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Did These Craft Beers Take It Too Far In 2016?


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Craft beer is a wonderland of sudsy goodness that can take you places (flavor-wise) you never knew beer could go. A great brewer’s ability to turn water, grains, hops, and yeast into white ales or IPAs or stouts or Czech Pils is a science so cool that it’s akin to magic.

During this alchemical process, adjunct flavorings are added — delivering new layers of complexity. Belgian witbier, for instance, uses coriander, while winter beers will have star anise and/or cinnamon thrown in (amongst other spices). Often this is a simple ingredient that accentuates the notes already being struck. It serves as a highlight, not intended to overpower the flavors that are already there.

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Naturally, as the craft beer movement exploded, flavoring adjuncts have taken off as well. You can blame Sam Adam’s Pumpkin Spice Ale if you want, but we now live in a world where seemingly any ingredient can be infused into our beer without thought of whether that flavor adds something, or just serves as a stunt.

“Attention-grabbing gimmick beers are part of the fun,” Joe Stange over at DRAFT Magazine told us of the flavor trend. “These are the weird edges of variety, and it’s fun to talk about them — therefore, it’s just clever marketing… But are these beers any damn good? Are they something that we might want to drink more than once? Almost never. We vote with our dollars, as usual.”

We tend to agree. Beer is meant to be drunk and get you buzzed. So we’ve compiled a list of 2016 beers that seem to have traveled a little too far along the road of gimmickry (sometimes it’s flavors, sometimes it’s just packaging). Tell us honestly, would you drink more than one of any of these in a single sitting?

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SHMALTZ BREWING – PASTRAMI PILS

I love Pastrami. The Reuben is my go to sandwich. What makes me question this beer is the fact that it’s a pils. A nice Czech or German Pils should stand as a fizzy, slightly benign counterpoint to whatever heavily flavored food you’re eating — that is, a palate cleanser. That’s why they go so well with spicy South Asian dishes for instance. Pils is meant to be drunk, in copious amounts. You should be swilling 1-liter glass mugs, not sipping for the hints of cured beef. And, honestly, if I want Pastrami, I want it in meat form.

ROGUE – SRIRACHA HOT STOUT BEER

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Ugh, will Sriracha ever be over? Here’s a hot take: as a chili sauce it’s mediocre at best. #SambalOlek4Life. Okay, but this begs the question again, as something that is meant to be a personal taste that you apply in sparse quantities, how many of these beers are you going to sit down and drink at a bar? 1/2 of one? Maybe a whole one if you’re eating pho and they’re out of chili paste at the table?

ROGUE – BEARD BEER

Again, we’ve got ourselves a Rogue gimmick — yeast pulled from a bruh’s totally dope AF beard, yo. For the most part, yeast is yeast. Belgium’s Pajottenland has created some of the world’s best beers by allowing them to draw yeast that floats on the air to make their lauded lambics and gueuze. So funky yeast is okay. That said, it’s really hard to look at this beer as anything more than something you’d try at a beer tasting in Silver Lake once and then never speak of again.

CHURCHKEY PILSNER

This isn’t flavor related, this beer is actually pretty straight-forward and a 100 percent quaffable pilsner. But, the churchkey aspect is just too much to overcome. I like churchkeys. In fact, I have two in my kitchen in handy places to open cans and bottles of this and that. But, come on, there’s no need to take beer cans back to a time when you needed a f*cking tool to open the can. Which is a shame, again, as the beer inside is perfectly fine.

SHORT’S BREWING – KEY LIME PIE ALE

Just imagine full key lime pies floating a fermentation tank. They’re breaking up. The cream and green lime is congealing with the yeasty beer that’s trying to ferment. Soggy chunks of graham cracker pie crust bob around the surface with no where to go. Hard pass.

TWISTED PINE BREWING – GHOST FACE KILLAH

Beer so spicy you can’t really drink it. Now they’re just f*cking trolling us, right? The only way I can imagine drinking this beer is at a beer convention amongst a flight of beers that are equally made just to make some bearded sociopathic brewer giggle. They exist, trust me.

WYNKOOP BREWING CO. – ROCKY MOUNTAIN OYSTER STOUT

I like Rocky Mountain Oysters (BULL BALLS!). They’re a great bar snack and fair food. I love stout. In fact I’d love to wash down a fried up batch of Rocky Mountain Oysters with a nice, cold stout. And, again, there’s the rub (sorry). Pairing beer means creating a counterpoint to the flavors and tastes you’re already experiencing. If that beer is just the same flavors again — but just in a different delivery method — what’s the point?

MAMMA MIA! PIZZA BEER

The good people at Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer literally add margarita pizzas into their fermentation tank. Let that soak in for a moment. First, it feels like a real waste of perfectly good pizza. Second, it’s really hard to get the imagine of pizza floating in murky, unfinished beer out of my mind and that just takes me back to some hungover morning after a party in college where pizza was ordered when I was way too drunk to know or care what I was doing and woke up with the box sitting on my chest and a beer propped up against my lips. Shudder.

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