Winter is a great season for beer.
You’ve got harvest ales, imperial stouts, porters, barley wines, and winter warmers. All those luscious, high ABV bottles you’ve hoarded over the years one-by-one gets plucked from the cellar. I don’t know about you, but all those seasonally appropriate 8% ABV holiday-spiced ales just aren’t giving me the warm’n’cozies anymore. I need something different. Something with pizazz. Something that makes me forget entirely what month of the year it is. Move over winter warmers — fruity ass IPAs are here, and they are making me feel tropical AF.
If you think tropical flavored IPAs launching in January is bizarre, congratulations, you’re part of the club. The beginning (middle, and end) of 2016 was flooded with ’em. And it wasn’t just Ballast Point; numerous breweries at some point in 2016 jumped on the fruity IPA express train to…Flavor Town? New Belgium released Citradelic Tangerine IPA, Oskar Blues came out with Passion Fruit Pinner, Terrapin Hi-1o Mango Habanerno DIPA, Sam Adam’s Rebel Grapefruit IPA, Green Flash Passion Fruit Kicker — just to mention a few of the bigger names. And plenty more are coming in 2017.
Yes, some of them are horrendous. But for what they are — a fruit-assaulted hoppy ale marginally resembling its predecessor — I think some of them are pretty damn tasty. I drank them a lot this year. Evidence:
Cashing in on the fruit IPA trend, Founder’s Brewing Company Tweeted out a pretty convincing April Fool’s Day joke:
But for those of you anti-fruiters, don’t worry. There’s a beer for you:
The shock from Budweiser’s 2015 Superbowl commercial had worn off. In 2016, we were prepared; waiting to see what they were going to dish out. They came out, guns blazing, NOT BACKING DOWN. Meh. Whatever (Re-watch the 2016 commercial here).
What was really magnificent was the ballsy campaign they rolled out in May: Budweiser was changing their name to “America” on all packaged product for the summer.
If you don’t understand why this marketing scheme is farcical, let me explain the punchline: Budweiser, also known as AB inBev, is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium. ~3,873 miles east of America.
Actual American breweries fired back immediately:
And then later in the year, this gem (also courtesy of our friends at AB inBev) surfaced:
Golly, this whole time I thought I wasn’t being hit on at bars because I’m a huge disgusting slob. Turns out it’s just the gin and tonics. Thanks Budweiser!
While we’re on the topic of sexism and generally making shit worse for female craft beer drinkers, this dumpster fire of a brewery launched in Lakeland, Florida in late May.
High Heel Brewing is the spawn of Kristi McGuire: brewer, beer industry consultant, and former brand developer for Anheuser-Bush. Her objective? Brew craft beer that tastes just like other non-gender specific craft beers, but putting them in colorful packaging, giving them terrible female-stereotyped punny names, and adding a few lame (and totally unnecessary) inspirational quotes on the brewery’s website. Because, you know, women really love a good empowering inspirational quote!
“Because Your Ovaries Have Tastebuds” by Kaleigh Dunn is glorious. And this USA Today article offers some statistical data/analysis, along with some pretty spectacularly sexist quotes, that essentially predict the brewery falling off the radar — but not before a lot of people furrow their brows and collectively think “…you serious with this shit?”
In October, Brooklyn Brewery made headlines by selling 24.5% of itself to Japan’s Kirin Company. For those of you keeping score, that 0.5% keeps the brewery within the Brewer’s Association guidelines for being considered a “craft brewery.” And even though they are, by definition, still a craft brewery, beer nerds everywhere did what they do best — they pissed and moaned about it anyway:
BrewDog’s commentary I find particularly amusing, considering their idea of a successful business model is based on harassing people for money:
And then gambling with it:
But hey, what do I know about financing a brewery?
I’m willing to bet that Brooklyn would have sold an even bigger percentage of itself to Kirin, if it weren’t for fear of backlash from sniveling beer “aficionados”, which there was regardless. So, a message to all you craft breweries out there that dare to have ambition: don’t even THINK about selling out. Because FYI, even if you’re still legally within the confides of being “craft”, you won’t be crafty enough anymore.
A few other breweries made deals this year to allow for expansion while still keeping the “craft beer” title:
Victory Brewing Co. and Southern Tier joined forces in February in an effort to pool marketing, sales, and distribution resources. In April, Cigar City stuck it to Budweiser and announced the sale of itself to Oskar Blues after a prior deal with AB inBev fell through.
In what is predicted to be a growing trend within the industry (craft buying/partnering with craft in order to grow while maintaining the coveted status), it’s only a matter of time when people will switch from saying things like, “Awesome! Does that mean I’ll be able to get Cigar City beers in Utah?” to “Oskar Blues isn’t craft. They own like, 6 breweries.” If my eyes roll any harder into the back of my head, I think I’ll have a stroke.
Speaking of aneurysms, 2016 was an election year.
We endured 11 nightmarish months of campaign clusterfuckery so horrifying that it resulted in Donald Trump being named the President-elect. In what was arguably the most divided campaign year in recent history, people were…touchy, to say the least. For Yuengling loyalists, it was a shitty year to be a Democrat.
On October 26th, Dick Yuengling publicly announced that he/his brewery supported then Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump. Aaaaaand cue the fallout:
(My personal favorite)
And then there’s this guy:
Now while I’m not certain how much a palette of beer would be, my guess is somewhere between an “ass load” and a metric “shit ton.”
In mid-November, this article by Aaron Goldfarb was published and I know it’s lazy, but I’m going to use it as my send-off to 2016. He uses archived “top beers” lists to illustrate the growing trend among modern craft beer enthusiasts — largely that they’re kinda missing the point.
It’s something I’ve been harping on for the last few years, and continue to preach:
Drink whatever you want to drink.
Great beer does come in 12-packs at the grocery store. Bottle shares should absolutely include a bottle of Brooklyn Black Ops. Super hopped-up DIPAs are sometimes really actually gross — you don’t even like it; don’t kid yourself. And for the love of God: just because a beer comes from a small brewery does not automatically mean it’s better quality. Because in 2016, we reached 5,000 + breweries.
FIVE FUCKING THOUSAND. So when almost everything (99%) is a “small brewery,” guess what? Some of them are bound to be making shitty beer. Your argument is invalid. Shut it.
Cheers to 2017.
***NSFW 2016 send-off bonus! ~~SCROLL DOWN TO SEE MORE~~***
Around October, I noticed that the porn industry finally figured out how to tap into craft beer’s largest demographic:
Unless you’re specifically searching Twitter with the hashtag #Craftbeer, you won’t see these kinds of Tweets. But if you happen to have a computer monitor running TweetDeck in a business casual office environment, where one of your TweetDeck feed columns is the hashtag #Craftbeer, you and your colleagues will see a continuously scrolling stream of ass’n’titties. Way more interesting than water cooler chitchat, let me tell ya.