I was thinking the other day about my original favorite craft beers. One of those is Raison D’Etre from Dogfish Head Brewing in Delaware. It is a Belgian style ale brewed with beet sugars and green raisins and it is far more unique than any of the offerings I’ve been coming across at my recent trips to craft breweries.
Looking at the beer list for the brewery closest to me eight of their 23 beers are IPAs and three others are sours. This is currently the trend in the craft beer world. IPAs have lost no steam and sours have recently burst on the scene. For someone like me that prefers stouts and porters it can be difficult going visiting a craft brewery, but on top of that the innovation appears to be gone.
Thinking back to the beginning of the latest craft brewing revolution when Dogfish Head, Flying Dog, New Belgium, and Rogue all had a sudden burst in popularity they were going against the grain.
I can remember when I first turned 21 in the year 2002 the beer isle at most grocery stores was nothing but the mainstream beers and stuff like Bacardi Silver and Smirnoff Ice that was popular at the team. There were very few craft beers and if you could find them it was because they were regional. The bitter taste of IPAs was new a different at the time especially compared to the sweetness of the malt beverages like the aforementioned Bacardi Silver and Smirnoff Ices of the world. But the big thing about the four breweries I mentioned above is they never limited themselves to only one or two styles.
I remember the first time I went to a Dogfish Head Alehouse. The menu was long and varied and everything was unique. I remember my early favorites being the Raison and the Chicory Stout but I was always happy to try something new and different like the Palo Santo Marron or the Midas Touch, and one of the most interesting aspects of Dogfish Head’s offerings at the time were their ancient ales series.
These are my earliest experiences with the craft brewing revolution and every new craft brewery or brew pub visited had a similar menu of varied styles and unique offerings. Now, things have changed, and you’re lucky if the craft brewery you go to even offers four or five different styles. When I look at a craft beer menu and see that it is one third one style I am disappointed and count that as only one beer.
Opening a craft brewery has changed from an artistic endeavor to a business venture. Newer craft breweries aren’t interested in bucking the trend but are more in it to ride the wave. We can never return to those early days of new discoveries but it would be nice to see a few craft breweries open that are interested in being trend setters instead of followers and redefine the industry once again.