Should a beer be clear?
There’s a growing wave washing through Instagram. The beers Im seeing are progressing, there’s a clear future beer style developing. Have you noticed?
I take it as a historic mis-handling problem that has led to murky beers being un-appealing. I don’t want to stray into the Cask debate, but I suspect that drinkers aversion to murk is due to a reaction to what should be clear beer, poorly handled and ultimately served cloudy. So it was cloudy in error. That error, I assume, also led to the beer being of poor quality to taste aswell.
So what’s changed? Let’s face it the last 4 years have been dominated by the influence of the West Coast US IPA. The hop forward, sharp and lip smacking. All about brewing a beer that is a platform for those hops, delivering them in an as un-affected way as possible. The best examples are raw, challenging and organic in their aroma profile. It goes without saying that I consider Cannonball to be one of the best examples of that style.
The US is a mahoosive country, don’t know if you’ve noticed. I hark back to my rap loving youth to give clear contrast of how the west coast and east coast differs. They’re significantly different too. The culture, the weather, the mindset. Somewhat inevitable that an entirely different beer style would develop on the east coast.
Its that east coast style which has progressed the murk bomb as a style.
What gets me though is that the thing people are talking about is that murk. The thing which puts people off is the murk. The thing people talk about being attractive is the murk. It’s just doesn’t make sense. Why the murk?
Personally I want to understand the murk. What leads these beers to be murky? Is there a point to the murk? Does it hold more of the hop properties within the liquid instead of releasing it as aroma? Does that make it more intense on the palette? But most of these beers are sold as being juicebombs. Designed to be gulpable and less of a challenge than the west coast hopbombs that we were used to.
From where I sit, I personally haven’t yet gotten over the wow factor of that slap in the face from fresh hops. I want the challenge. I want the assault on the senses that west coast hop bombs give me.
My perception of East coast IPAs is that the assault is lessened, designed to give you a more genteel experience. The hops are still forward but with less bittering hops, the experience is gulpable juice.
Fashions move on. Areas get explored. I’m all for breweries exploring styles. You stand still you are left behind.
Lets try and see beyond what we’re seeing…
Murk will only grow this year, don’t let it put you off. Get stuck in, judge on what you taste. The flavours will appeal a lot more than the images.
Edit Post script: There is one thing that nags at my mind here, Brewers intent. I often hear of breweries putting out beer which they didn’t intend to be murky but ended up being. Now the thing I can’t quite fathom is if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
If the result is good beer then I should applaud the fact that perhaps 10 years ago that beer would have been drain poured. But the flip side is, are some breweries getting away with poor standards and simply using the fashion of murk to get away with putting out beer that maybe they shouldn’t? I don’t have a definitive answer but I do often question if a murky beer was intended to be murky or not.