What’s the World’s Most Overrated Craft Beer?

I whined a bit lately about getting my first taste of Pliny the Elder and being a bit disappointed because it didn’t live up to all the hype.

While Pliny has benefited from all the attention, I wouldn’t call it the most overrated beer in the world, because it’s a really solid Double IPA.  It’s a very good beer that I’d drink and enjoy again and again.

But it got me to thinking, if Pliny isn’t the most overrated beer in the world, what is?  Is it Utopias because it’s not beer-like enough?  Fat Tire because it’s a really pedestrian beer (even though there’s a bike on the label – zing!) that folks seem to gush about?  Is it Dale’s Pale Ale that receives so much attention because it’s a very good beer that benefits from the novelty of being in a can?  Is it Westy 12 because it’s Rate Beer’s reigning “Best Beer in the World” champion?

The truth is, I’ve given it some thought and I really don’t know.  So I thought I’d ask the B&WB Brain Trust (you guys and gals) to tell us what you think.  You’re typically not shy with your opinions, so let us know below: What’s the most overrated beer in the world?

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Author:Jim

Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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70 Comments on “What’s the World’s Most Overrated Craft Beer?”

  1. L G Hodges
    August 27, 2010 at 12:57 pm #

    In my opinion “Blue Moon” is seriously overated

    • August 27, 2010 at 12:59 pm #

      That’s a great one I hadn’t thought of. It’s the beer for snobs who don’t know anything about beer.

    • August 27, 2010 at 1:10 pm #

      Blue Moon is super overrated. I work at a bar that has Hooegaarden (sp?) on draft and have had people who asked for Blue Moon refuse to try it!

      • August 27, 2010 at 1:35 pm #

        That’s why I sometimes say that Blue Moon is a poseur beer. If you really like beer that is different and better, then you’re always open to trying new stuff.

    • steve
      August 27, 2010 at 2:26 pm #

      Blue Moon is easily the winner based on the fact that it’s complete swill, I mean really horrible, yet it’s the go-to choice for people who are trying to show off that they don’t drink swill. Can’t count the number of times someone has said at a party that they got “good beer” and that it winds up being Blue Moon. Um, I think I’ll just have a Diet Coke thank you.

      • August 27, 2010 at 2:37 pm #

        I’d go for the Diet Coke too, Steve. I find Blue Moon to be repellent. Not because I’m a beer snob, but a Wit beer has to be really well-made for me to get on board. Blue Moon does not.

        It’s mostly for poseurs who lease a BMW and live with their parents.

      • August 27, 2010 at 6:36 pm #

        Correct if I’m wrong, but isn’t Blue Moon a Coors product? It’s not horrible, but it isn’t very good either. It’s no Allagash White. 🙂

        G-LO

        • August 27, 2010 at 6:42 pm #

          Right / it probably doesn’t qualify as a craft beer!

  2. August 27, 2010 at 1:09 pm #

    Westvleteren 12 might be, just becuase of its scarcity. The St. Bernadus 12 is very similar and widely available. I’m not saying the West 12 isn’t great, because it is, but I doubt it would be so revered if it wasn’t such a quest to get it. The limited availability of Pliny also contributes to its cult status. If you want to go by sheer numbers, Budweiser would be the most overrated beer by the general public who spend billions of dollars of it. Don’t forget the nut cases that drove thousands of miles to get Coors before they went national, and before the craft beer revolution. If anyone wanted to drive more than a mile for the Coors ‘Banquet Beer’ I would send them in for psychiatric evaluation.

    • August 27, 2010 at 1:34 pm #

      There’s a reason I put “craft” before “beer” in the question, because I agree that Bud is extremely overrated. It wouldn’t be much of a question if I left it open to the macros!

      I had Westy 12 with a flight of St. Bernardus 12 and a few other quads. I think the Westy was a bad bottle because it tasted off to us. Probably got hot and cold a few times – that’s what you get for buying beer on eBay. Anyway, the best of the bunch IMO was clearly a Pannepot 2007, which was just sublime. I’m also a big fan of Rochfort 8.

  3. Lynn
    August 27, 2010 at 1:16 pm #

    Dare I say Yuengling Lager?

    • August 27, 2010 at 1:37 pm #

      You just did! I like Yuengling Lager, as it’s a good value. But I prefer Victory Lager or Southern Tier’s amped up Farmer’s Tan – now that’s a lager!

  4. Marvin
    August 27, 2010 at 1:17 pm #

    I have to say this about Blue Moon, even though I personally don’t like it, it is a good example of an American style Belgian Wit. You cannot deny that.

