Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
So You Think You Want to Open a Brewery (2014) (seriouseats.com)
181 points by Tomte 2 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 283 comments

My personal taste complaint with a lot of people who open a brewery... Everyone seems to think that more hops = better beer. There are so many other possible flavors and types to a beer than some type of IPA that is absolutely overloaded with hops. But that seems to be a very common type of thing to brew. When I open something and am assaulted with the aroma of hops, it's not appealing anymore.

It was interesting 7-8 years ago. Now it's just "oh here we go again".

I have a personal theory that the overwhelming aroma and taste of hops in a beer can be used to mask many errors and missteps in the brewing process, which might be more easily tasted by the customer if it were, for example, a weissbier.

Former home brewer and, for a short time, amateur beer judge here.

You've got it right. It's not that more hops = better beer. It's that more hops = easier beer. Malt-forward beers are much more difficult to get right, and require a lot of very careful attention to detail. Hops are easy: Just throw them into the batch and set a timer. Their strong flavor is also useful for masking a lot of consistency problems and off-flavors that might stem from other, trickier parts of the brew process.

The brewmaster of a new craft brewery is likely an amateur who recently went pro, and has very little practice brewing at an industrial scale. It's an over-crowded market right now, too, so they're operating on very tight margins and working with a clientele that can afford to be very picky. The days when one could get away with marketing something like Shiner Bock as a bock are long gone. So they can't afford to burn a lot of money working out why a recipe that yielded a perfect malt aroma at a 5 gallon batch size comes out flat and lifeless when scaled up to 30 barrels. They'd be out of business before they got it pinned down. Hops are easy, though, so the hoppy beer brewer is more likely to survive.

I suspect that this effect continues on to packaging and distribution: Hoppy beers can handle some amount of oxidation where cream ales and lagers quickly start to taste like cardboard. That's useful in an overcrowded market where your beer might spend a few months sitting on a shelf before anyone drinks it. (Hopefully this becomes less of a thing as cans, which have a longer shelf life than bottles, increase in popularity.) And there's no way that your local TGI Bennihan's or the "537 beers on tap" bar is staying on top of cleaning their tap lines, but, again, hops can help mask the funk.

It's also something of an open secret among beer judges that hoppy beers are at an unfair advantage to win the "best in show" prize. Because the final selection for that prize comes at the end of the day, after the judges' palates have been deadened by endless beer tasting, and hops are about the only flavor component that is as subjectively noticeable at the end of the show as it was in the morning. Any amateur brewer who's involved in the beer competition circuit is going to be influenced by that.

"The days when one could get away with marketing something like Shiner Bock as a bock are long gone."

Can I look forward to the days when one can't get away with marketing American IPAs as IPAs? Because they're nothing like the British originals. I was also a homebrewer and a beer judge for a short time. That was back in the day (the 80s) when Pilsner Urquell was still the most bitter beer in the world. There was a stereotypical homebrewer who used to dump loads of hops in his beers as a sort of "hot sauce penis waver" to express his manliness. These guys paid no attention to beer style or brewing history. This mindset went on to have the dominant influence on the American microbrew industry, which has included varying degrees of misapplication of beer style claims. I've long given up on trying beer from American brewers as only a few of them use any degree of real creativity and understanding that malt does more than just provide color and something for yeast to create alcohol with. Unfortunately, the rise of microbrews inevitably brought the demise of imports, relatively speaking. I could get on board with the canned beer fad if the labels were even remotely readable, but like their overhopped beer, art and nuance is something that is wielded like a sledgehammer to clobber us over our heads.

No, and there's not a strong historical basis for making the distinction, either - in the UK, the hop and grain bills for beers sold as IPAs have been in a constant state of flux for centuries now, and it wasn't all that long ago that an IPA coming from a London brewery could have been more bitter than a standard American IPA nowadays.

If it's any consolation, at least in the classification system used by the BJCP style guidelines, they aren't even in the same general category. But one could argue that the names used in a beer judging rubric and the names used for the purposes of marketing beer are not, despite the use of some common language, the same thing.

It's also, I think, not quite correct to blame the development of American IPA solely on machismo. That's undeniably a big part of it nowadays, but, when the style developed, it was much more about adapting the basic idea of an English IPA to taste good using the grain and hops that were being grown in North America.

For a good (mostly British-focused) blog that covers some of this history in excruciating details, see Shut Up About Barclay Perkins.

"it wasn't all that long ago that an IPA coming from a London brewery could have been more bitter than a standard American IPA nowadays."

This is a very loose implication that I won't bother addressing, nor your use of the word "solely".

It's an excellent blog, and from reading it it's quite clear that categories have been ever shifting; sometimes because of supply or government restrictions (esp war) and sometimes just for commerical reasons (increasing profit, changing customer tastes etc).

These are the kind of insightful comments I come to HN for! What a stark contrast against another comment lamenting that men get overly competitive/nerdy about their hobbies thus engaging in "mentrification" or whatever tf that is.

Yeah it wasn’t till i got here that i remembered this thread was about beer.

Saw your comment after basically making the same point to the parent. You really nailed it, especially with regards to shelf life and scale.

Thinking of it, all the times I remember being really knocked off my feet by a malt-forward beer was on draft at small scale breweries.

>I have a personal theory that the overwhelming aroma and taste of hops in a beer can be used to mask many errors and missteps in the brewing process, which might be more easily tasted by the customer if it were, for example, a weissbier.

It's not just your personal theory! It's absolutely correct. In my neophyte brewing years if something came out bad, I'd just chuck more hops in the carboy and call it an IPA (back when it was rare and unusual).

It's also arguably not very good for men. Hops are fairly estrogenic. Might help with post-menopausal bone density though! https://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/journal/2010-04/beer-...

> Hops are fairly estrogenic.

Phytoestrogens don't really work on humans though. They mostly just antagonize the estrogen receptor, which means they bind to the receptor without activating it. This means they can actually be harmful to women on HRT because they make the HRT less effective.

It caused premature menstruation in girls picking hops. It works on humans.


But isn't the net effect of that still going to be making men more sensitive to estrogen?

I don't know if it's comparable, but my understanding is that over time caffeine's binding to adenosine receptors causes more receptors to be produced, leading to increased sensitivity to adenosine and so you get more drowsy than you otherwise would when caffeine's not present.

If that same effect applies to estrogen receptors, that would make men more sensitive to estrogen?

100% agreed. I think a few things go into it:

- Americans don’t really get exposed to good lagers and pilseners. We get Bud[1], not Budvar. So there’s no expectation that beers in those categories could possibly be “good”. IPAs don’t have the same baggage.

- For the same reason, it’s easier to differentiate from the big brands on a supermarket shelf. You get to be your own category, not just the more expensive version of what people think of as regular beer.

- Maximalist American food culture. It’s like when bacon became a meme and suddenly everything was covered in bacon. Fatty ramen became a trend for the same reason: it’s a simple, super-saturated flavor that’s easy to crank up to 11.

- Like you mention, it’s easier to brew.

The worst is when you’re given a menu of 40 indistinguishable IPAs all called like “HOPULATOR 9000” or whatever. Sometimes I just want to go out for a brewski, why did that have to get complicated?

[1]You know what? Bud on draft is fine. It’s not the best, but I like it, and I’ll certainly take a $3 pint of bud over a $9 snifter of “gnarly Steve’s surfs up mango hop smasher” or whatever.

> Bud on draft is fine.

Oh man, was with you till the very end. Most places will have something on tap that qualifies as real beer. PBR, Yuengling, Stella, and Pilsner Urquell are all great lagers. Confronted with 40 taps of HOPULUS PRIME (or whatever), I'll happily swill them all day in a non-ironic, non-cheapskate, non-hipster fashion. But rice adjuncts? No thank you.

I also enjoy all of those more than bud (except maybe PBR), but it’s worth pointing out that they’re all brewed with corn. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not any better than using rice. It’s still a grain sugar that isn’t barley.

For what it's worth, the defining characteristic of that style of beer (american pilsner) is being brewed with corn or rice. There's absolutely nothing wrong with using rice/corn in beer, anymore than there being something wrong with using wheat in beer. Corn gives it a distinct flavor. Try a kentucky common sometime. It's basically an amber brewed with a significant percentage of corn.

I think bud actually only uses rice and 6-row (i.e. old-style, harder to convert) barley. I could be mistaken about that, though.

At any rate, the adjunct grains used in US "megabrews" aren't just there because they're cheaper than barley. They're very much a part of the flavor profile, and a big part of the style. Whether or not you consider that a positive is personal preference, but they're not bad beers at all.

Two-row is the old style barley.

My problem with Bud is it doesn’t have much flavor or character for a pilsner - especially the Lite. Carbonated malt pop.

Well, "old style" isn't quite the right term, but 6-row is generally produces a bit lower percentage of fermentable sugars and has more proteins. It's not something you typically brew a beer with unless you're using adjunct grains or some two row in addition.

On the flavor part, I agree. I prefer Miller if we're going with the big breweries. Doesn't make it a bad beer, though, just a lighter profile.

$5 pitchers of Yuengling are the best part of the Northeast US.

only thing about PA that I miss

Is PBR really that different from Bud?

> Fatty ramen became a trend for the same reason: it’s a simple, super-saturated flavor that’s easy to crank up to 11.

Ehhh, I wouldn't necessarily put "fatty" ramen in that position.

Legitimate ramen from Japan's original, basic purpose was food that could be eaten quickly by salarymen late at night/on their way home after work/drinking.

There's huge variety in ramen, and I think the fattier ones were made for a purpose too. Not just flavor, though that definitely is a result as well, but also because of the kind of environment there was in Japan, where the people there wanted something a bit heavier in flavor in a hot bowl on cold nights.

> Americans don’t really get exposed to good lagers and pilseners. We get Bud[1], not Budvar. So there’s no expectation that beers in those categories could possibly be “good”. IPAs don’t have the same baggage.

Pretty much every major craft brewery nowadays has a high-quality pale session beer. Sometimes it's a pilsner (both Euro style and American pre-Prohibition style), sometimes it's a golden ale, and sometimes it's a Kölsch, and hell I've even seen one brewery with a Dortmund-style lager, but regardless of which it is, they're typically among the brewery's top sellers.

They're not the sexy beers that grab headlines, but they're actually the ones doing a lot of the heavy lifting for the brewery's bottom line.

Ten years ago, you would have been absolutely right, but pale session beers have come back in a huge way, and we now have no shortage of them. They exist, they're high-quality, and they sell, but you don't see people talking about them much because there's just not much to talk about. It's the beer you order multiples of when you're hanging out with your friends and don't want to get too full or too drunk too fast, and there's nothing particularly _interesting_ about that.

I think IPAs have made for peak craft beer and it is going down.

You are right about IPAs being easy to cover up poor brews. I brew, and people are really surprised when I tell them one of the hardest possible beers to brew would be a Budweiser clone, and one of the easiest is an IPA. Most IPA's have a very simple single malt and mash cycle, and it is essentially a hot tea made with hops. Then most of them are fermented. with some Safale high attenuation pretty bland US-05 yeast derivative. Any error or not even error with a pale lager like Budweiser would be exposed. It also takes a long time to make lagers due to the lagering progress and fermentation needing refrigeration.

The problem with people drinking these fresh dank double IPAs all the time is that every other style then seems bland as your taste buds are completely destroyed from drinking 100 IBU triple dry hopped beer. Then eventually you get sick of it, and every hazy juicy IPA starts becoming the same. There are way too many breweries now making generic silver cans filled with double IPA with some interesting art sticker. I'd short the craft beer industry if it were a stock.

Oddly this doesn't surprise me at all - I figured IPA's were popular because it was a relatively easy way to make a consistent small batch product.

