Author Topic: Is Beer Getting too Boozy?  (Read 4530 times)

Offline David in MN

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Is Beer Getting too Boozy?
« on: April 08, 2018, 07:58:44 PM »
The backstory here is pretty simple. I've always loved the super boozy Belgian ales that have yeast funk and general weirdness. But in the past few years IPAs have become way too boozy. When I drink Delerium I know it's one and done. But a Stone IPA at 8% tastes the same as a traditional IPA at 4%. You're doing 2 for 1 without noticing.

I recently drank a Funky Buddha 'Hop Stimulator' beer.

https://funkybuddhabrewery.com/our-beers/core-beers/hop-stimulator-double-ipa#

It was delicious. I loved the hops and the malt back was perfectly balanced. I failed to notice it is 9.5% alcohol and was a little drunk after one bottle. Good as it was, that's barleywine, not IPA.

This feels like complaint from a jerk because I like whiskey and brew strong beers from Belgian Trappist styles to real German Hefeweizen at ~6% so the yeast has more funk. But an IPA (to me) is a ~4% beer you can have 3 of at the bar and drive home like a proper Brit.

The high hops high alcohol seems reserved to British styles. Nobody does a 10% alcohol Munich lager. And the Belgian, French, and Russian beers that have the high gravity come in small individual bottles, not a pack. Even the Brit barleywines and harvest ales come in tiny bottles for a reason.

For years I brewed an ideal British pub beer that had victory and biscuit malts and hopped by fuggles that was ~3%. It was a great session my friends would drink while we played cards.

Why do all the beers need to be 8% with 75 IBU? I realize that all homebrewers do the highPA thing but most calm down and make either lagers or Belgians. When I have a dubbel, tripel, or quad in bottles I'd caution anyone not to have 2. They're boozy and you'll wake up with a headache.

This doesn't even pass the logic test. I can make hoppy non-alcoholic water if you love hops. Belgian ale and hefeweizen need the extra gravity to get the yeasty flavors. Hops need only hops. If the only goal is super boozy flavored drinks we already have gin. Packing a 10% alcohol beer in a 12 ounce bottle seems crazy to me. I'm actually going back to German styles just because they are 4-6% and I can't trust the ale producers. I like going to the Gasthaus and having a few Haacker Pschorr Munchner Dunkeln and being able to play games and stay vertical. Better than the new IPAs which will make you drunk after one.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Is Beer Getting too Boozy?
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2018, 08:20:22 PM »
Oh I agree, and I say this as a drinker and not a brewer.  While I do enjoy the variety that we're getting these days, I've had more than one nasty experience with these new 9ers and have learned to be more careful.  Unfortunately, a lot of the time this means downshifting to beers with a lot less taste, given the selection a bar has on tap.

Offline mountainmoma

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Re: Is Beer Getting too Boozy?
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2018, 08:42:18 PM »
My youngest got caught by this last year, it is worse for the young ones who are not expecting it. Was at someones house and handed a beer, was not warned it was double alcohol, drank a couple and got overly drunk and sick.

I think beer should be in beer range of alcohol, different than hard cider or wine ! Beer is something people want to drink more of, sip all evening.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Is Beer Getting too Boozy?
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2018, 10:40:29 PM »
Yes.  I really appreciate trappist ales, and if it's a special occasion or I'm someplace that has a noteworthy beer available I'll indulge.
Though those are not "lawn mowing" or poolside beers for me. I drink the doubels and trippels like I would sip bourbon.

While I like a good balanced IPA, they have gone overboard.  That style has been beaten to death, and distorted from it's original form.  When I home brew I rarely make IPAs as they are too common. Instead I go for "weird" like a saison, or a really clrisp czech pilsner with saaz hops.

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Is Beer Getting too Boozy?
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2018, 05:00:22 AM »
Not sure if it's all places, but in this area the brewery with taphouses have started making session beers to combat this.  You go into a taphouse with some friends to have a couple and next thing you know, you are over legal limit.

Personally, I'm not an IPA fan, but the other beer styles are going that way too.  The exception seems to be sour brews.  I love them and they tend to be lower alcohol.

