The theme: Novelty Beers
99 Pours gives us this theme: “With the onslaught of even weirder beards…erm…beers…than before, I can’t help but wonder if novelty beers are going too far. Or maybe not far enough? LOL! As a merchant of beer, I can see the place for novelty beers, as I am choosing for some customers who say, “I want the strangest beer you have.”
So, novelty. I had to tell myself what this was. What follows is the odd debate/investigation/whatever that went on in my head regarding this subject. Novelty is “something that is novel.” And not the literary kind. No, novel is a thing that is “strikingly new, unusual, or different.” In the announcement above there is also the added qualifier “strange.”
Thus, I am presented with discussing beers that are strange, new, unusual, different. It’s the “strange” connotation that is troubling me. I suppose the argument could be made that if something is strange it is strikingly different. But strange isn’t necessarily strikingly new. New and unusual is usually innovative, imagination-capturing, cool, the first time you fall in love, iPads, lightsabers. Different can be good or bad. But strange throws me off. It’s like there should be a distinction here between a thing that is new and a thing that is strange. Strange, for me, wants to be a thing that is just, well, not right.
Then there is the temporal aspect that the word novelty engenders. It almost imbues an object with a transitory existence. Or, at least, a short life that ends in dusty nostalgia – you know, that “novel” coffee mug that is taking up space in your cabinet.
Within those boundaries I must fit beer. A new and unusual beer, for me, was wit beers. They were brilliant, cloudy, spicy things. Yet, they are anything but transitory. They are different, but not strange. Same with lambics, which were my first thoughts for novelty beers. Sour, fruity … weird. Yeah, maybe those are the beers that fit here. They are unusual. Even avid beer lovers will sometimes shy away from these face-curdlers. Or some may turn up their nose because of the fruity nature. But they intrigue me and many others. Raspberry and cherry and other stuff. I don’t like fruit in my beer, but it seems so appropriate in a lambic. Truly, I have only had a couple of easily imported or domestic made lambics. Not the real things. They are unusual, I want more. Are they strange?
One beer style that stretches for a place on the strange list is chili beers. I had a Crazy Ed’s Chili beer once, long ago. There was an actual chili in the bottle. It was the most horrid thing I’ve ever had. It was, without doubt, strange. I didn’t want to give up on them, though. I tried Ring of Fire from Dragonmead Brewery. It was like drinking a bowl of nachos. That’s weird. It was a good beer. But definitely … different. I might drink it again. I love peppers, but apparently not in my beer.
At times, I think the brewing scene on the west coast of the US is all novelty, what with the idiotic amount of hops brewers will put into any style. Ridiculous. Does all this cover “novelty?” I just don’t know. My experience is limited. Other, better, brewers and bloggers will be weighing in on this subject. Look to them for guidance!