Frank And Honest Discussion

Basically, I think many people recognize that alcoholism is more prevalent in the craft beer scene than we'd like to acknowledge. It's just one of the uncomfortable realities of making alcohol a prominent part of your lifestyle – some people are going to get consumed by it. Not most, but certainly a larger number than we might like to admit.

There are absolutely people who use their enthusiasm for craft beer as a way to mask their alcoholism, whether or not they admit it.

My general rule of thumb is, if you're thinking you should cut back, you should probably cut back. The fact that you're asking the question at all is reason enough.

There is no shame in that.

Better to face the issue head on, with honesty, than to brush it aside.

It's probably something a large number of younger craft beer fans will have to think about as they transition from their early/mid 20s to their 30s and 40s.

Craft beer is wonderful, the scene is often (though not always) fun to be a part of, but it would be foolish to ignore the fact that issues like this can be a very real concern.

Most people, I think, do keep it in the back of their mind. You do get people who will react defensively to the topic even being broached – I bet you'll see some of that in this thread – but most adults into the scene try to keep pretty aware that there is a balance between enjoyment and health.

If you think you drink too much, you probably drink too much. Drink less, if that isn't possible then you might have a problem.

Not everyone who needs to scale back suffers from alcohol dependency. Some people are just heavy drinkers that are in control but could benefit from drinking less.

You can keep it to yourself to make it feel better. Just slow it down. No grand announcement. Just figure out how many beers you drink in a night. Get that number. Then stop at one less. And tell nobody. Just stop at three pints. then two weeks later, stop at two. Two is a good number, right. Two beers, then "gotta go, guys, see ya later."

Gradual changes.

Craft Beer and Weddings

I think that the nice thing about craft beer is that it is able to serve a wide range of uses. For example craft beer is cheaper than wine, the good stuff, and it often has a higher value in peoples eyes. Wine is very much a personal thing and price comes into play quite often.

Yet craft beer can add a nice note to those frugal weddings. And it can add a lot of charm and even elegance to the event. A wedding is a celebration that brings a lot of different people together, some may want "normal beer" others will want something "more fitting" for the occasion. And then the majority will love the opportunity to try something "new." Beth's had a nice run down for making weddings frugal, and as I was reading I really thought that it would be a great place to add in some craft.

But what should you choose?

Depends on what you want to do: go with tried and true favorites or introduce people to unique Colorado craft beer, or both?

Avery, New Belgium and Oskar Blues are widely available out of state. If you are looking to 'surprise' people, I might ditch one of these and go with a different craft choice.

White Rascal, Fat Tire, and Dale's Pale will hit most of your marks.

Consider Dry Dock's Apricot Blonde for a lighter beer. Great Divide's Collette is a popular farmhouse.

I'd pick a smooth porter; Strange makes a delicious Pumpkin Porter that's super smooth right now. You might take a second look at IBU's. Most people who "aren't beer people" are turned off by the bitterness. Selecting more beers with lower IBU's will help more people branch out.

Nix the Native and the Coors Light; you can find better lagers than those two. Avery makes a great Pils, Left Hand's Polestar works well, Great Divide's Nomad or Hoss should fit the pils/lager end as well.

To those who don't want the craft beers, you gotta learn sometime that there are tasty beers out there. Might as well while at a wedding. Lately all the weddings I've been to have super crafty home brews.

Make sure you check with your venue to see what they can get easily.

We have had friends who wanted to get a couple legs of their favorite stuff for their wedding, but there was an absurd tapping fee at our venue because their distributor couldn't get it. This is despite the fact that they would have bought the legs from the brewer and brought them to the venue ourselves. If my memory's accurate it has to do with their liquor licensing.

Variation in the Craft Beer Scene

With the explosion of craft beers in the United States, and the most popular beer in this country being light beers, why haven't we seen more craft light beers? I mean, I've enjoyed an albino stout, a cherry wood smoked porter, even a pineapple IPA.

But not a flavorful light beer, it just seems odd to me.

How about you?

Craft beers aren't typically described as "light" but styles that would fit that category are kolsch, helles, pilsner, wheat, hefe, and there are plenty more.

I think the real problem is that it's harder to make a good beer that isn't high ABV because you can't just throw more ingredients in to cover up any mistakes. Look at how many breweries are putting out 5% ABV "session beers". They use fermentables that don't add any body to the beer – namely rice and corn syrup. If they made an all malt beer at 4% or so, it would be significantly better. Michelob even makes a beer like this.

