The Problem with Turning Beer into Dessert

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Dansac, Apr 23, 2021.

  1. Dansac

    Dansac Initiate (146) Dec 6, 2014 California
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    I generally find the market trend of turning beer into dessert a step toward vulgarity and childishness: milkshake ipas with no bitterness but high tropical sweetness and creaminess, pastry stouts with a hundred adjuncts and sludgy texture, and smoothie sours that basically are Jamba Juice. Not to mention the new smoothie seltzer trend...

    I understand people have different tastes and one should respect what people want, and I understand market trends dictate production. But the problem is that some breweries have compromised to this market trend at the expense of their regular production. For example, Other Half used to make some of the most dank, oily IPAs in the world. But in recent years they completely gravitated toward the sweet-tropical end of the spectrum, to the point where the great majority of the beers I have are unrecognizable in relation to what they used to do. Alvarado Street Brewing was quite similar: they did marvelously diesel-forward IPAs in the West Coast, and since the dessert trend picked up their IPAs have gravitated toward a sweeter profile, taming the diesel down (though still present). They still nuke it when they get it right, but there's a trend in place that is not favorable. Even SARA, who used to make very green and bright IPAs, have gone toward the soft, sweet profile.

    I have heard similar things about Trillium, but couldn't say...
     
  2. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (4,245) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
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    I have no problem with the sweet dessert beers because I don't buy them.
     
  3. Junkforadam

    Junkforadam Initiate (146) Jan 12, 2015 Oklahoma
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    I like beer whether sweet, bitter or any traditional style! That is unless its bad. Doesn't matter if its a traditional lager or the dessert beer. As long as it’s enjoyable. Its fun to try varieties and as a home brewer its fun to create or even brew traditional. I imagine the craft breweries are just having fun with it.
     
  4. zid

    zid Poo-Bah (1,578) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    Unsurprisingly for craft beer, its broad movement away from bitterness is a supremely exaggerated and swift microcosm of the same thing in the larger beer world.
     
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  5. BBThunderbolt

    BBThunderbolt Poo-Bah (8,381) Sep 24, 2007 Kiribati
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    WUT?! I'm pretty sure I would hate having a diesel aroma/flavor in a beer.
     
  6. Kozaka

    Kozaka Defender (655) Apr 25, 2006 Connecticut
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    Smoothie seltzer is a thing?!
     
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  7. dcotom

    dcotom Poo-Bah (2,702) Aug 4, 2014 Iowa
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    I once turned some Guinness into a pan of chocolate brownies for St. Pat's Day. They were decadent.
     
  8. o29

    o29 Initiate (95) Sep 29, 2020 Texas
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    Turning Guinness into brownies on St. Patty's Day? Are you Irish Jesus?
     
  9. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (3,072) May 30, 2005 Michigan
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    I thought with "desserts" in the thread's title that we would be talking about BBA stouts so I peeked in. Now I see we're talking about faux breakfast and lunch beverages. No thanks.
     
  10. IPAs_for_days_13

    IPAs_for_days_13 Devotee (496) May 29, 2020 Texas
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    I definitely don't like what is happening with the whole idea of "let's turn a beer into a dessert" thing that is happening. But, thats just me. I personally like the beers that I consume to have that classic bitterness/sweet malty balance wether it be a stout, porter, or an IPA. But, all breweries are going to push their focus to what sells, & it seems that beers like that are trending right now. Just as @Harrison8 said, I'm just not going to buy them.
     
  11. bret27

    bret27 Poo-Bah (1,879) Mar 10, 2009 California
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    All I can say is, I pretty much agree.
    Milkshake IPA is probably one of the worst “beer” styles there is.
    I had a decadent Modern Times stout this evening and could only drink 6oz. It was good, but I can’t drink that much chocolate syrup straight.
    I haven’t found Trillium to be too sweet though. Very similar to monkish.
     
  12. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Defender (670) Mar 28, 2009 California

    It’s because all the baristas turned 21 and started brewing. I still prefer my beers more traditional or a tropical hazy with some bite. I do occasionally enjoy a pastry stout, low bitterness NE IPA but the milkshake ipa and heavily fruited smoothie Berliners are not for me. Yes I have tried them.

    not sure if this has anything to do with it but so many people love to tick beers or drink samples or share beers that in small portions a dessert beer probably is good. But I still like to have a few beers at a time and I couldn’t imagine drinking more than one of those beer jamba juices.
     
