St. John says his last beer before the tweet above was a fruit wheat beer that combined the worst aspects of fruit and wheat. The world of beer appreciation is lashing back against overthought, not-actually-tasty brews, and #drainpour is just one symptom of this. “Breweries really are trying to run before they can walk. They open their doors and three months later they’re doing a Cognac barrel-aged double IPA with brettanomyces yeast and elderflower honey. Come on, just make an IPA first,” Beaumont says. “Brewers try to jump into the fray maybe a little too fast and little too heavy and they miss what is really constructing a really good beer.”
That pretty much captures it for me though my drain pours are as much from established ambitious brewers like Allagash or Dogfish Head than brewers trying to walk before they run. Breweries who try to experiment on my dime... and too often fail. Or brewers who bore me with false claims that don't hold up. I can't recall the last time I bought a Rogue. See, I have only so much need of any particular beer on a given night. If I open a bottle of "big craft dud" I can't be bothered to consider the bad idea for too very long. I move on. There are way too many other beers to enjoy. The same applies, of course, to the simply foul and infected. And, I am pleased that the article notes, the fruit flavoured saison... though that was first encountered in a bar so I couldn't exactly drain it. To get my attention these days you need to at least start to get my respect and, in this market, you really don't have that much time to earn it.
Yes, I think the only think I can't agree with is the characterization that the cause are breweries "trying to run before they can walk" as this suggests it's the newer breweries which inflict these confused emotional messes on the beer buying public. I see no evidence for this. Bad planning is a wide church with doors wide open these days. And the pews are full. Macro industrial, big craft and the newbie nano are all repeat offenders. The odd thing is that the same breweries in each of those classes can and do all make well priced, really good, complex and surprising beers at the same time. Strange.
What I think is really going on is another downside of the 3000 brewery 15,000 beer universe. Choice is much more perilous than the long promised bubble burst to those who have invested their lives and savings in small breweries. There is way too much choice now in the limited marketplace of the shelf and the tap lineup. And I know it. If I usually take a pass on big craft due to their avaricious price points and the newest nanos due to those early batch uncertainties, I am acting on the lessons of my own experience. If I pass on familiar gas station standby beers due to the unsettled grazing habits of a beer nerd, I am playing out my own curiosity. Can't stop me. These days, I want it all - virtue, price point, pleasures in the glass. And I can have it all because there are just so many good beers out there that qualify in every way.
Isn't the #drainpour a little more than about discerning taste? Haven't we passed the point that we worry whether something "can’t be helping the cause of good beer"? #drainpour? It's a strong sign of a buyers' market. No beer fan these days actually needs any particular brewery. The only folk who aren't worthy these days are the brewers who don't seem to know that. And it's only going to get worse... or better - depending on which side of the transaction you find yourself.