Monday, October 8, 2012

staleness reprise

A few weeks ago I wrote an article called "Staleness". It raised some eyebrows and was just my private thoughts on micro beer in Iceland. I decided to delete it because I did not really back up my opinions with facts, and also, because of the abuse that was building up. Maybe it was the correct call, maybe it was not..

It´s a fact that over here the micro beer boom was not something that spurred out of the home brewing culture. It was about people that wanted to get into the beer business apart maybe from Ölvisholt that were quite creative in their early days and are planning new releases this winter.

For me, not everything has to revolve around double IPA´s and imperial stouts, but in my opinion people need to up their game or decide what market they want to be a part of. Does icelandic micro belong competing against the two macro giants, or should they try to capture the mind and wallet of the beer nerd? For me, it´s the latter. There is no romanticism in going on and brewing 9 different types of pilsner. If you are doing that, you are competing with the two macros and you want to be a part of their market (I´m not naming any names but frequent readers should guess who I am talking about). And if you want to compete with them, you should not go to the papers and talk about how unfair the market is, especially if you are selling more than them in the bottle market.

There is also another micro, one that I will not name either, but they pride themselves of having done 11 styles of beer in little under a year. For me, they deserve cudos for that and I think they are trying harder and harder to push a good product out and trying to get the beer nerds to like them. I almost like their beer, I dont find it offensive although the first batches were little more than almost repulsive. Quality control is better and the pale ale is pretty tasty. And with their downtown location in Reykjavik, they are surviving in a market that is pretty tough to begin with.

Some people say that I have absolutely no patience for this industry but this weird culture here is getting to the point that I don´t have a clue what is going on. The newest micro, Steðji in Borgarfjörður, allegedly bought the equipment that Jökull brewery (the worst brewery in the history of brewing in my opinion) and also hired Jökull´s head brewmaster. It did not surprise me that the first beer out of that place was a lager beer in a green bottle with a repulsive label design.

Some people also slag me because of my pro-Borg writing. Let me explain a little bit why I have a love affair with them. At this point in my beer writing and beer rating adventures, I dont care where the beer comes from. I care about taste, quality and if my palate is satisfied or not. I´m not for buying beer that I dont like simply because it is a small family owned business. If I like it I will buy it, if I dont, I wont buy it. Simple as that.

That being said, I´m almost come to the point of not caring any more about the domestic industry. At least I wont write about it until I taste something that I find personally good. Call me selfish or inpatient. I dont care, the year is 2012. Maybe things are slow here because we are so used to binge drinking, dont know and I´ve given up on the fact that something special will happen here. Sure, I am excited for Borg and what Ölvisholt will offer in the coming months and years. Others, please prove me wrong. Also bare in mind, I´m not saying that the beer that the people here are brewing is bad, but I think personally that people are taking the wrong approach.

Here is a bold statement that I think people should think about:

Craft beer is about introducing different types of flavors, challenge the taste of others, brewing proper beer styles, doing high quality beers that are packed with flavor. Trying something new, going out of the norm and thinking outside the box. Craft beer is a movement, it´s about honesty and quality.

I am going into home brewing, at least then I will only have myself to whine and bitch about..