Offline David in MN

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Re: Is Beer Getting too Boozy?
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2018, 06:07:14 AM »
Yes.  I really appreciate trappist ales, and if it's a special occasion or I'm someplace that has a noteworthy beer available I'll indulge.
Though those are not "lawn mowing" or poolside beers for me. I drink the doubels and trippels like I would sip bourbon.

While I like a good balanced IPA, they have gone overboard.  That style has been beaten to death, and distorted from it's original form.  When I home brew I rarely make IPAs as they are too common. Instead I go for "weird" like a saison, or a really clrisp czech pilsner with saaz hops.

I started brewing 15ish years ago and did the high gravity IPA for a while. But I was topping out at 7%. Did some barleywines up to 12% because I liked the challenge to brew. I still love saison, hefe, and all manner of high gravity Belgian ales. But I serve them in wine glasses and warn guests. A quad can be good but at 14% and chewy it's something to take time with.

It's always been a joke with beer people that we get ourselves in trouble drinking strong Belgian ale. We've all had a mistake with Duvel or Delerium. IPA was supposed to be a thirst quencher, not a haymaker. The Brits are legend for their moderation.

I'm not all fuddy duddy. If you get the chance to try Surly's 'Todd the Axe Man' IPA at 7.2% you should. It's a great beer (100% Golden Promise for the brewers) and I love it. But it's $4 per can and has a skull on it. You know you're getting a big beer. Even when I brewed them I used an ESB yeast and did some oak aging to get a really funky flavor and the higher gravity helped. But it was a different time when I was the weird guy for dry hopping (or even keg hopping) and wood aging and getting all kinds of funky stuff going. The current breed are all hops with no malt to support them, no yeast, and very little interesting flavors.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Is Beer Getting too Boozy?
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2018, 08:53:31 AM »
Funny,  my last home brew batch was based on a traditional London Brown Ale.  It was a session beer before there was a term for it ;)
Think it comes in around 3% ABV or so.  I used maris otter for my base malt.
Here's a decent summary of the style and some recipe ideas:  https://learn.kegerator.com/london-brown-ale/


Offline David in MN

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Re: Is Beer Getting too Boozy?
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2018, 05:34:52 PM »
Maybe what's upsetting me is the "West Coast Pale Ale" phenomenon. Some are incredible like Sierra Nevada Winter. Some have no balance like Sierra Nevada Torpedo. I'm trying not to pick on certain breweries who have almost no balance. One might rhyme with cone and sink in a pond.

I have no problem doing a flight of JW Lees harvest ale and comparing vintages. Fun. But as a homebrewer I can taste when there are a plethora of cheap hops tossed into a cheap malt bill and serves the people who like bitter boozy beer. I've had barleywine like Tom Hardy or Anchor. It's a different creature. You literally can't have more than one. Balance.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Is Beer Getting too Boozy?
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2018, 09:37:07 AM »
Maybe what's upsetting me is the "West Coast Pale Ale" phenomenon. Some are incredible like Sierra Nevada Winter. Some have no balance like Sierra Nevada Torpedo. I'm trying not to pick on certain breweries who have almost no balance. One might rhyme with cone and sink in a pond.

I have no problem doing a flight of JW Lees harvest ale and comparing vintages. Fun. But as a homebrewer I can taste when there are a plethora of cheap hops tossed into a cheap malt bill and serves the people who like bitter boozy beer. I've had barleywine like Tom Hardy or Anchor. It's a different creature. You literally can't have more than one. Balance.

People think I'm BSing when I can tell beer made from malt extract vs all grain.  I've never guessed wrong.

Also, it's hip to have brew pubs in tourist areas.  It doesn't matter if there's a local heritage of brewing.  Just like selling hot sauce in Chicago - did they really grow those habernos locally?
At least in my region hops are a huge cash crop and our tap water is decent (only people I've heard criticize were Alaskans accustomed to glacier ice melt. We have WAY too many craft breweries and even more brew pups who lack distribution (the regulations are light for that). But when a brewery pops up in Nevada, they have neither hops, barely or even water really,  so my impulse is a gimmick brand.


