A Good Beer Blog


Have you read The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer - A Rant in Nine Acts by Alan and Max yet? It's out on Kindle as well as Lulu.

Maureen Ogle said this about the book: "... immensely readable, sometimes slightly surreal rumination on beer in general and craft beer in particular. Funny, witty, but most important: Smart. The beer geeks will likely get all cranky about it, but Alan and Max are the masters of cranky..."

Ron Pattinson said: "I'm in a rather odd situation. Because I appear in the book. A fictional version of me. It's a weird feeling."


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Alan -

I find this more ironic the more I think of it. The preservative that degrades. The last and ultimately unnecessary ingredient in beer that is drawing so much attention that it is arguably undoing the point of beer. Preservation of carbs and sharing of a flavour made so fleeting that the beer is removed from the market (and presumably destroyed) before very many can taste. And if they do taste it is unlikely most get the same taste. Transitory beer. An offense to and before the theatre of the mouth. Tickers now need a calendar as well as a note book.

Beer Crafter -

For the same reason bread that goes stale in a day or two isn't considered inferior to the shelf-stable stuff.

dave -

So like a sliding scale for prices the further out the beer was brewed (at least when dealing with American (D)IPAs)? Its been a month so a buck off... two months two bucks... etc.

Craig -

At the same time, I'm not sure that my coffee-riddled and chile-pepper burnt, tastebuds would be able to tell discern a months loss of prime "flavorization". I'll be honest I have a pretty unsophisticated pallet. I've drank a good number of beers past there stamped date and have been more than happy with them. Sometimes beer nerdiness overshadows beer. It might be scientifically proven that all beer tastes better when drank wearing a gorilla costume, that doesn't mean I'm going to wear an ape suit every time I have a beer.

At least not more than once.

Alan -

But isn't this is bread that goes off after 12 hours. One has an expectation that craft beer has a reasonable hang time just as we expect good bakery bread to last more than today.

By the way, when working in Poland in 1991 I bit into day old bread and dislocated my jaw.

Alan -

Craig: my take is that an enhanced degradation arc is rarely a feature, more of a bug. Which makes this, at best, nothing but a novelty promotion and, at worst, cash grab marketing bold faced to needy tickers and hop addicts.

Craig -

A novelty promotion like American Hop Scroungers? 'Cause I like that idea.

Alan -

Now that's a novelty promotion. And AHS, I understand, has issued a statement officially decrying the use of "speed hopping" as part of any healthy craft beer culture.

olllllo -

The beer tasting apparatus also exhibits instability (and is mortal).

Bill -

As God is or isn't my witness, depending on existence and inclination, I have no idea if Alan is serious or not. I suspect he likes arguing by training, secure in the knowledge that no judge or jury exists to rule against him. But since a lapsed Mason is still my Brother, let me try to reassure him that "dramatic hop instability" isn't what he might suspect it is, if he's coming to this post in response to Stan H.'s post.

I suspect that Stan's discussion of hop aroma and that one compound which dissipates quickly is standing in for the whole here. But there are other aroma compounds, and taste compounds, and (obviously) bitterness compounds in hops. I'll assume we've all drunk IPAs and enjoyed the aromas and tastes and bittering qualities -- so we know that these qualities exist in satisfying amounts even after the beer is (gasp) one month old.

But relatively few of us have had highly dry-hopped brews pretty much straight off the tanks, or had these brews within a day or two of their release, where this one compound that has a short shelf life gives an additional sensory hit. That, I suppose, is part of what supports the hype around Pliny the Younger releases, or Heady Topper in Vermont, where each week's shipment to stores sells out, or Alpine's releases, etc. I'm guessing this is what Stone is trying to give folks who don't live near Stone. And I'm guessing, too, that should we drink a bottle of Stone Enjoy By a few weeks or (gasp) months past said date, it'll still be an enjoyable experience. It'll be like the IPAs we've enjoyed under most circumstances.

Now, also, sure, they're marketing. And the beer's gonna sell out -- they won't be collecting much unsold stuff, because there won't be much unsold stuff. And they're doing it as well, because they've had problems with folks selling stuff past the sell-by dates on their regular brews, so they're turning their vigilance into virtue, rewarding the distributors who enforce the "pick up old stuff" policies, and so on.

Craft beer has a reasonable hang time. This one brew doesn't stand for the whole, but if it did? And you had it beyond the best by date? You'd likely still enjoy it.

Take due notice and govern yourself accordingly!

Alan -

See, that is the right answer! Because I am not aware if I am serious or not. I am trying to come to understanding. The pleasure, as we should all say, is all mine when I take a sip... or nibble or sniff a flower or anything else through my senses. That's it! I am thinking about what Billy Blake would think about all this. I am sure he would find no virtue in making us pay the additional cost of a new PR scheme such as the removal of bottles for unnecessary disposal. I am sure he would.

Bill -

If the doors of perception were cleansed, we'd know whether the degradation of that compound is a bug or a feature!

I drank the beer in question last night. My palate isn't perceptive enough to determine the difference between the fresh Enjoy By and its more seasoned comrades.

Alan -

Get two more. Have one after the date and a year from now and get back to us. Yet, as you will not be having a side by side you can never know if your notes properly inform you. So get a time machine, too.