Hi again and Happy Friday, beer lovers! Stop in and have a cold one with us.
We haven't played the theme song in a while, so let's start there.
I've been enjoying the first ever Silicon Valley Beer Week, and if the events I was at are a fair example it has been a success. You can tell that craft beer and beer festivals are riding a wave of popularity; popularity with consumers and with businesses chasing those available dollars. The list of events included some restaurants that are in no way beer destinations, but smelled the commercial opportunity of being in the Beer Week program.
What I'm starting to smell in the craft brew business is the aroma of 2000 here in the valley, the tail end of the internet boom. Craft brew is trendy. Increasing demand has helped open up shelf space and tap space for newcomers -- but not all of them are equally worthy. Eventually companies develop a reputation, or don't, and this will shake out. Increasing demand also leads successful companies with good reputations to expand; odds are that not all of them will be able to maintain quality and management focus as they grow.
In tech we used to talk about "engineering-driven" companies, which was often not a compliment because such companies would have great people and great technology that somehow didn't turn into great products. The philosophy there is "we built it because we could, isn't it cool?", not "we built it because we knew we would sell lots of a product like this".
IMO we're seeing too many beers like this. Last night's I was at a big New Belgium event with nearly 30 of their beers. Several of which sounded or tasted quite strange. I guess it's good that New Belgium lets their brewers experiment, along with cranking out vat after vat of Fat Tire. And I guess it's good that they brew and sell some of those experiments. In his book, Mitch Steele talks about the frustration of being one of the development brewers at Anheuser-Busch; he'd take their test stuff to beer festivals and hear it praised by fellow brewers, but none was ever sold. But I'm reminded of brewing genius Pierre Celis, who always said that spices in beer need to be subtle. New Belgium's Coconut Curry Hefeweizen is the antithesis of this rule.
Although I guess the weird and challenging stuff is less offensive than some of the mediocre stuff (that a number of local brewers and brewpubs somehow get away with selling).
I'm off to the homebrew club and will reply to comments later. I'll be drinking whatever people bring to share. What are you drinking?