“…what one word, or phrase, do you think should be used to describe beer that you’d like to drink. Craft beer seems to be the most agreed upon currently used term, but many people think it’s losing its usefulness or accuracy in describing it. What should we call it, do you think?”
Oh dear, could this be a reprise of the dreaded “What is craft” question? Recently, it’s morphed into “Maybe craft beer lost its meaning, so should we call it indie?” question. I’m not going into that toxonometric morass. Most beer I like is from small breweries dotted about the San Francisco Bay Area. I also like plenty of beers from independently owned national brands like Sierra Nevada and Deschutes, not to mention others from other breweries with corporate ownership like 10 Barrel, Boulevard Brewing, Saint Archer and Lagunitas. And there are even those rare moments when a nice cold Budweiser is perfect.
I like beer, dammit. Next question.
“…what two breweries do you think are very underrated? Name any two places that don’t get much attention but are quietly brewing great beer day in and day out. And not just one shining example, but everything they brew should be spot on. And ideally, they have a great tap room, good food, or other stellar amenities of some kind. But for whatever reason, they’ve been mostly overlooked. Maybe 2018 should be the year they hit it big. Who are they?”
I used to think Dust Bowl Brewing was badly underrated, until their Public Enemy Baltic Porter won Gold at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival. They’ve quietly worked their way into the San Francisco Bay Area from their base in the sleepy Central Valley farm town of Turlock, CA. After a couple trips to their Turlock brewpub, I knew they were pretty special, starting from their excellent flagship IPA, Hops of Wrath. From Lagers to Porters to their various hop-bombs, they just do everything really well.
Then there is Kobold Brewing in Redmond, OR which I discovered over the past Labor Day weekend. I was out with friends on a day the air was choked with soot from nearby forest fires. We were just holed up in the store front tap room, drinking beer and eating tacos from a food truck out back, wondering what we were going to do for the rest of the day when simply walking outside was hazardous to your health. Thankfully, we just enjoyed one spot on beer after another. When people talk about go-to breweries in Central Oregon, Kobold Brewing, which is short 20 minute drive north of Bend, rarely makes it into the discussion. That needs to be corrected.
“For our third question of the new year, name three kinds of beer you’d like to see more of….What three types of beer do you think deserve more attention or at least should be more available for you to enjoy? They can be anything except IPAs, or the other extreme beers. I mean, they could be, I suppose, but I’m hoping for beers that we don’t hear much about or that fewer and fewer breweries are making. What styles should return, re-emerge or be resurrected in 2018?”
When the Gose re-emerged a few years ago, they were wonderful studies of yin-yang balance between salt and sour. As brewers tend to do, they started playing around with the style and added various fruit additions to their Gose offerings, which for a while was interesting. Unfortunately, what started happening is the sour and salt got dialed down to better accommodate the fruit, and way too many beers called “Gose” were not really Goses, but uninteresting fruity wheat beers with barely any of the salt and sour character that makes the Gose so interesting. So one beer I’d like to see more of are Gose beers which are, like you know, actually a Gose.
Secondly, I’d like to see more Milds, or at least malt-driven session beers.
Finally, Scotch Ales are few and far between but ones are out there are usually dynamite. More Scotch Ales, please.
Long live The Session!