The ubiquity of great beer has made me less of an individual brewery fan. You?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Matt_Rouge, Jun 24, 2020.

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  1. Matt_Rouge

    Matt_Rouge Initiate (75) Dec 6, 2015 Indiana

    My opinion: Over the past five years, amazing beer has become very common. The average brewery has upped its game; most I visit have a least pretty good beer, and a lot have amazing beer. Distribution has improved as well, bringing more great-to-amazing beer to more people.

    The effect for me has been to make me less of a rabid fan for individual breweries. I live in Indy and my mom lives in Crown Point, Indiana, near Three Floyds, and I have been a big customer of their beer since the early 2000s and a frequenter of the brewpub since 2015 (when I realized that they had great food too--hope they open up again!). I was a real fanboi for awhile there.

    But dang, there is so much great beer now! I have been working in Mobile, AL, since last year, and Southern Prohibition out of Hattiesburg, MS, makes some world-class stuff, like their Crowd Control IPA and Typical Tuesday Pilsner. The actual brewery scene in town isn't that great (Haint Blue shut down soon after I arrived, *weep*), but I am getting my IPA and lager fix (my two favorite styles).

    Heck, macros and big independents are making great beer too. Right now I am drinking Hazy Little Thing from Sierra Nevada, and it is absolutely fine (not throwing shade at SN; the point being that when someone wants to put out a beer in a certain style these days, more often than not they succeed).

    TL;DR: The increasing availability of great beer has made me more of a "great beer" fan these days than an individual brewery fan. Do you agree with my assessment? Have things changed for you as well? Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

    Cheers, Matt.
  2. Longhorn08

    Longhorn08 Aspirant (283) Feb 4, 2014 Texas

    I’ve never been much of a brewery band wagon guy. I’m more of a cherry picker when it come to my beer buying.
  3. BBThunderbolt

    BBThunderbolt Poo-Bah (9,924) Sep 24, 2007 Kiribati
    Society Trader

    I mostly stick with my local/regional breweries. With 14 in town, and dozens more within a couple hour drive, I'm pretty happy.

    I still buy Deschutes, and random ticking beers, but mostly it's beers from Seattle North to the border for me.
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  4. draheim

    draheim Poo-Bah (3,069) Sep 18, 2010 Washington

    Amazing beer has become more common (I’d say more in the last 10-15 years, not 5) but so has mediocre beer. And not just from within the United States but from around the world.

    I have a few favorite breweries that seldom disappoint, but I’m an equal opportunity drinker. Make good beer and get it into my distribution area and I’ll probably try it, eventually.
    #4 draheim, Jun 24, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2020
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  5. laketang

    laketang Poo-Bah (1,547) Mar 22, 2015 Arizona

    Right now I support breweries that put out some lagers for summer and also pilsners. Light crisp clean summer beers.
  6. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (2,078) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Society Trader

    I disagree. I still have my core breweries that hit the mark every time. Right now @TrveBrewer can do no wrong.
  7. StoutElk_92

    StoutElk_92 Poo-Bah (3,264) Oct 30, 2015 Massachusetts

    I'm definitely a fan of great beer, and also a fan of the individual breweries that make great beer. I never really committed myself to only one brewery as I always had and was always trying new beers from all different breweries. Over time after discovering thanks to this site one of the better highly rated local breweries I did start trying a lot of their stuff and it has been some of my favorite even today. I am definitely a fan of that individual brewery more than others, but mainly because they are local and I've shared experiences there and have had hundreds of their beers, so they are a big part of my beer experience looking back. They are a favorite, probably my favorite all things considered being local and having access, trying exclusives, good quality, etc., but that isn't to say I don't like other breweries or other beers as much. I am a fan of great beer more than I am a fan of my favorite individual brewery. I do get what you are saying though, there is good beer everywhere and there is no need to limit yourself to one place, which I agree with it. I love beers from all different brewers. I have had plenty of other beers that I liked more than maybe any beer from my favorite brewery in ways. The good thing about great beer is it can be any style and not limited to what any individual brewery makes, so there is a lot of great beer I've had that wasn't from a favorite individual brewery. I think having a local or favorite individual brewery can be an important part of your beer story and how you got to where you are, and mine will always be there when I think about beer, but it definitely doesn't have to be the only brewery you drink. As a seeker of great beer you need as many good sources as you can get.
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  8. Urk1127

