With all the shark-jumping, gold rushing, and flattening hype, I can see where this is coming from. I see a better 2019 coming with a lot of the casual beer fans dropping out and getting back into sports, video games and weed, and aficionados again beginning to be heard amid the softening media noise around beer.
I do definitely see this side more than many. I see it here at RateBeer. There are fewer people traveling the globe to odd corners to find great beer because it’s easier to get better beer locally. That’s true and for many, that’s a great thing.
To explain what’s happening among people in industry and among connoisseurs who see 2018 in a different light, as I see it, some feel that
wacky beer flavors - pastry stouts, breakfast cereal beers, candy and fruit in beers
a loss of respect for tradition and traditional notions of quality - that youngsters cringe at rauchbier, or make fun of Tipopils because it’s a pils were a couple examples
that hype train has escalated to ridiculous levels and is being gamed - brewery reached top 20 in the world on another site after only being open two weeks, carpet bagger traders wanting 4x+ dollar value for mega-hyped new beers
media stunts - that Belgian lambic producers are calling in strippers for media hype, Donald Trump gets in the middle of a cross-Atlantic partnership, Instagram models are receiving promotional beers and some allege payments from legitimate beer companies to promote their beer
real beer media folds - All About Beer and DRAFT die
tide of closures mounting - the largest number of closures this year, not all new beer companies and the reaper may cull some breweries still making good beer
The availability of okay beers locally, means fewer people will do less to seek out very good beer - One of the judges of NEIPA at GABF explained to me that there were a couple top examples and then dozens and dozens of others examples, possibly representing tens of thousands in the American marketplace, i.e. mediocrity is no longer a river to wade through to get what’s good, it’s an expansive ocean of mediocrity
People have been adding shit to beers for centuries. Don’t know why people get assed about it. I just don’t buy them.
Rauchbier has always been a “love it or hate it” kind of beer. A look back at older Schlenkerla ratings will confirm this.
Don’t pay any attention to this kind of stuff.
It’s a bummer when a decent brewer closes, but in my mind solid competition and a competitive market place is a good thing for beer quality, despite the occasional casualty.
I guess we’ll agree to disagree here… Everywhere I’ve travelled recently I’ve found great beer. World class? Maybe not. But if you can find 95th percentile beer in your backyard, why break your back to get 99th percentile beer? The additional effort is not typically worth the marginal increase in quality, in my mind.
I got into specialty beer about a decade ago in Belgium back when foreign influences and imports were virtually non-existent. Things were not better, there were world-class beers but also lots of bland rubbish sold under the guise of tradition and the lack of variety was often disappointing. The world-class beers are still here but there is lots of choice, the selection these days goes beyond my wildest dreams. The scene isn’t perfect these days but you have so much more choice now, spectacular new festivals and more breweries trying something new. If you want to remain with the old stuff it is still all there so no one lost in my opinion. I travelled to 10 European countries this year and saw places where tradition still exists alongside modern craft (Vilnius & Munich) as well countries that were once beer deserts actually having decent speciality beer (Minsk).
Yes there is a lot of rubbish haze and silly beers out there but these are at least more fun than having to drink the 20th bad tripel. I don’t always get new beer geeks who dislike everything which is traditional even when it is amazing beer but to each their own and they started out in a different beer landscape than I did. Honestly it isn’t like most beer geeks cared about proper lager a decade ago. Hype can get cringey but it also can be easily avoided. No one is forcing you get the new overhyped haze nonsense or whatever. Cantillon thing was stupid but let us be honest the beer industry has been rife with sexism long, long before 2018 so hopefully the backlash here is the start of a change. I have walked away from one lambiek release this year due to the large shitstorm that it was. As to breweries closing, seeing the quality of some I think more should go bankrupt or quit. Decent local beer is a great thing. Overall you can easily avoid all of the buzz. People shouldn’t glorify the past too much, you can get good local beer in Lisbon these days that is amazing.
Only things which I worry about is some traditions dying out as people turn to craft and tastes change like Lithuanian farmhouse ales but cultures change, people change and everything changes. People buying into AB-InBev nonsense like the BCBS release, people spending good money and standing in line in Europe to get a vintage bottle of a pasteurized beer is just stupidity. People should pass on a stupid money grab like that instead of acting like paying 20 euro of a beer that had recently infection issues is a privileged. Get something proper.
Beer scene seems pretty healthy to me. Prices are lower for sixpacks and twelvepacks than they were 10 years ago for the most part, at least in Wisconsin. Cans are all around cheaper, rather than more expensive, eg Surly twelves for a few bucks more than fourpacks used to be. A lot of shabby Hazys and Pastry Stouts, but lots of other good stuff…but generally speaking a shabby hazy is still better than a shabby “regular” IPA of the past. There are great Saisons all over the place…do you guys remember the crappy Saisons of ten years ago? The amateuristic nano-breweries have calmed down, while more quality oriented places are thriving. Overall beer education has seemed to have risen substantially. I think Brut and Kvass-yeast beers kind of suck, but I enjoy watching the evolution.
I saw somewhere on a well known website a beer been named “best beer in the world 2017” with just 19 ratings, of which 12 were made by people with less than 100 ratings (7 by people with less than 20 ratings). On top of that, the same beer started to get rating only on the 3rd of November.
Before judging how bad was this 2018 I wait for RateBeer Best of the year 2018
Others have already said most of what I would. Although I totally take your point about hazy Fuller’s. Sheesh.
But I don’t want “casual beer fans” getting out of beer. Welcome. Drink nice beer that you like. Don’t be fooled into chasing the artificially rare. But the rest of us shouldn’t feel damaged by missing out on hyped beers if the game is not worth the candle.
As for the Australian scene (to the apparently rather limited extent to which I am adjacent to it), this sums it up pretty well.
The short answer is that the whole market seems to be shrinking rather than growing and the long answer I can’t really be arsed with right now. Suffice to say that all the craft beer places in my area are either closing, down, reducing their craft beer selection or just not doing very well. From talking to these people, this does not seem to be limited to Cologne either.