The Brewers Association released its 2018 Beer Style Guidelines yesterday, with three extremely noteworthy category additions: “Juicy or Hazy Pale Ale,” “Juicy or Hazy IPA,” and “Juicy or Hazy Double IPA.”
Yep, you heard me. New England-style IPAs, deliciously juicy and hazy as a fever dream, are finally, officially recognized by the country’s leading craft beer organization.
This is significant. Without BA recognition, beers brewed in this style aren’t eligible to compete in the annual Great American Beer Festival (GABF). Whether or not you hate awards, as I generally do, winning a medal at GABF can have enormous impact on brewers’ businesses. Some 60,000 people attended GABF last year. That’s a lot of gullets and wallets and Instagram handles.
But there’s more to the BA’s new designations than bottom-line benefits and bragging rights. Sure, the BA may seem behind the times by only recognizing NEIPAs now. And, yes, not calling any of them “NEIPAs” is silly; Andy Sparhawk’s comprehensive explainer of the new categories employs the phrase “New England-style IPAs” precisely because it’s a helpful descriptor.
Ultimately, these classifications are meaningful because they protect cultural achievement. Creating a new beer style as creative, crowd-pleasing, and durable as these is a big deal. The new codifications acknowledge the creativity, popularity, and durability of these new beer styles.
The National Register of Historic Places exists so that we don’t pave architectural paradises and put up parking lots. Cheese in Italy tastes different from the “Kraft Parmesan-Style Grated Topping” sold at Walmart because an Italian governing body strictly monitors who can and cannot call their cheese “Parmesan.”
Regulations are important. Designations like these protect the work of talented American brewers who are absolutely, no-hyperbole changing the global face of beer. I’ll call these brews hazy or juicy or Susan, so long as they stick around.
RIP, Reddit’s Beer Trading Post
One of the internet’s leading forums for buying, selling, and swapping craft beers is no longer. Today Reddit banned its beer-trading community, r/beertrade, in accordance with site policy prohibiting “the use of Reddit to conduct transactions.”
For the uninitiated, Reddit is a) insane, b) addictive, and c) a network on which users with screen names like 316nuts share information and opinions. It’s divided into channels called “subreddits,” one of which was the trading post in question, r/beertrade.
Despite myriad flaws, Reddit provides a really fascinating sociological litmus. I feel confident that the sort of people who trade beer on the internet are hardly going to be deterred by a rule saying they can’t trade beer on the internet. Jim Vorel at Paste predicts traders will relocate to r/beer, or other sites like BeerAdvocate.com and Instagram (where a lot of trading already occurs). I agree.
The Most Depressing Thing About Beer Foam Art Is How Many Likes It’ll Get
In technological news, a company called Ripples introduced a machine that makes beer foam art. It uses 3-D printers to transcribe pre-set images or text onto beer foam in 11 seconds (!) via edible, malt-based ink (?). You can also submit custom images using an app.
The internet (obviously) noticed this wildly inessential product development. “Step Aside, Latte Art. Beer Foam Art is In,” Food & Wine declares. “Just When You Thought a Pint Couldn’t Get Any Better, Beer Foam Art is Here,” crows the Ottawa Citizen. Vice MUNCHIES soberingly adds, “Beer Foam Art is Here to Make Your Bartender’s Life Hell.”
Like my fellow wet blankets at Vice, I believe we should strongly oppose beer foam art. In addition to depleting financial and technological resources, 3-D printing your beer foam degrades what’s in the glass. The scores of people who will inevitably request their head read “YAS!” are undoubtedly more interested in posting it on Instagram than enjoying what lies beneath.
That’s the rub, isn’t it? This whole operation is so clearly designed for social media impact, not joy IRL. It sort of makes me want to trash my phone, move to an island, and get all my news from empty seashells. Until then, I’ll just ‘gram my hazy IPAs like a normal person.