Are craft beers los­ing their wow fac­tor?

Life & Style Weekend - - EASY EATING - with Simon Ir­win

LAST week­end I re­alised just how main stream craft beer has be­come in Aus­tralia. There were two spe­cific things that brought it home to me.

Firstly, my lo­cal pub has White Rab­bit Dark Ale on tap.

To the city dwellers among us, that may seem un­startling. How­ever, to those of us who live in the acreage fringe be­tween outer ur­ban and gen­uine ru­ral, that is rather sig­nif­i­cant.

In­deed, it is not that long ago that the es­tab­lish­ment in ques­tion served about three va­ri­eties of XXXX and peanuts. Now a num­ber of Squire and other brews on tap is sim­ply taken for granted.

The sec­ond thing that brought it home to me was when Hugh the Neigh­bour and I sat down to taste the Moon Dog Old Mate pale ale.

Here is a brew­ery hail­ing from the hip­ster sub­urb of Ab­bots­ford, 2km from the heart of Mel­bourne with the bearded trendi­ness that the ad­dress im­plies.

The beer comes in a bot­tle with a pre­dom­i­nantly or­ange la­bel fea­tur­ing what I think is a lemur in ban­danna, top boots and budgie smug­glers.

There is noth­ing wrong with the beer ei­ther, a 5% ABV hoppy and fruity un­threat­en­ing pale ale of 22 IBU, so in the mid­dle range of bit­ter­ness. It pours with a gen­er­ous head, and hints at a back­bone of caramel malti­ness.

It is just when HTN and I both took our first sips, it was, well, just a beer. Hugh summed it up when af­ter a while he said it was “un­re­mark­able”.

And that I think is the point.

We have be­come so spoilt by choice and ex­po­sure to the huge ar­ray of beers now avail­able vir­tu­ally any­where that what once would have been con­sid­ered in­no­va­tive and ex­cit­ing, has be­come a lit­tle pedes­trian.

I am not sure what this “palate fa­tigue” may mean for the craft beer in­dus­try.

As we be­come a bit jaded with the merely good, will we drive brew­ers to ex­per­i­ment with more hops, more malt, more ex­otic in­gre­di­ents to keep us tan­ta­lised?

You are start­ing to see this out the US West Coast, where some IPAs are ap­proach­ing un­drink­able bit­ter­ness. Don’t be put off try­ing the Moon Dog – it is gen­uinely not a bad drop. Just don’t ex­pect to be wowed.

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