I was reading an article in Wired News this morning about better beer and thought I would get some great suggestions from like-minded people on new brews to try. The suggestions came in the form of a slideshow of "Cool Beers," which I think conveys a different meaning than "better." I don't know how to measure "cool" with anything other than a thermometer, and if that's not to your liking, it's your own fault for not refrigerating the stuff. I know you're eager to see the list, so here it is. Nine cool beers.
- Paulaner Hef-Weizen
- Konings Hoeven Dubbel Trappist Ale
- Hoptical Illusion Pale Ale
- Grolsch Premium Lager
- Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse
- Dinkel Acker CD-Pils
- Chimay Blanche
- Boddington’s Pub Ale
I can't say any of these are going to make my top 10. Just seeing two hefeweizens on the list was enough to sour the credibility of the author's opinion. I haven't tried the Dinkel or the Hoptical Illusion, both of which I'm going to look for at World Market the next time I go. World Market has all the rest of the beers on the list, but I'm not too confident about these two because I don't remember seeing them and I've spent enough time in World Market that the work staff there know me.
In the author's search for better (or cooler) beers, he said he was looking for stylistic and geographic diversity, as well as looking for the refrigerated section. He frowned on the idea of choosing a beer based on the design of the label or can. I agree that's a poor assessment of quality, but we all judge the book by the cover sometimes. I will hesitantly admit that I've purchased bottles of wine before because I liked the label. I don't have much else to go on, other than my limited personal experience and maybe the grape variety and growing region.
The author also condemns 20th century beer making, saying that it was focused on reducing cost--at the cost of flavor. This allowed him to get a few cheap jabs in on American breweries, aligning with the unfortunate modern sentiment that anything that is imported is better--especially in the areas of beverages, fashion, and automobiles. I have to say that I really like American beers, especially Budweiser products. Sure, my favorites are mostly imported ales, but the lighter taste of Bud serves an entirely different need. If I've been outside working hard all day (I said if), I'm going to reach for a refreshing Bud Light over the more complex flavors.
Which makes me realize I'm not entirely convinced the lighter flavor was just a cost-reduction measure, but also the result of public preference guided from market research. I would be foolish not to admit cost is a factor, just as it was when Coca-Cola shamefully decided to switch from pure cane sugar to high fructose corn syrup. Or more famously, when McDonald's excessively heated their coffee to extract more flavor from the grounds in order to get more cups of coffee per bean.
I always wondered about that one. As coffee snobs, we know that if your water is too hot, the extraction will be bitter. That means McDonald's coffee drinkers were more willing to accept bitter coffee than bland coffee, or at least this was the perception of management. It was probably right on, that would be my preference too. I used to prefer the dark, bitter Italian roast coffees made in this country. Then I started using beans from an Italian company and realized what we call an Italian roast is kind of a misnomer, as most roasts from that area are not so bitter after all.
Do I have a point ? Nah, I just wanted to ramble about beer, wine, coffee, and polar bears for a while.