I'm not really a beer person, but when I am its usually Coors Banquet or Pacifico, both of which I find tasty and refreshing (particularly on a hot day, with BBQ or Mexican). I also love Yuengling when I'm in the area for it, its the only beer I've gone out of my way to order.

Do people honestly enjoy a 100 IBU beer? I never understood the hype around strong IPAs. What percentage of consumers honestly enjoy it and what percentage are riding the bandwagon. I have often heard "ah this isn't bitter enough" when someone is drinking a high IBU beer.. is this some way of flexing on others? I enjoy beer but not these crazy IPAs. To each their own I suppose.

It is known that 100+ IBU is no longer perceptible as 100 is the max bitterness we can discern. Even regular IPAs weigh in at 50-60 IBU so they are also extremely bitter in the scheme of beers. Most styles of beer are 10-30 IBU. In general IPAs turn the hops component up to 11 in beers. And I do think IPA drinkers enjoy it. It isn't just flexing I think (although I am sure there are some that do), because I see in beer distributors that other styles I enjoy like Belgians and stouts are cleared out for more IPA space. And I think due to the intensity of the taste, that they get more and more conditioned to find other beers not bitter enough and not floral enough in notes. It is market demand now but I think it is self limiting because once people are in the category of "IPA drinker" I find many of them drink nothing but IPAs and then eventually get sick of them.

I personally will drink an IPA from time to time, but will gladly drink any style really and particularly like stouts, German/Belgian beers. I also agree with the other child comment and will crack open a Budweiser gladly on a summer day on the beach. It is actually a very well executed beer, it is designed to be smooth and mild. I think the aversion to lagers is some amount of snobbery. I don't drink beers for image so don't care!

Amen to stouts and German beers. Agreed that a lager on a summer day is delightful, can't argue with that. Thanks for your comment.

Whenever I pick from a beer menu that shows IBU for each beer, I pick one of the 3 with the lowest IBU number. I don't care at all for the competition where people yell "Oh your beer has 100 IBU? Well mine has 110!"

You're telling me. I've been into craft beer for around 8 years, a bit after IPAs really took off in the US. I have acid reflux, and nothing triggers it more consistently and quickly than having an IPA. It just tastes like straight up acid to me.

I equate people who like really strong IPAs to people who are into extreme hot sauce just for the sake of injuring themselves with something that's overly hot.

Is there really any flavor to IPAs with IBUs that are through the roof? No, not at all.

I'm glad on the east coast I have a variety of beer to choose from that aren't IPAs

> Is there really any flavor to IPAs with IBUs that are through the roof? No, not at all.

Yes, there is good, tasty flavor to hops, provided you're not on the sensitive side of the bitter tasting spectrum. The bitter flavor overwhelms everything for some, but not all.

If you're curious, there are bitter tasting test strips like these which not everyone is sensitive to. https://www.amazon.com/Nasco-PTC-Paper-Strips-Vial/dp/B001D7...

Another thing thing I think I've found about the IPA crazy is that it has driven out the variety in IPAs themselves - once there was a spectrum in high-hop tastes between citrus-y and cider-y tastes in high-hop beer but now citrus-y is the only taste that's considered acceptable.

The cider-y taste ("green-apple character" I believe) you can taste in the Belgian beer Orval is considered an off-flavor in IPAs and I'm pretty it was reasonably common high hop beers in the 90s and early 2000s.

Indeed, my suspicion is that homebrewing first create a wide variety of flavors and approaches through accidents but once the machinery for determining the correct flavors became established, small brewers followed with beers that has nothing strange or unusual at all and so could only distinguished by their hop-levels.

The funky flavour from orval comes from bottling with brettanomyces, I'd not noticed an applely flavour though myself.

Another example might the taste of Christmas or Anchor Liberty Ale from maybe thirty years ago.

> once there was a spectrum in high-hop tastes between citrus-y and cider-y tastes in high-hop beer but now citrus-y is the only taste that's considered acceptable.

Worth noting that the citrusy highly carbonated brews are 'American IPA's, English or 'Imperial' IPAs are much less citrusy, if at all, and much much much less carbonated.

That's changing a bit - much to my disappointment, I don't like the citrus either, much less the high carbonation - with the craftier 'craft' beers, but generally they will market themselves as American IPAs, or have a citrusy name or label, so you can make your choice accordingly.

I'll look for English/Imperial formats when I can. I'd guess Dogfishhead 90 minute IPA qualifies as imperial and I prefer it to most.

I think the unspecified IPA you often find will be American. And jeesh, there far too many of them. Like the original cheap American lager form, it's OK 'till you've had far too much of it and then you never want it again.

> Yes, there is good, tasty flavor to hops, provided you're not on the sensitive side of the bitter tasting spectrum.

I'd also add "provided you didn't boil the shit out of them, destroying the essential oils and isomerizing the alpha acids". Generally speaking, a particular batch of hops can add either bitterness or flavor but not both. If you want both, you add multiple batches.

A little rundown of the chemicals in hops and how they affect the beer depending on how you add it.

Hops contain three things:

- Alpha acids. They're tasteless on their own, and when you boil them, they isomerize, and isomerized alpha acids taste bitter. All the bitterness in hoppy beers come from these.

- Beta acids. People don't talk about these much. They're generally associated with off flavors, and most cultivars try to minimize them.

- Essential oils. This is where the real flavors in hops come from. Different cultivars contain different essential oils that give off different flavors. European hops tend to have earthy, floral, and spicy flavors ("spicy" as in traditional European spices, e.g. allspice, not "spicy" as in chile peppers), and American hops lean towards pine and citrus flavors. Some newer American cultivars go past just "citrus" and into a wider variety of stone fruits; these tend to form the base of New England IPAs. Unfortunately, boiling the hops destroys much of the essential oils, so any hop you use for bittering will provide little flavor.

Different cultivars of hops provide these in different amounts. Hops that are high in alpha acids but low in essential oils are called "bittering hops" because all they're good for is adding them during the boil to add bitterness. Hops that are high in essential oils but low in alpha acids are called "aroma hops" because all they're good for is to add them later in the process to add aroma and flavor to the beer.

There are basically three points where you can add hops into the beer:

- At the beginning of the boil. This thoroughly isomerizes the alpha acids and destroys much of the essential oils, contributing bitterness but little flavor. If you want a bitter beer, throw a bunch of high-alpha hops in at this stage. If you don't like bitterness, just throw in enough hops to protect the beer from spoilage.

- Later in the boil. This contributes a small amount of bitterness and a decent amount of flavor. Unless the beer is _packed_ with hop flavor, you can expect much of the hop flavor to come from this stage.

- After the boil is over. This is called "dry-hopping". This contributes no bitterness whatsoever and adds a ton of flavor, provided you use hops that have a large amount of essential oils. Beers that have intense hop flavors make extensive use of dry-hopping. Extreme west-coast IPAs tend to make heavy use of both hopping during the boil and dry-hopping, thus providing strong bitterness and flavor. New England IPAs, on the other hand, rely almost entirely on dry-hopping to bring out every nuance of the essential oils, to the point where a new marketing term has been coined: "double dry-hopped", or DDH. It doesn't really mean anything, there's no official threshold for what counts as "double", but you can safely assume that any beer marketed as a DDHIPA is going to be packed with hop flavor thanks to extensive dry-hopping. While there are a few west coast DDHIPAs, most beers labelled as DDHIPA are New England-style, where dry-hopping is especially important. In those beers, the H does double duty and also stands for "hazy". Why? Because when you aggressively dry-hop a beer, hop particles will actually become suspended in the drink giving it a cloudy appearance. You can filter them out if you want to, but New England-style IPAs almost never do so because they've turned the haze into a selling point (west coast IPAs, on the other hand, almost always filter them), which is why most of us who drink them just call them "hazies".

tl;dr If you think you don't like hops because they're too bitter, go find something that's aggressively dry-hopped with very little hops being added during the boil. You'll find out that hops actually taste pretty good and that what you didn't like was just the effect of boiling them.

Nice answer! Also apparently re. NEIPAs some of the brewers seem to dry hop during fermentation, to encourage biotransformation - http://scottjanish.com/examination-of-studies-hopping-method... where apparently the yeast can transform some of the hop oils.

>After the boil is over. This is called "dry-hopping". This contributes no bitterness whatsoever

In my experience, heavy dry-hopping contributes noticeable bitterness. If you have access to hops this is easy enough to confirm: get some lightly hopped beer, add a lot of hops (heavily hopped New England style IPAs can use 1oz/gal or more for dry hopping), and let it sit for a few days. After you've strained the hops out you should be able to taste the extra bitterness in the beer. A quick web search found this blog post with some explanation:


>Is there really any flavor to IPAs with IBUs that are through the roof? No, not at all.

Yes. Yes there is. As someone with acid reflux, I can't stand spicy foods but love IPAs.

>>I have acid reflux, and nothing triggers it more consistently and quickly than having an IPA

For me it is to opposite, I have no problem with IPA and want them as hoppy as they get. But some pilsners triggers the reflux consistently. I think for me it is related to how carbonated they are.

I'm glad we now have a good selection and can select what we want, and not having it as it was 10+ years ago where we had 5-10 types of pilsners/light lagers to select from

> ...I have a personal theory that the overwhelming aroma and taste of hops in a beer can be used to mask many errors and missteps in the brewing process...

For what it's worth, more hops absolutely masks errors in brewing. It's something that any homebrewer finds out very quickly.

IPA's/etc are very easy to get a drinkable beer out of no matter how many mistakes you make. (To be fair, it's not just IPA's that are forgiving. Weissbiers are actually quite easy to brew due to the yeast hiding off flavors nicely, and ambers can be easy due to lots of caramelized, unfermentable sugars hiding off flavors. You can overdo the sweetness in an amber or mess up the fermentation in a wheat more easily than you can make an undrinkable IPA, though.) That's not to say that really good IPAs are easy to brew, just that you'll get something drinkable no matter what.

Any commercial brewery _should_ be beyond basic mistakes, but scaling brewing is hard. What I'm saying really only applies to homebrewers, but I suspect it carries over to smaller breweries as well.

The hardest beers to brew well are actually Pilsners, Lagers, and American-style pilsners/mega-brews. Anything with very clean, crisp flavors. I hate to say it, but if you want to really test your skills, try brewing a miller lite clone... This is especially true in homebrewing, where proper lagering/aging and fermenting at low temps needed for lager yeasts used by pilsners/lagers/etc is difficult.

At any rate, my hat is off to Czech brewers. Trying to brew a really good pilsner or bohemian lager is damned hard to perfect, and it's an absolutely sublime style when done right. Sadly, it's somewhat rare to find a brewery in the US that can do it well.

This is a west coast phenomenon, I’ve found the Midwest and east coast to have a lot more variety. It feels in Seattle like beer bars have a “token” stout in the same way that they have a single house wine. Hops must be what sells though.

Extremely hoppy beers aren't just a west coast thing, though; it seems there are a lot of bandwagon breweries that latch onto trends. 10 years ago it was 2k+ (yes, >2000) IBU IPAs, lately it's more sours. SF and Portland seem to be the epicenters.

I feel your comment about the "token" stout; I used to go to the Refuge (https://www.refugesc.com/) quite often but one of the reasons I stopped is because their beer list is so overwhelmingly Belgian and I just want a regular stout or porter now and again.

>Hops must be what sells though.

I'm increasingly suspicious that (typically) high relative ABV of high-IBU beers is a significant factor in influencing consumer choice, perhaps moreso than hops enthusiasts would like to admit.

