I am not computer-illiterate nor a computer denier. After all I am writing this column on a computer using a keyboard and the consummate skills requires to “click” and “scroll.” I would admit to being computer semi-literate although maybe computer uneasy is a better description. Better yet, perhaps I should admit that I am uneasy with the whole digital age thing. I do not know what a “blog” is, nor what one does to “post” something. I have yet to listen to a “podcast” or even where to find them and the term “streaming” means nothing. I know what the word “link” means; it’s the blue string of letters and numbers and symbols that one “clicks” to reach interesting places mostly on Zoom. And turning the computer on and then off, aka “rebooting,” is a sure way to fix any problem before calling the experts.
I have a friend of many, many years standing; we knew each other first through rugby football that takes us back to the 1970s, latest. He writes a blog called Taste Travel Publications that promotes itself as addressing “What’s great in wine, beer, fine dining, places to stay, places to visit in the State of California.” He also addresses Washington State and, I suppose, Oregon too.
We got together Before Covid after he ran across an edition of this column and we were then able to reconnect over lunch; occasionally I send him a version of this column if it seems to fall under a the rubric of his blog --- that is, rarely. Nevertheless he has been kind enough to make sure that brewers, and others seeking promotion in his blog, who send books or beer samples to him also send those things to me. It is fun from time to time to receive a package that is clearly identified as containing alcoholic beverages for which a signature is required and for which I have never yet been asked to sign. So I also get the thrill of defying the beverage laws
Although this column is not about exploring individual beers and, as often as not, drifts far from beer and brewing, I recall promoting one such beer. I got everything right about it except the name. I discovered this when the marketing person from the brewery let me know about that. Turns out the beer, which was a gluten-reduced low-calorie beer intended for post-athletic refreshment was called not Summerfest but Sufferfest (a label owned by Sierra Nevada that is currently on hold). Life is not so easy, these days, for such beers in a field dominated by Michelob Ultra. Ah well!
A package arrived recently from Taste California Travel containing samples of beer from the Green Flash Brewing Company of San Diego and some promotional items. Chief among these is a hideous pair of sunglasses that I look forward to wearing during an upcoming trip to Maui. The beer is called Saturhaze IPA and is described as a “laid-back, easy drinking 4.2% hazy India Pale Ale with tropical and citrus aromas.” That is a succinct and accurate description and, with a well-controlled and quite modest balance of hop bitterness, promoted as a “crisp finish,” is a refreshing drink. It’s EZY-IPA-HZY.
Now, I am an old-fashioned brewer. My first contacts with the industry stretch back into the 1950s. I try hard to forgive myself for my negative reactions to hazy beers or sour beers or funky beers, or juicy beers or whatever beers, that seems to be screaming for attention by being odd. The modern (that is, young) beer-drinking public has heard some of these screams and certain characters have caught on, though many fail.
Hazy beers seem to have made the cut, perhaps because this quality is so easily perceived and is so obviously and boldly different. The beer is deliberately hazy. Who knew?
The problem for old brewers is that we have spent our lives trying to assure that beer is brilliantly clear and remains clear throughout its life in the trade. Part of this arises from the brewer’s mantra that “consumers drink with their eyes” and hazy beers just look ugly. Achieving stable brilliant beer clarity has been a struggle, and has required a significant investment in technology. So watching all that effort consumed by a disregard for clarity in packaged beer does rather cut against the grain because hazy beers (and sour beers and funky ones too) can result from brewing ignorance and incompetence or seem at best a backward step.
Nevertheless, brewers are always aware of their customer’s preferences. And if I can get over computer and digital stuff I can get over hazy beers.