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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.


3 Responses to Whatever happened to ‘extreme’ beer?

  1. Alan April 4, 2013 at 7:54 am #

    Hasn’t extreme just been unpacked and elaborated with more head scratch inducing terminology? Also, more generally, it is an adjective that has largely fallen out of favour in these days when bands playing banjos can win a Grammy.

  2. Gary Gillman April 5, 2013 at 5:59 am #

    My view on it is the concept represented by the term has largely been absorbed by the brewing community. There are so many strong, highly-flavoured, barrel-aged and otherwise variously produced beers on the market that what was extreme five years ago motors on as part of the beer scene today.


  3. SteveH April 5, 2013 at 6:10 am #

    A quick perusal of any of the forums on BeerAdvocate will inform (?) you that anything less than “extreme” in a beer is sissified and not worth any attention.

    On the other hand, I’ve been hearing the minority of (true) session beer lovers become louder… just not quite loud enough yet.

    In my opinion, subtlety is still lost on the younger generation of beer drinkers. Extreme beer hasn’t faded yet.

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