Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Flat Tire -- what's up with geeks?

This month's Buzz is about the way some purported craft beer lovers talk trash about craft beers they think aren't good enough. I think they need smacked.

18 comments:

bill mc said...

Quick question Lew...what is the brett bomb you refer to???

Sorry to be a pain in the arse with so many questions...

P.S. Read the article and I do know what oxidation is now. Thanks.

P.S.S. Want my baseball bat to smack the knuckleheads???? ;)

Lew Bryson said...

Sorry to be a pain in the arse with so many questions...

As I always tell the kids: Thus, we learn.

I assume you're speaking in the general: a "brett bomb" would be a beer brewed with a lot of wild brettanomyces yeast, to the point where the funky, horse blanket character of the brett was the overpowering characteristic of the beer.

Sam K. said...

Lew,

Thanks as always for a level-headed perspective. The insults from those "in the know" have been flying in various directions for a long time, and NONE OF IT IS PRODUCTIVE. Your observations on well-respected craft brewers can be taken a step farther to the lack of respect that has been afforded the regional brewers for decades. Yuengling isn't "real beer." Who in their right mind would drink Stegmaier?

I was in my local a while back (Otto's in State College, an excellent hangout (where I am a proud Pub Club member), wearing my old Iron City sweatshirt. Another Pub Clubber walked past and remarked "Why are you drinking good beer, yet promoting swill with your shirt?" Like I would wear clothing that would represent something that wasn't significant to me! (I was an Iron salesman in a past life.)

I grew up near Smithton, PA, where my Dad worked for Jones Brewing for 35 years. It was a great regional in its day, making a good, solid workingman's beer. Even in the 70's I had to defend the "Boy, that beer sure is crap" remarks from the Stroh's and Miller drinkers. like the differences were night and day!

My point is that all breweries (God bless 'em!) are here for a reason, whatever that may be, though the differences may be more distinct these days. They all make beers that serve the needs and wants of a certain percentage of the beer-consuming population, and I celebrate that every time I can, whether the beer be from Straub or Weyerbacher.

Can't we all just get along? If taste were not a subjective thing, we'd all be satisfied with MGD. We'll be a stronger and more effective voice for beer advocacy once we make that commitment.

Stonch said...

Lew, I like that article a lot. I can say hand on heart I agree with every word of it. Well said.

Loren said...

I never realized until recently that Fat Tire was modeled after DeKoninck? Huh. I've no serious experience with it but I recall liking it, for a flagship offering. Plus without it there would be no La Folie! Reason enough? Yup.

Steven said...

Lew, since many refer to Fat Tire as a "transition beer," me included, do you have a take on transition beers? That is, those beers that make the common beer drinker step up a little to discover better beer?

Fat Tire came along after I'd run my course from mainstream to import to micros - and back again. Many of my friends and acquaintances, most who hadn't found better beer, raved to me about it. I tried it based on these impressions, but was unimpressed - never to any point of ridicule, however. I could see where they were finding their epiphanies and I could see where this brew could be a springboard to (even) better beer.

And I'd readily agree that Fat Tire is nowhere near A-B Bud, and maybe I need to re-evaluate my opinion of "transition beers" to see if I'm being too elitist, but Sierra Nevada PA is still one of my favorite beers - no matter what the geeks think, but I've never seen the draw to Fat Tire other than that wake-up call. Maybe I need some reacquaintance.

Steven said...

BTW -- You've left a ripple at BA:
http://beeradvocate.com/forum/read/1087211

Stan Hieronymus said...

Steve H wrote:

many refer to Fat Tire as a "transition beer"

Based upon sales I would say that it is more of a "destination beer."

People don't have to justify drinking it by saying, "I'm learning to like this and then I am moving on to the Abbey."

Steven said...

"People don't have to justify drinking it..."

I don't think anyone needs to "justify" anything they drink, even Bud (just don't try to tell me it's the best), and that's part of Lew's point to his ire on the beer geeks.

And I didn't mean to imply that you need to leave a transition beer behind as you move along -- to the contrary, I always enjoy SNPA and Anchor Steam - my own transitions.

hrb said...

Love my beer, can't stand the beer snobbery. You nailed it Lew.

FWIW, I had Fat Tire for the first time a couple of years ago in a restaurant accompanying a steak and it was pretty tasty. Not every beer needs to be mind blowing...

Alexander D. Mitchell IV said...