    Now as for most overrated for what I have personally had, it would either be Pliny the Elder or 120 Minute IPA. It’s a toss up for me between the two. I like both breweries and enjoy most offerings I can get my grubby little hands on out here in Idaho. But, to me both of them are completely unbalanced, and for me that can ruin a good beer. It’s a personal taste issue with me on theses beers, but that’s how my buds roll.

    • August 27, 2010 at 1:41 pm #

      I’d almost go the other way with DFH and say the 60 and 90 are overrated, but mostly because I don’t prefer them (I find they taste a bit cloying).

      I can’t say much about Russian River. I’ve only had Pliny so far.

  5. August 27, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

    It’s a great question. One thing to consider is that beers that were once cutting edge and whose reputation still benefit from that are not now very exciting. So, they might seem not as good as their status would imply. I’m thinking of beers like Arrogant Bastard and Pete’s Wicked, both beers that I still enjoy. (I’m not calling AB or PW overrated.)

    That being said, one beer that has always puzzled me regarding the devotion it engenders is Shiner Bock. Also, pretty much anything brewed by Leinenkugel. Both vastly overrated.

    • August 27, 2010 at 1:45 pm #

      Ooh, Leinie’s a great call Bryce. They enjoy a cult status and pump out some pretty middling wheats (although I love me some Summer Shandy, even if I know it’s a bit of a weak sister).

      Pliny and AB and PW just go to show how fast the industry is evolving. A few years ago they were special, now they’re just good, as other beers have caught up to and, depending on your taste, possibly surpassed them.

    • Big Tex
      August 27, 2010 at 9:26 pm #

      The devotion stems from Texas pride, and that it is just a step above swill.

  6. August 27, 2010 at 1:29 pm #

    Here in Michigan, Bell’s Oberon gets sooooo much hype. It was the first craft beer I ever tried (not counting Blue Moon), so it does hold a special place in my heart. But once I began exploring the world of craft beer, I quickly realized there were so many beers that I liked way more than Oberon. As you said about Pliny, Oberon is “a very good beer that I’d drink and enjoy again and again.” But personally, I’m a little burnt out on it.

    • August 27, 2010 at 1:49 pm #

      I got to try Oberon a few weeks ago in Wisconsin and was disappointed because I’d heard so much about it. My sisters liked it, but they’re not beer nerds so they had no knowledge of it’s “status” and don’t like big flavors (yet!).

      I think Two Hearted lives up to the hype as long as it’s the style of pale ale you prefer (a bit softer and more floral). It’s great stuff.

      • August 30, 2010 at 3:21 pm #

        Two Hearted is tasty, but unlike your sisters, I happen to a female hopaholic and lover of big flavors! Hopefully their brother’s good taste will wear off on them 🙂 Cheers!

  7. August 27, 2010 at 3:43 pm #

    Lots of hatin’ on the Blue Moon!

    Understandable that its made by a big brewer, which automatically makes people hate it, but brewmaster Kith Villa has real chops and put a lot of work into it. He even picked up a Brewing PhD in Belgium where they sort of know about this stuff.

    Complete swill? Repellent? Like you would actually vomit it up on contact? Why not do a blind taste-test with a ‘quality’ white or two and see how it turns out?

    I actually had a couple of Blue Moons the other night out with some friends and didn’t fall into a coma. That’s a good thing because my parents wouldn’t know what to do with my BMW.

    • August 27, 2010 at 4:28 pm #

      I’ve had Blue Moon a couple of times and don’t really like it. I didn’t vomit or anything, but I thought it was a thin and relatively unimpressive effort. I think there are beers out there that do the Belgian Wit style better. Couple that with the fact that it’s a status beer, and I honestly am repelled.

      Also, Kith Villa might have a PhD in Belgium brewing, but the fact that he works for Molson Coors isn’t really working in his favor here. I’ve worked with PhD cooks at Kraft and the food they “designed” wasn’t exactly spectacular. DiGiorno pizza isn’t the same as Ray’s Famous, even though both are inspired by the same Italian tradition. I don’t know him, so the analogy might not apply, but his choice of employers might be telling.

      BTW, your car is waaay cooler than a BMW, and I thought your parents stopped talking to you years ago, ever since the orangutan incident.

      • August 27, 2010 at 4:45 pm #

        You make good analogies Jim, but I don’t think its quite the same thing. I’d still love to see the Blue Moon haters have someone pour 3 American-stlye Belgian Wits (one Blue Moon and 2 ‘quality’ Wits) and do a blind tasting of the three. I’ll bet that…

        a) you won’t be able to pick Blue Moon or the other beers either.

        b) your lack of seeing the Blue Moon label will confuse you as to which beer is which. It might even be your favorite at which point you will have great inner conflict.

        c) I don’t know what to put for C so I will put some smiley faces and one sad face thats a little farther out from the rest. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 😦

        Jim, I thought you agreed not to reveal the orangutan ‘thing’ in public.

