Style focus: diverse or narrow?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by MNAle, Feb 21, 2022.

  1. BigIronH

    BigIronH Oct 31, 2019 Michigan
    Society Trader

    Short answer: Diverse. It helps that most of the locals I purchase from do a wide array of styles fairly well for my taste. Cheers.
  2. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    My wife and I recently took a road trip down to visit friends in Florida. On the trip back we visited Asheville, NC and visited some breweries there; Asheville has an incredible number of breweries to visit.

    One of the breweries was Catawba and in the taproom they segregated their beers into categories:

    Lighter Styles: Craft Lagers, Cream Ales, Fruited Wheat Beers: - 5 brands right now

    Hop-Forward Styles: Pale Ales, IPAs, DIPAs – 7 brands right now

    Dark and Malty Styles: Ambers, Browns, Porters, Stouts – 7 brands right now

    Sour and Belgian Beers: Gose, Fruited Kettle Sours, Saisons, Abbey Styles – 4 brands right now

    I decided to do a flight: 4 small beers. I chose to try their House Lager (tasted like a Helles to me), Brown Ale, Schwarzbier, and CLT (an IPA). All of those beers were good – very good with the Schwarzbier being my preferred beer that day.

    Cheers to Catawba Brewing for providing a diversity of choices!

  3. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Aug 24, 2020 California

    IPAs (mostly hazy) and stouts (preferably barrel aged), followed by Scotch ale. I know that does not sound diverse, but consider the fact that I drink various (mostly red) wines and all kinds of distilled alcohol so my overall alcohol consumption is VERY diverse.
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  4. BigIronH

    BigIronH Oct 31, 2019 Michigan
    Society Trader

    That’s probably the most diverse tap list I’ve personally ever seen.
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  5. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    In contrast after visiting Catawba we went to Burial Brewing for a beer and that brewery was hop centric (Pale Ale, IPA, etc.) and I ordered a pint of Surfwax IPA (which was very good).

    I suppose each Asheville brewery has differing philosophies here?

  6. Amendm

    Amendm Jun 7, 2018 Rhode Island

    Diverse for me, except for Marzen/Festbier season. There are many styles I haven't tried yet.

    I did the AAL thing for way too long, trying to make up for lost time. Cheers.
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  7. BigIronH

    BigIronH Oct 31, 2019 Michigan
    Society Trader

    I will say that everything I’ve had from Burial I really consider to be top tier. That being said, everything I’ve had from them has been within one or two styles. Cheers.
  8. rgordon

    rgordon Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    That is an amazing array of beers being offered at one time. I haven't been to Asheville in about two years. I'll go back by Catawba on my next trip up the escarpment......I love Asheville. Nice post Jack.
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  9. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    When I was perusing the tap menu during my visit it did seem that many of the beer styles were of the hoppy persuasion (as I mentioned above) but there was also a number of higher ABV Stouts as well. I did notice they had a Schwarzbier available but since I already had one of these beers at Catawba I opted to go with an IPA for this particular visit.

    I suppose this is a long winded way of saying that Burial does have some/limited diversity but not nearly at the same level as Catawba does.

    And I do agree with you that Burial is a "top tier" brewery.

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  10. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    While driving into town from our hotel (on the Biltmore estate) my wife pointed out White Labs and I remarked “maybe we should visit that place” which we did on our return leg. Have you ever visited the White Labs taproom?

    During our visit I obtained four tasters: two of a Brown Ale and two of a Schwarzbier brewed using differing yeasts.

    Brown Ales

    • WLP001 California Ale Yeast®
    Caramelized Brown Sugar | Nutty
    Winter Fruit
    ABV: 5.4%
    • WLP037 Yorkshire Square Ale Yeast
    Bruised Apple | Bready | Toffee
    ABV: 5.1%

    I much preferred the Brown Ale brewed with WLP037

    • WLP925 High Pressure Lager Yeast
    Toast | Cacao Powder | Clean
    • WLP838 Southern German Lager Yeast

    I preferred the Schwarbier fermented with WLP838.

    I enjoyed my visit to the White Labs taproom.