    Urk1127 Poo-Bah (2,072) Jul 2, 2014 Pennsylvania
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    I like to buy from localized breweries. I say localized because for example Lancaster PA is 3 hours from me but I love their brewery and can find everything they make in my area and buy them a lot. I tend to do this. Yards Brewery is a 15 minute drive and neshaminy creek is down the road from me and as well I drink a lot from them
  9. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (6,303) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Moderator Society Trader

    Its funny, but due to the pandemic, I have never before bought much beer from just a select few breweries. I've got a few local breweries I really like, so most of my beer budget has gone to supporting each of them during this time.
  10. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (3,102) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Society Trader

    Curious if you think that styles have more bad examples being brewed as a percentage?

    Or is it there are so many more breweries brewing so many more brands than ever before that there are more mediocre attempts available, as well as more excellent attempts?

    Is your point that having so many more beers available puts us in front of more mediocre beers, or that the average skill of brewing in the industry is getting worse?

    And as for the OP question- I am the opposite of the term brand loyalty.
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  11. gyorgymarlowe

    gyorgymarlowe Disciple (322) Aug 24, 2019 Colorado
    Society Trader

    One reason it might be harder to be a fan of individual breweries right now is that there is far too much trend chasing which comes off as cynical - "We'll sling you some shit you like! You want a seltzer or a hazy?" It really rubs me the wrong way, but I know, I know, it pays the bills. Some breweries don't even respect their beers enough to give them a real name, opting instead for listless monikers like "CBD Free IPA" or "Another Hazy." Although it is entirely possible that I simply lack a sense of humor.

    On the other hand, almost all craft breweries are an asset to their communities, and larger independents like Sierra Nevada consistently step up to the plate to help their state (wildfires) and the planet (sustainability). These types of actions make me a fan of breweries as much as their beer sometimes. If the beer is good on top of being good samaritans, I tend to be a regular, as much as possible.

    I still find myself drawn to breweries whose portfolios feel representative of their ethos. Bierstadt Lagerhaus is a prime example of that, but there are plenty of breweries who have more diverse offerings that still feel true to their brand, like Allagash.

    Sure, lots of breweries can serve you a technically competent beer and sometimes that's all I want, but if we are talking feeling true allegiance, for me a brewery needs to

    A.) consistently make great beer
    B.) "be good people"

    and the real gold star

    C.) brew beers that THEY love
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  12. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (3,632) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    I agree that there is more great beer all around us than ever before. However, I'm no longer a ticker and don't look too hard to find the good ones that are available to me. The breweries that are within 20 miles of me continue to get my primary support.

    The exception is that my wife and I still enjoy pub crawls (you could say we 'tick' breweries) and finding that new, exciting brewery is a fun thing for us. Now that social distancing is relaxing a bit, we took off last week on our first pub crawl since early March, so we can only hope to enjoy great beers when we make our various stops. This pub crawl was a bust, but we did drink mostly good beer.
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  13. Providence

    Providence Champion (815) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island

    I'm the opposite. The wall of bedazzled 16 oz. cans with clever names and art are overwhelming to me. I walk in my local shops and pretty much go right to the section with Jack's Abby and Sierra Nevada. Maybe grab a variant of Shlenkerla or Weinstephaner (or a bottle of Timothy Taylor Landlord if it doesn't have dust on it) and I'm on my way. Everything else is becoming white noise. I'm not saying that's ok. I'm sure there's tons of awesome shit I'm walking by. But that's where I'm at these days.

