Modern trends

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Craig
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Modern trends

Postby Craig » Fri May 15, 2020 7:25 am

I was reading the blurb on a new breweries website about what kind of beer they want to make, and it got me thinking about the current trends in craft beer:

Our brewing focus is on the modern beer styles we love to drink, share and seek out. Top of the list are hazy and juicy hop-forward IPAs--big on flavour and low on bitterness. We also love brewing and drinking big pastry stouts that feature dessert-like flavours such as coffee, chocolate, coconut and maple syrup. We round out our lineup with fun and exploratory sour beers where we experiment with different flavour combinations through large fruit additions and other complimentary ingredients.


So you have three trends there:

1. IPAs without the bitter
2. Sweet stouts with adjunct
3. Sours with lots of adjunct

Hazy IPAs have always struck me as things that appeal to people who like sweetness. No bitter, lots of citrusy notes, pushed to the extreme it honestly tastes more like orange juice than it does beer to me.

Pastry stouts are obviously all about sweetness. I find they generally leave behind a lot of the heat that an imperial Stout would bring to the party.

Heavily fruited sours are often more sweet than sour. Like if your beer is 50% fruit juice, is it still beer? Much like the hazy IPAs I feel like these often don't really have a beer flavour any more.

So the general trend, to me, is sweet beers that don't taste a whole lot like beer. By now you can probably tell from my tone that I'm not a fan. I liked the bitter note of a West coast IPA, the heat of an IS and the tartness of a traditional sour.

I know there's also a trend going towards lagers. I'm half expecting that to expand to traditional ale styles in the next few years. British and Belgian styles are due for a comeback.
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Re: Modern trends

Postby S. St. Jeb » Fri May 15, 2020 7:50 am

Craig wrote:I was reading the blurb on a new breweries website about what kind of beer they want to make, and it got me thinking about the current trends in craft beer:

Our brewing focus is on the modern beer styles we love to drink, share and seek out. Top of the list are hazy and juicy hop-forward IPAs--big on flavour and low on bitterness. We also love brewing and drinking big pastry stouts that feature dessert-like flavours such as coffee, chocolate, coconut and maple syrup. We round out our lineup with fun and exploratory sour beers where we experiment with different flavour combinations through large fruit additions and other complimentary ingredients.


So you have three trends there:

1. IPAs without the bitter
2. Sweet stouts with adjunct
3. Sours with lots of adjunct

Hazy IPAs have always struck me as things that appeal to people who like sweetness. No bitter, lots of citrusy notes, pushed to the extreme it honestly tastes more like orange juice than it does beer to me.

Pastry stouts are obviously all about sweetness. I find they generally leave behind a lot of the heat that an imperial Stout would bring to the party.

Heavily fruited sours are often more sweet than sour. Like if your beer is 50% fruit juice, is it still beer? Much like the hazy IPAs I feel like these often don't really have a beer flavour any more.

So the general trend, to me, is sweet beers that don't taste a whole lot like beer. By now you can probably tell from my tone that I'm not a fan. I liked the bitter note of a West coast IPA, the heat of an IS and the tartness of a traditional sour.

I know there's also a trend going towards lagers. I'm half expecting that to expand to traditional ale styles in the next few years. British and Belgian styles are due for a comeback.

I substantially agree with this assessment. Elements that strike a particular chord with me are:
"pushed to the extreme it honestly tastes more like orange juice than it does beer to me"
"if your beer is 50% fruit juice, is it still beer?"
"I liked the bitter note of a West coast IPA"

I don't dislike the 'new' styles per se, it's all a question of how much I want to have them vs other beer styles.
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Re: Modern trends

Postby sofakingdrunk » Fri May 15, 2020 8:18 am

Agreed. I do love a good Hazy ipa....but one a day/night is generally enough for me. I tend to get palate fatigue rather quickly from them. I don’t enjoy sweet things, so pastry stouts are an absolute turn off, and I’m kind of in the middle in the fruited sour thoughts. Gimme a Flanders red any day instead.
Im glad about the increase/quality improvement of our lagers in these parts lately. And I find those have generally been my go-to for the past year or so.
Would love if we could get more, really well done English Mild,bitters,English pale ale etc.
I wonder when the point will come that the Hazy ipa market become over saturated(if not already).
How great would it be if a new place opened up firing out West Coast ipa right out of the gate.
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Modern trends & the spectrum

Postby Belgian » Fri May 15, 2020 10:18 am

I don't disagree that with 'modern' beer styles the more reductive and boring end of the spectrum infantilizes people's taste for beer. Soften, 'yummier', fruitier, more cocktail-like or candy-like brews.

