Myth Busters: Beer & Seltzer Edition

There are, it seems, a lot of opinions in the adult beverage world, aren’t there? Even for casual enthusiasts who stick to big brands, those different brands have different fan bases who will snub the competition. In craft beer and beverages, the opinions just get more nuanced. There are people who only want the haziest, juiciest IPAs, and there are people who think hazy, juicy IPAs are overrated. There are lager purists, and those who think time-honored Belgian beer styles are the only brews worth indulging in. Some like their stouts pastry-packed while others think adding doughnuts and Oreos to beer is an abomination. Some folx are #TeamSeltzer and others, well, aren’t. 

This all makes for a lot of noise, doesn’t it? At the end of the day, we believe two things that render all the bickering null and void. One: Beer, seltzer, and other drinkable delights are never meant to be taken so seriously. The very point of these beverages is to socialize with or unwind with--they are intended to be fun! We all have enough to worry about in our lives, don’t we? We don’t need to stress too much about enjoying what we want to enjoy.

Two: There’s a reason there are hundreds of beer styles and now, an ever-growing array of hard seltzer, hard tea, hard lemonade, hard kombucha, canned wine, and canned cocktail options. Which is that, everybody is different! And everybody likes different things. We’re big believers in never yucking anyone’s yum. The beverage scene is better and more vibrant when we lean into what we love and let everybody else lean into what they love. 

So, on that note, we’re looking at some big ol’ opinions and, frankly, myths that stubbornly pop up in the beer and beverage world. This felt like an especially appropriate time to bust these myths because some of them are about what season you can drink what, and we’re about to go from summer to fall. If anyone has been telling you it’s too early or too late to drink whatever you’re reaching for, or if you’ve been hesitating on trying something because of what you’ve heard before, read on!

 

Lagers are for Summer and Stouts are for Winter

Undeniably, there is some logic to seasonal drinking habits. When it’s super hot and borderline disgustingly humid, often what feels best is whatever is most thirst-quenching, which tends to translate to things like fruity seltzers and crisp lagers. And then in the winter, many of us love the idea of a drinkable form of coziness, which a stout, with its fuller body and deeper blend of flavors and aromas, usually delivers. 

There are plenty of beer drinkers who think the idea of a stout in the summer is plain gross--too heavy, not refreshing enough, and playing up wintery flavors like chocolate, espresso, roastiness, and spices. And those people might also think that while a lager is pretty versatile and classic, it doesn’t get the job done if you’re looking to your beer for a warm-up. But we’re here to point out that, hey, it’s all relative. The whole “hundreds of different styles because everybody likes different things” phenomenon in beer extends to when you enjoy your favorites, too.

Just like a lager will be satisfying, delicious, and crushable no matter when you drink it, a stout can be quite the treat even in summer heat, if you’re a devoted stout fan. Stouts can kind of have that melted ice cream sundae vibe, depending on what they’ve been brewed with. Take it from Instagrammer @tasting_nitch: “DONT LET ANYONE TELL YOU THAT IT'S TOO HOT TO DRINK STOUT BEER!” And as perfect evidence of this, how delightful does this stout on the lake look, from @beersandbichons?

The possibilities for a year-round lager are endless, from Japas Cervejaria’s Matsurika, Jack’s Abby’s Jabby Brau Hoppy Lager, Alewife’s Zea Mays, and Burial’s Pursuit Helles-Style Lager to Jackalope’s Sarka, Rubsam & Horrmann’s RH Pilsner, Ross Brewing’s Shark River Pils, and Lickinghole Creek’s Lickinghole Lager. For stouts--and stout-adjacent porters and brown ales--that feel like an irresistible indulgence all summer long, look to the likes of Surly’s Coffee Bender, Jackalope’s Bearwalker, Moody Tongue’s Caramelized Chocolate Churro Baltic Porter, Crowns & Hops Brewing’s Urban Anomaly, Lickinghole Creek’s Absolute Coup of the Enlightened Despot, Montclair’s Noble Like It Is Porter, and Ross Brewing’s Belgian Chocolate Stout

 

August is Too Soon for Oktoberfest

You know how every year there is a kerfuffle over stores rolling out Halloween stuff in July, Christmas stuff in August, Valentine’s Day stuff in December, and so on and so forth on a never-ending loop? The ol’ “seasonal creep.” If you’re a big enthusiast of Halloween or Valentine’s Day, you might be excited and grateful for more time to feel festive. Otherwise, though, it kind of feels like time already moves fast enough and now we’re being straight-up rushed.