        • August 27, 2010 at 4:57 pm #

          The analogy is that just because someone has an interest in something and they are highly trained and do it for a living doesn’t mean they are great at it.

      • August 27, 2010 at 4:53 pm #

        I didn’t give details about the orangutan. For instance, I didn’t mention the handcuffs or the prosthetic leg. oops.

        And you’re right, I’d probably have a tough time picking out which was which, mostly because it’s a style I’m unfamiliar with. I really don’t care for Belgian Wit beers, but i recall having a couple of old-timey Belgian ones that were a little bigger and bolder than Blue Moon.

  8. Matt
    August 27, 2010 at 4:26 pm #

    I’m not a bluemoon hater, and its one of the only beers my g/f really likes, that and Kwak…go figure.

    Anyway my most overrated choice is def Fat Tire. i might be biased just because i live in Denver but everyone swears up and down its so fantastic and its completely bland and not that great. its in every bar, on every tap right along side of bud, bluemoon, coors, miller. a close second would probably be Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

    • August 27, 2010 at 4:31 pm #

      Awww snap, no you di’int! You’re dissing Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, the godfather? It’s a good enough beer that I don’t think it’s overhyped, maybe just over-loved. Have some respect for you elders (not you, Pliny!).

      I’ve passed every chance to have Fat Tire so I can’t speak from experience, but I’ve heard lots of beer nerds who echo what you’re saying Matt.

      • Evan
        August 30, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

        Sierra Nevada Pale never can, and never will be amongst the overrated. It’s above this. It is the reason we’re all here today.

        • August 30, 2010 at 4:03 pm #

          Well that and crappy 20th century birth control methods.

  9. Matt
    August 27, 2010 at 4:35 pm #

    I’m not hating on SN Pale Ale…i had 4 the other night just sayin its ok and not great.

  10. August 27, 2010 at 4:37 pm #

    I’d agree on the Fat Tire being over-hyped. I won’t however, call it swill.

    • August 27, 2010 at 4:54 pm #

      Did someone call it swill here?

  11. August 27, 2010 at 5:00 pm #

    No, because that wasn’t the question. Its about being over-hyped. I was just stating what I wasn’t going to do. I’m also not going to put a period after this sentence

    • August 27, 2010 at 6:08 pm #

      I always knew you we’re a rebel, ’cause rebels don’t use punctuation. Obviously I’m not one.?!,.

  12. Andrew
    August 27, 2010 at 5:54 pm #

    I agree with you on Pliny the Elder. In fact any of these beers that achieve cult status become more hype than they really deserve. I really like Russian River, but I don’t understand how people can be fanatical trying to find it.
    Leine’s, Blue Moon, Shock top. Are a different story, these are products designed to be sold to people who normally dont ‘like’ beer. Cloying and sweet, they make a mockery of everything malt, hops, water, and yeast are. They are liked by people who normally drink vodka and redbull.
    If I were to come up with an overrated beer, I have to use the term overrated. Which means something I love but is undeserving of the attention it garners. So, here it is. Orval……sigh. I love it, but I can’t wrap my head around the attention that this beer gets.

    • August 27, 2010 at 6:25 pm #

      Beers like Pliny deserve to be craft beer icons because they are trailblazing brews, but that has somehow translated in to “best tasting” which may no longer be the case.

      I’m cool with Lienie’s, Blu Moon etc. as long as they help folks realize they are tired of macro beers. The problem is that folks get stuck there and never move on to (IMO) the good stuff.

  13. August 27, 2010 at 5:56 pm #

    Guinness gets my vote.

    • August 27, 2010 at 6:09 pm #

      Good one Billy. I guess I don’t ever think of Guinness as a craft beer. But I bet the folks who drink it do.

  14. August 27, 2010 at 6:56 pm #

    It isn’t, so I should have read the headline more closely ; )

    But you are right about most of the public considering it a craft, microbrew, specialty, etc. etc.

    • August 27, 2010 at 6:58 pm #

      I think few draw the distinction (except us nerds!).

  15. August 27, 2010 at 9:19 pm #

    Quoted from @Andrew above…

    “Leine’s, Blue Moon, Shock top. Are a different story, these are products designed to be sold to people who normally dont ‘like’ beer. Cloying and sweet, they make a mockery of everything malt, hops, water, and yeast are. They are liked by people who normally drink vodka and redbull.”

