23 Nov 2009

The Debate

It all started with this post in Ron's blog, followed by one from Alan, both saying how tired they were of "innovative beers". Stephen Beaumont responded by posting his defense of innovation. Stan entered the discussion (which was raging in the comment sections) asking if there really was any innovation to begin with, to which Stephen that yes, there is, though not nearly as much as many believe, and that there are also different kinds, and I couldn't agree more.

I don't really think anyone is against innovation or the new, not even Ron in his fiery rant. The problem, in my opinion, is another: those who worship innovation.

Several times I've read people praising how dynamic the American craft beer scene is thanks to all those great innovators (not so much, according to those on the know) compared to the European, a prisoner of those pesky traditions, which have not allowed it to develop anything new in who knows how many decades.

This crowd (many of whom don't really understand beer) imply, and sometimes say it openly, that the "innovative" brewers are better than the "traditionalists". Which is utter bollocks.

Being able to come out with a couple of new beers every year doesn't make you a better brewer, or worse one, than another who for many years has been brewing the same few, old and tired styles with consistent quality. Those are just different approaches to the business.

In their fanaticism for "the new" and for rating and ticking the biggest possible number of beers, these geeks seem to miss an essential thing, a brewery is, first and foremost, a business.

Why then those "Europeans" don't innovate enough? Well, it might be that some breweries operate in a conservative market, with little interest or openness for new flavours. It could also be that the brewers themselves aren't interested in doing anything out of the ordinary. If their beers are not only consistently good, but also sell well enough, who can blame them?

The debate, of course, also dealt with the topic of extreme beers (which have many a beer enthusiast sick to their teeth already). After meditating on the subject I've come to the conclusion that, though I enjoy drinking these kind of beers as much as the next geek, I don't always fancy "tasting". My favourite beers are those that I can pick from the fridge when I get home, that I can drink while I cook, watch a film, write, relax or spend some time with friends. In other words, beers that won't demand too much of my attention, but are interesting enough on their own at the same time.

And that is sort of the point Ron wanted to make from the beginning. I always say that the most, if not the only, important thing is what you've got in the glass. The rest, is at most, interesting. As long as a beer is well made, tasty, etc, I really don't care too much about what the labels or the marketing say.

Na Zdraví!

3 comments:

  1. Pretty much agree with you, i love different flavoured beer, but when we get 20 types from the same company that are almost the same it get's a bit much.Pheonix in Manchester have a cricket and a tennis beer for god's sake.

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  2. Was that you I saw in the CNN report on Czech beer, which featured Evan Rail? What pub was that?

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  3. Yep, it was me....

    The pub is Zlý Časy, in Nusle. The one with the 16, soon to be 24, taps. Great place.

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