I wrote this in the year end review but I am not sure I know what I mean or even if I mean it:
...bigger craft brewers and even some regionals are making interesting beers which are not bombs. Lew recently noted both Magic Hat Odd Notion Fall '09 and Narragansett Porter both of which I also found to be stunning for their value as well as their elegance. Yesterday, Andy was thankful for well crafted simplicity. Expect 2009 to be remembered for how we learned that cacophony in glass is not a brewers or a drinker's "go to" brew.
I think by I mean the opposite of a big bomb. When I used to home brew, I was well aware that it was far easier to make a bigger porter with about 6 sorts of dark malt and a few extra dark sugars than to make a good brew with only one or two pale malts. Bombastic was an entry level approach to tasty beer. Lots of interesting stuff going on. But simplicity should also not mean boring. It should mean balanced where are one or two showpiece ingredients. McAuslen's smooth oatmeal stout. The bread crust graininess of a Hook Norton Haymaker. The white pepper in Fantome saison. I am having a Margriet by Het Anker right now and I'd call that simple - quenching, lemony, peppery, herbal and creamy but also simple without being basic. Maybe that is pushing it, however.
Simplicity should mean easier, too. You don't need to pair even if you can eat and drink. You should also not be sent on a quest. An interesting discussion has broken out at Zak Avery's place. In which I am supporting the validity of good beer at home. Beer should not only be simple but having beer should be simple. Is that too much to ask?