Will craft beer ever get back to it's roots?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by keithmurray, Jun 19, 2015.

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  1. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Grand Pooh-Bah (3,142) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    I guess one man's gimmick is another man's innovation...
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  2. AntG21

    AntG21 Initiate (0) Aug 4, 2014 Syria

    28 years, and I can't recall a "gimmick" beer: http://stoudts.com/brewery/
    jzeilinger and tobelerone like this.
  3. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Grand Pooh-Bah (3,169) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Society

    I appreciate that Sierra Nevada is also now producing beer styles of a more traditional nature: Nooner Pilsner year round, Kolsch (summer variety pack), Vienna Lager (fall variety pack), etc.

    Breweries can do both: traditional styles of beer plus new 'thinking outside the box' beers.

  4. WillemHC

    WillemHC Zealot (568) Jun 21, 2013 Utah

    I would argue that most breweries aren't trying to out-gimmick each other. Its likely you just perceive things to be that way because the gimmicky beers are the ones that are announced and discussed on this website. There isn't a thread every time a new porter is released..
  5. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Grand Pooh-Bah (3,169) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Society

    I personally would not specifically use the word “gimmick’ but Stoudt’s has indeed brewed some ‘different’ beers:

    · Smooth Hoperator – hoppy Doppelbock

    · Stoudts Fat Dog Red Wine Barrel Aged (Winey Dog)

    · Stoudt's Barrel Aged Old Abominable

    · 1860 IPA

    · Black Eye PA – Black IPA

  6. charlzm

    charlzm Initiate (0) Sep 3, 2007 California

    Yes, I wish Sierra Nevada, Ballast Point, Green Flash, Alpine, Alesmith, Anchor and North Coast would stop making all those crazy beers and go back to making pale ales, IPAs, stouts... oh, wait.
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  7. chrisjws

    chrisjws Pooh-Bah (2,621) Dec 3, 2014 California
    Pooh-Bah Society

    You sound like my dad when he'd reminisce about the 1950's and them simpler times back then
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  8. cherche

    cherche Pooh-Bah (2,378) Mar 27, 2013 Washington
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    wasnt craft beer in itself a gimmick when it began?
  9. jmw

    jmw Initiate (0) Feb 4, 2009 North Carolina

    I am so tired of the word 'innovation' in American beer circles. Let's all pat each other on the back and go show everybody this new wheel we invented.
    Tut, 5thOhio, zid and 2 others like this.
  10. captaincoffee

    captaincoffee Pooh-Bah (2,132) Jul 10, 2011 Virginia
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    Seriously. I haven't seen any solid brewery stop producing their main lines to focus on gimmicks. I don't understand the original post at all. Are we really at the point where we need to complain about having too many good beers and options? I remember the "roots" of craft beer back in the early '90s...it meant Sam Adams was your only choice in 95% of the country. No thanks. I can tolerate 2% of beers having some weird gimmick if it means shelf after shelf of great beer at every bottle shop.
    rightcoast7 likes this.
  11. jesskidden

    jesskidden Pooh-Bah (2,969) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    At the time, many beer drinkers saw it as a return to traditional brewing and beer styles in the US - the gimmick beers of the era were the "no carbohydrates" low calorie "Light" beers, high abv malt liquors and the non-traditional "flavored" beers (Pittsburgh's HopnGator, Lone Star's Lime Lager, National's Malt Duck, Hamm's Right Time, etc.)
  12. keithmurray

    keithmurray Pooh-Bah (2,721) Oct 7, 2009 Connecticut

    Most of what folks are calling 'innovation' is really just trying to be extreme. I'm not seeing much innovation from breweries, just my opinion.
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  13. chrisjws

    chrisjws Pooh-Bah (2,621) Dec 3, 2014 California
    Pooh-Bah Society

    We all define innovative in different ways.