I definitely do fast math of $ vs % alcohol and volume. It’s less that I want to be drunk and more of a “super size me” feeling, like I’m getting a better deal.

I haven't looked at IBU, but I found ratings people seem to give beers, increases with ABV - https://www.anfractuosity.com/projects/beer-review-analysis/

(see the Alcohol By Volume graph).

I'd love to see data on sales of beer in relation to ABV though.

> Hops must be what sells though.

Bingo. It's to the point now where OG craft breweries are faced with cutting their once staple lines to replace them with IPAs. IPAs represent 26% of the craft beer market and its still growing.

IPAs may have originally flooded the craft beer market because they are easier to brew consistently and keep longer on the shelf. But they've rocketed to the top of the beer sales charts because the people who buy beer love hops.

People have been talking about the "next IPA" for years now. Yet there's no indication that another style is going to usurp them. In fact, it's somewhat the opposite, as other styles are being adapted into IPAs. Nobody has made a heffeweizen IPA yet, so I think there's still further to go.

Yeah, as a Michigan resident, the gp's criticism sounds like something that would have been said 10 - 12 years ago. Sours, lighter styles (session ales), spiced ales and other interesting variants are typically a lot more prominent on menus at hip breweries.

Even with a relatively interesting scene, my feeling is that beer has lost a certain amount of novelty and glamour around here. Bars are less central to young people's dating lives. It's more novel/fashionable to be a connoisseur of cocktails or marijuana strains. People are more healthy-oriented than ever, and beer is one of the more calorie-heavy ways of getting a buzz.

At this point, it might even just be an Oregon and Washington thing: if anything, it was the year of sours in BC. There are still breweries pumping out ten different IPAs, but most seem to have pulled back to a couple of core varieties and there's a bunch more experimentation going on up here.

You have not been to Maine or Vermont since how long?

I'll agree with this (or at least what I think you're implying).

The beer of northern New England is mostly driven by what tourists from Boston and NYC (more for Vermont than the other two) will shell out $10 for and a great many of those people want an IPA that you can patch the road with so that's what gets brewed. I can't comment on what things were like 10+yr ago since I wasn't paying attention to beer then.

As far as I understand it, IPAs don't require specialty equipment and they don't take as long to brew, so you get quicker turnaround and need less storage space. When you are running a large beer company out of warehouses on the edge of town, storage isn't as much of an issue. But when your beer is being made at a downtown microbrewery, there's a huge cost to that extra storage space. If your beer takes two weeks to brew instead of six, you can produce 3X the beer in the same space.

Pretty much the opposite here, I only drink IPA - hoppier the better! Having traveled and sampled IPAs all over the world, I can say that for the most part, its a style that people can't really get right. Not really sure why, but my general experience has been that the further your IPA is from the west coast, the worse its going to be. My world ranking would be

1st tier - California, Oregon, Washington - if its from a smallish brewery, it will be a good, hoppy IPA

2nd tier - Colorado / Idaho / Nevada / Montana - has some good IPAs, but could be hit or miss

3rd tier - Rest of USA - very hit or miss. At best it will be as good as a good west coast beer and at worst it will be strange and malty

4th tier - Australia / New Zeland - maybe best non USA IPAs ive ever had was from Pirate Brewing in Australia. This might be because of the high quality of new zeland hops.

5th tier Europe - Good luck! Had some pretty good IPAs in Ireland, and maybe some half decent ones from Britain, but overall the stuff they market as "IPA" tastes wrong, malty and flat.

6th tier Asia - Had a good ipa (on tap!) from Demo Pizza bar in Yangshuo China. Also some good ones in Hong Kong 7th tier: Africa - had one or two good IPAs in South Africa but for the most part its not really IPA

Overall, I think a good predictive equation for the quality of your IPA would be

quality = 1 / (distance_from_usa_west_coast * distance_from_a_city_with_brew_scene).

> 5th tier Europe - Good luck! Had some pretty good IPAs in Ireland, and maybe some half decent ones from Britain, but overall the stuff they market as "IPA" tastes wrong, malty and flat.

Ha! Because what you're expecting and looking for is an 'American IPA' (style not origin). The other half are English or Imperial (there is sometimes a technical and sometimes only marketing distinction to be made between the latter two) IPAs.

Personally, the stuff America 'markets as "IPA" tastes wrong" - citrusy and way over-carbonated!

It's unfortunate that they're made to sound so similar in my opinion, they're pretty different styles. Classic IPAs are much closer to other British bitters than they are to 'American IPA' (or to 'IPA' sold in America).

Citra, and citrus flavor in general, is definitely still very much in vogue for American IPAs, but I don't really think of there being a huge difference in carbonation levels. British beer is usually less carbonated than American as a rule, but carbonation is actually one of the few areas where often-extreme American IPAs are relatively restrained, so it's not this massive gulf.

"Imperial" is a tough descriptor for a British style, at least in America, because here it's usually used to signify something akin to "double": more alcoholic, more hoppy, just generally "more."

Well, I concede that it may be even more exaggerated in other American styles, but certainly American IPAs are very much more carbonated than IPAs in Britain that aren't imitating that style.

'Imperial IPA' in Britain denotes a more traditional style - of course it's not regulated, but the one thing you can be certain of is that it won't be in the 'American IPA' style (you can get British made IPAs sold as 'American IPA', i.e. it is meant as a classifier of style, not orgin).

Traditional IPAs are low in carbonation even among British ales, highly hopped (boiled and dry), and 6-9%.

In short, the way you're saying it's used in America doesn't sound wrong to me!

(I believe dry hopping actually originated with the IPA, and its long voyage from London docks to India.)

Yup, in my opinion adding tons of hops can be a way to “cheat” and make a better beer, similar to some heavily flavored strong dark beers: if you overwhelm the palate you can cover up all kinds of issues, and nuances! Also in the NW a lot of hops are grown there, so it’s kind of a regional pride thing too. Even though WA also grows a ton of barley, there isn’t nearly as much interest in it.

"Cheating" with hops is a dumb myth that needs to die. High hopping rates present a number of challenges that make this notion ridiculous. Shitty brewers make shitty hoppy beers just as much as they make shitty lagers, ambers, etc.

The real story is that hoppy beer sells. That's the whole story; there's no other reason why they are so prevalent. The end.

To make these beers, here's what you have to deal with:

* The Hop market! Congratulations new brewery, you're either paying 2 or 3 times as much for popular hop varieties, or else you're going without and can suck on some Cascade. Good luck negotiating a reasonable contract for next year buying in pitiful amounts. You get to subject yourself and your razor-thin margins to the spot market.

* Hop quality. Hops age and oxidize fairly easily, and variability year to year is substantial. If you want any kind of quality and consistency, it's a big job to closely monitor your key ingredient.

* Hopping technique. Bittering, flavor, aroma, Whirlpool, hopstands, dry hopping, double-dry hopping, each pose unique challenges and opportunities, and brewers fuck it up all. the. time. Good hopping requires careful attention to process, and depends greatly on your highly variable ingredients. Get it wrong and some common flavor descriptors are: cat-piss, vegetal, astringent, etc. Truly, there is a whole cornucopia of shitty IPAs.

* DO - dissolved oxygen. Oxygen destroys hoppy beer very easily. Your process better be perfect, or else you better be pushing that shit out within a week or two. Distribution is a fool's errand unless you're a big fish.

* Hop bite. Basically this comes down to filtration, which smaller operations may not do. Fairly easy to avoid, but so very, very common.

FWIW, weissbier is a lot easier to brew. Find a maltster that works for you, test a couple different yeasts and fermentation profiles, and you're done. Maltsters are fucking legends that make a terrifically consistent product (not the bougie 'indie' guys, the real legends). And yeast suppliers aren't far off.

Now, the Germans will faff off about decoctions and hot-side oxygen and all that, and they do make good beer, but you can make really solid beer without even thinking of all that. I will drink a fresh weissbier every time over getting something imported from Germany to the US. Most of the time, I'll pick it over what you get in the German supermarkets.

I think craft beer has an inferiority complex compared to wine, and the diversity in hops are another attempt at a beer equivalent to terroir (where wine takes on different characteristics based on climate, soil, and other factors). The rise of sours and wild yeast strains are being marketed similarly, as are limited-run stouts that should be aged by the buyers. All of this on a beverage whose legacy has been the quest for consistency.

It's a strange side effect of craft beer's "elevated" status. Multiple breweries in the same town need to differentiate themselves as if they are farms growing the same product acres apart. The more I think about the bizarre trends in the industry, the more I appreciate beer history.

I love me a good IPA, but there is a certain type of person I call the "IPA bro" who goes out of their way to order whatever has the highest ABV or IBU every time. I think it's like how hot sauce guys must have the hottest thing.

I've talked to many brewers and they said they would love to make more pales and lagers and sessions but that they don't sell.

Have you ever thought that maybe Ipa Bro just wants to get drunk?

That's how I booze on a budget at least. Rents are high enough!

Couldn't agree more. I live in Oregon, the craft beer center of the universe, and find that the vast majority of craft beers is too overwhelming to actually enjoy.

There are more breweries learning how to do good lagers but still few and far between.

To be fair, there's more risk in lagers and other 'light' styles. If you want to produce a consistent product, they're not particularly forgiving to variance in the mash and brewing processes.

This surprised me but Portland, Maine actually has twice as many craft breweries as Portland, OR.

I don't think that's true.

I've been to both, and while Portland Maine has a surprising number of breweries for its size, Portland Oregon had way more. A quick google search confirms Portland OR has more than twice as many as Portland ME.

If you include the Portland OR metro area, it has more breweries than the entire state of Maine.

There are more breweries learning how to do good lagers but still few and far between.

That may be but Portland, Oregon has some excellent cider as well. Belmont Station in Hollywood is pretty much my go to place, they've a diverse selection of beer and cider.

There are also a number of good ciders coming out of the apple growing regions of central WA. Usually located within 15-20km at most of the major cold storage warehouses where apples go after being picked.

Out of Washington Finnriver's black currant cider is one of my favorites. There's a little cafe in St John's that's got it on tap, and that really is the best way to experience it.

Also my hometown of Corvallis: 2 Towns Ciderhouse

Also my hometown of Corvallis: 2 Towns Ciderhouse

To be clear Belmont Station has both a bar (biercafé in hipster speak) and a store. The store has a really great selection of both beer and cider. My favorite is Reverand Nat's sour cherry — self-described as more of a lambic beer than a cider.

Their selection of California stuff isn't quite up to snuff but they carry 2 Towns as well — a friend had explain that reference to me.

Brewerys usually have dozens of beers. If it is predominantly IPA, then that's because it's selling like hotcakes. Personally, I don't really care for the taste. I can take it or leave it. But if I'm looking to buy >$10 beers, I'm going for the highest ABV which is going to be an IPA. Sometimes you get two for one, essentially.

You can't even trust bartenders to pour proper wells these days, charging $13 for an 8oz glass of Coca Cola and a drop of well brand just so you can see them reach for the bottle. The IPA fits in line with my boozehound on a budget lifestyle and always is the stated ABV.

It is quite odd, the dominance of IPA. I wasn't aware of it until I walked in Rodman's in NW Washington, DC, and found that what appeared to be 80% of the American beer offerings were IPAs of one sort another.

They are easy to brew and hide fermentation or sanitation defects well.

I don't get out to too many taprooms anymore, but I used to be in the habit of ordering their pils or lager first, since it's much harder to hide the quality behind the hops. Generally speaking, breweries that have good beers of those styles are good across the board, while those that don't have a lot more variance.

And even more so in the Pacific Northwest, relatively close to the hop-growing area in central WA, and full of small craft breweries.

