Today, I stand on my soap box with one purpose: to preach the importance of lower ABV beers. Yes, that’s right, the Queen of Big Beers is here to tell you why the total opposite are just as important. They’re on the rise right now, but it seems like they aren’t getting the respect that they truly deserve. Why do they deserve respect? Because they are more important to the craft beer industry than you think:
MARKET TRENDS AND LIGHT BEER:
One of the major components of what makes macro light beer successful, besides it being inexpensive, is that you can drink a good amount of it, and not be a total mess. At my house we are huge football and sports fans. We spend the entire Sunday afternoon watching football and with that, drinking beer. Despite the fact that we are craft beer nerds, the 30 pack of Miller Lite is a staple on Sunday. Drinking higher ABV beers all day will leave us asleep by 6 pm.
We are not the only ones who have to take this into consideration, I’m sure. An all day festival, barbeque, or party may also require the same decision making. Getting blasted isn’t always the goal, but enjoying great beer is a part of life that many of us enjoy. Sometimes, it can be the opposite. You may have been drinking a few and want to stay out, but don’t want to end up with a lamp shade on your head.
The newer lower ABV beers that have been released over the past few years offer an alternative to that case of macro or that light beer to end your night. Now, you can experience the full flavor of a great IPA, lager, stout, and even sours with less worry about whether or not it’s going to put you down for the count. This is huge for craft beer as brewers try to carve their way into more and more consumer’s hands and homes. By offering a product that appeals to those who aren’t always looking to get smashed, but are curious about the flavors offered by craft, brewers are opening a door for those who may never have considered this option before.
COMPLEXITY OF CRAFT BEER:
One of my favorite things about craft beer in general is the complexity of the beverage. You can get some crazy flavors from just one glass, start to finish. At the same time, different styles have different distinctions which consumers and brewers look for. For me, it’s that thick, velvety mouth feel you get from a big roasted stout. For others, it can be the juicy hop flavor of a great IPA or the perfect amount of spice in a wheat beer. All of this is controlled by what you put into the beer. I think that being able to tweak a recipe to create all of the things that someone loves about your brew, but then having the expertise to create it at a lower alcohol level shows the true complexity that is craft beer.
The biggest opposition that I hear about lower ABV beers particularly concern body and mouth feel. Something just not being right compared to their bigger siblings. In some cases, I entirely agree. Not every low ABV beer or beer in general, is a quality product. That is something we’ll talk about another day, but at the same time there are some excellent beers out there, that are low in ABV, and killing it. I keep making it my goal to introduce people to lower ABV beers without telling them that they could be a session beer, just to get their unbiased predisposed opinion. I love my giant bourbon barrel aged stouts as much as the next person, but it’s fun to see what else these brewers are capable of without compromising quality.
VARIETY OF SELECTION:
Variety is the spice of life. I can’t stress this enough to those stuck in their craft beer ruts. Yes, you like what you like, I get it. What’s it going to hurt you to try something else for once? When you go to the same restaurant week after week, maybe you should try the special every once in a while. When you always wear the same style of clothing why not change one piece, just to see how it feels. If there’s one thing that craft beer boasts, it’s variety.
Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean that it isn’t exactly what someone else has been wanting and looking for. I couldn’t care less about a ‘malty IPA’ but some people are really into that and, well, more beer for them! Many people don’t want my coffee stouts because they don’t like them, and they have every right not to. You may not like a 4% ABV English-style bitter, but someone out there has been looking for exactly that and may have just been converted to craft because of it. Variety, from flavors to ingredients to ABV, is what makes craft beer better than the macros. These lower alcohol beers are adding an important facet to an already incredible array of craft beers.
Don’t write-off those lower ABV beers yet, because they’re just getting started. Which are some of your favorites?