  13. Dansac

    Dansac Initiate (146) Dec 6, 2014 California
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    If we can agree that there is artistry in beer then a brewery catering to mass demand by itself is no different than a musician "selling out" to market trends, or an actor deciding to do blockbusters as opposed to more challenging but less marketable roles. Relativism is always an option: there is no better or worse. But then Mozart is no better or worse than Katy Perry, and Raging Bull is no better than Meet the Fockers.

    Any beer style can be done well, even those who thrive on aggressiveness and forwardness: imperial stouts, double WC IPAS... but there has to be balance, depth, and a sense of composition. When you essentially transform beer into fruit puree by dunking gallons of fruit in there you don't get any of the yeast or hops, malts, or anything beside. Might as well buy a Pacifico and mix it with some Jamba Juice or whatever. Milkshake IPAs that add lactose and oats for textural purposes clog the hop's aromatics and the sweetness coats the beer. It's just childish, crass, and frankly silly.

    Everyone can like what they want, but I respect breweries that have integrity and finesse in their craft, and do not surrender to vulgarity: Hill Farmstead, Monkish, SARA, Side Project, Homage, etc.
     
    #13 Dansac, Apr 24, 2021
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2021
  14. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,774) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    Its obviously polarizing, but its definitely something I appreciate in the right IPA setting. Some of my favorite Nelson and Mosaic heavy ipas have featured it.
    See, the problem you're gonna have with modern craft beer is that you're a philosophy professor or something :slight_smile:

    I generally agree though, I miss the days of the term "craft beer" carrying the connotation of a broad adherence to some semblance of artfulness, class, refinement, and dare I say sophistication. It was nice to be able to enjoy tasty beverages and feel part of some movement to reclaim this ancient beverage from the slobbering maw of belching toads and bikini clad models hawking tepid swill to stumble drunk sports ball fans. I just pray that some segment will hold strong and do my best to support the producers that seem to give a shit about more than just turning smoothie cans as fast as possible
     
  15. Dansac

    Dansac Initiate (146) Dec 6, 2014 California
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    Damn, good read lol.
     
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  16. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,774) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    I try I try
     
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  17. Dansac

    Dansac Initiate (146) Dec 6, 2014 California
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    Also, I totally agree with what you said. I would be fine with there being both things occurring at the same time. But when I see taplists, stores, and breweries I love give in to market demands at the expanse of carrying or making top class beer I can't really get behind that. What happened to Other Half is just sad to me. They used to make my favorite IPAs in the world, and the last 15 IPAs I had from them were all pineapple juice with no dankness or hop oil aromas. ASB is on the way to the dark side... even their flagships have started to turn toward sweet: Nelson Baby, CNJ, Delorean Dust... at least their YOE program is top notch, and they still make outstanding IPAs.

    I imagine that if someone asked Shawn Hill whether he has a smoothie sour he would ask them to leave.
     
  18. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,774) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    This seems to be very region specific. I have a hard time finding some styles for sure, but they aren't generally ones that were widely available 10 years ago either. I haven't noticed a shortage of resinous clear ipas, although the proportion of clear to hazy hoppy.beers has certainly shifted. Same story with stouts, there are more sweet/dessert versions available but there are still bitter roasty examples available. It seems to be a situation (from my perspective) where areas that are more "hip" are struggling with this trend more than backwater type places.

    I'd also probably had a different perspective if I had ever really enjoyed hazy ipas. The broad consensus does seem to be that those have gotten sweeter over the years
     
  19. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,978) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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  20. TommyG22

    TommyG22 Initiate (87) Mar 26, 2021 Wisconsin

    I enjoy variation so bring on as many different tasting beers as you can. My local store has no problem carrying a wide assortment of styles so I am spoiled. I enjoy drinking a nice Chocolate Fudgy Brownie beer sometimes instead of eating one. The 11% kicker is a bonus.
     
  21. jvgoor3786

    jvgoor3786 Poo-Bah (2,128) May 28, 2015 Arkansas
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    Supply and demand. (Maybe we need to push some supply-side economics.) With so many breweries today, they have to make what sells the most. I'm sure many of the brewers miss making and drinking the same beers you miss.

    Adapt or die.
     
  22. chipawayboy

    chipawayboy Devotee (447) Oct 26, 2007 Massachusetts
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    More variety than ever and folks just want things to be like they used to be.
     
