As I mentioned in a recent post on this year’s IPA Day, not everyone is excited for a made-up holiday celebrating one of the most popular styles in craft beer today. In the post below, Ryan Self explains why he’s against IPA Day and other “abritrary holidays.” – Daniel
At the risk of being labeled the local beer scene curmudgeon, I have to say I have greeted the latest beer “tradition,” IPA Day, with a yawn and an eye roll. I don’t oppose any reason for people to get excited about drinking craft beer, but I fear events like this may have the opposite effect.
A little background: I work in the beer business, and have worked at about every level. I have been enjoying craft beers since my days of being surrounded by Bud Ice-swilling buddies in college, and ever since then have been known as “the beer guy” among my friends. It was just considered the thing I was into, no different than the guy who was an avid mountain biker or tai chi practitioner (well, perhaps a bit different in subsequent body type). But craft beer shouldn’t be a trend, or a niche interest. Craft beer is only in very small part about trying the newest, most extreme style or flavor. It is much more about choosing quality ingredients, and a product made with care every time. I don’t occasionally drink craft beer, I do it every time. If craft isn’t available, chances are I’m not at that restaurant or pub, and if I somehow ended up there, I won’t order a flavorless beer. I simply won’t waste the calories or money on such a subpar product. Anytime we make a novelty of craft beer, whether it’s IPA Day or that awful voodoo doughnut maple beer, we subtly creep closer to the scourge of any hobby: fatigue.
I’ve already seen it in myself and in friends. When I started in craft, I was constantly trying the next new beer, the next hoppier beer or crazy concoction. “New” was substituted for “good.” I would say I had an interest in craft beer, but it wasn’t a lifestyle. Over the years I burned out on trading for that next brewery-only release, or caring that a brewery was claiming to have released a 120-IBU beer. It just didn’t sound appetizing. I began to find great joy in a well crafted, balanced representation of the style. Phenomenal beers like Great Lakes Porter, Dale’s Pale Ale, Bell’s Two Hearted and yes, Olde Mecklenburg Copper became staples of my beer fridge, and the outlier new styles became novelties at tastings. As a result, I learned to better appreciate both.
When craft beer becomes a task or something that needs to be done, whether it’s eschewing a beer you know you love to try the new thing on tap, or drinking an IPA even though that Porter sounds great because it’s IPA Day, it becomes a job. It becomes something one is constantly having to think about, rather than a lifestyle choice to always demand quality and flavor. In my opinion, it becomes tiresome, and it adds a cheap novelty factor.
On August 2, I may well be drinking an IPA or two at one of our city’s many fantastic beer spots. But it won’t be to satisfy some arbitrary holiday, it will be because, like so many times before, I scanned the taps and a particular IPA caught my eye and just sounded delicious. I’ve been choosing beers that way for years now and it has yet to steer me wrong.