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Whatever happened to ‘extreme’ beer?

Did I miss the memo?

Stories about — and therefore praising, because almost all stories about beers not brewed by large corporations include a certain amount of praise — “extreme beers” seem to be appearing less often.

(And, yes, I’m aware that the Beer Advocate “Extreme Beer Festival” recently concluded. That’s one reason for the question.)

Maybe my radar needs adjusting. Or maybe they’ve been drowned about by tales of passionate nano-brewers.

The subject popped up again yesterday when Adrian Tierney-Jones wrote about the Charles Wells/Dogfish Head collaboration beer DNA New World IPA. Sam Calagione (who wrote a book titled Extreme Brewing) was there for the roll out, of course, and Adrian talked with him.

And afterwards I had a few words with Calagione and asked the question that was bugging me. Extreme beer? ‘It wasn’t about strength but innovation and flavour. I’m not hung up on nomenclature.’

And in that millpond the ripples keep spreading.

I’m still trying to wrap my head about this DNA beer, and understand just what “a reduction of our 60 Minute IPA” means, but it sounds like something that would have been called “extreme” not long ago.

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