”I have a personal theory that the overwhelming aroma and taste of hops in a beer can be used to mask many errors and missteps in the brewing process”

I think there is something to this. the same happens to other foods too. Just make them extremely spicy, cheesy or sweet and you don’t have to worry about taste subtleties anymore.

> My personal taste complaint with a lot of people who open a brewery... Everyone seems to think that more hops = better beer.

Microbrewers don't actually think that.

The reason that a lot of them flood their beer with hops, is because:

1. It is extremely difficult to brew consistent batches of beer, week after week, month after month.

2. The extreme bitterness of hops masks the taste of pretty much everything... Including the inconsistencies.

So even if they aren't papering over actual errors in the brewing process, they are papering over inconsistencies.

Every brewery I've been to offers lagers. They can be hit or miss though since it's harder to mask off notes in them. The session ipas (low abv / preferably low ibu) are usually more dependable at small breweries. I personally like the crisp juiciness of those provided they don't overdo it with the hops. I can't stand the syrupy IPAs/double IPAs, fortunately those have been waning in popularity. They were fun for a bit but not anymore.

I can’t stand the east coast hazy ipas. They’re so disgustingly fruity and most make me want to throw up. Living on the east coast, it’s getting hard to find a nice piney west coast ipa.

Same here, but for me I swear overly hopped beers are a migraine trigger for me. I have had some beers that will give me a headache before I have even finished them! The bad association was enough for me to no longer like the taste of these beers. I only go for lighter ales/loggers or dark porters/stouts now but the stores are overloaded with extremely hoppy IPAs, but I guess that's what sells unfortunately.

This has been my experience also with hoppy beers. Sometimes the migraine will start after only a couple of ounces. I mostly drink lagers and wheat beers now.

As a homebrewer, my experience is that adding a bunch of hops is just the easiest way to ensure your beer tastes good. Hops are really good at covering up off-flavors. Making kick-ass beers in other styles, especially subtle ones like hefeweizens and blonde ales, usually requires masterful control of the brewing and fermentation processes.

I love IPAs, but the market is definitely oversaturated with them. And after a while a lot of them just kind of blend together, so over time I've lost interest in trying new ones and mostly just stick to the solid ones I'm familiar with (Bells Two Hearted Ale or Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA) unless there's something truly unique, Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin being a good example.

Along those lines, I wish more microbreweries would put out sessionable beers that still taste good. Despite the variety of styles, it seems like most beers are in the 6%-7% at least, often more. As much as I love a good stout or IPA, sometimes I want something with lighter body in, say, the 4% ABV range. Guinness is my go-to for that reason even though I think it's just fine, not great. Deschutes Black Butte Porter is the best compromise I've found, but is rarely on tap where I live.

I totally agree... it's like over-roasting coffee beans. You trade bitterness of flavor but get consistency. That's a legit process control approach to manufacturing. And consistency of brewing beer is a huge deal... it's not that hard to make a decent home brew (it helps that it's usually fresh like home baked bread), but it's REALLY HARD to make the same beer (that people are coming back for and paying money) batch after batch. You need control not only of ingredients (and the damn things change), but also the yeast, time @ temp... and cleanliness!

It's a lot easier to add lots of hops.

There was a similar trend with sour beers that had fruity syrups added a few years back. I live in the Houston area and it seemed there was a micro brew bubble that started around 2012-2014. In the southwest suburb of Houston where I live (30 miles away from downtown) there were 3(!) breweries within a couple miles of each other. One of them jumped on the sour beer trend full fledged. While everyone is entitled to their own sense of flavorful beverages. I think this particular brewery overestimated the demand for beer that smells like feet and tastes like sock sweat. They have since abandoned their brewery, and were brewing on a batch for hire basis. I think they finally have ceased all together. It also seems with the success of Titos vodka a similar trend is happening with spirits here in Texas.

You’re still seeing it? Feel like I’m rarely seeing a beer list of mostly ipas and almost all of my friends order something different now a days. I’ll occasionally order one, but it used to be my got to.

As another commenter here posted, I think a lot of people formed an identity to it. As the person who likes craft beer and ipas were the king of craft beer. Now I just find them too much.

Funny thing happened to me, my friend said he liked ipas so I would always get them for him, he always said I knew what he liked. Years later he told me he actually hated ipas but wanted to seem like he liked them and eventually did.

It's almost like the customers love hazy ipas, and breweries do gangbusters selling them.

There are a few pilsner/lager breweries but they have to be so much better at their styles and are still missing out on a large portion of the market.

Specialized sour breweries exist and do somewhat well, but the market is limited and the product takes years to age.

I dunno... I think it's easily explained by the market, that there are a ton of people who like hops.

I personally love super-hoppy beers. In a weird way, it feels kind of similar to the way I love super-spicy food, or 90% dark chocolate, or black coffee. It's just a big "kick" that's fun in and of itself.

With all these things, the flavor balances are certainly important, but obviously an aspect of it is out of balance and that's the whole point, what I like about it.

So just, to each their own. I know plenty of people who despise hoppy beer. I'm just glad there's a proper full range of flavors at my local average supermarket. There wasn't before.

Exactly - craft beer has been taken over by IPAs over here - and variations about them.

I personally love stouts and porters - yet there is a severe shortage of them. There was a 'whiskey/bourbon barrel aged RIS" craze short while ago, but it was all the same.. and they were available only in brewery pubs.

When i go to store the beer wall is full of IPAs, another one is full of lagers(I'll pass on them).. and maybe 2-3 types of stouts/sours/porters are mixed with IPAs.

I think you're partly correct. Hops cover a multitude of sins. But another reason I think brewers use hops so extensively is that they're the ingredient that will get you the closest to something approximating terroir. New Zealand hops, for example, are really popular right now because they bring a new and interesting character to the table, unique to where they are grown.

Or it could be that people who don't get IPAs are rather like the people who don't get authentic Indian food. Yes, at first, you may only taste hops or chilis, but as your palette matures, you begin to realize that that there's more to these drinks or foods and that they are in the end more interesting than the bland steaks or weissbiers one once liked.

>I have a personal theory that the overwhelming aroma and taste of hops in a beer can be used to mask many errors and missteps in the brewing process, which might be more easily tasted by the customer if it were, for example, a weissbier.

This is exactly it. An IPA is much more forgiving to lackluster consistency of material inputs and process control making it a perfect match for small operators that don't have those things dialed in yet (or can't afford to dial them in)

I haven’t seen the appeal of many craft beers beyond the ideal of buying small/local.

Pretty much all of my favourite beers come from Latvia. I haven’t tasted much better than I did out there.

Living in Rīga, I like drinking Latvian beer from Labietis, Malduguns, Nurme, Alķīmiķis, Hypnos, and a couple of other breweries.

But I have to say that there are some Estonian breweries that are really world-class, especially Põhjala and Pühaste made some of my favorite beers ever.

I lived in Jūrmala for a year myself and besides the bars, stocking up for 70c a bottle, or about 1€ at most, was fantastic. Good quality beer for cheap.

> taste of hops in a beer can be used to mask many errors and missteps

You are not alone.

A microbrewer here in London said it really well: most small breweries go with IPA and in general overdo their hops because it allows to hide faults. Without the overpowering hoppiness their beers wouldn't taste good at all.

As a casual home brewer, I try to avoid hoppy concoctions. And at some point I will learn how to do proper German style weissbier...

I have given up on IBU for predicting hoppiness. After a brewery tour, they said IBU is all subjective, with no quantitative measurement (unlike Scoville units for hot sauce).

After home brewing, I have never had a bad batch. I just use soap and water to clean. Maybe it’s the risk of losing 600 gallons instead of 6. Some of the lambics are exposed to open field air (the one with the monk on the front). Is the cleanliness overblown?

Yeah it's weird.

This sort of ultra high IBU IPA remains really popular and all over the shelf when I go to Seattle or Portland.

This style of beer used to be popular in Vancouver, BC a few years ago too, but at this point the local craft brew scene has largely moved on from bitter west coast style hoppy IPAs, to the point now that when someone makes one its a bit of a novelty.

This might have been true a few years ago, but even in my middle of the road rust belt city you can get a huge variety of beers now. There are entire breweries dedicated to sours alone! Even within the IPA genre the crazy hopped to death west coast IPAs from the early 2010s seem to be getting pushed out by New England IPAs, milkshake IPAs, and a smattering of super weird stouts.

> middle of the road rust belt city you can get a huge variety of beers now. There are entire breweries dedicated to sours alone!

Heck, I live in a small rust belt town of 2,000 people and we even have a brewery dedicated to sours alone. Travel 20 minutes up the road to the next town over, with a population of not even 1,000 people, and you'll come across a major – as in their production capacity is pushing the limits of what can be reasonably considered craft – craft brewery. Although not necessarily always available, they have 35 beers in their catalog. I'm not sure any of them resemble the west coast-style IPA we're talking about. If you include hazy, milkshake, etc. takes on IPAs then 9 of the 35 are considered IPAs. Still not a lot of emphasis on IPAs in general.

As an aside, this "rural" craft beer industry is rather interesting. The primary business model seems to be set up production where operations is cheap and then ship the product into the city. That sour brewery is basically a tech company, selling the vast majority of their beer online. Although that major craft brewery I spoke of does put a lot of effort into beer tourism, attracting people to their facilities, as well.

The Midwest is far ahead of at least the West Coast on this. I saw much more variety of brewing methods, beer styles, and flavor profiles when I lived in St. Louis than I do here in the Bay Area. A lot of the great breweries from the other side of the Rockies (Left Hand, Odell, Bell's, etc.) are either difficult or impossible to find products from here, too.

i've wondered a few times if the extreme hops flavor is an inevitable way for people (like myself) who know barely anything about beer to effectively measure a single attribute and participate. a Goodhart's Law of flavor, if you will. If cranking the hops up to 11 gets a reaction that otherwise better beer doesn't get, then we're going to end up with hops on 11.

And then they start putting lots of kümmel (caraway seed?), corandier, oregano...

A weissbier can mask a lot of errors because if its phenolic and estery yeast. A proper example of a beer that will showcase the slightest mistake is a simple pilsner.

Straight IPAs are waning, at least where I am. Now you are just as likely to find a new england IPA, or a 'hazy IPA', whose hop blast is far less than a traditional IPA

Oh yes, if the world had just locked in on Rochefort 10 as the most godly beer ever, we would all have been in heaven rather than hops hell by now.

I hate most IPAs I tried, enjoy most double IPAs, what gives? Doesn't make much sense to me...

I have another theory. There tends to be a taste balance between hops on one hand, and sugar and alcohol on the other hand. The super hoppy beers also have loads of sugar and alcohol.

After drinking hoppy beers for a while, your brain associates the pleasure from the sugar and alcohol with the taste of the hops. You think you like the hops, but you really just like the sugar and alcohol. Without the hops though, the beer would be unpalatable.

I wish I could hug you for saying this. I thought I was the crazy one.

In ages past, before the Reinheitsgebot, the brewers would have their own proprietary blend of gruit, some of which even included hops. I believe some modern brewers have attempted to revive the tradition, many using Sitka spruce tips as the primary flavoring element. A unique proprietary blend of flavorants would certainly be a competitive advantage over all those beers that just use the four major bittering herbs: hops, more hops, even more hops, and a final "screw you" shovelful of hops.

In double-blinded taste tests conducted in my home, the adults concluded that Vienna lagers are the best, and IPAs are the worst.

So I would like to subscribe to your theory that brewers that are bad at brewing just throw more hops at the problem, so they can more easily sell their mistakes. Got some skunk's bathwater? Throw some hops in it!

The IPA was invented because beer shipped to India acquired off flavors due to the longer travel times. It is almost by definition bad beer.

