05 May 2017

Beer on my computer

Session logoI think it's safe to say that a modern beer world without the Internet would be a very different place. Fashions change pretty quickly in beer, partly due to the short amount of time it takes to create, distribute and consume the stuff, but partly also because of the way beer producers and enthusiasts communicate online. Josh from Beer Simple is hosting The Session this month, on the topic of the Internet and whether it's a good or bad thing for craft beer.

I'm very much in the "pro" camp. I'm old enough to remember when beer hunting was a case of taking what you're given in the pub or off licence. Obviously the Internet and social media have created an unpleasant obsessive side, of competitive drinkers, rarity chasers and other phenomena which suggest that these people don't really like beer, but all that's easy enough to tune out or ignore. The opportunities for information, education, and the exchange of views that the beer Internet offers outweigh any of the nonsense.

That a global beer scene which thrives on novelty -- high turnover, one-offs and here-today-gone-tomorrow trends -- arose in parallel with online communications, and the mobile revolution in particular, is hardly coincidental. Without the network of informed consumers that supports it, I think we'd see a lot more breweries that just make a core range and are content with that as their offer. Of course, there's nothing wrong with such an approach, and the grand old traditional breweries of Germany offer a fine example of how it can be done well.

Take Weihenstephaner Original Helles, for example. Here's a beer that has clearly been honed to perfection over the years, with input from nobody other than highly trained experts in lager brewing: no RateBeer scores, no Twitter polls, no crowdsourced recipes, just science. The result is a beautifully soft and bouncy helles with the texture and sweetness of a light spongecake. The malt duvet is balanced by a surprisingly aggressive noble hopping, bringing an edge of spinach and candlewax. Maybe I'm too used to the more understated Spaten, but this bitterness was just a little too harsh for my liking. Still, that malt though.

And how did I know that this immutable classic was available? The pub tweeted about it, of course.

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