Offline Sailor

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Re: Is Beer Getting too Boozy?
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2018, 07:17:32 PM »
Any IPA around 4% is a session beer these days. 

I like them around 6-7.  The higher ones I do not care for. 

Another annoying trend, charging the same for a 4 pack that used to be a 6 pack. 

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Is Beer Getting too Boozy?
« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2018, 09:10:42 AM »
Another annoying trend, charging the same for a 4 pack that used to be a 6 pack.

Yeah - when did $9.99 become normal for a decent six pack?

Offline David in MN

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Re: Is Beer Getting too Boozy?
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2018, 05:16:06 PM »
Today I spent $15 on a 6 pack of Bell's "The Oracle" Double IPA. New to my area.

It's got almost no nose, hefty malt and super bitter. As a brewer and beer lover IT'S NOT INTERESTING. But it does its job clocking in at 10% ABV.

I don't get it. The beer world is going super bitter with dullard hops and crazy booze.

As a brewer I must ask why one would brew a beer over 6% and not try to get a yeast flavor unless you are doing a British barleywine? And a good barleywine rounds out with a decade of age on it. It's not some cheapo hop with too much alcohol behind it.

If you're a hop-head do yourself a favor. Buy a 12 of Sierra Nevada Celebration and age it a year. Buy a couple bottles of JW Lees Harvest Ales. Any IPA over 7% just won't give the flavor you should want.

This is why I go mad as a Belgian fan. We use telltale hops and super funky yeast to get a unique beer. We love finding bubble gum and clove in the yeasty head. But the modern IPAs are nothing but black pepper and cardboard.

Offline AvenueQ

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Re: Is Beer Getting too Boozy?
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2018, 08:20:58 PM »
Bell's is out of Kalamazoo, MI, they have other beers that are quite good (I miss my Oberon summer release).

I do kind of agree about the out of control ABV of some beers though, we saw that a little in Denver and also see it here in Reno/northern Cali. Some are good, but by and large I tend to avoid them, mostly because I get tipsy off a half-pint  :P

Offline David in MN

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Re: Is Beer Getting too Boozy?
« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2018, 07:48:29 AM »
Bell's is out of Kalamazoo, MI, they have other beers that are quite good (I miss my Oberon summer release).

I do kind of agree about the out of control ABV of some beers though, we saw that a little in Denver and also see it here in Reno/northern Cali. Some are good, but by and large I tend to avoid them, mostly because I get tipsy off a half-pint  :P

I'm not trying to crap on Bells. They make some great beers. And high gravity beers are some of my favorite. I love La Fin du Monde, Maudite, Chimay, Duvel, Baltica 6, and many other high gravity beers. The French/Belgian farmhouse styles are my favorite. There are also plenty of great high alcohol IPAs. Surly's Todd the Axeman comes to mind.

I'm also not afraid of big hoppy weirdo beers. I've brewed Jeff Bagby's "Hop Whompus Ale" which is (if memory serves) 11% ABV and requires putting hops in the keg. It's interesting and has depth of flavor that any beer lover would want to contemplate and discuss.

What I see now is totally different. The beer companies are falling over each other to toss out cheaply made high gravity bitter booze with all the quality of plastic jug vodka. As a brewer I can usually tell by taste the grains, hops, and yeast. The modern crop of IPAs are being made by accountants, not brewers. They are nothing but marketing and alcohol.

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Is Beer Getting too Boozy?
« Reply #14 on: August 18, 2018, 08:33:49 AM »
In my area, there are tons of small breweries with tap houses opening up.  All the beer is decent.  All of them put out a high ABV beer.  Some are ok, others aren't.  What I

What I'm seeing is that for the really small brewers, everything they put on their regular taps is very good.  Most of them have an experimental tap where they try out their small batches and want feedback.  It's annoying to me that they charge the same for the experimental as their known good stuff.

The latest trend they are doing is the Northeastern IPA.  It's  hazy and fruity tasting.  But the bitterness is less than a what they have been putting out.  I'm not a fan of bitter, so this is a good thing for me.