Today’s world increasingly acts in dualities. You’re with “us” or “them.” You’re right or wrong. You’re Team Katy Perry or Taylor Swift, apparently. Team Red or Team Blue.
It’s not so easy living on a spectrum anymore, gliding from one thought, action or belief to the next with a shrinking middle ground in which to play. Unless it’s with beer, of course. According to Nielsen, more than 1,800 new packaged craft beers debuted last year, spanning a wide collection of flavors and styles, offering an option for just about any curious drinker – even those who don’t like IPAs. (Blasphemy!)
Walk the beer aisle and you’ll find an array of classics like Pilsner or Hefeweizen all the way to beers that might feel at home at a science fair, like a single beer mixed from a wheat and quad that were aged bourbon and wine barrels, plus an addition of peaches. That’s a stiff middle finger to the Reinheitsgebot, a centuries-old “German beer purity law” that calls for only beer’s four main ingredients: malt, hops, water and yeast.
So thank goodness our sandbox is ever expanding. Roughly 30 years ago, there were fewer than 100 breweries in America and “beer” was that simple drink that poured crystal clear and wasn’t meant to make you think too much about taste – not that there’s anything wrong with that. Those kind of beers can still feel perfect at the beach or at a backyard barbecue, but if we dare dream of sipping a pumpkin peach ale, it’s pretty cool to know that the option exists, at least. Pretty soon we’ll be cracking 6,000 breweries in the U.S. and all the delicious concoctions that come from that kind of bounty, from straight-forward lagers to dessert-like flavor bombs imagined in some kind of brewing fever dream.
We’re all different drinkers with different preferences. When it comes to finding out what’s going to hit the right spot, where do you land? With inspiration from the amazing, insightful and surprisingly controversial Sandwich Alignment Chart, October offers up its own version for beer lovers.