Robin LeBlanc: Jordan, I think I’m well and truly in the Craft Drinker’s Cycle.
Jordan St. John: 21 speed Shimano? Something in a Schwinn Fixie?
RL: No, you know how every craft beer drinker starts out as a macro lager drinker, right? And then they try something new, go into different styles, hit the high ABV Belgian quads, the hazy IPAs, the fruited sours, and just get more and more extreme in their tastes before landing right back at macro lagers.
RL: No doubt those kinds of beers are a cultural milestone and an interesting sign of how far beer can get in terms of flavours, but between that and an Asahi, I’m probably gonna go with the Asahi. Especially if it’s a hot day.
JS: Robin, are you breaking kayfabe? You’re supposed to pretend that you’re absolutely breath taken by each new iteration of a hop combination in a dry hopped off-flavoured calamity! Have you forgotten the threats the Hopnoscenti have made against our lives?
RL: That death threat was probably the most thoughtful letter anyone has written to me. But listen, my breath has been taken away by Berlin proportions over the incredible innovation of brewers. Even the silly gimmicky beers that come and go have their place. But at the end of some days, I want a beer that I know is going to be consistent, good quality, and doesn’t provide too much thought. Now, not all macro lagers fall into that category and there seems to be a rise of craft options that do, but the fact remains that I like a good pilsner, helles, or super dry.
JS: I think we had one really negative thing happen with craft beer. No one was ever tricked into liking lager. It wasn’t as though they were lied to. It was merely a restriction on the market. It was the only thing there was for a while. Not everyone liked it but a lot of people still do.
RL: Well, I think the problem was that Craft beer had to set itself to be different, but a problem that arose was that bold, challenging flavours were conflated with better quality. Now, when you get to be like us, the more you drink beer the more you realize the amount of skill and quality that goes into making a seemingly simple beer.
JS: I had the simplest beer in the world yesterday. Offensively simple. UPPER NEW YORK STATE SIMPLE.
RL: Pray, what beer?
JS: At Gene McCarthy they got both kinds of beers. The Old First Ward Brewery beers and also the stuff in the fridge. I had three of the craft beers and then I looked around. I looked at the Notre Dame flags, the century old immovable oak bar back that had bent the floor. I looked at the heavily reused paper menus and I said to Margot, “gimme a Genny.”
RL: I think there can be a real discussion on how Genesee Brewing Company is a great example of how a brewery making consistently good quality beer without getting too ridiculously fancy can help you become the beer of choice for your region. Being around as long as they have certainly helps, but keeping that status in the ever-changing landscape is impressive. Just a dynamite cream ale.
JS: The thing is, I don’t know that there is a 100 rated Cream Ale, but if there was one it would be Genesee. I am not sure anyone knows what a Cream Ale might be. However, here is a thing in a can and hey… drink it.
RL: Well, moving on to the bigger picture, have you noticed this upward trend in accessible lagers that seem to suggest that breweries are catching on that sometimes a simple beer is a good beer? Lots of pilsners, certainly, but I’ve been seeing some dry rice lagers from folks like Rorschach, Great Lakes, and Muskoka.
JS: The thing is, it isn’t just a rice lager that does it. It is a light lager. One of my favourites is Amsterdam 3 Speed. Iain, the head brewer, said to Cody (who is a wonderful brew man), “make a light beer you would actually drink,” and lo, 3 Speed.
You have to appreciate that. People want refreshment. It also puts things into perspective.
RL: It’s funny, I remember talking to some brewers about the type of beer they’d actually drink in their off-time. Among answers like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and a few others, one of the beers was usually always a light lager.
JS: The Genny lager Illustrated an interesting point. In Canada our beer was measured by ABV. In the US it’s alcohol by weight. Genny was 4.5%. I drank the one our Margot put in front of me and it might as well have been Dasani.
Andre the Giant famously drank more beers than anyone alive. Sitting up here in Canada, I thought more than about 36 would have been impossible. With Genny, I might have made a run at it.
Although not in front of Margot. She’s a professional.
RL: Well, on that, it’s still sunny and warm over here, I want a beer, and it’s your round.
JS: Anything that doesn’t remind me of that scoundrel, Hulk Hogan.