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  23. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (3,016) Mar 12, 2009 New York
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    I wonder if the charge of lack of artistry made for some beers is the equivalent to the charge of lack of artistry of rock music made when rock was new? Is it a reaction from people who don't like the style of those beers more than a reaction to some failure of concept and intent by the brewer (as it was for rock)?

    The example of Other Half was made. When Other Half was in their heyday of less sweet beers they were the best, and one of very few, in NYC doing them. Unless in the last 20 months things have taken a nose dive around here, there are more great NY IPA's of that original OH style "now" than there were back when OH was in its "heyday".

    If they have taken a nosedive in NYC, I apologize, my current info is limited by reading here and beer groups on FB as to what's going on.
     
  24. BBThunderbolt

    BBThunderbolt Poo-Bah (8,381) Sep 24, 2007 Kiribati
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    Of all the beers I've had using those hops, never once have I gotten a sense of petroleum from them.
     
  25. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,774) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    I wish there was an easy way to search the text of reviews, I've noted it in some of mine and I've read it in others. Perhaps what some people perceive as a diesel aroma you perceive as something else?
     
  26. bret27

    bret27 Poo-Bah (1,879) Mar 10, 2009 California
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    I definitely have. In the last 6 months...
    SARA, HPB, and ASB come to mind.
    Generally IMO Nelson or Riwaka is always involved.
    It’s not for everyone. I prefer the dank, vinous, grape, tangerine flavors which those hops sometimes also provide.

    (by the way I’m loving this thread. Right up my alley)
     
  27. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Aspirant (230) Aug 24, 2020 California

    I may have to think about this some more but my initial impression is that this is a classic one-sided point of view...brewers are denigrated because they are making what is popular instead of what some individual prefers or considers to be representative of a higher skill level or in line with personal preference. Meanwhile, the commenters and OP seem to think that people who LIKE those new weird styles (I'm not one of them) are not equally entitled to decry the scarcity of those weird styles they have become accustomed to, should brewers suddenly return to production of the classic styles that the OP and others deem to be more worthy. There is lots of beer production and I say let creativity flow. Variety is good. No form or style is more worthy of any other. It is all personal preference. For every person decrying the production of some sweet milkshake beer, someone else is shaking their head wondering why anyone would waste good resources making bitter beer or beer reminiscent of diesel. For the record, my preferences include either west coast or hazy IPAs and a good barrel aged stout, with or without other flavors added.
     
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  28. Leighton_

    Leighton_ Initiate (29) Jan 31, 2021 Minnesota
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    Balance can be achieved through avenues that aren't hop meets malt. Most smoothie style ales certainly overdo it and rely too heavily on adjunct additions instead of utilizing the flavors of the ale itself. However when notes from the ale are balanced with adjunct flavor there's ample opportunity for really excellent world-class beers. They're truly dessert beverages and will never match the quaffable nature of ales and lagers that stick to the 4 ingredients but discrediting them for their ubiquity and your personal tastes isn't a fair assessment.
     
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  29. lagrluvr

    lagrluvr Initiate (29) Apr 20, 2021

    I hate it when any given local brewery changes or deletes one of the beers that put them on the map in the first place, and instead cater to the "hazy ipa trend of the day". "Craft beer" has jumped its own shark by becoming a huge industry and using up more ingredients. I'm starting to go back and enjoy the old Euro lagers and regional US macro brands again to give "craft" my own middle fingers. One of the pioneer brewers of NC has ruined themselves with all his hazy peach white bullshit. No more Piney Pale Ale, no brownale, no dark mild or ESB:angry:. Meanwhile the local shelves are overcrowded with local peanut butter stouts and jelly donut this and all that crap. So, if they fail to make beer I liked, it's on them. It's not a necessity to even have beer . (gasp!) I will buy what's left of the real (classic/traditional) beer, if they keep making any.
     
  30. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Aspirant (230) Aug 24, 2020 California

    News flash: Most breweries are in it to survive, not to make you happy. They adapt to satisfy demand, while to the extent possible, also allowing the brewmaster to satisfy their own creative goals, whether than means brewing the perfect lager or coming up with some previously unconceived mix of ingredients.
     
  31. bret27

    bret27 Poo-Bah (1,879) Mar 10, 2009 California
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    It’s definitely an opinion piece. I just happen to agree with it.
    [​IMG]
     
  32. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,978) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Hops will provide varying flavor profiles for a variety of reasons. Where the hops are grown (i.e., the terroir effect) is commonly discussed but another factor which is even more impactful IMO is when the hops were harvested. For example it is not unusual for some hop varieties to have an onion-like quality if harvested late. It well could be that the petroleum/diesel effect for certain hop varieties could be a harvest timing issue.

