24 Jun 2010

In Praise of Simplicity

Anyone who follows this blog knows that I like strong, complex, weird, extra hoppy, extreme beers as much as the next power BeerRater. My favourite, however, are the simple ones, those with ABV's from from low to average. The kind of beer I drink every day, that waits for me in the fridge, that is great company while watching the World Cup, that is a lubricant of those meetings with friends or that simply quenches my thirst after working on the garden.

There are some people who will tell you that saying that a beer is "simple" is to put it down. That's not true, "simple" doesn't mean "boring", it just means the opposite to "complex". To me, there are few things more satisfactory than a "simple and tasty" pint. Unfortunately, there are many out there who believe that if a beer isn't "complex, intense or challenging" it's almost not worth the bother, and that is why extreme, etc. beers receive such a disproportionate attention.

A couple of weeks ago, a fellow Spanish beer blogger commented that a new Imperial Stout from a local micro was a "risky bet" by its brewer. No way! Actually, for an already well reputed micro brewery an Imperial Stout is a very safe bet:

  • It's strong and for many people the quality of a beer is proportional to its ABV %. This also can help to "justify" a relatively high price.
  • It's not something for the masses. If I'm not wrong, only a couple of hl were brewed. It targets a niche where most people are already familiar with the Imperial Stout style and will sure want to taste a locally brewed version.
  • If it doesn't sell quickly it's not such a big deal, under the right conditions, a beer of this kind can be kept for a relatively long time without compromising its quality, and it could even improve with age!
  • And last, but not least. It might seem a paradox to some of you, but this kind of beers are actually easier to brew. Their complexity and intensity of flavours will help mask, or even integrate, defects that would ruin others.

In other words, a truly risky bet would be to brew a výčepní, a mild or any other classic style of rather low alcohol, brewed with just one or two kinds of malt and little known out of their countries of origin. As I said the other day these beers are not easy to brew and deserve more praise and recognition than they actually get.

Na Zdraví!

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2 comments:

  1. "It's strong and for many people the quality of a beer is proportional to its ABV %. This also can help to "justify" a relatively high price."

    By that definition, my 12% ABV Orange Barleywine would be one of the most expensive beers in the world, given that there exist a grand total of 18 bottles!

    "And last, but not least. It might seem a paradox to some of you, but this kind of beers are actually easier to brew. Their complexity and intensity of flavours will help mask, or even integrate, defects that would ruin others."

    The Barleywine was so simple to brew, so simple, enough booze and weirdness from the orange peel to hide anything that may have gone wrong. My recent Bitter though was a tragic disaster because I undercarbonated it in the bottle, and had to pour it down the sink, time after time.

    Let the hop whores and booze hounds chase their tails for the next high, give me a pint of Kout desitka and all is good with the world.

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  2. You've mentioned this many times, and I agree 100%. We could use a bit more diversity here, but being able to drink a good desítka or jedenáctka whenever it strikes my fancy compensates for that pretty well...

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