Look at how pilsners are less common.

Also people are less likely to try to get you to justify your prices if you're making high-octane beer. So not only is it more challenging to make a lower ABV beer, you probably can't even charge as much for it.

Look at how people have frequently been reacting to session beers when they're priced the same as other beers from the same brewery. I mean let's be real, a lot of us do both legitimately enjoy good beer and want to get a bit drunk in the process. This makes light beers, session beers, etc, an inherently hard sell.

Light Beers Are Trickier Than It Sounds

You have actually seen more craft beers than you'd realize would qualify for the definition of "lite" if anyone cared to call them that, but they have less reason to call them that because the term arose in the context of the macro lager mono-culture of decades past and hasn't been particularly relevant outside of that context.

First you have to ask yourself what exactly a light beer is and where it came from.

It's different than its big brothers but it's also partially a branding/marketing device. This creature as we usually know it is a lower calorie, lower ABV, lower taste version of a grocery store macro lager that we already know. In reality, it's probably more accurate to say it's just a different beer with those lighter qualities that rides the coattails of the existing brand for the sake of efficiency. It's easy to put out Bud Light successfully when Bud already exists, for example, rather than to make it start from scratch building up brand value in consumers' minds, even if it winds up branching off and continues to evolve into a wholly different identity.

How similar they actually are in terms of ingredients, process, and resulting flavor is probably arbitrary. Maybe those guys could comment.

But think back to the old Miller Lite ads from the 80s, where sports celebrities would divide into teams and argue back and forth about whether Miller Lite "tastes great" or is "less filling". The answer from Miller of course was "both!"

So the idea of these beers in the context of the diet-conscious 70s and 80s was to deviate from the norm of the mono-lager that hovered around 4.8 to 5% and carve out a new category, whether because you want to watch your calories or because you want to be able to drink more without getting as filled up.

And that category pretty much existed only relative to another category, which for most people in the USA back then was the only category, effectively.

And on that note, when you look at the description of Sam Adams Light, which is the only "lite" craft I can think of, they go out of their way to say "Sam Adams Light is not just a lighter version of our Samuel Adams Boston Lager but rather the culmination of over two years of tireless research and brewing trials that proved to be worth the wait." So they're saying it's its own thing, a different beer that happens to have these lighter characteristics comparable to the big macro lites.

It's 4.3% ABV by the way, just a whisker higher than Bud Light and Miller Lite.

But from there, we can recognize that there are also other craft beers out there with similarly lighter characteristics that aren't classed or branded or pitched as being in this light/lite category as we know it. And there are old world styles that have been lower ABV all along. So we might ask, "What's in a name? A beer by any other name would be as light."

Session beers are all the rage these days, most notably session IPAs, and brewers are finding ways to pack more and more flavor into beers that are lower and lower ABV.

The pitch is "you can enjoy more beers with your bros in a session and not get all fucked up as quickly." That's not quite diet consciousness but it can double as that if you want it to, though the ABV range of "session" seems to keep expanding. There are even a few "table" beers and "small" beers out there that are super low ABV, much lower than these session IPAs, though I can't verify whether the flavor holds up since I haven't had them.

But take Bud Light and Miller Lite – if any beers out there typify the light/lite category, it's those two and they clock in at about 4.2% ABV. By comparison Bud heavy is 5%, at least in the USA.

So let's use those as our benchmarks.

  • Firestone Walker Easy Jack is a session IPA that weighs in at 4.5% ABV, as many of these newer session IPAs do. Not quite Bud Light strength but not quite Bud heavy either. So that's sort of "lite". Certainly lite-er.
  • Stone's Go To IPA is 4.5% and their now-retired Levitation, which wasn't described as an IPA of any kind but was kind of an early example anyway, was 4.4%.
  • Dogfish Head Festina Peche is a Berliner Weisse at 4.5%. The lower ABV in this case is typical of the style more so than a deliberate effort to lower the ABV of an otherwise boozier style.
  • Same goes for Bells Oarsman, a Berliner Weisse at 4%. In fact, look at the Berliner Weisse style page on BeerAdvocate. Check the ABV column. Some of them are higher than Festina Peche, but most are below 4.5%, even below 4%. De Garde has one at 2.3%. Cigar City, if this can be believed, did one at 1%. By comparison to those, Bud Light is for people trying to cultivate mass.