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  11. rgordon

    rgordon Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    I have not been To White Labs TR, but I do know where it is. I'm due a visit I believe.
  12. LeRose

    LeRose Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts
    Society Trader

    Diverse, no doubt. While I think I have preferences, I have tried 87 styles. I believe firmly in the revisitation of styles I may not have enjoyed initially. I'm quite surprised to find I have tried 64 IPAs if you lump five of the subcategories together, but only 5 of those are in my "favorites" category and 3 of those are Imperial versions. By memory and self-perception, I would have thought Farmhouse and Wild ales were the leaders of the pack and they are without the IPA-math. Out of 526 unique beers, my spreadsheet tells me I have called 33 beers "favorites" and they are scattered across 22 styles. I do the No (28%), OK (15%), Yes would buy again (63%), and Favorite (6%) categories in my spreadsheet. Arbitrary, based heavily on the overall enjoyment factor, and subjective as hell, but it works for me. No means no - simple. OK is a wishy washy take it or leave it category I try to avoid. Yes means I'll buy it again nd there's probably overlap with OK. Favorite is almost a gotta have or a beer I would have absolutely no doubt about drinking again or actively seeking out. Confession - even though I live here, there is not one NEIPA in my "faves" category. (But I have also not been to Treehouse...I know, revoke my residency card).

    But to the point of the thread, there's no rhyme nor reason when it comes to style. Yes - by the numbers there are a lot of "yes" IPAs in there. But I keep repeat-trying many different styles and I usually stumble across some representative of a particular style that I can at least get to the "hey...this ain't bad" category. Reaching "favorite" status...whoa now...that takes work :wink:

    But trying - I'll random grab a beer off the store shelf and find out what it is after the fact, so the odds of blindly grabbing an IPA variant these days is pretty high. And I'll try an IPA at a brewery where the missus won't, so try to avoid duplication in that setting. So having had a bunch of IPAs doesn't seem too surprising.
  13. joerooster2

    joerooster2 Aug 18, 2020 District of Columbia

    IPA is my favorite style (wcipa), also among my least favorite (milkshake style).
  14. Ranbot

    Ranbot Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Put me down for variety.

    How many of us are like indie music fans, where as soon as a band/beer style gets too big/popular/"sells-out" we stop liking it?
  15. Vitacca

    Vitacca Sep 15, 2010 Montana
    Society Trader

    I live that #SaYzOnLyFe.
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  16. pulse

    pulse Mar 22, 2016 Ohio

    There is so much out there that it feels like a shame to not experience it. Guess when you get to a certain point of experience, it's easy to develop a comfort zone, but I'm far from reaching that. Even so, it feels way too easy to get hung up on a certain type (like stouts, cough) and not find the time to try the less ostentatious things.
    Squire likes this.
  17. Immortale25

    Immortale25 May 13, 2011 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    When I'm buying beer for the fridge, it's gotten pretty narrow. I don't only drink IPAs, but they give me the most overall satisfaction out of all styles. I recently bought a pack of SN Bigfoot and a pack of Allagash Tripel since it had been a while since I'd had either, but that's rare.

    When I'm at a brewery or bar, that's a different story. Especially at a brewery, where I'm trying to get a feel for which styles they excel in, I'm going for a lager or other traditional low ABV style like a Saison or Oatmeal Stout. Or a low ABV sour/wild. Then I go to the hoppy stuff.
  18. bubseymour

    bubseymour Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
    Society Trader

    Perhaps I’m way off base on this theory but craft beer may be backwards from other realities when it comes to age demographics in some regards. I’m thinking the old farts like variety and exploration in their craft beer consumption where the young-ins’ are more prone to have a few go-to styles and don’t stray quite as far from their comfort zone? Realize I’m stereotyping and there are always outliers but this is my theory anyway.
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  19. ScaryEd

    ScaryEd Feb 19, 2012 New Hampshire

    Mine is extremely narrow. IPA's make up 30% of all my rated beers. And they certainly make up more than that for the beers I drink regularly.

    Hoppy beers are obviously my favorite, but I think I'd drink a wider range of beers if they were available.
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  20. Immortale25

    Immortale25 May 13, 2011 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    In the running for post of the year IMO
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  21. Immortale25

    Immortale25 May 13, 2011 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    Never. That's a very shallow way of thinking
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  22. Ranbot

    Ranbot Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Ehhh... Depends...