    Generalize much? Jeeeez. What’s that term Lost In the Beer Isle guy uses? To suggest a specific beer is over-hyped is one thing and a matter of opinion, but to broadly classify a whole group of consumers like this is just wrong. “Don’t ‘like’ beer”? ” Liked by people who normally drink vodka and redbull”? I’d love to see that survey data.

    Maybe the post should be renamed “Stereotype people who perhaps have less experience with beer, look down at them from our lofty perches with disgust, point at them, make broad generalizations about their beer hardcoreness and spew stupid assumptions about their lifestyles based on their choice of beer”.

    I thought the beer community was supposed to be open minded? What happened to the unicorn tears, kittens and fairy dust?

    Jim? WHERE ARE THE UNICORN TEARS???????

    • Andrew
      August 27, 2010 at 9:33 pm #

      Perhaps we all over generalized here. And simply stated a generalized concept for the sake of humour and dramatic effect. I actually like some leinenkugel stuff, but I kept the unicorn tears out of it.

    • August 27, 2010 at 10:50 pm #

      Maybe that’s where we’ve wound up, but it certainly wasn’t the intent when we set out.

  16. August 30, 2010 at 11:25 am #

    I would go out on a limb and say that many – certainly not all – small-batch or limited-release beers are overrated. They often involve recipes and ingredients similar to more widely-available craft beers, yet get far more buzz because they require you to stand in line overnight at a brewery or scramble to find a bottle or two left at a craft beer store.

    Put Three Floyds Dark Lord and Stone RIS side-by-side and tell me it’s worth the extra effort. The extra buzz is great for the brewery, but scarcity doesn’t make a beer any better.

    • August 30, 2010 at 11:46 am #

      That’s a pretty good insight, Chris. I agree that buzz shouldn’t make a beer taste better, but taste is so subjective that it does. Sad but true.

  17. Evan
    August 30, 2010 at 3:58 pm #

    I really think it’s a matter of what crowd we’re talking about here. You have the “not-so-enlightened” crowd that will crap their pants over a Blue Moon, Fat Tire, or Redhook, then the next step up of “getting there” who rave and rave about Arrogant Bastard and DFH 90min, then the “Elite” who boast about Pliny, Westy 12, Dark Lord, etc.

    All that said: I think overall, Fat Tire wins by a long shot.

    • August 30, 2010 at 4:02 pm #

      I think you’re right about the levels, Evan. I also like your choice for the Grand Prize “winner” based on the number of people who believe it’s so superior. I’ve never had it, so maybe I’m one of them – we shall see, but I doubt it.

  18. August 30, 2010 at 8:18 pm #

    I recently had Fat Tire, and going waaaaay back to the beginning, it’s definitely a pedestrian beer as you called it Jim. Interesting about consumer tastes in that (I think) its their best-selling beer.

    • Don
      August 31, 2010 at 10:37 am #

      To Me Fat Tire is for Bud drinkers that are ashamed to drink Bud. So they drink Fat Tire and think they have some cache, but really they are just posers.

      • August 31, 2010 at 11:25 am #

        I think people drink what they like and they like Fat Tire. They probably enjoy drinking something more off the beaten path than Bud, and I’m sure it’s a better beer than Bud as well, even if it’s not a barrel-aged DIPA.

        You gotta start somewhere.

        • Don
          August 31, 2010 at 11:58 am #

          Get one and drink it…then we’ll talk.

  19. August 31, 2010 at 10:30 pm #

    Sam Adams Cranberry Lambic.

    • Don
      September 1, 2010 at 10:04 am #

      I’ve heard nothing but bad about this beer. Oh, BTW they will be taking it out of this year’s holiday pack.

    • September 15, 2010 at 8:58 am #

      If anything, I think Sam Adams Cranberry Lambic is UNDER-rated, not because I think it’s GOOD but because it’s usually touted as something completely undrinkable and I found it drinkable enough to drink one.

      Sam Adams Cherry Wheat is in the same category but with a little less hate and a whole lot more drinkablitiy (shit, did I just rip off Budweiser?)

      • Don
        September 15, 2010 at 10:00 am #

        Jim and I both give a thumbs up to Sam Adams Cherry Wheat. We both thought it was a great refreshing lawn mower beer. The Cranberry Lambic is going the way of the Hummer. It won’t be included in the seasonal twelve pack this year.

      • September 15, 2010 at 10:06 am #

        Before I turned into a full blown craft beer nut, Sam Adams Cherry Wheat was my favorite beer for a long time and I still find it pretty good.

        It’s probably because I’m a huge cherry fan though and luckily since then I’ve discovered New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red, their Cherry Stout and Boulevard’s Bourbon Barrel Quad.

