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Beer Myths, Beer Trends and More

Image courtesy of Vue Weekly

Image courtesy of Vue Weekly

I always like the end of June. In part because that is Vue Weekly’s annual Beer Issue. Sure, I like the fact that the issue gives me a fair bit of column inches (usually I write 3 different pieces), but mostly I appreciate that a local paper is committing an issue to the subject of beer. Wouldn’t it be great if every magazine did that?

Anyway, the 2016 edition hit racks last Thursday, just in time for Canada Day. (Yes, I know I tweeted about this already, so for those of you following @ABbeerguy this is not news. I am still figuring out cross-promotion with this new, ultra-modern beerguy persona.) As usual I penned three pieces for the issue, including the cover feature.

The cover talks about the burgeoning Alberta craft beer boom (read it here). It uses the same stats as the post I did here a couple weeks ago, but offers a slightly different angle on the issue. But I figure the story bears repeating. Finally, after all these years, Alberta is catching the local craft beer wave. They are exciting, heady times we live in.

The second article looks at some of the trends in the craft beer world (read it here). In particular, I highlight the rather swift rise of Kettle Sour in this neck of the woods as well as the equally rapid shift to cans for craft brewery packaging. Of the former, I am intrigued that breweries think there is a space for the unusual flavours of a sour beer, and early indications seem to suggest they are right. Cans are a mixed bag for me – I can be very old school – but there is no denying it is the wave at the moment. The piece also briefly highlights the second generation of gluten-free beer which are far superior to their cousins of a few years ago.

Likely the most newsy of the trends I identify is the sessionification of styles. For years we have been subjected to Imperialized versions of classic styles. Imperial Stouts and IPAs make complete sense, but recently we have seen Imperial Reds, Browns and even Weizens and Pilsners. Some are quite successful and are rather enticing. Others not so much. At any rate, we are accustomed to ramped up versions of styles.

More recently, however, I am noticing a desire to get smaller. It started with Session IPAs, (a moniker I still struggle with), but more recently we are seeing more styles getting the lower-alcohol treatment, including pale ales and stouts. Taking a broad perspective I suspect this is a good thing – all the flavour with less alcohol (tastes great, less filling?!?). But just as with Imperials, I often wonder if some styles are not suited for sessionizing. What is a session pale ale, other than a bitter? Is a session brown really a mild in disguise? And when does a session pilsner just become a light beer?

Likely I am just (as usual) being an old fuddy-duddy, but I do wonder about how much we can twist and turn classic styles to meet the latest thing. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think breweries should stop experimenting in this way. Innovation is good. I just quibble with the naming regime.

The final piece in the series is more playful. I take a quick look at some of the more common beer myths that seem to circulate incessantly (read here). For the knowledgable readers of this site, you have long recognized the silliness behind some of the claims. But I think, for all the light-heartedness of the piece, it is actually an important bit of information to put out to the general public. I cannot tell you how many times I hear that Sapporo is gluten-free or that cans create a metallic taste in beer. Worse, the whole “breweries are putting chemicals in their beer” seems to be a perpetual motion machine. I am no friend of the corporate brewers in general, but I can state quite certainly they are not putting anti-freeze in their beer. And fish gills? Good, old fashioned isinglass, people.

Anyway, that is Vue Weekly’s beer issue 2016. I hope you enjoy the reading. And if you do, send the editors a note saying you want more of this kind of content. How about a semi-annual Beer Issue. Music to my ears, at least.

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