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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Peter Collins -

We may be witnessing a case of "be careful what you wish for".

Many beer consumers/geeks have been pining for good IPAs over the years and now we're getting them. Apparently at the expense of other styles. I agree that a variety of styles is good but here, too, money talks for both the LCBO and the brewery.

Craig -

I'm surprised that your just seeing this at the LCBO. The IPA "push" has become a common practice among the stateside distributors. You really see it in the larger grocery stores chains that sell individual bottles or mix-your-own six packs. There's a lot of IPA on those shelves. There's always 10 or 12 IPAs, to maybe one or two stouts and two or three wheat beers, or other styles.

Jeff Alworth -

This was inevitable. In no country does every style get equal billing. If you have a good beer country, you have a beer culture around a defined set of beer types. In my mind it's a major part of the definition. North America has been in a 25-year period of playing the field with craft beers. We've taken out hefeweizens, brown ales, Vienna lagers, witbier, and pale ales, making them at one time or another our main squeeze. But eventually, if we were going to actually develop real culture, we were going to have to settle down with someone.

I have known this was coming for years and years. Many of my favorite styles just aren't regularly available on tap--and that's in Oregon, where literally within walking distance I can go to four breweries and a half dozen 20+ tap alehouses. It's not that you can't ever get a cask bitter or pilsner here, it's just that you have to look pretty hard to find it. The funny thing is, Americans (I can't speak for Canadians) love love love going to places like Cologne where there's an overwhelming lack of choice. We just don't like it here.

Alan -

No chance. IPAs are next decade's Texas Browns. They may recede back into your heartland but denying the next things right to come into being is to deny life.

Barry -

Here in Alberta the trend is also towards a predominance of IPAs on the shelf. Not only that, but the trend is also to higher IBUs and higher alcohol. So now double IPAs are sprouting up to compete for shelf space.

While I enjoy an occasional North America IPA, I also enjoy the less citrusy flavours of Fuggles and Goldings hops in an English Bitter, for me the classic session beer. Yesterday I went looking for an English bitter in a local, well stocked, beer retailer's cooler. All I could find alongside the dozen or more IPAs and double IPAs was Fuller's London Pride and Skinner's Betty Stogs, at 4% ABV a really nice session beer. I have a feeling Betty and I are destined to become fast friends.

Velky Al -

I have said it before, IPA is destined to become the American Pale Lager of the 21st Century, so ubiquitous as to be anonymous.

Jeff Alworth -

No chance. IPAs are next decade's Texas Browns.

The bold throw-down! We will resolve this difference of opinion in ten year's time, when IPAs rule the world. (No doubt we'll both still be rambling about them on the incredibly outdated, fogeyish blogs.)

Alan -

I saw this coming ten years ago, baby.

Jeeze... I'll be going on 60.

Maddy Marcel -

Ah, LCBO! I miss Canada!!!

Completely agree that variety of beer is more important than variety of different countries. Even here in Washington DC it seems hard to find some styles - I'm thinking of German dunkel, one of my favorites. Wish that was easier to get, and IPAs a little less! Except of course for Keith's!

Robin Marks -

Gotta love that Keith's IPA....not

ethan -

We got the "when you gonna make an ipa?" from day 1, having opened with a brown ale and a pale ale. It's a bummer in a way, but you know what? *something's* gotta be the bestseller, right? We'll continue to insist on making & promoting other styles, but yeah: you have to give your fans and customers what they already want, too.

Jason Foster -

We can't have it both ways, mates. We can't revel in the burgeoning craft beer movement in our country (slower or faster in different regions) AND grumble that there are too many IPAs on the LCBO's shelves.

I agree that IPA, and hoppy beer in general, has become a bit faddish lately, at the expense of many lovely, delicious styles. But this is a case of "good problems to have". Not to sound old and cranky, but I remember trying to find interesting beer to drink 10 years ago (and, mind you, I live in Alberta) and it was a hard slog. Yes, I prefer a broader range of styles, and, personally, have been steering away from hop bombs lately in preference for more balanced styles. But, if Propeller - a solid group of craft brewers - finds that their IPA sells more in LCBO stores than their ESB (which I personally believe is the superior beer), that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

The bad thing is that they are being forced to choose. The LCBO is making arbitrary choices about what beer should be on their shelves. How does the Propeller ESB sell compared to that Estonian beer you mention (or whatever comparison you prefer)? The issue is the LCBO's metrics, not the popularity of IPA.

Just a thought. Cheers!

Alan -

"We can't have it both ways, mates. We can't revel in the burgeoning craft beer movement in our country (slower or faster in different regions) AND grumble that there are too many IPAs on the LCBO's shelves."

Who is "reveling in the burgeoning craft beer movement"? I am watching it eat itself in a number of ways after decades of paying attention, watching decisions like this reduce choice, watching monopolies and business make moves and complacent consumers go along like sheep. To what end? This:

"To clarify: ESB sales at the @LCBO were strong-We just see more potential for growth with our IPA."

Jason Foster -

Alan, okay, I hear you. I understand what you are saying. You are a long-time observer of beer, and I respect your position. As we all should. However, I still wonder if you misinterpret the problem. It is not the styles' fault that those in control of purchasing decisions are enamoured by certain beer. The problem is the systems that force breweries like Propeller to make hard decisions between two well-selling brands. That is a structural issue - not a stylistic one. IPA is not a bully. The messed up metrics of the OLCB are the problem. That is all I am saying. Keep drinking good beer. Cheers! Jason

Alan -

OK, but I don't think it is the metrics - or what I think you mean for forecasts - it's the idea that they will only stock one product from Propeller treating them like Estonians in their own land. It forces a brewer to put forward one beer and the easiest craft beer to sell right now is IPA. Not their best brew, just the easiest to sell.

Frank McDonald -

I agree with what Jason said, a good problem to have. I occasionally email the NLC (winecorp) here in Newfoundland about when we will be able to purchase ONE(!) IPA. The form response is always "we recommend Keith's IPA".

Alan -

Listen, do you be telling me about such things Frank. I lived in PEI. I know what deprivation really is.

Jason Foster -

I agree that Propeller's IPA is not as quality as their ESB (or their Porter for that matter). But, it is still a decent English IPA. I also agree that it is frustrating to be forced to choose between their beer. You shouldn't have to do that. I am lucky to be in Alberta where any beer that sells reasonably well sticks around.

But I am struggling to understand your connection to IPA being a bully. I totally get that there are problems with what gets to be listed in Ontario (and other places), but, I don't get how it is the fault of IPA and its recent popularity.

I am not trying to defend the OLCB - not by a long shot. But I just don't get how the popularity of IPA is the issue here. I think the problem is bigger and more systematic than a style.

I think I can agree with you once we come to a common place about the role of the main purchaser in Ontario (or in Alberta, in my case). As that is quite important.

Thank you for your ongoing observations about good beer in Canada.