Beer and Pavement

It’s All Relative

Posted in Beer, Intersections, Life by SM on April 18, 2012

The boyz from Hot Knives went ape for a box of Founders. They mistakenly confused their booty for the entire lineup[1], but how were these west coasters to know?

Anyway, it’s interesting to hear their take on the beers. For the most part, they know what they’re drinking. The hoppy beers are balanced and lie more east than west when it comes to IPA character[2]. However, where Founders gets it right every time is with their stouts, imperial stouts even. Overall, they were stoked to get something so rare…for LA.

This got me thinking about how regions can have completely different takes on the same products. Founders is based out of Michigan and generally only ships to states in the Great Lakes region along with Missouri and a few other eastern states. To those of us in Missouri, they’re fairly common[3], to the point that a few of these beers are considered disappointments on particular years[4].

The love for regional beers or music by those outside said region is always interesting to me. Beers and bands enjoy a certain kind of love close to home, some genuine and some obligatory. It’s more of an ownership thing that’s tempered by familiarity. A brewery or band succeeds when they get all kinds of love from outside of their homes, love that is based on performance and not just hype.

In the above video, the hipsters[5] were excited by Founders’ hype on the west coast, but they were won over by the imperial stouts. Still, I wonder what the reaction would have been if Founders wasn’t all that good at brewing beer. I know that I’ve had some hyped beers from out of market and were somewhat letdown. Conversely, I’ve had others that did not disappoint, living up to and sometimes passing the hype. In the end, how the beer tasted, looked, and smelled won me over, not the hype associated with a scarcity based on regional distribution/limitations.

This is where I was reminded to appreciate what a rare treat it is that we in Missouri get great beers from Michigan (Founders, Jolly Pumpkin, Bells, etc.), Colorado (Avery, Great Divide, Ska, etc.), New York (Southern Tier, Schmaltz), California (Green Flash, Firestone Walker, Stone, etc.), the Pacific Northwest (Deschutes, Caldera, etc.), as well as places in between and from our own state (Schlafly, Boulevard). However, sometimes it takes an outsider’s appreciation to do the reminding.

Relatively speaking, Founders is pretty common around these parts. However, it’s probably a jolt to these LA food/beer bloggers. It’s the same when someone here shows up with something from Russian River, Three Floyds, or Dogfish Head – all breweries not commonly available in the Show-Me state. Although these breweries are great no matter where you are, they are even that much better where they are not normally found.

It reminds me of the time I saw Guided By Voices play on Coney Island.  One summer weekend, a few of us drove all night to see them play in the inaugural Village Voice Siren Fest. As we rolled our collective eyes over the showmanship of the band, the crowd of New Yorkers went completely nuts for windmills and epic kicks.

See, living in Ohio during the 90’s and half of the last decade, one had many opportunities to see GBV in all its glory. I saw or could have seen the band play on every tour from Bee Thousand through Half Smiles of the Decomposed, plus special gigs in between[5]. So, their shtick was pretty played-out for us by then.

The difference was that New York had not been able to experience nearly as much Bob Pollard as we Ohioans had[6]. To them, it was all new or at least novel. To us, it was the last decade+ and we were ready to move on, forgetting how much we loved GBV and all those shows and all the theatrics we now detested. So, GBV’s popularity that day was mostly relative to them performing in front of a crowd not blessed to see them all that often[7].

Anyway, a good reason to keep beer distribution regional and small is the joy we get when we have a beer out of market, like the Hot Knives boys and their box of Founders. Some of the enjoyment we have – whether it’s beer or music – is relative to where we are, what’s normally available there, and with whom we’re sharing the experience.

I’m glad someone in LA got to try some Founders. They now know what the midwest has to offer that west coast IPA’s cannot always fulfill. I’m also glad that this video reminded me of what a nice craft beer option we have here in Middle Missouri with Founders in almost every grocery, restaurant, and bar.

Notes:
1 It was a nice haul, but there are a few key bottles missing: Cherise, Pale Ale, Dirty Bastard, Red’s Rye PA, Porter, All Day IPA, Curmudgeon, Harvest Ale, and Backwoods Bastard. Plus, there are the super rare bottles like CBS, Better Half, and Blushing Monk.
2 With my limited palate, I am finding that I prefer the West Coast IPA to those of the east. A “balanced” IPA seems to be code for “tons of sweetness to balance out all the hops.” I’m growing a bit weary over Eastern and Midwestern DIPA’s. The IPA’s are fine. It just seems there’s way too much sweetness going on.
3 Of course, this has only been the case for a few years. Founders was one of the first big craft brewers to plunge into Missouri’s waters. Since then, it’s been an avalanche of new beer.
4 The Devil Dancer just didn’t do it for me this year. I blame the ridiculous amount of hops needed for a triple IPA (whatever that is). If the crop this year was even a tiny bit off, it affected the whole beer. Also, I really don’t care for fresh KBS. That beer needs a year to age before it’s good.
5 I once saw them play a tent in Dayton on a snowy St. Pat’s Day. My brother got us kicked out.
6 Guided By Voices gigs and things like cow tipping are probably the only two things that Ohio can say they get more opportunities to do than New Yorkers.
7 See #6. Why do I even have this footnote?

Another note…The use of “hipsters” as a descriptor was not meant as an insult. Hipsters tend to be creative and fashionable types. What’s not to like about that?

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4 Responses

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  1. Barleywhiner said, on April 20, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    Devil Dancer tasted like onions to me, but I seem to have some type of propensity for catching that flavor. I really enjoyed KBS this year, but the regular Breakfast Stout doesn’t do a whole lot for me (not big on coffee in beer). The regular Founder’s line up is pretty solid. I love some fresh Centennial or Red’s Rye. Double Trouble and Backwood’s Bastard are favorites as well.

    • Zac said, on April 23, 2012 at 1:53 pm

      Agreed on all points.

    • jeffmenter said, on April 24, 2012 at 10:42 am

      Devil Dancer has had a huge garlic/onion thing going on recently. It wasn’t always this way. My guess is that vagaries of yearly hop harvests are present and way more detectable in a triple IPA.

      I actually kind of like it but that’s just me.

      • Holly said, on April 25, 2012 at 8:31 pm

        Double Trouble has that same oniony thing going on this year. Whether it’s some change in the hops used or just the characteristics they took on from the past year’s harvest, I’m not a fan.


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