    Side note, long time no see for some folks up in here. I see some familiar avatars and names. Hope everyone is doing well.
  14. Pinz412

    Pinz412 Zealot (570) Nov 20, 2019 Pennsylvania
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    Somewhat unrelated to beer, but have you ever gone to Neshaminy's vendor market that happens in late fall/early winter? I think it's usually around their anniversary(but I could be wrong). My brother-in-law goes there every year and sells his hot sauce. He always comes away with great brews, too.
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  15. StoutElk_92

    StoutElk_92 Poo-Bah (3,264) Oct 30, 2015 Massachusetts

    Can't wait to get there
  16. Urk1127

    Urk1127 Poo-Bah (2,072) Jul 2, 2014 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    I have bought hot sauce from their markets. I forget the name though. Maybe it was him. It may be part of the punk rock flea market? I know they do a few. I’ve even been to metal concerts and wrestling matches there. It’s always a great turn out and you meet awesome people. I met Tony from Municipal Waste there and The Sandman from ECW as well I almost shit myself with joy
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  17. Pinz412

    Pinz412 Zealot (570) Nov 20, 2019 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    Damn, man, that's a lot to unpack. I'll try to do it in stages.
    1) I think it was the Punk Rock Flea Market. I was going to mention that specifically, but I wasn't sure that's where it was held. His company is Outer Limits Hot Sauce. They do some great flavors: jalapeno lime, serrano cilantro, and a jalapeno hemp seed done in collab with the band Weedeater(my personal favorite sauce). He does a habanero and ghost pepper one as well.
    2) I have such a soft spot for the ECW days. I'm on the other side of the state but we used to get their shows here every so often in the 90's and my buddies and I would watch all those classic PPV's. Him and Dreamer were my sentimental favorites. Have you watched Dark Side of the Ring on Viceland? They did an episode recently on New Jack and Sandman was interviewed briefly in it. He's such on old school Philly guy.
    3) I'm good friends with some guys around here that were in a band that toured with the Waste back in the early 2000's. They released a split 7" or two with them back then, too. I spent a wild night partying with the guys from Municipal Waste and a band from Columbus from the same era called Killed In Action at my house around 2002, I think. They played a show here together with my local friends, Crucial Unit, and after the show they needed a place to hang so my house it was. Much beer was consumed and we convinced a drunk college guy to ride his skateboard down a steep cobblestone street into oncoming traffic. That's all I really remember from that night.
  18. zac16125

    zac16125 Poo-Bah (2,359) Jan 26, 2010 South Carolina
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    Sierra Nevada has been brewing exceptional beers for literally decades. If your pitch for how great the craft beer scene is right now includes that SN makes an OK version of a novelty spin off IPA style, then you sir have lost me.
  19. ManBearPat

    ManBearPat Zealot (530) Dec 2, 2014 Colorado

    I’m not much of a ticker but certainly try new stuff often..

    That said.. I still fan boi on Odell pretty hard lol.. between the seasonals, thoughtfully mixed buckets of 12 (and 24 at Costco) that change frequently, and the fact that the iPa is great and available almost literally everywhere in town, I just know I can’t go wrong.. ever.

    To the OP: you’re not wrong either.. there’s so much damn good beer all over that I fully agree with your point as well- cheers, behbeh..
  20. LeRose

    LeRose Poo-Bah (1,746) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts

    Holy cow - welcome back! Been wondering what you have been up to.

    I agree about the array of indecipherable cans on the shelves - it really is visual overload. When I have to pick up a can, squint just right and hold it perfectly to the light to figure out the brewery never mind the beer it is just too much. They all merge into sameness at times, depending on how the store stocks shelves, and I just keep walkin'.

    I have a lot of aging beers in my house from the days of over-indulgence. Some will age gracefully, some will not. I have enough to probably last me another year of New Beer Sundays. Still feel the pull of the new shiney, but am now better able to resist the Collective.

    When I buy nowadays it is at a drastically reduced frequency and from breweries I know I enjoy. Allagash, Jack's Abby/Springdale, Founder's, and I will pick up styles I enjoy from some of my more local brewers. Still a mix, but a little more focused for now.
  21. draheim

    draheim Poo-Bah (3,069) Sep 18, 2010 Washington

    I wouldn’t say there’s a higher percentage of great vs. mediocre beers being brewed than ever before, and brewing skill seems to be as good as ever at least around here—there’s just so much beer being brewed in general that it’s simply more in all directions. It’s hard to keep up. And it seems harder to distinguish good beer from great. It feels like breweries just keep trying subtle variations on very similar themes, endlessly creating new beers that really aren’t all that different from each other, instead of just developing one really good IPA, one really good stout, etc. and sticking to it. I’m sure this is more fun for the breweries and the tickers but for the more casual beer drinker it can be frustrating. Maybe you find a saison from a local brewery you really love and then, a few weeks later, discover that it’s gone and may never be brewed again.

