A few years ago Miller Brewing did a series of tv commercials with a group of well-known men seated around a table discussing “manly” things, and proposing “Man Laws”, usually revolving around esoteric questions and stereotypical manly behavior such as crushing cans on foreheads, whether it is ok to store anything other than beer in the garage fridge, the sin of wasting or spilling beer, how long to wait to ask a girl out that dumped your best friend, and the “you poke it you own it” rule. One of my favorites was the “don’t fruit the beer” law. I had always been a fan of the Reinheitsgebot, or German Beer Purity Law, which stated there were only 4 ingredients that could be used in the production of beer: water, barley, hops and yeast. It may sound extremely restrictive, but if you consider the wide variety of types barley and the countless ways it can be kilned and roasted and combined, the huge variety of hops with their countless flavors and aromas, and all the different types of yeast and the complex characteristics they can give a beer, the possible number of combinations are mind boggling. So there is no need to “fruit the beer”. Right? Well, as I got older, I became more willing to try beers that were outside the narrow range of what I thought a beer should be, and I changed my mind. I decided that while I wasn’t wrong, I may have been mistaken. I realized that adding fruit and other ingredients in the brewing process can do amazing things to a beer. My new philosophy became “If it tastes good, drink it!” After all, taste is the reason I love beer. But today I have begun to think that while there shouldn’t be restrictions on beer ingredients, brewers may have started taking things too far. In fact, recently I have noticed a growing number of offerings from craft brewers that I’m not sure should qualify as beer. After all, if it looks like a fruit smoothie, smells like a fruit smoothie, and tastes like a fruit smoothie, how can it be called beer? What’s next? Bacon that tastes like broccoli? (shiver) We should never be afraid to try new things, and to go in new directions, but I think it is important to remember why we love the things we love. While we look for the next great thing, we shouldn’t forget the great things we already have.
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