is it not bonkers that I love a beer style with the description dank, murky, and soupy? When did I stop caring about pristine clear beer? And does beer have to be clear to be good?
Well, the answer to the last is a clear no. Of course not. Some styles, such as hefeweizen, dunkelweisse, saison and others are almost exclusively cloudy. And lets not forget unfiltered beers, or ales so heavily dry hopped that the hop residue never settles. The key is, I am talking about beer. All beer. In all climates, themes, styles and circumstances. Ever had a can conditioned can? Yes. It pours cloudy. And it should. The answer to the first question, ironically, is not as clear...
This is partly because I have been interested by a debate that has ignited itself on Faceache recently about DIPAs, and laterally, TIPAs. My good chum Danny started this off by saying that he was "over" DIPAs. For reasons unclear this really bothered me. But why? Am not a brewer after all. And surely, as it remains, one of the unending joys of beer is that there are so many styles, and so many different people who love different of them. When did I start to lose sight of that?
Sean at Beer Central also recently admitted concerns about the D and Tipa scene, and its products. Danny reiterated his position, and said that his issue with the style was that they all tasted the same. And that was it. I was now in a proper conundrum.
Had I accepted that all beer should taste like Wards, Stones, Tetley or Marstons, as it seemed to when I started drinking in 1990 (ish), then I wouldn't have undertaken the frankly marvelous, multifaceted, joyous journey of exploration that has underpinned my beer drinking life. So it is definitely a bad thing that all beers of a certain style taste the same.
Well.....in some ways no. As with all alepinion, it depends entirely where you stand. I, as a person who is always more than willing to try new styles, or old styles on cask or keg not previously, would still say that choice is the elixir. The choice to have a Fantome saison or a Buxton single hop IPA or a Black Sheep Bitter is inherently important, in fact crucial, to our freedom to enjoy the unending myriad of beers and styles available in the world today.
As it may be obvious to some of you, I absolutely love soupy, murky, dank IPas and DIPAs. Its one of the ironic facts of my battle with over consumption that I have "fallen" for a style where easy drinking characteristics are prized. As I said to a mate recently, its strange I should love a strong ale that is easy to drink. For reason of health and affordability, my best beer should be like near set concrete......
To me then, all D and Tipas tasting the same, which is a pervasive theme, if not literal fact, is actually fine. Its like finding my favourite Iberico chorizo, and then slowly discovering that all other styles of chorizo taste virtually the same, and there-everafter being able to enjoy this porcine prize. The downside of this dream is that there isn't actually the possibility for agricultural, geographical, cultural and financial reasons, that this could ever happen. And even if it were, the issue would be the elimination of every other chorizo style (and humongous, unmanagable herds of pigs in Iberican oak forests). The difference with the assimilation of style and to some extent tastes in the beer scene, is marked.
The gamut of choice on the beer smorgasboard is immense. There are too many styles to list here, and whilst through the ages some styles have dominated, the affect of that domination has been vibrant spring shoots of change. Remember when almost all beer except lager was brown? I do. And I knew nothing else until Kelham Island Pale Rider and Abbeydale Moonshine arrived, some twenty years or more ago. Can you still get brown bitter? Yes. You may have to go to a specific type of boozer to find it but it remains well loved, and well drunk by those who love it. Did you have to seek out Kelham Island and Abbeydale in specialist guest ale bars when they started? Yes. And you have to do the same to find cloudy dank I and DIpas now.
Our beer universes, irrespective of personal preferences, are in fact very small. This does not for a second disprove the claim that all D and Tipas taste the same, it simply reassures us that other types and styles of beer are not only available, but are also being developed and released all the time. Am not suggesting dankness is a fad or short lived peak on the heart monitor of a dying industry. Am just saying that the same vibrancy that gave us dank, cloudy DIPAs and soupy IPAs loaded with hops is the same part that will, if we do get bored of them, save us once again from that self same repetition of style, format, product and taste by pioneering new styles.
The future's bright. The beer is cloudy orange.
Am now off to drink a soupy DIPA.