  • Victory Donnybrook Stout is 3.7%

  • Anchor Small Beer is 3.3%.
  • Jester King Commercial Suicide is a 2.9% "farmhouse mild" ale inspired in part by the traditional English mild style that's already low ABV.
  • Jester King Le Petit Prince is a farmhouse table beer at 2.8% ABV.

As for calories, ABV isn't an exact determinant of a beer's load in that respect, but it's close enough to get a loose idea.

There are other things like residual sugars, which vary from beer to beer and contribute different amounts of calories, but the alcohol provides most of the calories. Brewers could tell you better since they deal in concepts like original gravity and final gravity.

So you can ask why we haven't seen more craft "light" beer if you want to, but if you do, recognize what it is you're asking about.

There are already a fair amount of beers out there that either approach, meet, or beat the "lightness" of the Bud Lights and Miller Lites and whatnot, but are so much more flavorful, but they just aren't classed or called or pitched as light beers. That's because the very concept of a light beer as we know it is partly a branding/marketing device and is often defined relative to other product offerings by the same companies.

Jester King Le Petit Prince is substantially lighter than Bud Light but does not care about that or about any other beer in the Jester King portfolio. It's that ABV because that's just part of what comes with that style. In fact, traditional table beer back across the water was often even lower than that.

With all of that said, you could accurately brand and market any of the above beers as "light" and maybe reap some of the enduring sales benefits that come from people's perception of what light beer means. Maybe that's actually what you're asking. But at that point I'd defer to ElGringoAlto's answer in this thread. Most of us craft fans have not wanted or cared about light beer ever since we moved away from macros for reasons of flavor.

I don't care too much about ABV or calories myself – I want flavor and complexity and other nice things however you can get them to me.

But maybe as the macro and craft worlds and audiences continue to converge, we actually will see more craft beers pitched as "lite". If somebody's goal when they go to the store is to buy beer that is specifically lower calorie, maybe it makes sense to market to them with a word they already recognize and instantly know the definition of. They may have no clue that berliner weisses are typically lower ABV/calorie, but they know "light". And they may not know tha ABV scales similarly to calories but, again, they know "light".

So that might be a really effective way to grab the business of someone who likes craft but wants lower cal, or this category of people who don't know anything about craft and are still fine with macro but want to experiment while keeping it light.

Guess we'll see.

Exposing Them To The Craft

For dinner parties there is a lot to keep in mind. Beer and wine is fine! Craft beer is also super "in" right now. I feel like that might work best for a more casual or daytime wedding where folks won't be expecting cocktails. You know your guests though! It could help to put it on the invites or your wedding website so there will be no suprises.

I'm having a brunch wedding and we are only having mimosas, bloody Mary's, lemonade and sodas at our "open bar". It's your day!

I did attend a wedding where people did bitch about there not being liquor (mostly single guys, to each other; not to the bride or groom obviously!) but it's not a huge deal.

Free drinks are free drinks to me.

I think for this one you may have to take a look at the people you're inviting and apply what you know about their drinking tastes. My brother had a beer/wine bar for his wedding what he failed to realize was that almost 90% of his family drinks scotch or whiskey-based drinks exclusively. So in this particular instance, he didn't get the bang for his buck in a beer/wine bar.

No one drank really, and then no one danced because they were stone-cold sober, etc.

However, if you know your family is comprised of wine drinkers or beer drinkers, go for it. I know most people on this sub tend to go for the "It's free booze, they should be happy with what they get!" but I do think you should consider your guests' tastes here.

Crowd Pleasing Non-craft

Recently my friends and I discovered the worlf of New Zealand beer. If you care about craft beer, which you obviously do, then don't get anything made by Monteiths/DB. Lion aren't all that much better, but at least they don't do stunts like this.

For Lion's standard beer range you don't want Lion Red of Waikato. Too much bullshit tribalism/loyalty over these brands. Speights, perhaps, but personally Speights is my least favourite mainstream beer. People like it though so maybe the best in that price range. I'd drink Lion Brown over any of the above, but it's considered a cheap nasty beer even though it's on par in quality. Main difference is that don't bother to advertise it.

Next level up, their "international" selection. Steinlager is safe but boring. Zip to Stella. Becks is the best of this style.

Then you come to their "Craft" selection. So Macs. This is where I would be heading. If the wedding is in the summer then Hop Rocker, hands down. If it is getting towards the cooler part of the year then Sassy Red. Black Mac is the best, but people are scared of dark beers. They also import Little Creatures Pale Ale which is another reasonable option.