This has always been true of cider, but there's also an extreme range for it. The best Revel and West Ave ciders are definitely for grown up tastes.

Same with beer. I'd argue it's not the modernity of new beer styles but it's the specific approach. There can be haze IPAs and adjuncted sweet stouts and sours that still have oodles of complexity and depth.

Or we won't drink them much! eg. I liked the Collective Arts Blueberry Cacao Sour, but there's no way I'll spend my CA money on that particular beer again. Stone City Ales Everything Is Purple, that had a more dry/tart/acidic balance for my palate, it's just a different thing.

seangm wrote:For me the ideal IPA is somewhere during that transition where breweries were starting to do more late additions and dry-hopping, but still retained some bitterness on the back end. .

That's probably what pre-industrial beer was like, not processed. Lagers and ales that looked natural.

I recently had a somewhat hazy IPA with a West Coast piney bite, that's a good 'middle ground.' Maybe that will be the next trend, a hybrid of 2010 and 2020 trends.
Last edited by Belgian on Fri May 15, 2020 10:32 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Modern trends

Postby seangm » Fri May 15, 2020 10:22 am

Craig wrote:Heavily fruited sours are often more sweet than sour. Like if your beer is 50% fruit juice, is it still beer? Much like the hazy IPAs I feel like these often don't really have a beer flavour any more.


This right here, I agree wholeheartedly. I see stuff like the "slushy" beers that are really popular in the US, and at the risk of sounding like I'm trying to be a gatekeeper, that stuff isn't beer. How is a sour with so much fruit, lactose or other sweetener added that it isn't sour anymore, still a sour? The trend towards extreme sweetness makes me just wish people would admit: they don't actually like beer. These are craft alco-pops, or essentially radlers. Obviously we don't have to drink them, but today's trend towards these styles and consumers wanting a new "tick" every day means that breweries are neglecting other styles and their lineups are dominated by essentially the same few styles over and over with the adjuncts switched up.

Hazy IPAs I'm a bit mixed on, I really do enjoy a lot of them as long as they don't veer too far into the sweet territory; mercifully milkshake IPAs seem to be waning in popularity. While I still enjoy a classic West Coast-style, I do enjoy lower bitterness with lots of aromatic and juicy hops, although I too can only drink a couple in one sitting. They seem to make me feel more full and bloated than filtered styles, or styles with less particulate. GLB's latest IPA for instance, HazeMama, I found to be so viscous that 1 can was more than enough. For me the ideal IPA is somewhere during that transition where breweries were starting to do more late additions and dry-hopping, but still retained some bitterness on the back end.

I guess like anything though, if you've been into it long enough you hit your sort of idealized point in the scene, and new trends can seem strange or stupid. Ultimately breweries are going to brew what people want, but I agree and also hope that the simultaneous trend towards lagers is sign that other traditional styles will make a comeback too. Breweries like Godspeed are doing some amazing work by delving deeper into German and Czech styles, and even English with their Oi! Bitter. I'd love to see more of that.
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Re: Modern trends

Postby duckdown » Fri May 15, 2020 10:29 am

I love Hazy IPAs because they share so many notes with cannabis. I actually call them the sativa of beers, because they have so many common terpenes

I love fruited sours, because they are interesting and utilize seasonal ingredients. I don’t care if they lean sweet. You can easily find pucker worthy sours.

Pastry stouts are disgusting, and I don’t know anyone who drinks them

RE the first two styles, I think they’re interesting to people like me because we’ve been drinking lagers and Pilsner for decades now, and are chasing loud flavours and noses

I actually am liking the micro IPA and nano IPA with low ABV and lots of haze. I just bought a can of Town Brewery Chill As Frig Lager so I do still buy them.
Last edited by duckdown on Fri May 15, 2020 10:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Modern trends

Postby Belgian » Fri May 15, 2020 10:40 am

duckdown wrote:Pastry stouts are disgusting, and I don’t know anyone who drinks them

I think they’re interesting to people like me because we’ve been drinking lagers and Pilsner for decades now, and are chasing loud flavours and noses

That's an interesting description. A lot of the"New World" wines are also very loud, giving you all this berry and spice box upfront at the expense of complexity and development over several minutes... its all about 'size' and immediacy of impact even at the expense of identity of the wine grapes. Boring too.

I couldn't resist the comparison, because obviously there's a market for that. But it's far from a completely dominant market, and as in the case of wine you will always have beer people looking for the authentic and characterful.
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Re: Modern trends

Postby duckdown » Fri May 15, 2020 11:00 am

CounterPoint seems to be doing a good job of doing hazy, but light bodied IPAs that I consistently find very different and easy drinking vs the THICC Badlands style bombs. They’re super crushable, but thin bodied. In a good way IMO, great for summer.