One realm in which we think a bit of seasonal creep is truly always good and right and appreciated, however, is of course beer. People seem to like to take to social media to get into the whole “it’s too soon!” hullabaloo over Oktoberfest and Oktoberfest-adjacent brews rolling out on shelves and in taprooms in August. To which we say, “Really? Do you really have a problem with more beer options and more time to enjoy time-honored styles that aren’t available all twelve months out of the year?” You can continue to enjoy your IPA or your sour or your wheat beer, but you can also start dipping into märzens and festbiers. Truly, what is the downside to this?

Writer Lew Bryson actually just broke down Oktoberfest beer’s timing for the Daily Beast if you want to dive in. For now, we are very comfortable with this annual roll-out. If Oktoberfest beers were only truly available in October--or, to be precise if not more confusing, in September when Oktoberfest is actually celebrated--wouldn’t it feel like too much of a rush to get all that enjoyment in? 

 

The Hard Seltzer Boom is “Over”

In July, the likes of CNN and Reuters declared that hard seltzer was so yesterday--the “bubble” had burst. As Tim McKirdy pointed out on VinePair, ever since hard seltzer really reached mass-appeal popularity in 2019, detractors have been suspecting it was just a fad. The declaration that the fad had ended was made off of the news that Boston Beer, who owns Truly, fell short of their second-quarter growth projections. But the thing is, Boston Beer just made some wildly ambitious projections--hard seltzer did indeed still grow, and it continues to do so. Cue the beverage industry experts roasting these prophets of doom on Twitter and smartly writing about why it’s just so wrong to count hard seltzer out. In addition to the VinePair piece, you can also check Kate Bernot’s coverage on Good Beer Hunting.

Frankly, we don’t even need to look at charts and graphs to tell you hard seltzer is here to stay. You wouldn’t call beer, itself, a bubble would you? Hard seltzer has created another, welcome beverage category, one that is so great for people who prefer a lighter way to imbibe. It’s absolutely perfect for a little buzz whether it’s hot, you just worked out, you’re keeping an eye on your carbs, or you’re hanging with friends all day long and you want something super sessionable. Why would hard seltzer go anywhere? As we previously discussed, people like different things so why not ensure there truly is something for everyone?

Plus, just look at all the exciting hard seltzer brands that continue to emerge. This category is only getting more diverse, eclectic, and innovative every day. There’s Nectar and Lunar, making premium, quality seltzers that place beautiful Asian ingredients and flavors center stage. There’s Smooj, offering up an irresistible smoothie spin on seltzer. There’s the impossibly cool, beachy-vibed AMASS with its herbal, floral, fruity harmonies of flavors and aromas. And SolSet, upping the ante by adding electrolytes to its seltzer for an extra thirst-quenching, rejuvenating effect. There’s Take Five, crafted to burst with flavor while cutting sugar and gluten and reducing carbs, calories, and alcohol. Two Robbers marries unique flavors to play up fruit, spices, and more, while Crook & Marker brings a cocktail mood to seltzer. Then, you even have awesome breweries like Departed Soles and Great South Bay applying their expertise to impeccably made seltzers. This all is the kind of growth we love to see.

 

Pumpkin Beer is No Good and Not Cool

People might murmur in disagreement over whether August is too soon for Oktoberfest beers, but when it comes to another kind of beer associated with fall, matters seem to reach a whole new level of fervor. What is it about pumpkin beer that gets folx so riled up?

Many have tried to answer this question, including Mandatory, Forbes, Craft Beer, and VinePair. Others have simply proclaimed their hate--some Pittsburgh brewers via The Incline--or their hate--Sauce Magazine. On Team Anti Pumpkin, you have beer purists who don’t think anything like pumpkin belongs in the brewing process to begin with, plus all of those who revel in deeming pumpkin spice lovers “basic.” On Team Pro Pumpkin, you have autumn enthusiasts who look forward to yet another pocket of the calendar during which they can experience further beer options and drink the flavors of the season.

Getting caught up in the controversy is all fun and games, but at the end of the day, we come back to our refrain: it’s just beer, let everyone enjoy what they want to enjoy! Be grateful pumpkin beer exists in the first place, whether it’s because you can’t wait to get into a pint of it or it’s because arguing about it is one of your favorite fall activities. It’s tradition!

Besides, even if you think you detest pumpkin brews, we’re willing to bet you just haven’t found the right one yet. True to creative form, different breweries take different approaches. You can go full-speed-ahead on decadent, pumpkin-pie-like beers, or you can tip to the opposite extreme with crisper, even spicy takes. It’s a whole wide pumpkin-shaped world out there. TapRm already has an option in from Ghostfish Brewing Company called Lunar Harvest--crack into one and let the games begin.

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