    Or maybe I’m just getting old.
  22. LeRose

    LeRose Poo-Bah (1,746) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts

    Is all of the above a choice? I think there are just so many breweries pumping out so many brands and styles that the odds don't favor finding the outstanding examples. There is just more of everything - good, bad, ugly, outstanding. I do think "average" may be shifting up a tiny bit.

    I do think some brewers are not as highly skilled as others and that might begin catching up. Big rush to jump into the business and I have felt for a long while that some brewers were not as well prepared and some did not put in the time to master their craft.
  23. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (2,110) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    I can definitely resonate with the OPs sentiments. To me, favorite breweries now are places that make good beer and have hosted memorable experiences for me. I will always have fond memories of Bell's and their beer is delightful...favorite! SN has never let me down and the mere sight of their labels always of wading into a pretty unappealing college pursuit of a legendary burger and finding a second bar upstairs that had a SN tap takeover and all the real unusual stuff (ba bigfoot, some ba stout I've never seen again, an early iteration of otra vez, their rye IPA!) were all ours, no lines...favorite! And more recently when I had regular trips to LA for work I found my way almost always to Hiaghland Park brewing for some.amazing beers...favorite!

    Other than that I just bask in the glory of the beer aisle. I have regulars that I stock the fridge with and then I let my whims dictate sampling from the unending stream of new to me beers. My only real quest right now is for a regular lighter lager to keep on hand. We get Firestone lager, and I like it well enough, but all the other styles I enjoy regularly I can get staple examples that I love and I just know that shelf lager is out there somewhere. It'd be Alluvium pilsner if it comes back but so far it appears that where its still on shelves its the same January delivery that has long disappeared from my usual stops
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  24. Grounder

    Grounder Initiate (128) Jun 20, 2019 Illinois

    Being a fan of a particular brewery is a quick way to learn the feeling of betrayal and disappointment.
  25. ManBearPat

    ManBearPat Zealot (530) Dec 2, 2014 Colorado

    Speak for yourself, broah
  26. Urk1127

    Urk1127 Poo-Bah (2,072) Jul 2, 2014 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    yo it was the Serrano cilantro sauce I bought I still have it in my fridge I checked. I remember because I also bought a sticker from him that looks like Panera bread but is says Pantera and their logo font but the vulgar display of power face punch.
  27. RochefortChris

    RochefortChris Poo-Bah (1,793) Oct 2, 2012 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    I agree with the OP, I have certain breweries I favor but I am more of a fan of well made beer than I am actual breweries. There are, however, maybe two or three breweries I would consider myself a fan of, they are so unique and consistent that I can't help but be a fanboy.
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  28. Amendm

    Amendm Meyvn (1,099) Jun 7, 2018 Florida

    There comes a time during a "Craft Beer" fan's career when all the accessible Beers at their local package stores become "Had That's". To avoid this problem, one should explore local breweries early in their ride up the learning curve.

    I would rather be a fan of great Beer in general than a fan of one brewery.
    I do not have a favorite grain of sand at my local beach.

  29. Grounder

    Grounder Initiate (128) Jun 20, 2019 Illinois

    Did I somehow make you believe that I am speaking on your behalf?
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  30. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,284) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Nice interesting post. Good beer is everywhere. Maybe even in Baton Rogue....kinda like palate, pallet, and pallette, my favorite law firm. Sorry for the bad jokes. I really do like your post for its positivity.
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  31. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,617) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I recently replied to Michael (@TongoRad) on this topic with the old saying of "separating the wheat from the chaff". There are indeed high quality beers on the shelves but it does indeed take effort to figure them out from all of the other stuff. An optimist might say this is a good problem to have? Personally I kinda find this situation a bit annoying.
    And IMO they do this to satisfy the tickers who are in constant search of the next 'shiny new thing'. This is another aspect of the current beer scene that I find to be less than ideal. But I suppose the tickers are happy?