> The IPA was invented because beer shipped to India acquired off flavors due to the longer travel times. It is almost by definition bad beer.

More porter was shipped to India than pale ale. Would you consider porter by definition a bad beer?

I'd have to do a double-blind taste test using beers shipped to India on a slow boat without refrigeration, but I'd hypothesize that all beers subjected to such conditions would be ranked poorly when compared with beer that hadn't made the trip.

Porter was already strongly hopped--a practice that overwhelms other flavors introduced in the brewing process, not just those that develop during transport. As a style of beer, yes, it is worse than more lightly hopped styles.

Or at least that's what the subjective testing in my household shows. De gustibus non est disputandum. Your own testing might rank porters differently, according to your own tastes. But if the test subject does not specifically enjoy the flavor imparted by hops, then all strongly-hopped beers will rank poorly. For someone that does really like hops, all the beers that are basically carbonated alcoholic hop juice will rank highly.

As for myself, I hate IPAs. In a double-blind test, I will always rank all the IPAs in the test set as dead last, with tasting notes such as "worst beer I have ever tasted" and "this beer causes suicidal ideation". It's still okay for other people to like them, I suppose, but I will never be able to understand those who do.

This is exactly why I'd consider getting into brewing. IPAs seem to be flooding the market, leaving lots of room for literally anything else. I love dark beers (porters, stouts, brown ales, etc.), and while there are plenty of those, too, at least there are interesting directions to take there besides "shove as much hops into the brew as possible". I also like light beers or ciders on hot days, and both of those seem to be absolutely neglected in the microbrew world.

IPAs are some of the simplest beers to brew and they also happen to be very in demand, hence the glut of overly-hopped beers.

Quoth the article:

> Being intimately aware of the financial health of your company might not be glamorous, but it is as important as monitoring your fermentations or selecting hops.

At the advice of a therapist, a friend of mine started looking for things which bring him joy, with the phrasing, "I love $X. It brings me joy." We started doing it together, and I've also started doing it on my own. I realized that one of the things that brings me the most joy is a clean house; but I hated to clean. Somehow, verbalizing that a clean house brings me joy has made the process of cleaning... enjoyable. Cleaning went from something I 'had to' do for abstract (guilt from upbringing) or external reasons (friends and clients coming to the house), to something I do, just for me. And again, somehow, it has also made a clean house more enjoyable to me.

There will always be the parts you love and the parts you don't want to have to do. Selecting hops, especially for something that many people will potentially enjoy, is super fun (in my imagination anyway). But it is only by "being intimately aware of the financial health of your company" that you are even in a position to do such a thing. Based on my experience, connecting these two things in your psyche is the key to at least easing the burden, if not making the entire process enjoyable.

> I realized that one of the things that brings me the most joy is a clean house; but I hated to clean.

On the flip side, obviously only if it's something you can manage to do, this is also a good litmus test for whether you should just hire someone to help you out.

* If you don't care about having a clean house and don't enjoy cleaning: Don't worry about it.

* If you do care about having a clean house and don't enjoy cleaning: Learn to enjoy cleaning (as you have), or hire someone to help clean.

* If you do care about having a clean house and don't mind cleaning: Clean it yourself.

To bring it back to the topic at hand, I'm quite surprised to see the article dismiss the idea of hiring an accountant to manage your books and give you a general sense of your financial health/etc. I think it could be well worth the money, especially if the most likely alternative is (as it is for most people I would imagine) to just ignore it.

That doesn't mean you have to be ignorant of the financial health of your company, in fact just the opposite: A good accountant will let you know about problems you would've been ignorant of before they even arise.

I have a friend who dropped everything in his life to start homebrewing and trying to enter the brewing industry. He's broke and miserable and doesn't understand why the jobs are so bad. I'm trying to convince him that the fact that people are willing to give up everything to take one of these jobs is why you have to give up everything.

It's ironic as well, because the types of jobs he is running away from (spreadsheets, sales, boredom) are even more pronounced in this industry.

I appreciate having a job completely removed from my interests in life. And I've found the inverse of the above axiom to be true: jobs that seem super unappealing from the outside are often the most rewarding. Either the people who do it really enjoy it, or get treated well to stay in their position.

For most of our history, humans have not had many if any choices about the type of lives they live or the work they do. It would make sense that we are ill equipped to handle making good choices.

I almost started up a brewery. At the last minute I thought, "What job do I want in this brewery". I went through all of the normal jobs: brewer who does all the physical labour, bottle washer/filler, sales person, etc, etc, etc. I didn't want any of the jobs. What I really wanted to do was to devise interesting new beers. As a home brewer I did that weekly. As professional brewer I would be lucky to do that seasonally.

I realised, "This is not a job I want" and gave it up. All of the successful brewers I know (and I'm lucky enough to know quite a few) really enjoy building a business. Brewing is what they do because brewing is cool to them, but their real passion is building the business. I had a lucky escape, because that's just not my thing.

Maybe he can use those skills to get into the industry...spreadsheets may be less boring when they pertain to your passion.

Sure, but just like with game development - he will be doing similar (if less boring) work for half the pay, while being treated like crap to boot.

Running a brewery ends up being more about running a business than actually brewing...

Every corp ends up being much more intensive in the administrative side once the process or product has been standardized or reached a stable version. Isn't this the case for most businesses, including tech?

This is definitely true for tech.

A lot of startup founders, including myself, fall in love with the idea of building technology -- but quickly learn founders are usually required to be great salespeople more than great technologists.

Can’t you hire a salesperson?

It's not just about literally selling the product. It's more about selling the company vision to employees, convincing investors, delivering talks and arranging interviews, which are really just high-level sales pitches. For example, Steve Jobs spent a huge amount of his time on preparing and rehearsing his keynotes.

Eventually, but the founder/CEO/CTO is still going to be core to the sales process.

Isn't this the case for most businesses

Yes. If it's a business (as opposed to, say, a hobby), success lies in being good at the administrative side. Even something that's kinda both like Linux: every interview I've read with Linus T in the last decade or two he makes it very clear he spends virtually all of his time managing administrative tasks.

Yep. Any and every kind of small business is a business first.

I figured that out from doing photography. People are like "wow you take good pictures you should be a photographer." They never go "wow you love working long hours and doing paperwork, you should start a business!"

Give me a brewery that isn't concrete floor, dark walls, and exposed ceiling, and I'll be a regular like Barney Grumble. Every one I've been to in LA is like this. All that hard surface makes it impossible to hear anyone without yelling, and breweries are not clubs, they are places to have beer and talk to your friends. Restaurants used to have carpeted floors and drapes for a reason——actually hearing your friends.

Restaurants (and breweries) are purposely loud, as it leads to better sales.

[Source] https://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/ingredients/article/...

I wish there was a "Stripe Atlas" for brick and mortar businesses. 90% of the work to start a restaurant, cafe, shop, etc., must be the near identical to others colocated in the same city/state.

The rise of "ghost kitchens" tries to solve this in some way but I think there's opportunity to go further.

Restaurants and other brick-and-mortar food businesses are highly location dependent. Only way to find the right location is boots on the ground, getting a good real estate agent, real estate lawyer etc. That's a rather more bespoke service than something like Stripe Atlas could provide.

As for incorporation, tax filing, payroll and everything else a business needs, there are already companies providing those services to the food industry. Maybe they're ripe for disruption by a superior experience though?

1. I wonder why we are not seeing "cloud brewing"? The process, as they describe it, seems very standard.

2. For restaurants, it's either "ghost/cloud kitchens" or franchises. If you go outside those, it's possible that restaurants require too much uniqueness and too much risk to fit a standardized model.

As others point out, contract brewing is definitely a thing, but a better comparison than cloud computing would be shared hosting: you're stuck with whatever stack they happen to have installed, no admin rights, and you get the same dismal bandwidth as all other tenants. Or back to brewing: yup, the process is fairly standard – and how could it not be – but great breweries tend to be great not just because they have good recipes, but often because they have mastered their gear and have perfected their processes across the board. Only very few contract breweries are that good.

Why are only few breweries that good ?

And is that something that can, with the right investment be scaled, and offered affordably ?

Or is it inherently expensive ?

contract brewing is huge. Usually it's used when a small brewery wins a national award (GABF Gold is a popular category) or if they want to start distributing outside of just the taproom.

http://www.sleepinggiantbrewing.com/ is an example of one such contract only business.

It’s not uncommon for craft brewers to contract out the brewing of bigger runs. Evil Twin (and I think his brother, Mikkeller as well) was exclusively a “phantom brewer” who developed recipes and then had other breweries brew them on contract. Sometimes it’s bigger established breweries that do a few batches on contract for them, but there’s also explicit contract breweries like De Proefbrouwerij

Cloud brewing is definitely a thing, but I think the name for it is "contract brewing." A larger brewery will allow a smaller/startup brewer to rent their facilities to make a few batches.

In Chicago, I’ve started to see “co-brewing” spaces where a few smaller breweries share a single brewing and taproom space.

The world if full of people that like to eat/cook that open a restaurant, like to travel and open a hostel, like to do X and open Y. They all later realize it is a completely different endeavor.

and they become adults..

OK, add brewery to the list of bed and breakfast, bar, restaurant, movie theater and book store. All things people fantasize about owning yet know nothing of how grindingly difficult and prone to failure they are. Dream on...

They're all "Richard Scarry" jobs where you can still make a living being the "best" in a small area. Few people aspire to become a butcher or carpenter or farmer any more because different aspects of modern living have removed the ownership of these roles (or rendered them completely obsolete).

Brewing (alongside baking) is one of a few jobs to actually resurrect itself as a luxury good where it is lucrative to stay small.

From what I've read and from talking to friends in the industry, there isn't a ton of money to be made making suds unless you get bought out for your brand. That said, I think it's a fun business for the right kind of person.

Running a brewery is generally far easier than running any other kind of alcoholic establishment. The permits are often easier and the hours are limited. One successful approach I've seen is to locate cheap light industrial space around well paying businesses in areas with horrible traffic. You'll capture a well behaved, affluent clientele and only need to open from 4-9pm. Even in towns with a saturated brewery market (San Diego...), there are areas which still need breweries because of the effects of traffic. Many folks would much rather wait for traffic to die down with a beer in their hands, and maybe grab a quick food truck dinner.

I've done a bit of consulting work for breweries and beer bars over the last couple of decades, nothing in the brewing process directly (mostly bespoke hardware and software solutions), but have had a great view into craft brewing.

it seems like there hasn't been any real technological progress in craft brewing since the 90's. in the 90's, there were unix based control systems, with X11 interfaces, for larger craft breweries, while smaller breweries were using notebooks and pens.

now, there are spreadsheets.

it seems like there's a lot of room for the booming craft beer industry to have a shake up in software.

Hmm, this is not really true. There are a number of apps/software for brewing and I would wager nearly every brewery is using one and not using paper/pen/manual spreadsheets. BeerSmith, Ekos, Fermentable are a few.

BeerSmith is fine and I've seen it used at a number of different craft breweries, but ultimately it is indeed a glorified spreadsheet.

I think OP is right, brewing remains pretty low tech. The process is ultimately not that complicated, as befits an 8000-year old craft! The step that is most difficult/error-prone, malting, has been outsourced to a few large industrial producers. The rest is essentially just making tea and letting it sit around.

"craft" malting is becoming a thing now too with smaller producers showing up: https://www.rootshootmalting.com/home and https://coloradomaltingcompany.com/

>> BeerSmith is fine and I've seen it used at a number of different craft breweries, but ultimately it is indeed a glorified spreadsheet.