    However if we look in the dictionary:

    1: the introduction of something new
    2: a new idea, method, or device : novelty

    Just off the top of my head in California:
    Stone has innovated new hopping techniques
    Sierra Nevada has innovated new hopping techniques
    White labs is as cutting edge when it comes to yeast as it gets
    Many great breweries making some of the best sour beer produced in the US (Russian River, The Bruery, SARA)

    So yes, innovation is happening and your idea of what innovation is doesn't comport with reality.
    StoneBrewing and drtth like this.
  14. Caveworm

    Caveworm Initiate (0) Feb 26, 2014 Ohio

    I'll admit that I've been drawn in by my own curiosity at gimmicky brews before to change things up from more conventional styles. Now, am I always on the hunt for the "next big thing" in this realm of strangeness? Absolutely not. Its honestly been a while since my last one (Red Hot Rooster Stout).
  15. cherche

    cherche Pooh-Bah (2,378) Mar 27, 2013 Washington
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    Fair enough...i would imagine many of the early brewers were just doing it because it seemed fun, new and different and not because they grew up admiring trappist monks though...but you are right, gimmick is probably not the best word for it.
  16. Jeffreysan

    Jeffreysan Initiate (0) Apr 12, 2013 Virginia

    I think that the OP has to keep in mind that one person's gimmick is another person's innovation and advancement in style. There was a time when adding a ton of hops to a beer was onetime considered as a gimmick and innovators like Fritz Matag, Ken Grossman, Sam Calagione, and Greg Koch, et al., were considered crazy for hopping up their beers and making "bitter beers," yet now they're rightfully celebrated as innovators and hopping up beers is an accepted and celebrated practice. Hell, it seems to me most beers are decried when they don't have "enough" hops in them.

    Another "gimmick/innovation" that is now celebrated is barrel-aging in used whiskey, bourbon, wine, sherry, port, etc. casks. I'm sure that when the first brewer decided to age a beer in one, others thought, wtf? Lout look at what that has done to the industry.

    Personally, I love the fact that brewers and breweries take risks and try new things, as without it the craft beer scene would remain stagnant. The best advice to all is this: if you think a beer or what a brewery is doing is gimmicky, then just ignore it and move on to a beer and brewery that you like and don't think is gimmicky. There are people who like those "gimmicky" beers, and if not, then those beers will go away. Remember, to the majority of the world who drinks AB-InBev, Sab-Miller, Heineken, and similar beers, we're the ones drinking "gimmicky" beers.
    bluejacket74 likes this.
  17. BeerStyx

    BeerStyx Initiate (0) Nov 11, 2014 Canada (ON)


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  18. JaefromLA

    JaefromLA Initiate (0) May 19, 2015 California

    I don't get the question. You got to drink out of the box, son!
  19. bubseymour

    bubseymour Grand Pooh-Bah (4,584) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    Experimental new beer flavors and brewing methods should be embraced and the really tasty ones will fall out as new hybrid styles and such. And the gimmicky marketed ones that aren't of good quality will only sell well for 1 or 2 seasons then fade away.
  20. lionelhutz23

    lionelhutz23 Initiate (0) Jul 21, 2014 Florida

    Gimmicky beers are fine. It's just annoying when they taste like shit and are yet still bottled/canned and put on shelves.
  21. SaisonRichBiere

    SaisonRichBiere Pooh-Bah (1,959) Mar 23, 2011 Michigan

    This is precisely why I believe Three Floyd's is great. Their year-rounds- namely Alpha King and Dreadnaught, are phenomenal, straightforward, "roots" type offerings. They do very few gimmicky things, and never at the expense of flagships that are super solid.
    BeerBob likes this.
  22. nc41

    nc41 Initiate (0) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina

    Water hops yeast malt, that's as basic as it gets.

    You can twist this from an IPA to a stout.
    5thOhio likes this.
  23. DeanMoriarty

    DeanMoriarty Initiate (0) May 9, 2010 California

    if it tastes good, who gives a fu*k ???
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  24. TongoRad

    TongoRad Grand Pooh-Bah (3,838) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    The roots are fine; this flavored-everything phase is just a passing fad. Enjoy it while you can.

    What I'd like to see is a return to the fundamentals, myself. I'm coming across way too much poorly made beer within the past year- and that's with me trying to be careful about it, too. God only knows the true state of affairs
    Kevin67, tobelerone, champ103 and 4 others like this.
  25. kerry4porters

    kerry4porters Initiate (0) Dec 31, 2012 Arizona

    some of those "gimmicks" make for delicious beers. At least a lot of the barrel aged ones. 2 examples off the top of my head where the I don't care for out right dislike the regular version but love the barrel version SN Bigfoot and Founders Dirty Bastard. Put those in a whiskey barrel and magic happens. Just my .02
  26. Alpha309

