Thursday, May 30, 2013

Plain, Simple, Honest...

As I have said before, I haven't been drinking much. Work has me away from home Monday through Friday and I can't be bothered to visit the local watering hole(s), given the selection is somewhat limited. On one hand you have your typical craft beer dive, complete with ten dollar pints of Rogue and the like - served with a complementary beer snob - or your typical American hole-in the-wall that serves nothing but BMC on tap and the same thing in cans... to less than friendly locals. I'd rather spend my money elsewhere.

Anyways, I wasn't going to buy any beer today, figuring I'd wait until the weekend to get properly pissed watered, but alas, I was wooed by the glow of good beer emanating from the local Wegmans. (Wegmans is the North East's equivalent to Whole Foods). Regardless, walking through their extensive maze of beer aisles, I picked up a few bottles of this... a few bottles of that... and a Sam Smith's Stingo for good measure. It's been ages since I've tried the Stingo and I have longstanding delusions of one day cloning it. However, I didn't end up buying any of that stuff. As I made my way down through the 'American beer' aisle, my sights were assaulted by the enormity that is "craft-beer" marketing. In short, it is annoying. It is all about being... bigger, stronger, more aggressive, your-too-weak to drink this, our beer tastes terrible...but look how cool our marketing is, gimmick 1, gimmick 2... so on, ad nauseum.

If there are two American craft breweries that I can say I truly admire and would emulate, should I one day own a brewery, it would be Anchor Brewing Co and Sierra Nevada. Reasons; First, both (once) followed what I consider is the noblest intention of any food industry: Do only one thing and do it better than anyone else. Anchor Steam is, in my opinion, one of the best beers in America. I love the stuff. Simple ingredients make beautiful things. Pale malt, crystal malt, and Northern Brewer hops. I also like their tasteful packaging and the fact that they only brew a handful of beers, instead of chasing the frivolities of the beer-y mob. They also produce a completely unique product that has roots in our own history. Sierra Nevada, is, in many ways, of the same vein. SN Pale Ale is still my favorite American pale ale and they make consistently great beer, even though they have long shed their 'small' brewery image.

Back to the beer. Leaving Wegmans, I did buy a few beers. Anchor Steam, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and a single, lonely, $0.95 can of Genny Cream Ale. That's 24 ounces, or 710ml, for less than a buck. I just liked how plain the packaging was and how it is, in many ways, all that craft beer isn't. For one, it's just beer. Simple, easy drinking, no frills, authentic. And it was good.

On a completely serious note, I recommend taking a look at this recent article about Anchor Brewing Co, the brewery and their beer. I was so impressed by it, I picked up the ingredients to try and attempt a clone of their namesake.


  1. The "bigger, stronger, more aggressive..." mentality seems prevalent in home brewing, too. In a recent discussion on session beers on Reddit's /r/HomeBrewing sub, there were a number of commentors that couldn't understand *why* you would want to brew a beer that didn't have a million ingredients, high ABV, and hopped through the roof. As if the only point of home brewing was to make something as crazy or unusual as possible.

    As much as I like the occasional big beer, I prefer smaller beers. I've really enjoyed reading your blog, especially the English/brown beer content. Hope you keep it up!


  2. Have a try at Firestone Walker, some nice beers at not too high an ABV, California pale at under 5%, and a nice passable bitter/Engliah pale at 5%. Brewed with a Burton union system as well or at least an attempt at it. Don't know if thats available where you live but readily available in california and really quite good. Although they also have a tendency to some bigger beers as well.

    1. We have access to the range of Firestone products and they are indeed quite good. Their Wookie Jack is the best BIPA that I've tried and I even like their Union Jack, DBA, and Velvet Merlin... although I think they are a little off on their 'English' connection. I would love to see them make a little 3.4% bitter from their burton system, with all UK ingredients. Now that would be something.

  3. Agree completely as well, and I, too, very much enjoy your write-ups as mentioned by Anon above. And I like how you keep your recipes fairly basic -- in a good way. I think we've all tried to put too much into our recipes at times, only to create a murky, confused brew. Restraint is often the key. I've found that brewing a tasty sessionable ale has been deceptively challenging, however. Some of mine have lacked body.

    I've enjoyed the comaraderie of a brew club over the past year or so. Aside from the occasional Belgian-style or sour venture, it's nearly always IPA! One of the fellas tasted my Bedford ESB last fall and asked if it was ice tea! Gotta love 'em.


    Session Dee

  4. I really enjoy stone beers. I think they're great. And their marketing is awesome.

  5. And honestly. Geeny cream ale is bad

  6. I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed this post - you hit the nail on the head and gee Sierra Nevada is by far the best US Brewery, hands down. I like Anchor too but tend to stick with seasonal SN. I worked in craft for a little while and the scene these days lacks - hoards or people looking for the newest extreme double this and sour that.


Leave a comment. No spam please.