  32. pat61

    pat61 Initiate (0) Dec 29, 2010 Minnesota

    There are probably 50 breweries within 10 miles of my house. The quality range is a bell shaped curve with some making crap beer but staying n business because they are neighborhood bars, most making decent to good beer, and some making great beer. There is a lot of experimenting with the latest hop varieties so a single basic recipe may appear as a new beer with each new batch, brewers concocting the kettle sour of the week also need only minor changes to a basic recipe to make a new beer, others dreaming up the most outrageous hazy IPA, and others spend their time finding new ways to abuse stouts. Even if I rely on breweries within biking distance of my house, they are producing more new beer than I can drink and even if I restrict my intake to breweries that I know make great beer I still can't keep up. Which is a damn fine improvement over the situation in 1980 when there were 92 brewers in the US for the most part making the same old crap.
  33. draheim

    draheim Poo-Bah (3,069) Sep 18, 2010 Washington

    I guess. I’m way past my ticking stage and I guess at a certain point it stops making sense. If breweries are making increasingly similar beers with different names just to satisfy tickers’ need to tick, it’s kind of like Mars making a million slightly different colored M&Ms that all taste the same so people can say they’ve tried them all. The only way it affects me is that the time and effort spent constantly developing slightly new and different variations on the same style could be spent perfecting just a handful. I just buy what I know I like most of the time so if this is what breweries think they need to do to stay relevant/interesting, I guess they know better than me what works for them.
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  34. aasher

    aasher Poo-Bah (3,608) Jan 27, 2010 Indiana

    I will try anything that Three Floyds, Side Project, Casey, Bottle Logic, Modern Times, Untitled Art, Tree House, Other Half, Hill Farmstead, and Russian River put out without question.
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  35. bsp77

    bsp77 Poo-Bah (2,404) Apr 27, 2008 Minnesota

    I have always been someone who will purchase anything from anyone, but also have certain breweries where I am more likely to always want to try their latest thing. Usually there are around a dozen breweries I feel that way about. The only change is that most of those dozen breweries used to be all over the country, now most of them are MN breweries.
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  36. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,994) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Right, because that dynamic is guaranteed to produce nothing but well thought out non-claptrap :rolling_eyes::rolling_eyes::rolling_eyes::wink:.

    IPAs are very easy for me; I have a very solid rotation of 6 or so to choose between in order to fill that slot in the fridge, and usually get what's freshest.
  37. officerbill

    officerbill Savant (968) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    Even with greater variety, I find myself buying from fewer breweries.
    Unless I'm in an experimental mood, or due to the recommendation of someone whose opinion I trust, I tend to “shop around” until I find a couple of breweries that make a beer I enjoy, at a price I can afford, and then stick with them for that particular style.

    This works for me because I tend toward the older, tried and true, European styles and avoid the various and ever-changing IPA iterations.
  38. Providence

    Providence Champion (815) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island

    Great to see you still kicking around! I stepped away for a bit. I was drawn back in my @Todd post about Black Lives Matter. Life's been good, you?

    The decoding of labels is part of the reason that I've reached this point. The more I think of it, the more I realize that I'm not so much locked into breweries or styles, as I am ABVs. I simply don't want stuff that's over 6%, or even 5% for that matter, much anymore. I certainly dabble (Fresh Nugget Nectar was not to be passed up), but I want stuff I can drink more than two of, especially in the summer months. Many breweries don't list ABV, which drives me mad. Most of the stuff that is listed is all greater than 7%, often much greater. That's not my speed much anymore. Harpoon Rec League, Pilsner Urquell, Jack's Abby House Lager, Sierra Nevada Summer Fest, these are all things I'm stocking these days. Sam Smith's Nutbrown will work its way back in during the fall months.
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  39. Insomniac

    Insomniac Disciple (332) Nov 5, 2019 Canada (ON)

    I have breweries that I trust unequivocally. I don't even research their new stuff, I just buy it.
  40. QuakeAttack

    QuakeAttack Crusader (730) Mar 19, 2012 California

    While I do like to tick, it's limited to when I'm on travel or the 2-3 beer festivals during a year that I attended in the past. However, most of consumption is at home and 90-95% of the beer is from the my usual suspects - SN, FW, Alesmith, Lagunistas, Fremont and a few other CA breweries.
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