For sours I’m loving Half Hours on Earth. They’ve currently got a West Coast Sour IPA on deck that likely would appeal to you gents
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Re: Modern trends

Postby Napalm Frog » Fri May 15, 2020 11:12 am

Belgian wrote:That's an interesting description. A lot of the"New World" wines are also very loud, giving you all this berry and spice box upfront at the expense of complexity and development over several minutes... its all about 'size' and immediacy of impact even at the expense of identity of the wine grapes. Boring too.


The way you phrased that is reminiscent to the Loudness Wars in audio mixing during the 90s - louder volume had the illusion of better quality to the average listener. It was a trend that lasted 20 years or so, and looks like it's made its way into food/drink. The visual appeal of these colourful beers and social media help to perpetuate this, too.
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Re: Modern trends

Postby seangm » Fri May 15, 2020 11:16 am

duckdown wrote:RE the first two styles, I think they’re interesting to people like me because we’ve been drinking lagers and Pilsner for decades now, and are chasing loud flavours and noses

I actually am liking the micro IPA and nano IPA with low ABV and lots of haze. I just bought a can of Town Brewery Chill As Frig Lager so I do still buy them.


That's a good point, I imagine there's still a pent up demand for something different than "your parent's beers" and nowadays you can find an incredible amount of variety and flavours far beyond what most people think of beer.

It is heartening to see that lagers are back in though, good lagers that is- I would say today's craft lagers are also a response to the crappy macro lagers that dominated for decades. There are so many styles of lager too, so hopefully more people discover the variety and don't associate lager with the bland, watery stuff we grew up drinking.
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Re: Modern trends

Postby seangm » Fri May 15, 2020 11:25 am

Napalm Frog wrote:
Belgian wrote:That's an interesting description. A lot of the"New World" wines are also very loud, giving you all this berry and spice box upfront at the expense of complexity and development over several minutes... its all about 'size' and immediacy of impact even at the expense of identity of the wine grapes. Boring too.


The way you phrased that is reminiscent to the Loudness Wars in audio mixing during the 90s - louder volume had the illusion of better quality to the average listener. It was a trend that lasted 20 years or so, and looks like it's made its way into food/drink. The visual appeal of these colourful beers and social media help to perpetuate this, too.


Good point re: social media, it definitely plays a big role. And not just in food/drink, but every aspect of society. While it has democratized people's voice more than ever, you now have millions or even billions of people shouting for attention. Everyone wants to stand out, and this means turning everything up to 11. To many can art is just as important, if not more important, than the beer inside. The market is more crowded now too, which compounds the need to be bigger, bolder, louder etc.

Belgian made a point earlier, infantilizing people's beer tastes, which is also spot on. You can see this in so much of the beer branding that channels things like cereal and junk food brands, cartoons and media, bright colours, etc that a lot of us probably grew up with in our childhood. I'm sure someone studying psychology could tie it all together succinctly.
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Re: Modern trends

Postby Craig » Fri May 15, 2020 12:34 pm

I think there's definitely an element of me (us?) preferring the beers we first got into craft beer with at play here too. I suspect that if I were, oh fuck I'm getting old, 15 years younger and just getting my first exposure I'd be chasing the haziest of hazies and deriding the overly bitter and kinda boring old West Coast IPAs, much like I used to deride lagers and those malty IPAs that used to be common in Ontario. Didn't we used to call those Ontario Pale Ale or some such? At the end of the day to each their own and I don't mean to disparage the styles or those who like them, I'm just saying they aren't really my thing. People should drink what they like.

It is interesting for me too, that when I try the best examples of the newer styles, I love them. Duckdown mentioned HHOE before, and I love that brewery. They make fruited sours too, but when I try their stuff I always think I'm drinking something that is both sour and beer, but also has fruit in it. Sign me up! I feel the same way about a hazy IPA from Barncat. Those guys have that style dialed in, and they're terrific. But again there, I think they hit the balance better than many and I've never had one of theirs that was cloyingly sweet or didn't have a little bitterness or a hint of "beer". I had a Green City from Other Half earlier this year, which I think is in many ways one of the standards this style is judged by in the States, and this was my note on untappd:

I can't imagine this style being better. Actually has bitterness. Doesn't feel like chewing hops.