    Plus we should not lose sight that aroma/flavor perception is subjective so two people could drink the exact same beer but each individual would perceive differing flavors.

    Cheers!
     
  33. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,774) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    I suspect this is a factor indeed. My limited experience with hops and more robust experience with its annual cousin leads me to suspect that these diesel/petrol aromas develop later in the maturation process. I also suspect that storage/handling/freshness of the hops could play a role, as well as the timing and temp of the hop additions. Diesley terpenes can fade into a musty earthiness if exposed to too much heat or allowed to oxidize.
     
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  34. Leighton_

    Leighton_ Initiate (29) Jan 31, 2021 Minnesota
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    Brewers have to cater to their customers if they care about staying in business and the truth is that most people don't want piney pale whatever and the same boring brown ale and the brewers see this when product dies on the shelf or in the keg

    Of my customers who do like old-school pale ales and west coast IPA's they largely drink the same thing every-fucking-day, Surly Furious, Summit EPA, SN Pale, Lagunitas IPA. When I bring in a new west coast ale its always a fucking gamble if half the case is going to end up getting returned once it's out of date. Frankly there's very little enthusiasm on that side of the fence and a lot of jaded, cheap old-heads who are unwilling to pay the premium for small batch brews. They also tend to stick to AAL's for their light beer instead of supporting local brewers.

    On the other hand my juice beer types are always seeking out the newest release, something different, anytime I bring in a new smoothie beer I know that its all going out the door and I know multiple regulars who I can thrust whatever smoothie sour of the day into their hands and they'll buy it without question. These guys are incredibly enthusiastic about the stuff too, to the point some of them travel cross state just to pick up a couple cases at the source. They're also surprisingly versatile and responsible for the majority of our craft lager and blonde ale sales.

    So as a brewery who are you going to cater towards because to me it seems like a no-brainer.
     
  35. dcotom

    dcotom Poo-Bah (2,702) Aug 4, 2014 Iowa
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    Nah, that's trivial compared to turning a pan of chocolate brownies into Guinness. WW(I)JD?
     
  36. Leighton_

    Leighton_ Initiate (29) Jan 31, 2021 Minnesota
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    Probably wait outside the liquor store for the delivery and then gleefully pay $6 a can for an entire case?
     
  37. Dansac

    Dansac Initiate (146) Dec 6, 2014 California
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    Yeah Katy Perry albums sell more than classical music or jazz, and fans of the latter tend to be more picky.

    If your justification is that it sells I understand it. But as a customer myself, I don't have to think highly of it. Katy Perry might sell more albums than Beethoven, and Fast and the Furious 9 might have more viewers than Kurosawa, and Derek Chopra might have more readers than Kant. Just because something sells it doesn't mean it's good.

    You are entitled to do what's best for your business, but I am entitled to think making fruit puree out of beer is vulgar and a sign of the crassness of a market.
     
  38. Dansac

    Dansac Initiate (146) Dec 6, 2014 California
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    I said my problem was when breweries compromised their core beer quality and offerings to satisfy the market trend, like Other Half or ASB has.

    If Keith Jarrett started playing pop music and stopped playing jazz because it made him a good buck I'd understand, but I'd be justifiably sad that we had lost one of the great jazz producers of our time.

    Whether it be because of selling out or survival, it is sad to see great beer no longer be brewed because people want a beer slushy instead.
     
    #38 Dansac, Apr 24, 2021
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2021
  39. Dansac

    Dansac Initiate (146) Dec 6, 2014 California
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    My hunch is that it has to do with hop oil extraction.

    Other Half and ASB were characterized by a very dank, oily profile, rather than the Monkish, Trillium, Fieldwork hyper green hop concentrate profile. The extraction of oils gives the beer those diesely qualities, in addition to some hops being more prominently dank: mosaic, nelson, riwaka, simcoe...
     
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  40. Dansac

    Dansac Initiate (146) Dec 6, 2014 California
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    I didn't disavow all kettle sours or the styles I mentioned. Many breweries have made delicious exemplars of the style: ASB, Hudson Valley, Forager...

    And then there's the trend to dunk peanut butter, graham crackers, marshmellows, cake batter, and the kitchen sink into beer.
     
    #40 Dansac, Apr 25, 2021
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2021
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