In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, "The Session" is simply 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.
If you want to know more ... feel free to visit Brookston Beer Bulletin and read about "The Sessions".
Anyway, the first topic of 2014 comes from Rebecca at The Bake and Brew. In her article, Announcement! The Session #83 – Against the Grain, she asks ....
"How much is our taste or opinion of a craft beer affected by what friends and the craft beer community at large thinks? What beer do you love that no one else seems to get? Or what beer do you say “no thanks” to that everyone can’t get enough of?"Interest topic ... right? Personally, I think there is lots of "peer pressure" in the craft beer community.
As craft beer fans, we all go "against the grain", don't we? 90 to 95% of the beer consumed in the United States is mass-produced light-flavored, light-colored, light-bodied lagers. If we wanted to conform to the norm, we would not even be drinking craft beer.
But, for now, let's ignore the fact that by our very nature we craft beer drinkers go "against the grain" of mainstream beer.
If you read this blog semi-regularly, you've probably come across me writing about beers from the Zymurgy Best Beer in America list. Every year when Zymurgy posts their list, I go through and find all the beers that I have never had (or at least I don't remember ever having tried). Then, during the year, I try to pick up as many of these beers as I can. I drink them, and then I blog about them. The list is the result of Zymurgy readers sending in their favorite beers. Sort of a craft-beer popularity contest.
Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA because it was on this list, and I found some in my local liquor store. Of course, this beer has quite a following. It appears that lots of people love this beer. I was really looking forward to trying it. So much, in fact, that I got myself two overpriced bottles.
I was extremely disappointed when I tried the 120 Minute IPA. Honestly, I thought it was horrible. I feel bad saying it, because I am a fan of Dogfish Head. But, I really didn't like it. To me, the high alcohol and big malt bill made the beer way too sweet and boozy, even for the claimed 120 IBU in the beer. It was something I finished, so it was not dump-it horrible, but it bad enough a tasting experience that I will never seek this out again. Whenever I see someone online saying something nice about it, I totally don't believe them. There is no way in my mind that people actually like the Dogfish Head 120 IPA.
But, based on the following it has, I am not typical the typical beer geek in my assessment of this beer. I am obviously going "against the grain" on that one.
Pliny the Elder. When I tasted it, I thought is was a wonderful beer, but nothing jumped out at me to put it hands-down the best beer in America. I can think of quite a few IPAs / Double IPAs that given a chance, I would drink before Pliny. Here in Colorado, I know that when Pliny becomes available, it attracts a crowd and doesn't last long. Personally, if I would have to wait in line for this beer, I just wouldn't.
Actually, I feel that way about all the special release craft beers that attract such attention. When I see that people are spending hours waiting in line for a beer, I think those people are foolish. I realize this goes "against the grain" of most craft beer geeks, but I would rather drink something that I can get in a few minutes at one of my local breweries than anything that comes out with such an event that you have to work to get a tiny little taste.
When it comes right down to it, though, it is ok to go against the grain. And, it is ok to go with the grain. Just because I don't like high-alcohol beers and don't think it worth my time to seek out hard-to-get beers doesn't mean you shouldn't.
The whole point of craft beer is that none of us want to go with what we find boring. We want something different from the Buds, Millers, Coors. We want different from what 90% of beer drinkers are drinking.
If we all liked the same thing, it would be as boring as if we all drank the mass-produced American Light Lagers.
So, I say, however you decide what you like, embrace your differences. Drink what you like. Like what you drink. Have fun.
Happy New Year, everybody.