    There are plenty of craft beer fans who have proclaimed liking a brewery less after it expanded, or liking a specific beer less when distribution increased. People like feeling that they are part of something exclusive, whether it's music or beer or other hobbies.

    Also, I have self-deprecatingly described myself as being like an annoying indie music fan to friends, usually when they tell me about some new NEIPA they had. I used to like citrusy IPAs and NEIPAs for a long time, but when the style became so popular that they were everywhere, like a ubiquitous monoculture of craft beer, I stopped liking them, because...
    When a friend tells me about some new NEIPA, I can't feign excitement, but comparing myself to an indie music fan makes the problem me and my fickle tastes, not their tastes.
  23. steveh

    steveh Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    But, isn't the adamant attitude of not wanting to venture into unknown territory the friends' problems?

    And sure, it's not your place to push your views on anyone, but don't you feel a (BA) need to inform and educate?

    Within pushy reason, of course. :wink:
  24. BruChef

    BruChef Nov 8, 2009 New York

    Those summer months in International falls are perfect.
    MNAle likes this.
  25. steveh

    steveh Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    Except for the MN national "bird." :grimacing:
    MNAle likes this.
  26. Ranbot

    Ranbot Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    I do say a little more about my opinions, but I try not to rain on anyone's parade either.
    steveh likes this.
  27. ZebulonXZogg

    ZebulonXZogg May 5, 2015 Illinois

    I've been drinking beer for 50+ years, I know what I like, I buy what I like regularly and I try to try something new several times a week. I've had more IPA's than anything else, but everyone has at least 3 on tap on any given day. Next is stouts, never saw more than 1 at any given time. Porters, Barleywine, Scotch ales, reds and whatever else is available.

    EDIT: If I'm offered a choice of one beer on a flight of six, I always choose the darkest.
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  28. marquis

    marquis Nov 20, 2005 England

    I live in England where we have seasons. But inside my centrally heated home these do not really affect what beer I drink.
    I grew up in a house with no heating upstairs, and when you have to scrape the ice off the inside of the bedroom window , seasons matter.
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  29. steveh

    steveh Oct 8, 2003 Illinois

    So, you never look out the windows? Go outside? Watch the news? Must be a nice cocoon. :wink:

    Point being, you can feel seasons no matter the efficiency of your HVAC.
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  30. QuakeAttack

    QuakeAttack Mar 19, 2012 California

    Diverse to the point that I won't go to a brewery or taproom/bar if they are just IPA shops with only one or two other options. My beer fridge always has 10 or more styles for me to choose from...
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  31. JackRWatkins

    JackRWatkins Nov 3, 2014 Georgia

    So for me, while there are styles I have very little interest in, there's nothing I just straight up won't try if offered. That being said, my primary interest is in Saison, and more particularly, beers that fall into the definition of the style personified by Saison Dupont (as far as the yeast goes), I like a lot of styles, but that is the style that I'm far and away the most passionate about. When I brew, there's only really two styles I make: Saisons with a cleaner yeast profile like Dupont, and Bieres De Garde with a similarly clean profile (I even use the same yeast strain for both). Again, I can generally find something to like in just about every style, but Saison is where my heart lives.
    Harrison8 likes this.
  32. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Do you always use the same yeast strain (e.g., Wyeast 3724)? Have you ever experienced a stall in the primary fermentation?

    Have you ever considered brewing a Saison that was Brett'd? For example, adding some Brett towards the end of primary fermentation or at bottling?

  33. laketang

    laketang Mar 22, 2015 Arizona

    Diverse, I like :
    And more.
  34. SLeffler27

    SLeffler27 Feb 24, 2008 New York
    Society Trader

    Variety! Without question, variety within any given style holds true as well. And more than just regarding beer.

    This said, there are specific beers that I revisit many times, even often.

    “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”

    — Henry David Thoreau

    Well, maybe not Spartan-like. Still, this captures the essence of my feelings.
    Rug likes this.
  35. JackRWatkins

    JackRWatkins Nov 3, 2014 Georgia

    So I used DuPont as a reference point for a certain style of saison, but I don't actually use the Dupont strain. Some years ago, I did a test of a bunch of different strains (I think it was 5 total), I did WYEAST 3711, 3724, 3726, one from white labs whose name escapes me, and another from WYEAST that was very brett forward and found that, in spite of the fact that it was also the easiest to use, I really did enjoy the 3711 French Saison yeast the best. So while I've certainly heard of that stall, I can't really comment on it, my fermentations are generally pretty smooth.

