My lovely wife surprised me last night with a growler full of beer from a well-loved regional brewery that’s near her work. I don’t want to name names, but it was from Captain Lawrence’s new taproom at 444 Saw Mill River Rd Elmsford, NY 10523. Oops – guess I didn’t handle that very well!
The reason I didn’t want to name names is because we were both disappointed in the beer; me initially and her totally. It was their espresso stout, a name which (in our house at least) conjures up thoughts of huge coffee flavors, towering tastes of chocolate, and big boozy finishes. But we got none of those things. Instead it was a well balanced, gentle stout that had a lovely mouthfeel and a nice hint of coffee and wood in the middle. It was quite sessionable as well, and probably had an ABV of around 5%.
It took me a minute to adjust my expectations after that first sip, but once I did, I settled in and enjoyed it quite a bit. Two years ago, I probably would’ve wandered off or simply poured it down the drain, but I’ve learned to enjoy the gentler pleasures of the craft beer kingdom. My wife, however, has not. Her glass was left untouched after a sip or two.
She’s a craft beer extremist, at least as far as flavor goes. Her favorite beer is Victory Storm King Stout, a brew that rips into your palate and assaults it with huge flavors. She also prefers beers you cannot see through – the darker the better. She has no interest in IPA’s, but she did enjoy the Schoolhouse Imperial IPA that I reviewed here earlier in the week, but that makes sense, as that beer simply crushes your senses with flavor. I love big flavor as well, but I’ve tried to get into milder fare, simply so I have more new stuff to try. She doesn’t care about that – if it doesn’t curl her toes, it’s not worthwhile. Fair enough, dear.
The other side of the equation of being an “extremist” is the fact that she’ll only drink craft beer, nothing from the big boys. But to be fair, this isn’t a philosophical point about support the little guy or denying the corporate giants a sale – it’s simply that the big boys don’t have the stones to brew a beer big enough to be worth her while. She’d gladly enjoy a Goose Island Bourbon County Stout without giving a thought to whose name is on the ownership papers. If there was such a thing as Coors Bourbon Barrel Aged Double Chocolate Coffee Stout she’s drink it up without a care in the world.
In my eyes, these two things are the crux of being a craft beer extremist; either demanding huge flavor and refusing to drink anything brewed by the big boys (whatever the reason). My guess is that most folks who read this site (except the always-reasonable Massugu, of course) will fall into one or both of these categories.
Am I right? Are YOU a craft beer extremist? As always, let us know below!