What get me are a lot of the examples of these styles you get on tap and the LCBO or on tap from most other brewers. Not even bad breweries really, just existing ones that are chasing the trends a bit. I think the majority of them end up being over-fruited, over-sweet or over-hopped messes. I suppose what I might call unbalanced, someone else might call experimental or pushing boundaries.
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Re: Modern trends

Postby Craig » Fri May 15, 2020 12:37 pm

Oh, on the sweetness note. I think it's a good point that this does make for relatively accessible beer, that might appeal to many who are used to mixers, wine, coolers, ciders, etc. What's odd to me is that it seems to be the non-mainstream breweries that are pushing this stuff, and the price point is often anything but accessible. In days past many small, experimental breweries almost wore being inaccessible as a badge of pride!
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Re: Modern trends

Postby duckdown » Fri May 15, 2020 1:35 pm

seangm wrote:demand for something different than "your parent's beers"

Definitely, but beyond that, it's even guys like me that are about 40 years old and were already drinking lagers and pilsners for years. Mostly because, a stroll through the Beer Store in the 90's/2000's was literally just shelves on shelves of Euro pilsner/lager imports at best, or a couple really bad locals

It is heartening to see that lagers are back in though

Maybe they are maybe they aren't.. I feel like breweries are deliberately putting them out to try and get people off the hazy beers, or to keep stuff in stock instead of flying off the shelves in a day.. But they usually end up sitting in stock for 4x as long even though they're 1/2 the price.. My problem with them is mostly just that there's not a ton of room for creativity with them


Craig wrote:I suspect that if I were, oh fuck I'm getting old, 15 years younger and just getting my first exposure I'd be chasing the haziest of hazies and deriding the overly bitter and kinda boring old West Coast IPAs

Went in reverse for me personally. Not a young man, nor a new drinker. I ended up here by choice, intrigued by the creativity and frequency of new flavor combinations being released. I also am big on color, and I love the vibrancy of a nuclear yellow fresh hoppy IPA

much like I used to deride lagers and those malty IPAs that used to be common in Ontario

I still deride those, LOL

It is interesting for me too, that when I try the best examples of the newer styles, I love them. Duckdown mentioned HHOE before, and I love that brewery. They make fruited sours too, but when I try their stuff I always think I'm drinking something that is both sour and beer, but also has fruit in it. Sign me up!

Nailed it.. I haven't found those to be excessive in any way.. Just awesome.

I feel the same way about a hazy IPA from Barncat. Those guys have that style dialed in, and they're terrific.

BarnCat are my favorites, and not just because I like to support local. I do not like the people at Badlands nor their business model. I end up with their beers weekly via trade, but I buy BarnCat personally

What get me are a lot of the examples of these styles you get on tap and the LCBO or on tap from most other brewers. Not even bad breweries really, just existing ones that are chasing the trends a bit. I think the majority of them end up being over-fruited, over-sweet or over-hopped messes. I suppose what I might call unbalanced, someone else might call experimental or pushing boundaries.

I can't argue with that.. all aboard the hype train
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Re: Modern trends

Postby seangm » Fri May 15, 2020 5:55 pm

duckdown wrote:Maybe they are maybe they aren't.. I feel like breweries are deliberately putting them out to try and get people off the hazy beers, or to keep stuff in stock instead of flying off the shelves in a day.. But they usually end up sitting in stock for 4x as long even though they're 1/2 the price.. My problem with them is mostly just that there's not a ton of room for creativity with them


I'm not so sure about that, at least lately. I try to keep up with new releases daily and I find the lagers and easy drinking stuff is getting snapped up pretty quickly. For instance it wasn't until the second round of Left Field's Ice Cold Beer that I managed to get any, same goes for releases like Blood Light from Blood Brothers, or Beyond the Pale's Clean Cut.

As far lagers go, there's such a breadth to the style, I mean a Baltic porter is technically a lager although I realize typically we're talking about pale golden beers. Theoretically you could do nearly as much with them as any type of ale, but part of the appeal of a lager is the cleanness, the refreshing drinkable quality, so it'd be a bit counter-productive I suppose.

duckdown wrote:Definitely, but beyond that, it's even guys like me that are about 40 years old and were already drinking lagers and pilsners for years. Mostly because, a stroll through the Beer Store in the 90's/2000's was literally just shelves on shelves of Euro pilsner/lager imports at best, or a couple really bad locals


I get this one, though I'm a bit younger and didn't really get into craft until the late '00s (although it was still pretty undeveloped even then), my 68 year old uncle for instance has really got into craft beer over the past couple years. This is a guy who drank stuff like Keith's most of his life. Now he's not quite into the heavily fruited sours or most experimental stuff, but he's always trying new beers and seems to enjoy a pretty wide variety. Though for every friend and family member I know who gets into craft, there are still a bunch who drink stuff like Carling and just don't care to try anything aside from what they've always drank. Different strokes and whatnot...

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