Beer Judge’s Diary: How Dry I DON’T Want it!?

By Ken Carman
By Ken Carman
 Is it my palate or is there a trend? I have noticed it for so long I KNOW it has to be the trend is towards more and more too dry.
 Should I blame the brief life span of IPAs that were very dry? Try googling the term. I’d forgotten that name and the name of very dry IPAs seems to have vanished from the web. What was it, 2 years at best?
 Yet, I think it started a trend, or at least that’s where beer was going. And yeast. And maybe cider and mead made brewers think, “EVERYONE wants them drier!”
 I sat at Screamen Eagle, in Inlet, NY, home to craft beer genius Matt Miller. I was next to Millie and we ordered a “Thick Mint” beer by Southern Tier. The ABV didn’t bother me: I love well done high grav. This is a stout and at 1o%, as per their site. NOT BAD! By “not bad” I mean the alcohol didn’t conquer all. I am amazed by the talent in brewing these day, though at 55% I’m be astonished if packaged in dead squirrel End of History wasn’t disgusting in every sense, especially ABV. Brewed by BrewDog.
 Problem is the Thick Mint was too damn dry.
 I certainly don’t blame ever busy Matt. (“Bring out the dead! Bring…” private joke, so never mind.) I would blame the brewer, but every beer I have tried to brew in the past 10 years increasingly has been TOO …DAMN …DRY! I think yeast has become too damn aggressive. Yes, I could stop the fermentation: but that always seems to produce poor product and exploding bottles. I have no interest in re-sweetening or kegging. Using non-fermentables always makes it seem unfinished kegging at 3 gallon batches? NO.
 My argument here is not everyone likes dry. Could this be driving potential beer lovers away? Why not offer more sweeter beers? Use a less aggressive yeast. Then tweak it with a slightly more aggressive one if not enough. Want more? More aggressive.
 There needs to be more fine tuning in craft beer. You’d think pro-brers would get that.
 So I went crazy googling what seems to be a quickly vanishing style of IPA: Brut. This show how addition of a style may radically change all styles even if brief. Until Brut I hadn’t noticed the radical shift towards dry and more dry. These days Brut is being out dried. No political comment intended except after the previous 4 years, whether beer or politics radical changes have much more affect than we think.
 Whether it be beer or politics, I enjoy variation. I enjoy differences. The idea of “everyone wants more of the same, not variations” is political fascism, and the opposite of what craft beer lovers want.
 ANY trend towards only one thing: sweeter or drier, one stance politically, misses freedom of belief, and freedom from the “more Bud or Miller?”


A Beer Judge’s Diary is one of many columns by Ken Carman, Certified BJCP beer judge, homebrewer since 1979 and seeker of both simple and complex quaffs who once upon a time thought he didn’t care all that much for beer. Then in the early 70’s he discovered brews beyond the standard fare’ that had been available on the east coast in the 60s. Thus the adventure began.
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Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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