    As to the Brett question: Generally speaking the brett saisons are the kind of thing I'm trying to avoid. Principally because to me, those strains have basically invaded almost all of the American Saisons that I have access to, with a few small exceptions, and as far as saison goes, it just doesn't really interest me all that much, I'm a De Blaugies guy more than I will ever be a Fantôme guy if that makes sense. All of this being said, I do have some interest in possibly incorporating something into my beer that will give it more interest over time spent in the bottle, but I really don't want a brett dominant beer.

    Sorry I know that was long winded, but I hope I answered your question and then some.
  36. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Wyeast 3711 is a well performing yeast. I used it a couple of times and that yeast has reached FG in a week. Way different than the Dupont strain (e.g., Wyeast 3724) in that regard.

    I am not a big fan of 3711 since it is one-dimensional in its flavor profile; lots of phenols but lesser amounts of esters. I suppose a case of "different strokes for different folks" here.

    Junior likes this.
  37. JackRWatkins

    JackRWatkins Nov 3, 2014 Georgia

    Yeah see for me, I don't mind a little bit of ester production, but I'm generally going for something far more grainy and less fruity, it's fine for fruit to be there generally, but I always want phenols and grainy notes to dominate. If I had to describe my perfect (classic blonde) saison profile it would be: Spicy, Herbal, Grainy, Dry, Earthy, with Mineral Notes, and any of the other typical saison flavor is fine as long as it takes a backseat to those things.

    Again, I'm not against fruit/ester flavor necessarily, but I don't want that to be the bulk of what the yeast does.
    Junior likes this.
  38. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I am not looking for esters to be the "bulk" either but I do want a nice balance of phenols (spicy flavors) and esters (fruity) while you seem to prefer an 'unbalance' here. As I mentioned above: I suppose a case of "different strokes for different folks" here.

    The beauty of homebrewing: we each get to 'dial in' what flavor profile we each prefer in a given beer style. :beers:

    Rug likes this.
  39. Immortale25

    Immortale25 May 13, 2011 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    At least you're self-aware in your shallowness :stuck_out_tongue:

    You're definitely right though. People, especially consumers, are fickle. The only clear difference between beer and music is that, when a brewery scales up a recipe, taste difference is unavoidable. One could argue that, when a music artist goes from a mom and pop recording studio to a state-of-the-art major label studio, there will be a sound difference. But the substance of the music doesn't always suffer. Sometimes, it may get better. So, if people are honest with their tastes and being completely objective, scaling up/selling out does not always directly translate to losing flavor/spice in regards to music. However, it does always directly translate in regards to beer.

    That's all taste/opinion though. When talking about the community factor, especially with a genre like Punk which puts heavy emphasis on camaraderie and "the scene," it's a totally different animal. People are allowed to get upset when their favorite band used to play the tiny bar up the street from them where they played in the corner of the room and you could reach out and touch them, but now they're playing the arena that's an hour drive away and you have to pay $100 just to get a decent seat. Just like people are allowed to get upset when their favorite brewery that used to have a hole-in-the-wall taproom where you never had to wait to get a beer expands into a massive space and gets so popular that you can't even get in the door on the weekends. The flavor of the beer plays into that as well but, again, that part is subjective.

    I guess the moral of the story is that, putting opinion/taste aside, we should be happy for the bands and breweries that "sell out" even if it amounts to a product that we deem inferior to what was previously produced. If that many people like it and it sells, who are we to judge just because we happened to be there prior to them making it big? Listen to the music that makes you happy. Drink the beer that satisfies your taste buds. Everything else will fall into place.
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  40. alucard6679

    alucard6679 Jul 29, 2012 Arizona

    I’ve always been a fan of having variety in style, which makes going into the majority of taprooms around me a bit depressing (unless you consider 10 hazy IPAs, 6 fruity lite sours, and 2 pastry stouts to be a solid variety. I don’t, but each their own)
    Rug likes this.