You could also think about looking at Founders or Boundary Road, both which are owned by Independant Liquor – the honorary "Third" in the Duopoly.

Perhaps Stoke or Moa if you want to still support the little guys a bit more and still play within that price range.

Good one you for going to the effort, in any case. It is important. I'm not getting married myself until I can personally make all the beer that is to be drunk. I'm not giving people a substandard event.

If youve got a range of people coming I would do the following; 1x low end beer.

I would go for speights or Corona. Some people will 'only drink speights, mate' and this will satisfy them. Cover maybe 10% of your drinkers, or if theyre middle class go for 5%. In my experience there is always one and you do not want to be caught without speights.

Follow this up with your mass beer seletion from a green bottle lager. Becks or steinlager pure I eould recommend but it doesnt really matter. Stella is shit but peiple will enjoy it. Throw in corona in this category too. This will satisfy 65%.

Everyone is saying go for macs or BRB etc., but if youve covered a nice range of craft beers then their tastes will be covered here. Given the choice someone who normally drinks a macs pilsner will have zero problem going for a tuatara version.

If you buy Macs/moa etc in bulk they will get left in favour of the crafties.

Best Beers To Serve At A Summer Celebrations

In all honesty, you're probably best off making one of the choices a recognizable macrobrew. If it was my wedding, I'd want to make sure that all of the guests have a familiar option that they can rely on.

If you serve an IPA, chances are many will complain about how much the beer sucks. Yuengling would be my pick for a very mild beer (not sure if it qualifies as macro but you get the idea).

For the other beer though I'd think either a saison or a wheat beer would be a good pick. I don't know if you can find these very easily in your area, but Allagash White or Goose Island Sofie would be my picks. Both are really drinkable and accessible, and also good beers.

You might go for a "macro" taste profile and not an actual macro brand. By that I mean get a style that is close to American-style Pilsner or American-style Lager as possible. Sam Adams Lager or Brooklyn Lager (for something local) might be good choices.

Allagash White or Bells Oberon would be really good choices for the second beer if you want to keep that accessible and you want to be able to buy a lot of it.

Sofie is a great choice, but I bet a lot of people will turn their noses up at the tartness.

You could do a blind tasting for your bachelor party (assuming you haven't had it yet). Invite your friends who like Miller Lite and find out where the middle ground is. Put Miller Lite side by side with Sam Adams Lager, Brooklyn Lager and Victory Prima Pils.

Have your guests rank them from favorite to least favorite on a piece of paper.

A saison at a wedding for a generic crowd is a terrible idea, unless you want to turn people off of beer.

American saisons are rarely of the caliber of French/Belgian versions.

They are usually even higher ABV than the already inflated European versions, underattenuated, usually low on wheat, and low on carbonation. Most American craft breweries treat saison as slightly drier and spicier Tripel, which is absolutely not the case. Even BJCP doesn't know what a saison is.

Phil Markowski's "Farmhouse Ales" gives a wonderfully rich history of the style.

Read the other responses here, presumably from Americans.

"These may be a little on the high abv side".

No, saisons should be between 3-5%, unless you're making an imperial interpretation.

I make a 4.5% saison for summer BBQ's at the house and everyone gobbles it up like thirsty working class plebs, so I see no reason why a wedding would be any different. It's great.

Brands Are Identities

Why is there so much animosity towards founders of a successful business getting rewarded for their hard work and willingness to take a risk?

This is so common in the craft community.

The way that I see it is that it's not a business assessment, it's an emotional response to your brand changing into something that you don't approve of.

Brands are identities, and people take on the identities of the products they wear, the teams they support, etc… When that changes, it feels personal because it is personal! We liked knowing Bob and Jerry built this brewery from their garage into one of the coolest spots downtown, and we always brought our friends there, because we identified with Bob and Jerry and beer.

Now Bob and Jerry aren't around much anymore, but the spot is still cool, the local kids they hired make it fun, the beer is still great. And then Big Beer buys it, corporatises it, minimum wage employees, conduct policies, beer is consistently good but nothing fun is coming out of the brewery anymore, the social media is conspicuously watered down in edginess, you get the picture.

The brand you loved has changed, even though it promised it wouldn't.

At that point it's not always a simple matter of turning elsewhere, it's personal. They promised. Now you have to let the world know how stabbed in the back you feel. You have to let everyone know that you have something to show for all those years of brand loyalty, your dignity. It has nothing to do with the breweries selling out, it is always about the individual and their disappointment, anger, frustration, grief, and so on.

