Are craft beers losing their wow factor?
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.