Then again, so is most line-of-business software. ;)

hm. there are a ton of craft breweries locally, and there doesn't seem to be much commonality between them, especially when it comes to data and data collection.

beersmith targets homebrewers, fermentable replaces some of the note taking and materials ordering, and ekos seems to focus on consulting (no prices available, and "we'll build it!").

none of this replaces the automated brewing systems, even in small production lines or automated data collection, leaving notebooks on pretty much every fermentor.

if you want a good look at a large number of craft breweries, and get a good insight to exactly how their processes work, what's missing, and what commonality there is, I'd highly recommend https://oregoncraftbeer.org/zwickelmania/ - almost every brewery in Oregon ends up open, touring, and explaining their process in depth.

By 'automated brewing systems' do you mean a system which controls the initial brewing process (mash, liquor tun temp etc.), controlling valves etc. too maybe, then regulating fermentation?

I found out about https://www.craftautomation.com/ recently from /r/thebrewery, which looks interesting.

I'm just a home brewer, but I also enjoy some of the control system aspects. I created a little flow controller display a year or so ago, to measure water from the HLT->mash tun.

I'd love to hear more about this. I've thought a lot about this space, given that the business side is what seems to trip a lot of these enterprises up. And the business is connected with trends, COGS, seasonality, etc., the same as others in the space. There just aren't targeted ways of tracking/measuring these specific to the beer industry.

The software isn't the issue. A lot of bars and restaurants go broke within the first year, and lack of financial literacy is a big part of that, but you're not going to fix financial literacy with a bunch of software and a dashboard or two. Ditto for breweries and practically any other type of business started by people with passion but no business sense.

> There just aren't targeted ways of tracking/measuring these specific to the beer industry.

there are, actually. if you're near Portland I'd discuss over a pint.

In the SLC area, but if I get up that way I'll take you up on that.

Craft breweries don't have a lot of money and spreadsheets are cheap and therefore hard to compete with.

Tony Macgee of Lagunitas has a full on book on this. Fun read. Henhouse and Lagunitas are basically across the street from each other and both have great beer. Bonus they are next to my office!


Something I'm noticing is the emergence of contract breweries who will take a recipe and a label, and brew up a batch of beer. Mostly over-hopped. I think that this kind of custom brewing with economies of scale will strongly affect the "craft" beer market. It might make some people think twice about setting up their own brewing operation.

If anyone wants to experiment at home, the folks at Penny Arcade have a weekly stream where they create 'D&D-theme' beers:

* https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7v_dJC0AKD8&list=PLjZRIC6PME...

Names of previous concoctions:

* War Priest

* Long Rest

* Bardic Inspiration

* Little Dagger

They go into detail about what each ingredient will/should add to the final taste.

Why is there a completely unrelated video playing constantly on the right margin and using up my data?

I live in Seattle where the IPA thing is just out of hand.

My uncharitable pet theory is this: A certain class of men (sometimes women, but it's almost always men) get interested in something and then desire to make it part of their identity. That in turn means they want to convey that they are more into it than other people. Their passion expresses itself as competition.

Most people that aren't really into beer don't like hops and bitterness. It is very much an acquired taste. So liking hoppy beers is a good signal that "look how much more into beer I am than you!" Even better — and this is always a good signal that bros have shown up to suck the fun out of your hobby — there is a number you can use to measure it. Menus show IBUs so a table full of dudes can pick their poison and show how hardcore they are.

I like some amount of hops, but I've had beers that literally just taste like hop tea. The flavor just dominates everything else and leaves little room to enjoy all of the fun nuances you can get from the actual brew.

Before IPAs it was porters with the darker the better. Or Belgian beers with competitions to see who can handle the highest ABV. It's always about getting the best score and not just, you know, enjoying some beer.

My favorite Tweet ever was someone who described this process that dudes do where they show up, take over a hobby, and drive all the fun out (and thus women) as "MENTRIFICATION". It is my new favorite word.

See also: Riding bicycles, listening to music (ugh audiophiles), metal guitarists playing 64th note scales, etc. I can't wait for the day that bros discover knitting and it becomes nothing but a race to see who can make the longest scarves.

I feel like this is reading into it a bit much. I'm not that into beer, but I really like hoppy IPA's and always have. Even in high school / college, if the only option was cheap beer, I just wouldn't drink it because I didn't enjoy it. I preferred microbrew beers, and found that I didn't really like belgians/red ales/porters/etc. But I loved my first sip of a fresh Lagunitas IPA. I noticed that not all batches were the same with them. Sometimes it would have a lovely crispness and fruitiness, and sometimes that wasn't there. Isn't it possible that people just like hoppy beers? They seem to have quite a range of flavors and aromas they can offer in and of themselves.

I mean, I like coffee too and picked up that habit right quick in high school. I didn't do it because I was trying to be "manly", I did it because it was the only way I could pay attention to classes, and I rapidly came to like it. Coffee is bitter. So are grapefruits, and brussel sprouts and a lot of things that some people just enjoy.

Not everyone has to agree, and it doesn't need to get labeled as some kind of weird virtue signaling.

I do like the "mentrification" word though! Although it sounds like we differ in what I consider the "fun" in a hobby.

I don't think the person you're replying to is making a blanket statement that anyone who drinks IPA's don't drink them because they like them but because of the image.

I think they're just trying to convey that there is a decent sized subset of beer drinkers who seem to drink IPA's for a reason much different from yours.

Sure, I didn't mean to imply that all people who like hoppy beers do this. (I like IPAs too sometimes.) Just that some do, and they are loud and vocal enough that they influence the entire scene in ways that are a negative for others.

Yeah, I still remember the first time a had a Bells Two-Hearted. It was bliss. I think some people just like bitter and some don’t.

That said, I can’t eat a straight grapefruit, even covered in sugar. Love a grapefruit soda though.

I have a theory that every subculture attracts two types of adherents: people who are genuinely enthusiastic about it and love introducing their passion to new people, and those looking for a way to set themselves apart, who primarily want to gatekeep and condescend to those not "in the know". It's easy to tell the two groups apart by their reaction when meeting a curious outsider.

It sounds like your description would firmly fit the second group. (It doesn't need to be gendered, although it does usually seem to be men who act this way.)

> I have a theory that every subculture attracts two types of adherents: people who are genuinely enthusiastic about it and love introducing their passion to new people, and those looking for a way to set themselves apart, who primarily want to gatekeep and condescend to those not "in the know".

Yes, definitely.

There are some who feel that their membership in the group is all they have and thus the more people in the group, the relatively less they are. Insecurity is the root of gatekeeping.

As an enthusiastic road cyclist I don't think there has ever been a time in modern history when the cohort of people who ride 10,000km+ a year for general conditioning/cardio/training, and spend $2,000+ on road bikes, wasn't gender ratio skewed by at least 85:15 towards men.

It is kind of unfortunate because there should really be nothing gender specific about cycling.

Something I saw road biking in Italy vs in the US is that there is a vastly bigger 'casual' set of people doing it in Italy. It seems like that's less prevalent in the US; you're either really into it or not much at all.

It seems like this happens, sometimes in the US... for years beer in the US wasn't that great, and then there was this craft beer explosion, whereas in, say, Austria where I lived for a while, they are still drinking their local beers which are pretty good but don't have so much variety and experimentation.

That's one of the first things I noticed when I moved to the US. Not sure if it's specific to the US or maybe just the Bay Area or even just a sign of the times, but it seems like it's impossible for people to "kind of like" something. They immediately have to be really into something, be it beer, cycling, photography, to the point where it becomes their entire identity. It doesn't bother me too much. I'm still happy just enjoying craft beers without memorizing different hop strains, but it's definitely a little odd.

I think it's more about conventional gender roles, the gender pay gap, the fact that many women are scared to do things outside alone, than anything specifically manly about it.

Funnily enough I see lots of women on mountain bikes. I think mountain biking has a really clear delineation between fun and competition. Most mountain bikers have pretty relaxed attitudes, and very few compete. The goal is usually fun foremost. Compared to road cycling where it is more common to lean toward competition, personal performance and comparing to peers.

That said, I see it happening there too. Once bike prices started skyrocketing and it became quite a bit more popular, you can occasionally come across a bad personality on the trails. Still fairly rare though.

Reading this back it might seem like I don't think women compete, on the contrary, women's MTB series seem to be just as popular and competitive as the men's series and they seem to get just as much television time. I remember being impressed by the coverage the first time I watched the Enduro World Series coverage online. My main point was just that MTB as a whole is much less competitive and more welcoming overall than other cycling disciplines.

I think it may be more that road cycling has a rep on exclusion for anything different than the status quo - they made a book about it, poking fun of it:


Plenty of women around here bike commute, mtb, etc. Women are very vocal in these part on cycling rights and livable cities in general.

There's a women-owned bike shop that caters specifically to people who want to find car replacements in their lives. I'm very proud of them, so I have to share:


The body-saddle interface is gender specific. That is a problem for a lot of potential riders.

The last time I looked into this, specific to road bike saddles, Specialized and a few others had developed whole product lines and various widths of saddle sit-bone positions specific for female hips and anatomy.

But no matter how good a saddle is, for a person just starting with a "real" road bike, who has not been on a bike for many months or years, there's going to be a couple of weeks of discomfort before your posterior anatomy toughens up and you stop feeling some discomfort.

A couple of weeks of riding 20km a day at a very leisurely pace should do it. Once you get past that wall, a properly fit saddle should cause no discomfort at all.

No amount of marketing will change human physiology.

If you're going to spend that much on a bike, then the saddle is really only there for test rides. You'll replace it with your preferred one as soon as you buy it.

That’s gonna be the top 20% of commute distances, but plenty of men and women doing 10k+/year in Europe.

Why downvoted? That’s a 12km daily commute.

> A certain class of men (sometimes women, but it's almost always men) get interested in something and then desire to make it part of their identity. That in turn means they want to convey that they are more into it than other people. Their passion expresses itself as competition.

Absolutely! I'm seeing the same thing in chocolate, where people chase cocoa %ages, and spicy food, where people brag about how many Scoville Units they can handle.

Oh, those are great examples too. And, again, you see it happening clearly because they managed to conjure up some weird-ass numeric score for it.

It's a fun and clever little label for a trend that's quite obvious when it's pointed out!

Someone upthread mentioned stinky cheese, dry wine, and peaty Islay Scotch. Those things don't yet have absolute metrics - it'd be amusing to see what happens if they ever do.

The future is now. For wine, there's the "Total Polyphenol Index":


For peat in Scotch, the "phenol parts per million":


Not sure if someone's found a way to game cheese yet.

"Listeria per cubic centimeter" might be a bit overly edgy.

Occasionally, I'm rather fond of Vacherin Mont d'Or, which in its original, raw milk based, recipe, is kind of the equivalent of Fugu for the landlocked.

Well apparently it's a bacterium called Brevibacterium linens that causes the stinky. So say the renowned biochemists at Readers' Digest magazine.

I've never tried your Swiss gloop but I am intrigued. One online seller claims that, "with one taste, [it] commands spontaneous exuberance." I wonder what form the exuberance takes? I will look out for it.


Wikipedia sorely needs a page listing quantitative metrics of comestible qualia.

Inspired by those two, I went on a hunt for a cheese metric but the search results got rapidly unpleasant ("Why does it smell like Swiss cheese behind my ears?" was what made me finally close the tab.)

ppm (phenol parts per million) is usually a reference to a "pre-distillation measurement" though, not the resultant distillate or the final aged product. Different run cut points (head/tails) heavily impact the amount of peat flavors that make it into the final distillate, as well as age (barrel time), cask activity, and.. probably barrel char too?

So while there is of course a rough correlation with ppm to final "peatiness", some scotches with slightly higher initial ppm may not end up tasting quite as "peaty" as some with slightly lower initial ppm may.

