwaters actually REPLACED Hopdevil as the best selling.

    "Similarly, a couple of years ago Vicory introduced their Headwaters Pale Ale which has become so popular that they swopped it into their variety case, replacing one of their other flagship beers. My local retail shop couldn't keep it in stock and it still is selling well. Indeed, the beer has beccome so popular that it is now Victory's best selling beer (replacing Hop Devil in that slot) and is one of the reasons they are opening a new production brewery to produce their year round flagship beers, which now include their Pale Ale. As a stop gap to keep up with the demand Victory suspended brewing of some of their most popular seasonals until they can bring the new brewery on line (e.g., Old Horizontal, St. Victorious, etc.)."
  38. jokemon

    jokemon Disciple (317) Apr 3, 2007 Illinois
    Beer Trader

  39. Uniobrew31

    Uniobrew31 Zealot (564) Jan 16, 2012 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Arrogant...yes. But I guess taking a small regional brewery started on a shoestring budget to a nationally respected brand could give anyone a bit of an overconfident/cocky view of their own opinion.
  40. ESHBG

    ESHBG Aspirant (252) Jul 30, 2011 Pennsylvania

    It's not hard for me to figure out why an SNPA or a Victory Headwaters sells so well: it is accessible to pretty much everyone. The hop heads still enjoy the flavor, the new to craft beer drinkers can get into them, they are session-able...it's a win all the way around. If it were up to me we would be seeing way more beers like this popping up: balanced but with an ever so slight nudge to the hoppier end of the scale.

    I understand where Koch is coming from and while I have really gotten into the hoppier beers over the years and as my palate has changed (I recently created a fridge full of IPAs and hoppier beers without even noticing! Tell me that my fridge would have one day looked like that even a year ago and I would have laughed and said, "Yeah right,") and there will always be a market for IPAs/DIPAs (and there SHOULD be a market for them), it does get annoying at times to go to a craft beer store or a brewery and see nothing but IPA this, IPA that. Also, as others have mentioned, there are a lot of terrible IPAs out there and while I would not purposely downplay anyone's brewing process because even the "worst beer" takes time and focus, it does seem to be a bit of a one trick pony anymore and not a terribly difficult style of beer to whip together.

    Times change and I do think the scale is tipping back towards more balanced and/or session-able brews. I would also like to see just a little more Lager love and every single time I drink a good Pils or Helles I wish there were a little more out there for me to try.
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