In praise of regular offerings

Sometimes it scares me to see how fast time goes by. It was at the end of 2017, that is a year and a half ago, when I published a tweet that for some reason I thought was far more recent. The fact is that after a year in which, as usual, I tried a lot of different beers, I found an unfortunate common pattern in many of them that made me want to virtually vent my frustration on a quiet winter night.

'Beer with things', an expression that I have been using since then, describes those beers that include additional ingredients other the essential, such as fruit, vegetables, spices or other elements to define their character. The novelty, or lack of experience in its use, has caused out-of-control refermentations with dire effects due to the unforeseen addition of microorganisms and / or sugars.

But beyond beer with things, some new launches and one-offs are also disappointing, not due to the introduction of elements without precise control, but to a lack of soundness and balance in the recipes.

By pointing this it is not my intention to mock anyone, nor look like an old school curmudgeon, or become the champion of moderate beer. Not at all. It is largely thanks to this bold and innovative character, the stones that we have stumbled upon, that we are right where we are. Nor is it my intention to build an anti-ticking, anti-sampling discourse: in the end, everyone has his own way of consuming beer, and as long as it's theirs and it provides satisfaction, I am sure that it is correct.

The truth is that the current state of permanent innovation in which our market lives is a headache for brewers*, which in some cases even launch two new beers per week. Just for instance, Garage launched more than 50 different beers in 2018. To maintain the pace of creativity, brewers often end up throwing 'things' to beers brewed on the same base recipe -even the same batch- to make them different. This novelty dictatorship hinders the commercialisation of large batches, requiring greater effort in channeling, and all this ends up making the product more expensive in a scenario of increasingly intense price war.

Soundness is not synonymous with classicism. Here's a good example.

Today, the average consumer of craft beer wants new stuff, even by paying a premium. Probably swimming against the current, however, I wanted to share a brief catalog of reasons to recurrently drink beer one's familiar with:
  • The first is as simple as it is basic: drinking, with no other objective than the informal consumption of beer, knowing -unless any surprises pop up- what you will find in the glass, enjoying an already familiar and comforting experience. Not thinking or analysing, just absolute mental presence and harmony with the context in which the drinking takes place.
  • The pleasure of finding a well-developed and compensated beer, contemplating its evolution and improvement batch after batch until reaching an optimal balance between its different elements and the message that it wants to transmit to the consumer.
  • Observe the same beer over time, from its peak point of freshness to its oxidation, passing naturally through all the intermediate stages and deciding, by oneself, which is the most satisfactory. The evolution of certain brews offer as much fun as trying a different beer every time.
  • Related to the previous one, the analysis of the same beer in its different formats, again taking our personal practical conclusions, and not the theoretical ones, as right. In many cases we would find greater difference between the same recipe on draught and bottled than in certain limited editions with different names and designs.
  • Through beer, feeling the maturity of a company in the development of its products, in its ability to express through them, and in the skill to maintain constant consistency and quality.
  • And, of course, by repeatedly drinking a beer you can best analyse interesting aspects about it, such as its drinkability or digestibility. This point can be linked to sampling as opposed to drinking full measures.
I can give you specific examples. I enjoy seeing the constant quality of Montseny IPA Aniversari, even when bought in the supermarket; my senses soared the first time I drank Espiga's Mosaic Hops Collection in a can, a format that enhances a recipe that was already a solid. After analysing it during a guided tasting, I felt the urge to buy a whole box of Sansa, La Pirata's Amber Ale, so tasty and smooth that it promptly disappeared.

Of course -so as not to mislead anybody- I am still delighted with many new offering that are being launched. I enjoy drinking risky beers, such as those that La Calavera produces with so much success lately, or seeing the impressive results that Guineu are obtaining with their new line of sour beer. And I could keep on it.

De la Senne, paradigm of sound, well developed regular offerings.

With the awareness that I am not going to change anything with these lines, I wanted to share the enjoyment that causes me to consume familiar beers, whether by sessioning them one after another or tasting them in sips. One way or another, there are always new things to learn. In any case, and whatever our tastes and consumption habits, the positive part is that we have so much to choose, share and enjoy.

Salut i birra!

* It naturally depends on the business model, being the former mostly applicable for breweries with a less localised approach and a certain magnitude of production.


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