It does seem like PPM is being used "as marketing" in a few places these days though, which is probably to your point, and possibly a sign of things to come. :/


A more common thing I see/hear is people bragging about scotch age and price. Older is not always better! Too old, and you can certainly lose some delightful peat characteristics present in younger ages, or get too much cask influence.

The abundance of hops in beer is a west coast thing, as east coast beers tend to be more mild. So that's something to look into if west coast beers don't appeal to your palate. However, assigning a regional flavor to some sort of bravado seems odd. Do people say the same thing about a dry wine, a strong flavored cheese, or an Islay scotch? Of course not, so this seems more like a personal issue than anything else.

Honestly, discovering east coast beers actually made me like hops.

My experience with west coast beers convinced me that hops were awful and that my ideal bear would have _just_ enough hops to prevent spoilage and that's it. Which is why I drank nothing but Scotch ales, Belgian beers, and milk stouts for a long time. Eventually, I even started moving away from beer as I finally decided to give wine a chance.

And then I tried a New England-style hazy IPA, and I fell in love. It's hoppy, but it's not bitter. Most have 40 IBUs at the absolute most, and 30 is pretty common (and when it's 40, it's balanced out by enough malt that the bitterness isn't detectable). They taste like alcoholic orange juice (less harsh than a screwdriver, though). So nowadays I will drink every hazy, juicy, and milkshake IPA I can get my hands on. (Edit:) So it turns out I actually do like hops after all; I just hated what west coast beers did with them.

And milkshake IPAs really make a mockery of the original concept of an IPA: not only are they not bitter, but they're actively sweet because they have added lactose (which is an unfermentable sugar and thus directly contributes to sweetness). They're great if you really want an IPA for people who hate IPAs.

I've toured a lot of eastern breweries tried countless east coast ipas. There certainly are plenty of ~40ibu ipas around. However, from my experience, you're most likely to find those at restaurants that are following the beer trends, slowly, and supermarkets. It's only been over the past couple years that most of my local shops started carrying mass produced double ipas besides arrogant bastard.

By and large the best places to get a good dipa is at the brewery. Most of favorites see very limited distribution and very small runs. Finding a triple ipa is a task on its own. Quality, and consistency is all over the place between breweries and batches. I've bought cans that've spoiled on the shelf. Some breweries have purchase limits because enterprising folk have filled vans with cases of beer to resell in other states.

Sours, like hill farmsteads ales, but more tart, have seen a resurgence. Stouts are still waning in popularity. Pilsners have a place in most long running breweries list as a fallback for those with less experienced or more traditional palates.

I've grown fond of strong kombuchas >3% abv, goses, dry ciders, and randalled brews that have been cropping up lately. I've also had quite a few beers made with teas that have been great. Don't write off meads or gruits either.

> The abundance of hops in beer is a west coast thing, as east coast beers tend to be more mild

I'm not sure about that. The "New England IPA" style comes from well, Vermont. And when done well is is a smooth, creamy intense hop milkshake.

Sure, if a specific style calls for a pile of hops then of course it will end up very hoppy. But generally speaking, your average west coast beer will be more hoppy than its east cost counterpart.

A specific, extremely popular style that literally has "east coast" in the name.

It feels a little cynical. You can enjoy beer and music and stuff without getting into a dick measuring contest. If all they want to do is one-up you then they’re not your friend. Find someone who listens to you.

If that’s their way of enjoying things, then what’s so bad about it? They presumably dislike a lot of the hobbies you enjoy, they’re not out there to ‘mentrify’ them. (Why this gendered insulting is okay when it’s aimed against men, I don’t know.)

> You can enjoy beer and music and stuff without getting into a dick measuring contest.

Sure, and most do, across genders.

> If that’s their way of enjoying things, then what’s so bad about it?

Every act tends to have social/economic implications that affect how others participate, even if unintentional. Walk into a bar now, and often eight out of the ten taps are high IBU IPAs. Fewer choices for people that aren't into the hops competition.

Some people will be rude to others who don't want to play the competitive game.

> (Why this gendered insulting is okay when it’s aimed against men, I don’t know.)

Men collectively have enough power to handle a funny critical term without risk of being marginalized.

>> (Why this gendered insulting is okay when it’s aimed against men, I don’t know.)

> Men collectively have enough power to handle a funny critical term without risk of being marginalized.

What does men collectively have enough power even mean? It's not like all the men in the world work together to decide the fate of all the poor, powerless women. Where is black men's power? Where is the homeless white men's power? And why should risk of being marginalized factor into it? Insulting a very large fraction of humanity for the actions of a small subset shouldn't be OK no matter who it is. Would insulting all Muslims for the actions of a few fringe sects be OK? I mean, they should collectively have enough power to handle it, they even run whole countries!

Decry the actions of bros all you want, but why expand that to saying all men do this as "mentrification" implies? Doing so is both inaccurate and hurtful to many people for no reason other than feeling smug that some man (who most likely isn't very privileged) finally got their comeuppance.

I don't think it implies that all men do this at all. It also seems like a much more palatable expression/term than "dick-measuring contest".

Is this the "men is short for bogeymen and thus not the same as any other collectivisation"-argument or an argument that they did not mean what they said?

Seems like being a man is necessary, but not sufficient to be a part of mentrificafion. Just like gentrification doesn’t imply that all the gentry are involved in it.

But mostly it’s a pun.

But it seems to collectively place the blame on all men, rather than the minority who are interested in dick-measuring contests.

And not only is this unfair, it’s silly. Brewing has always been an almost exclusively male hobby, the rise of the hop nerd is nothing to do with sex at all, contrary to what the word might imply.

I would also be willing to believe that the, for lack of a better term, dick-measuring, isn't something that men inherently do more; we're just primed to see it that way due to sexist stereotypes. And/or they get away with it more easily 'cuz hegemony.


At quilting shows, numeric boasting is also common - number of hours, number of pieces, number of spools of thread, I've even seen a count of the number of broken quilting needles.

Carbon fiber knitting needles are a thing. I own some. The packaging talks about how carbon fiber is also used in aerospace. (In case, I dunno, you need to get those puppies moving through the air really fast, maybe?)

My grandmother's approach to baking Christmas cookies.

(That said, MENTRIFICATION is a hilarious term, I chuckled out loud, and I will be using it in the future, with only moderate fear that doing so will emasculate me or invert the patriarchy, and minor hope that people who like to complain about political correctness will be offended on political grounds.)

The point is that this is a general trend in culture not specifically brewing. That’s why they ended with the example of knitting, they even included the parenthetical disclaimer that it’s not always men.

Mentrification is just a clever play on words.

The actual observation definitely rings true for me. I remember as a middle schooler not wanting to admit i was learning guitar until i was ’good enough’.

I think this is definitely tied to identity. Something that you can work at and see demonstrable progress is comforting in a way, but i can see how it easily leads to passion as competition.

I hereby exert my collective power and order you to stop using words that start with man, except for management and manual.

Is that... mandatory?

> Men collectively have enough power to handle a funny critical term without risk of being marginalized

Even to the extent this is true, it’s a poisonous attitude, responsible for a lot of acrimony in society today, and I urge you to reconsider it.

The attitude of “you can punch up but not down” leads to a lot more punching, especially when members of the group you’ve declared as “up” start getting sick of being punched and decide to punch back.

Everyone likes to feel like they are above some other class of people. 'Nazis', FWMs, and Politicians must not even be human, much less deserving of baseline human respect or rights, based on the comments I see here. Its a huge problem.

You can't 'hate on hate' without becoming the hater you hated.

Turning things into competitions often has extremely negative externalities. The desire to be the richest, or have the biggest house, or the fastest car, or drink the most alcohol, etc... destroys lives. And this kind of status scrambling is not exclusive to men.

Competition is why our modern standard of living is what it is. People seeking to do things better, faster and cheaper in order to make a buck (or even just for the bragging rights) in order to improve their own personal standard of living gives us electric lighting, oranges in February, the massive amount of infrastructure it takes to get this comment from my fingertips to your eyeballs and every other part of modern life you don't notice but would notice if it were missing. Yes there's externalities but at a societal scale we do a pretty decent job of playing whack-a-mole as they become critical.

> Competition is why our modern standard of living is what it is.

Yet you can say the exact same thing about cooperation. I would argue that cooperation is atleast as critical an ingredient here as competition. Indeed, the infrastructure that allows me to view the comment you posted depends on open standards, open source software and generally could not have existed without groups of people working together to accomplish goals.

I would personally say that cooperation, freedom and passion are more important than competition, greed and ego in terms of enabling the accomplishments of our society.

That is not to say that competition has no role to play, but it is part of a melange of human dynamics that are necessary. Specifically, competition works best between between groups of freely cooperating individuals, especially when those groups can periodically set aside that competition to cooperatively further the goals of their mutual passions and dreams.

> cooperation, freedom and passion are more important than competition, greed and ego

These things aren't mutually exclusive. You can compete as a team and with the help of friends.

Of course they aren't mutually exclusive. Did you read where I acknowledge that competition is an important and useful dynamic? I just think that competition is fundementally less important than cooperation.

You also said "competition works best between between groups of freely cooperating individuals", but why? What's wrong with competing alone? It's still coeperation on a societal scale, e.g competing as an individual in a competition is still co-operating with the competition itself.

> What's wrong with competing alone?

Nothing rong, per se, but there are limits to what individuals can do on their own. When you eliminate groups of cooperating individuals, there are much lower limits to what can be accomplished. Specifically when taking about the achievements of society, most enterprises require the efforts of cooperating groups. I feel like this is blatantly evident and doesn't require explanation.

> It's still coeperation on a societal scale, e.g competing as an individual in a competition is still co-operating with the competition itself.

I think you are mangling the definition of 'cooperation" here. It certainly is possible to compete and cooperate simultaneously (often by strictly limiting the scope of the competition and by sharing knowledge), but that doesn't mean that competing is cooperation. Even so, within that "societal scale" competition, the best results are achieved by groups that operate with either no or greatly limited internal competition.

> but that doesn't mean that competing is cooperation

If you take part in a competition, you are cooperating with its organisers in making the event happen.

> there are much lower limits to what can be accomplished

We are talking about small achievments though, e.g opening a brewery.

If I read a book about that, am I cooperating with its author? If not, plenty is possible without cooperation; If so, lots can be achieved via indirect cooperation.

I feel like I see all those same things and feel happy for the people involved, that they are finding something that they feel a passion for.

I also sometimes feel disdain and judgment towards other peoples' interests, (pop music, for example) but I feel more and more as I get older that that those feelings do not serve me (or anyone else) in any positive way.

My uncharitable pet theory is this: a certain class of people who are deeply unhappy with themselves don't like to see other people enjoying things they don't like or understand because they themselves have not filled this void in their own lives. Because these people need to seek out confirmation from a larger group on everything they do to compensate for their own lack of of self perceived self worth, and because gender or race are the largest groups available, they need to frame everything in term of a group struggle regarding race or gender to guarantee there is a built in audience to cheer them on at every step and reaffirm their worth and place in the social hierarchy.

It's gross.

Also I hate IPAs.

>My uncharitable pet theory is this: A certain class of men (sometimes women, but it's almost always men) get interested in something and then desire to make it part of their identity. That in turn means they want to convey that they are more into it than other people. Their passion expresses itself as competition.

So hacker news and technophiles? Good grief you sound worse than the people you are criticizing. Heaven forbid people like something.

