Session 68: Novelty Beers

The Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday, is an opportunity once a month for beer bloggers from around the world to get together and write from their own unique perspective on a single topic. Each month, a different beer blogger hosts the Session, chooses a topic and creates a round-up listing all of the participants, along with a short pithy critique of each entry. Over time, it is the hope — of me, at least — that a record will be created with much useful information about various topics on the subject of beer.

Novelty Beers
With the onslaught of even weirder beards…erm…beers…than before, I can’t help but wonder if novelty beers are going too far. Or maybe not far enough? LOL! As a merchant of beer, I can see the place for novelty beers, as I am choosing for some customers who say, “I want the strangest beer you have.” We’ve even seen some novelty beers in our top-sellers. But beer traditionalists sometimes frown on these new and bizarre concoctions.

History repeats itself.  Sometimes we don’t see it solely because as times change the products we experience changes with them.  The interesting thing is beer, wine, and food are essentially timeless.  Man enjoys meat roasted over fire just like thousands of years ago.  The same holds true of alcohol.  As classic as hangover inducing beer can be, there has rarely been a time in history when we didn’t try to add different odds and ends into the wort to bring out different reactions. 

When we look at the history of the BJCP style guidlines we will find a history of beer styles that are historically only recently established.  (kinda makes you wonder who is the real traditionalist here).  The effects of Prohibition (as well as temperance movements and various laws around the world) on what we view as traditional now, has skewed our view point.  In the U.S. we became so accustomed to the big three and their bland lagers that any change from that was viewed as radical and novelty. 

Over the summer there was mention of the number of breweries in the U.S. (wasn’t this the subject of the last session even?).  Maybe we should look at were we are in this cycle.    In the founding of the country breweries and home breweries were not a luxury, they were a necessity.  At that time  hops were not easily obtained, heck, even grain was a rare commodity.  They brewed with what they had available.  Imagine beer brewed from sugar cane or from pumpkins. 

Even in Europe all manner of odd thing was added to beer.  There are reasons why laws like the Reinheitsgebot were created.  In the U.S. there were laws referred to as the Duke’s Laws, they were enacted to try and limit the random additives that brewers were adding to beer. 

In our now modern and enlightened society we have grown accustomed to calling a beer if it fits into a certain style parameter.  We all have our own prejudices on what constitutes good “beer.”  This does not mean one person’s opinion is any better than anothers, what it means is we have diverse tastes and are now entering into a time when our beer world embraces our individual taste buds. 

For me personally, I have a few “styles” that I identify with on a routine basis.  (kinda like art, I know what I like)  But at the same time I am also willing to explore new flavors and see if there is something out there I might be missing.  This might mean that I only drink one that might be outside my drinking comfort zone and then return back to the zone.  But it is always worth my time to expand my drinking horizon at least a little bit. 

Time for a pint…

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