From David- Founder of Sommbeer:
“One and Done”
There are beer styles that demand a high percentage of alcohol (abv). Many of my favorites such as Russian Imperial Stouts and Old Ales are by definition very potent brews. I love them. I buy them, age them and sip them. Here’s the trouble, every single flagship or “whale” beer from a brewery has a crazy high abv. I get that, it makes sense. An imperial IPA demands an extreme amount of malt for mouth feel and will have by extension a lot of alcohol. Beyond the flagships however, do the standard issue Stouts and IPAS really need to have 7-8%?
A quick run through of cellar stash demonstrates the an average abv of 6-8%.
Are the brewers competing with each other and gaining market share by delivering strong beers? I remember when brewers couldn’t even advertise beer strength. In fact congress prohibited brewers from this practice in 1935. Congress was worried that consumers would flock to the strong stuff just for the sake of drinking the strong stuff. Remember Prohibition had just been repealed 2 years earlier. As a consumer, I had to do a lot of research to find what strength my beers were until 1995 when the supreme court stepped in.
Now brewers can advertise ABV freely.
I had a Bell’s Saturn last night – and that’s all I remember (kidding) I opened it with some degree of fanfare as it is a limited release with some degree of difficulty to find. I poured it knowing I should have aged it but loved every sip. When I re-discovered the bottom of my glass I was done. Not with the beer but the entire evening. Lights out I was tired and done with beer. Why do we have to have outstanding beers with ever increasing levels of alcohol.
It’s common practice in my beer circles to split these beers. If the brewer keep increasing alcohol at this pace – we will need 3 people to drink one beer.
As a homebrewer it was a challenge for me the first time I made an Scottish Old ale. The yeast makes alcohol, the alcohol eventually kills the yeast. The yeast makes the very stuff that kills it (sounds Shakespearan to me somehow). As a homebrewer it was a fun challenge to get the right yeast and maintain optimum conditions for a high quality beer that happened to have high abv. I did it, challenge over – same goes for the brewers. Now it’s time to make a flagship beer with moderate abv. How incredible would it be for a brewer to make a highly rated highly sought beer @ 5%? Challenge accepted?
We are always looking for new contributors. Send me a note to start your journey on the Sommbeer team. email: firstname.lastname@example.org – David
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