In that sense maybe it makes a little more sense why someone would stop supporting a certain brand, and say awful things about it publicly.

I love good beer, I'm incapable of caring less who made it. My cousin brews awesome beer and I still like what some of Goose Island does, doesn't matter to me.

In The Market For A Light Craft Beer?

I think it's natural to assume that there would be a big market for these types of beers, but I think upon closer inspection that may not be the case.

First, consider that most people who now drink craft beer may once have been light beer drinkers who migrated away from that style because they're looking for more flavor and more interesting beer styles.

They're no longer interested in regularly drinking light beer to begin with. Berliner Weiss is usually 3.5ish ABV

Second, consider the economic side.

A craft brewer, if they make an American light lager, will never be able to compete against the likes of AB and MillerCoors on price. There are some very low ABV craft beers, but you don't see them much. I doubt craft aficionados want to pay craft prices for a low ABV beer on the regular.

Their comparable beer is going to be far more expensive, and difficult to convince drinkers they should spend more on that type of beer. Drinkers have been conditioned that they will pay more for say, an IPA, but light lager? We simply expect that to be cheap, when in reality it wouldn't be that much cheaper for a craft brewer to make. Sure, there are less hops/malt, but actual ingredient costs are a very small portion of the total cost of making a beer.

So in the end, even if craft brewers did make more light lager-type beers, I'm not sure there would be a very big market for it. Light beers have lesser sugars to start with, so while you get lesser calories in the end, this also means there's less fermented end products to flavor the beer.

They're essentially mutually exclusive. It's the same as expecting all fine dining restaurants to offer healthy alternatives to their menu. That's not why or how they designed their menu.

There really isn't a strong enough market for small, independent brewers to spend money on testing, manufacturing, and distributing a light beer, which most craft-fans wouldn't be interested in.

Barcelona Craft Beer

We were in Europe recenlty on a country hoop tour and I got the chance to test what Barcelona had to offer. We hit quite a few of the craft beer spots.

Here's where we went and what we thought:

  • Biercab (In Eixample): Great craft beer bar with a large tap list. I want to say 20-30 beers on tap. Lots of local/Spanish breweries. Try the cod balls and octopus!
  • Garage Brewing: Awesome brewpub with a lot of variation in styles. Some of the best beer we had in Spain Bonus for this. There's an awesome little bar in the Gothic quarter the serves Garage beer called Carlos and Matildas. I'd highly recommend sitting out on the Terrace, having a pint and enjoying the atmosphere.
  • BlackLab (Barcelona – near the Aquarium): Decent beers and ok food, close to the downtown area
  • Naparbier (Eixample): Cool bar/restaurant with a kind of biker theme… Some pretty high quality food and solid beers… Bit expensive for food
  • Barcelona Beer Company (Raval): Ok beer, ok food.
  • Chivuo's (Gracia): Cool little place off the beaten track a bit.. Stumbled upon it on our walk up to Parc Guell. They brew a few of their own beers and have others on tap. Good food as well.

We also hit Brewdog and Mikkeller.

Both of which are cool bars but not local breweries. Another place I'd mention is Caravelle in Raval. It's more of a little restaurant but they brew a few house beers themselves as well. Awesome food (tacos!) and vibe. Happy drinking and enjoy Barcelona!

I actually found a beer guide of Barcelona after we left. Which only makes me want to vist again sometime. This time though I would like to make it the primary vacation destination. Though I think that it will take a while. The kids are crying to go to Flordia. I am sure you can guess why.

For not I will just have to dream.

Here are my notes for next time:

  • Lambicus, best Belgian Bottle shop.
  • Roses i Torrades, Bottle shop.
  • 2D2Dspuma, Bottle shop.
  • BierCaB, best bar in Spain.
  • NaparBCN, best beerpub in Spain.

Always with limited collaborations between famous brewers.

Breweries and beers you must taste from Spain: La Calavera: "medical stout", "batard chardonnay" Montseny: any variants of "Mala Vida" Guineu: "Montserrat", "Black Velvet" and others Naparbier: "Back in Black", and any other. La Quince: "SweetDreams", "Horny Pilsner", and any other. Dougalls: "Session Stout", and others Laugar: "Aupa Tovarisch", and others. Reptilian: "Apokalypse", and others. Ales Agullons: There are blended with lambic Cantillon. Yria: any beer.