        • Don
          September 15, 2010 at 10:10 am #

          Oh man Mikey if you haven’t tried it get some Enigma! Awesome cherry and chocolate tones with barrel aging to mellow it all. Its amazing!

      • September 15, 2010 at 10:09 am #

        I haven’t had Cran-Lam, but it reminds me of Don’s hatred for Hell or High Watermelon. He blasted that beer so badly, that by the time I tried it, I thought it was pretty good. or at least not a pour-it-out disaster. I guess it’s anti-hype.

      • September 15, 2010 at 10:27 am #

        Oh yeah, I’ve had the Enigma. I organized my beer collection last week & realized I have a full case of various New Glarus Unplugged, from the Enigma to the Cherry Stout to the Abt to the Cran-bic to the Imperial Saison. It was a happy realization!

        • Don
          September 15, 2010 at 10:36 am #

          You’re a lucky man Mikey! 😉

      • September 15, 2010 at 10:40 am #

        Well if either of you ever makes it to Minnesota, you’ll have to swing by my place for a kickass beer experience. The whiskey/whisky is nothing to sneeze at either!

        • Don
          September 15, 2010 at 10:42 am #

          Sounds like a must. I’ll look you up next time I’m through!

  20. September 15, 2010 at 9:05 am #

    As for the most overrated beer, I’m going with Stella Artois.

    There’s nothing that gets the irrational hatred going for me (yes, I realize I get pissed at things that I shouldn’t too often) more than someone walking around with a Stella and that “I’m much more sophisticated and better than you because I’m drinking a Stella Artois, and in a Stella glass even while you’re drinking your lowly local beer in a generic pint glass” look on their face.

    Ugh.

    Runners up – Heinekin (I have a neighbor from Africa who says that he has to buy it for his parties because his friends don’t like American beer, too weak for them) and Fat Tire (a good beer but definitely not worth the hype, not sure about you guys but half of the people in MN who drink it think that the brewery name is Fat Tire so you can tell how much they know about beer).

    I don’t think in good conscience I can call Blue Moon a “craft” beer. But it does hold a special place in my heart because it was a huge stepping stone for my wife from Michelob. Now? She’s drinking double IPA’s on a regular basis so yeah, the steps kept coming.

    Great discussion guys.

    Cheers!
    Mike

    • Don
      September 15, 2010 at 10:06 am #

      As far as the Stella, perhaps that’s a regional thing. There aren’t a lot of smug bastards drinking Stella in these parts. I’ve been known to enjoy one every now and then. I wouldn’t really call Heinekin a craft beer, but if the want strong you should bring him over some Avery Samels. At just about 16% that ought to rock your African friends world, and has a ton more flavor than the Heinekin. Finally, everyone needs to take a first step, and if Blue Moon can be that step for your wife than it has served its purpose. What I don’t like is when people get stuck at that step and never progress to better beer. Good comments Mike. Thanks

      • September 15, 2010 at 10:10 am #

        I love those big badass Avery beers. I got a sick deal on Mephistopheles last week, picked up a 6 pack for just under $16. I think it would kill my neighbor though!

        Luckily we have an awesome beer store that has guided me through my craft beer journey and one of the guys suggested that I pick up a six pack of Hoegaarden for my wife and the progression really got going from there.

        It’s always an interesting journey because in the past 18 months or so I’ve had craft beer “conversions” like my wife and on the opposite end of the spectrum, I turned my Miller Lite drinking friend into a Goose Island Bourbon County Stout lover. Everybody’s path is different I guess!

        • Don
          September 15, 2010 at 10:12 am #

          That is an amazing deal for the Avery! I pay $9.99 a bottle for that stuff out here!

      • September 15, 2010 at 10:28 am #

        I know, it’s normally $8-9 a bottle here too. I even asked the guy if he got a good deal on it or what and he said “maybe” so I told him that maybe I’d be getting one too!

        • Don
          September 15, 2010 at 10:39 am #

          That is nuts! maybe he was just trying to move it for shelf space! I’d have bought a case for that price!

    • September 15, 2010 at 10:08 am #

      I hate the “status” beer as well, Mikey. Stella can fall into this category as well as (my apologies to your wife) Blue Moon. They are two beers that project an image that is superior to Bud, Coors, etc. Not to knock them as beers, but I don’t like people who get into “badges.”

      And it’s awesome your wife is drinking DIPA’s. Mine prefers Imperial Stouts. We’re both lucky guys, I think.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. What’s the Most Underrated Beer in the World? « Beer & Whiskey Brothers - September 3, 2010

    […] talked here about the most overrated beer in the world the other day and it got me to thinking about the other side of the coin – which beer […]

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