    Alpha309 Initiate (0) Nov 13, 2014 California

    My opinion is that beer is part of the food industry. We don't get all up in arms when someone makes things that seem like they don't go together, like chicken and waffles. We just think, oh that is interesting and then try it. I don't understand why there is backlash when a brewery tries this. Experimentation and innovation are good.
  27. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Initiate (0) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    Pish. Historically, beer was adding everything in the pantry and seeing what stuck. A lot of them became very special beers reserved for special times, and holidays. That is also American brewing to a T. Because in its origin, it was a bunch of European brewers in a new land trying to figure out a new world of ingredients to use in making beer. They already knew a healthy amount of what they had access to, and that was a pantries worth.. Historically, fermentation and drinking the results of it is about sticking everything in the pantry into a vessel, or a range of vessels if you need to heat it up, boil it or whatever and letting whatever cultures are being introduced to it or already present and available to take over.
  28. 5thOhio

    5thOhio Initiate (0) May 13, 2007 South Carolina

  29. 5thOhio

    5thOhio Initiate (0) May 13, 2007 South Carolina

    Preach it brother ! Hallalieua !
  30. Scrapss

    Scrapss Pooh-Bah (2,158) Nov 15, 2008 Pennsylvania

    Dear lord you read my mind on this one. These and other PA stalwarts like Yards, Straub and Penn are holding down the fort with many solid offerings that are firmly rooted. Sure they experiment with some stuff, but the core is intact.

    edit: and yeungling....
    #70 Scrapss, Jun 20, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2015
  31. Greywulfken

    Greywulfken Grand Pooh-Bah (5,669) Aug 25, 2010 New York
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    I don't think craft has to get back to its roots per se - the roots are still there - solid beers without undue gimmickry, readily available - but as the industry has grown, you're seeing lots of new wrinkles and twists in an effort to keep us engaged while testing for future market trends.
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  32. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Initiate (0) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    Oh, really?
    Many different countries use a host of different ingredients, and cultures in their beer and always have. That's regional preference. That's economic choice.
  33. CheapHysterics

    CheapHysterics Initiate (0) Apr 1, 2009 Pennsylvania

    I find the gimmicky stuff annoying too, but I don't see how the market would support all the breweries that are currently out there if they were all just trying to make the best traditional interpretations of each style that they could. How many pale ales do you need when you get SNPA everywhere? How many american porters do you need when you have Edmund Fitz? Breweries are just trying to make themselves stand out from the crowd and I don't fault them for it, but sometimes the line between gimmick and innovation can be pretty blurry.
    Billet likes this.
  34. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Grand High Pooh-Bah (7,923) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Society

    I think there is a mix of both types of breweries in the industry, which is fine by me.
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  35. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Grand High Pooh-Bah (7,923) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Society

    I think @MostlyNorwegian just overstated it a bit.

    But certainly throughout the history of fermented beverages (beer, mead, cider, spirits, etc) people have used whatever locally available fermentables and seasonings/herbs were available. But now with a global marketplace, brewers can use whatever ingredients exist, they aren't hamstrung by whatever can be locally grown.
  36. BaseballNBeer

    BaseballNBeer Crusader (466) Apr 22, 2015 Michigan

    Wait. Are we sure it's OK to use "innovation" in this thread after Bell's sued that couple down in NC???

  37. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    But I'm curious. How do you tell the difference between when someone is adding ingredients just because they can and when they are testing out ideas, intuitions and/or hunches about what might work? Seems like someone has to be a mind reader to be able to do that.
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  38. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Just as an FYI, if you've not read it yet you may find this is interesting:


    and it suggests there was, early on, indeed a lot of experimentation to see what would work, etc.
  39. juke_cleveland

    juke_cleveland Initiate (0) Sep 12, 2014 Indiana

    I might be shit on for this, but I feel if a brewery can't produce a solid pilsner, I don't respect them as much. It shows the flaws in brewing. If you are cutting corners or skimping somewhere, it'll show in a pils. That doesn't mean I don't drink from that brewery. It just tells me that the brewery knows what they are doing.
    DarkerTheBetter likes this.
  40. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    OK, so how do you tell then? Take DFH for example, they are accused of just "throwing in ingredients" a lot. Yet in each fo their beers there's been perfectly reasonable basis for what they've done. Which brewery would fit with having a portfolio of just "throwing in stuff?"
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