…Yeah, but this beer is __%!

I like a good beer and I love a great beer every so often. I love the initial aroma that comes out of a bottle when you uncork(thanks Russian Rivers and Chimay!), crack open, or otherwise twist off the cap. I love the smell as you are pouring into your favorite glass(which will be another post some day – glassware. Bet you are excited for that…really though, it’s interesting) . Then you go for the sip, maybe you get to sniff the beer a bit. And finally you get to taste. And then the beer comes alive. You taste what you can get out of it. Some more than others.


But, I’ve also been to college. I know that three 9% beers will do what a 6-pack of Bud Light will do, and much faster.  Thats an efficient and sometimes cost saving consumer tip to college students out there. Now that I am older and have learned to actually find some other point to beer other than getting ‘drizzunk’ I realize more than ever the flavors and how important the process is in making it.

So, what is the point of this post? Well, recently some my craft beer drinking colleagues saying things like:

“Union Jack is good, but have you had Barrel Ages Double DBA Union Jack? Its 12%!”

or: “How about this one? It’s 15%”

Thats fine if it’s a good beer. But I get the sense more often than not when I hear these things that the ABV has become more important than what is being ‘enjoyed’. It’s college all over again. In fact, I am more impressed by a stronger beer that can hide the boozy taste. When a beer says 10+% and tastes exactly like that I have no desire to ever drink it again.

One of the reasons I love some of the Trappist beers. A lot of those Tripel’s are 9% or more, but I don’t really seem to notice it much at all unless the bottle is skunked.

Tonight for example my wife and I shared a Zywiec Porter. It clocks in around 9.5%. The experience I had with it was very similar to the Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron beer – which I think is mediocre at best. I’ve only purchased one six-pack four-pack of the DFH and I suspect it possibly was skunked. My recollection was drinking a barley-wine’ish and burnt coffee flavored beer that was some-odd crazy ABV.  12% was it?

DFH calls Palo Santa Marron a roasty caramel and vanilla complexity coming from the Palo Santo wooden ‘tanks’. I didn’t recall any of that which is cause for my suspicion of my less-than-six pack being skunked possibly.

I do appreciate some complexity of course. Craftsman Brewing has a nice complex offerings.

Bootleggers Chipotle Coffee Ale, the Black Phoenix, is a great example as well. You can taste each individual flavor profile and in sequence, “oh, there is the coffee, and here is the chipotle…”etc. it is quite pleasing.

So, what is my point with all this?

Simply that a high alcohol content does not a good beer make. It might make the beer enjoyable, but I will take one Eagle Rock 5.0% Solidarity beers over ten 12% missing flavor Porters.

What about you? What are your thoughts on the recent trend towards uber high ABVs in beer? Is it now a common trend to sacrifice flavor for booziness or does it simply add to the characteristic of the beer?

Compare Old Rasputin(Imperial Russian Stout) with Stones’ Imperial Russian Stout – one is noticeably boozier than the other. I find Old Rasp a dream and it’s Stone counterpart a typical Stone offering, balls to the wall and overly done. A characteristic they have perfected with IPAs, but focusing on the wrong things in the Stout!

That’s all for now. Happy Beering!

Extraneous factors involved in this post:
I just watched Skyfall.
I had my first hickory grill out today.
My wife and I had a fantastic dinner.
We also shopped ALL day.

stone brewery

Dogfish Head

Firestone Walker

Bootleggers Brewing





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