Lew, much as I agree 100% that the snobbery is out of hand, I believe two factors are at work in the case of Fat Tire:

First of all, I'm wiling to actually bet that Fat Tire HAS changed markedly from the days when it came from the Ft. Collins ex-Union Pacific station in 22-oz. bottles back in 1992-93. I recall the 22-ouncers being bottle-conditioned, which I don't think (correct me if I'm wrong) the current six-packs are. There's always the chance that my palate has changed in fifteen years, but I have notes from those 22-ouncer bottles in the early 1990s (part of an article on beers brewed in railroad stations, of all things), and I'm betting the Fat Tire has been "dumbed down" just a touch from its old self. Drinkers I talked to out West say the same thing, and they drink/have better access to the stuff. This does nothing for the reviewers of today who were ten years old when those "bombers" were in circulation, however....

The other factor in this, however, is right at the heart of your thesis: NB Fat Tire is available in Wal-Marts throughout Arizona (at least last time I was there), along with Bridgeport IPA from California. Therefore, it's likely the "snobs" are lumping Fat Tire with the Sam Adams and other mass-market stuff--not exclusive enough for them. I'm wiling to wager that if Thomas Hardy's or New Glarus Belgian Red were in Wal-Marts, the beer snobs would "diss" it.

Hmmmmm. Now I'm compelled to find out if New Glarus six-packs ARE sold in Wal-Marts in Wisconsin/UP Michigan.......

Carrie said...

Lew, I really enjoy your perspective. People read my blog and say "you like all the beers you drink". In my opinion, it's awfully hard to find a bad brew if it's a craft-brew. There are excellent beers and beers that leave something to be desired, but in the end, they're all made with a little more lovin' than a macro. To me, that adds a little something - a lot of something, actually.
I also applaud your line "don't make beer a club..." What I love so much about beer is that it's the people's drink. It has SO much culture in it. I hope we never see beer go too snobby.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed fat tire when i lived in Phoenix. It's got a great carmel flavor Though I can't drink much of it, holds heavy in my stomach.

Jeff Linkous said...

I have this bad habit of tracing things to Simpsons episodes.

And the point you make here, Lew ... well, I can manage (probably reaching in the process) to frame it Springfield. Here goes:

Lisa and a teenage animal rights activist are talking about vegetarianism, and soon the conversation turns to just how vegan is vegan. The kid tells Lisa he "won't eat anything that casts a shadow..." (By the way, the kid also uses his pants pockets to compost mulch.)

So what does it have to do with this topic? Well, those geeks who would fashionably denounce serviceable beers are swilling hot air and burping hyperbole. They are that kid who doesn't eat anything that casts a shadow.

They're actually laughable creatures, I think, people who judge a beer not by how it tastes but by the ABV they immediately scan for on the pub's chalkboard or the bottle's label.

hrb said...

"They're actually laughable creatures, I think, people who judge a beer not by how it tastes but by the ABV they immediately scan for on the pub's chalkboard or the bottle's label."

Or worse, they judge living breathing people based on the beer they drink! A "macro" attitude if there ever was one.

Rick Sellers said...

Lew, like others here I'd like the assert that these people are not, in fact, beer geeks, but instead beer snobs - there's a major difference. I attribute my character to that of a geek, interested in the quirky, new and different, but appreciating all that is good - even if 'mainstream'. Snobs, on the other hand, have a set notion of what others should, or should not, enjoy. I've heard some beer geeks endear themselves publicly as snobs, which makes me cringe each time I hear it. Beer enthusiasts, by in large, are not snobs whatsoever, not by definition anyway, but I've certainly seen my share of them - as have we all.

I find this isn't just a problem with mainstream items though, as locally there are a number of beer snobs who turn their noses up at our local, small breweries - which make great beer, by the way. I've heard them lament not having places like Alesmith or Russian River or DFH, concluding then there is 'no good beer'. I don't get it. The worst example I've heard was a guy who rates beer online for fun suggesting if our local brewers were worth the visit, more people would be talking about them online - reminds me of the logic that says craft beer is inferior simply because it isn't national like Bud.

Good read, as always. Thanks.

Ed in Iowa said...

Good article! More often these days I find myself drifting away from the "beer snobbery" and treating beer (and rum) the same way I treat art (and wine). I don't know what's considered good or trendy, but I do know what I like and what I don't. If you don't happen to agree with me, then good! That just leaves more for me.

Fat Tire is making a trumpeted debut here in Iowa right now. I've had it a number of times over the years. It's good. Not my favorite, and not as good as the hype it's getting here now, but it's good.

Anonymous said...

Magic hat ....How do they get by ???? Every beer I have tried from them has been uninspired and in a couple of cases down right disgusting ! Taphandles and packaging must work wonders on the college crowd cause someone is buying that swill.....