Liking a hobby/activity isn't a problem. The problem is when people start gatekeeping (such as "no real programmer uses Javascript", etc). For instance, I like whisky, but I actively hate most whisky aficionados because it often just turns into a competition of "who bought the rarest/most expensive bottle" rather than "I like this brand/year". This behavior definitely occurs in the tech sphere (I've been judged for using Windows, since no real programmer would possibly be able to use anything besides mac/linux), but this behavior is always obnoxious and drives people away from activities.

I guess the inverse is: heaven forbid people like something without letting their passion curdle into possessive competition with other people who try to like it?

> My favorite Tweet ever was someone who described this process that dudes do where they show up, take over a hobby, and drive all the fun out (and thus women) as "MENTRIFICATION". It is my new favorite word.

So you think that less women ride bicycles and drink beer than 20 years ago?

Definitely the opposite.

Just as OP complains about bros getting to into things like beer as their identity, maybe the fail to realize that other people make their identities about real or perceived social injustices and how awesome they are to bring them up a every chance maybe not realizing that's more annoying.


I definitely see a certain culture of men that glom onto things like beer or bicycles or coding and making that their identity. It is because of this that they are seen as "Mentrifying" those hobbies. I do think that there is some risk in those groups alienating those without the same passion from becoming involved in those hobbies. In fact one of the reasons I don't golf anymore is exactly this. Golf culture is intensly insular and full of arrogant people (not to say that all are this way or maybe it has changed since I last golfed).

I think the key to enjoying golf is to learn to play by yourself or play with people that aren't interested in competition.

I agree "golf people" are insufferable that's why I avoid them as much as possible.

There should be a scoring system for wokeness. That will really open the throttle.

Oh, this applies to anything.

At my last job the competition for a few months was who had the largest vimfile. And if you used other editor you weren't manly enough, of course.

People will complain, but dudebros are able to suck the fun out of anything. And the professionalism.

When exactly did dudes "show up" to "riding bicycles" and "drive all the fun out"?

I don't know about "driving all the fun out", but whenever riding a bike comes up in conversations with Americans, they seem to assume that you need to go full-spandex, $1000 racing bike with all the accessories just for your commute. I always assumed this was because in the US, riding a bike is a weird, dangerous activity, so the only people who did it was complete weirdos, but I could also see it being a dudebro cultural thing ("making [your method of commute] your identity" as the other poster put it)

As a personal preference, I do prefer IPAs just for the taste. I do drink other beers too but anything short of Pale Ale, feels weak and doesn't give similar weight.

There are lot of variance between different IPAs and Pale Ales, I prefer more citrus and mosaic ones. My favorite is Sculpin IPA and Wolfback Ridge IPA and my least favorite is probably Racer 5 even thought its generally highly rated.

Amen! But don't say it so loud lest they call us poseurs. :) My favorite is one is called Resin, made by SixPoint Brewery out of Brooklyn. Just like the name, the nose is floral like pine sap, it's lovely. My other favorite is made by The Maine Beer Company, MO is a terrific, well-balanced Pale Ale, Another One (that's its name) is a 5% ABV IPA, also lovely. It's not just a west coast thing, good IPA brewers and drinkers are everywhere, and we don't just do it to out-men the men.

I agree with the content of your message, as I have seen it happen many times myself first-hand, but I disagree with the way you're framing the phenomenon.

> My favorite Tweet ever was someone who described this process that dudes do where they show up, take over a hobby, and drive all the fun out (and thus women) as "MENTRIFICATION". It is my new favorite word.

I believe that this is a loaded word that does nothing but churn the online gender conflict machine propagated by places like (surprise) Twitter. It doesn't highlight a type of person as the cause, it highlights a gender. The Meaningness article concerning "mops", the "mop invasion", and the "sociopaths" that follow[0] is overall a more accurate representation of what happens when a hobby, craft, or culture is co-opted like this.

[0] https://meaningness.com/geeks-mops-sociopaths

Yes, that's all entirely fair. But the word nerd part of me can't help but be delighted by the absolutely perfect pun of "mentrification". It just... it's like the second you read the word its meaning leaps into your mind. It perfectly extends the metaphor of "gatekeeping".

Thanks for posting that! I was immediately reminded of that article but couldn't remember any of names of the groups or find the article.

If we're going to draw arbitrary circles around groups of people, I think this is just as much of an American phenomenon as it is a male one.

Sample size a couple dozen only, but IBU on the menu has also been helpful to non-IPA drinkers I know, so they can avoid things they don't enjoy. It's also trended locally (Ballard) towards golf - see Reuben's releasing a zero-ibu IPA.

Yeah, I agree listing the IBU is useful even for people who want low IBU.

But the reason that's even an issue in the first-place is because of grandstanding hop-heads pushing the upper limit so high that a casual drinker selecting a brew at random has an increased chance of getting something they'd find completely unpalatable.

It's like hot sauce. You didn't need to put the Scoville units on the menu until people started making hot sauces that would peel the lining off your digestive tract. But they didn't start making those hot sauces until people started measuring and talking about Scoville units as the only metric worth caring about.

  ABV = Alcohol by Volume
  IBU = International Bitterness Units

Yes this is definitely a thing. I haven't seen it in beer personally, but I have seen it in other walks of like.

Programming for instance "I worked on a 1M LoC system" "Mine was 10M LoC", or "I worked on a 1000 requests per second" "Aah that's nothing, we got 1M requests per second" etc.

Fitness is an obvious one. Especially now your can track your average minutes per mile and all that shit on your phone. It is much more enjoyable just going out for a jog and fuck the metrics.

Reminds me of that Monty Python skit about the Yorkshiremen competing on who grew up the poorest.

I think spicy food (as in, more Scovilles) is an obvious analogue there too.

I don't judge since taste is subjective, but I made the decision to cut back on chilies a few years ago when I realised it was getting in the way of enjoying the food. Up until then it was almost a personal challenge just to see where I could push it, for no real reason.

> That in turn means they want to convey that they are more into it than other people. Their passion expresses itself as competition.

You see the same with coffee. "I love coffee!" "Well I love it MORE so I don't put sugar in it." "Well I love it EVEN MORE so I drink it black." "Well I love it EVEN MORE THAN YOU so I only drink black espresso with six shots a cup!"

I think an interesting counterpoint here is that people are doing different things with hops now than they were a decade ago. Most of the really hoppy stuff I've had lately has been heavily dry hopped with little bittering hops during the boil. The result is juicy rather than over-the-top bitter. I would wager that average IPA these days has much lower IBUs than the average IPA did 10 years ago.

Is "juicy" different from Citrus-y? Most of the IPAs I happen to taste lately taste something like bitter grapefruit soda but I'd be interested in trying something actually new.

Is competition and quantitative thinking exclusive to one gender?

I don't think "hipsters exist" is a particularly novel theory and I especially don't see how any of this is a gendered issue that requires some kind of anti-men rant.

I also think it's not very nice to accuse people of not actually enjoying their hobbies.

I wonder where women are allowed to compete, according to this world view of yours. Hair care and nail polish? Or cooking maybe? Ah no wait, knitting is THE TRADE for women in your opinion.

Maybe this thing you complain about isn't something that people do, not just (American)(young)(white)(rich) males.

Note that its also possible to approach things as a competition without driving all the fun out of it. You just have to:

1) Admit that you're taking it farther than necessary because you get joy/fulfillment from the competition.

2) Appreciate and welcome the non-competitive hobbyists.


Taste is a weird thing. People hate bitter coffee, but seem to worship bitter beers.

That's a broad and unsubstantiated statement about coffee. Personally I love bitter coffee.

A very similar theory to geek/mop evolution of subcultures:


damn you guys are really overthinking it. I just like drinking bitter, floral, piney beer.

Women don't listen to music because men shows up and liked music too much?

I think the poster is more saying men come in and make liking the music a competition, which from my experience is a very real thing. I have absolutely run into people the poster is describing, and unfortunately was friends with people like that for awhile. It wasn't "liking music too much"; they would act superior about music and tried to lay down what was "good" music to play/listen to. It is an incredibly narrow minded view and it is even worse when they are competitive about it.

How does one subset of an audience viewing something as a competition affect other subsets of the audience? Has any woman ever said "Boy, I wish I could like show tunes more, but there are just too many men who view Norwegian speed metal as the only real music"

The original example was not listening to music but audiophilia. The segment of music listeners that buy super-oxygen-free cables, tube amps, and expensive speakers seems to be heavily male-skewed.

Is there any evidence that women are being turned away from music in general or even audiophilia because of this?

I don't know much about beer, but this reminds me so much of whisky peat and record-breaking Octomore releases.

daddy issues?

Let me frame that in a way that might make you feel less... disgusted apparently.

Men used to primarily compete at killing one another and general conquest -- these all seem like fairly harmless alternatives comparatively.


Making a neutral observation that various activities have a high proportion of dudebros, and declaring that only men should participate in said activities are two different things.

Actually, your parent is correct: it is sexist.

It makes a distinction based on sex. It is sexism.

It is not, however, negative, as your parent implied.

I've never heard sexist used to just indicate a distinction by sex.

Google tells me sexist means:

> characterized by or showing prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex

That sounds negative to me.

I didn't ask google - I looked it up in the M-W dictionary:

1 : prejudice or discrimination based on sex

... and "discrimination" is what the op expressed. It is a synonym for "distinction":

Discrimination: 2 : the quality or power of finely distinguishing

Discrimination is not necessarily negative - I suspect you hold many discriminating views on all number of topics be they wine, television shows, musical groups, etc. I personally hope to continue to become more and more discriminating as I learn and grow.

That's a real stretch...

Can you find a non-negative definition for prejudice?

It is negative. "Mentrification", just like "mansplaining" and "manspreading", is loaded, pejorative, and exists to define a behavior as bad and exclusively male. Play around with sexist attitudes if you like but let's not be coy about it.

Please include more substance with your allegations.

A challenge: Attribute in a comment any negative trait to a non-white, non-male group in a similar manner to OP to and see if your comment can stay non-grayed out.

In modern society, one is allowed to point out 'failings' of groups, such as low STEM enrollment rates for women, or high crime rates among African American males, but only if you also point out that these failings are the fault of whites/men. Whites and men are the only group whose failings are intrinsic and without some outside blame.


> My favorite Tweet ever was someone who described this process that dudes do where they show up, take over a hobby, and drive all the fun out (and thus women) as "MENTRIFICATION". It is my new favorite word.

You seemed to have missed that part.

I don't think it is inherently sexist to suggest that men or woman may exhibit certain behaviors more than the other. I am not sure when we crossed the line that making any such suggestion is inherently sexist.

"Mentrification" suggests that men enter women's hobbies and ruin them. It also suggests that there is a right and wrong way to engage with things (See conversations about how men and women engage with fiction differently, analysis vs elaboration, power rankings vs fan-fiction, etc).

Rather than saying the word "mentrification" is sexist, which is a complex question (like nobody is being hurt because someone on twitter comes up with a funny phrase), I'd rather say, if someone used mentrification in earnest, they're probably a shitty person and I don't want to hang out with them.

I agree that Mentrification is not the right word. The OP was implying it can happen in hobbies already dominated by men, not just hobbies dominated by woman. Perhaps Brotrification would be better.

Which'd then lose the clever linkage to "metrification" which is what it's all about.

pretty sure it was a play on gentrification

It's pretty sexist to imply that only men exhibit this particular form of gatekeeping or making men in the minority of some hobby group feel out of place, and then coining a term for it with "men" right in the name, as though women never do what is described.

Complain about some subset of the population who has made a lifestyle choice you don't like (bros) all you want. But "mentrification"? Give me a break. That's just a prejudicial slur.

>I don't think it is inherently sexist to suggest that men or woman may exhibit certain behaviors more than the other.

Cue James Damore.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact