Ask a Brewer with Flat12's Erik Fox

 

What is the point of brewing these beers with really high IBUs? I read about them all the time on blogs. I don’t really understand the point of making a beer that’s too bitter to drink.

Y'aint wrong. There's really no point in doing anything, when you think about it. I mean, Third Eye Blind's debut album came out in 1997, as did OK Computer, The Lonesome Crowded West AND Zaireeka. The Barenaked Ladies understood this and sang "It's all been done" a year later. But people are still making songs.

Like music, beer is fun. And you can go anywhere with it. Brewers and beer drinkers appreciate this. It might seem silly to just play the drum tracks on Zaireeka, but it's an important component to the whole thing and helps you understand it. Hops can compliment other attributes of beer in the same way. I think many people new to craft beer dive into high-IBU beverages because those flavors are unlike anything experienced before, having been raised on macrobrew. And your palate is always shifting. I was in love with Torpedo, Ruination and Ranger once, and while those aren't my go-to beers anymore, I know they're good. It's cool if you don't like super bitter brew. There's always a new flavor or aroma or "holy-cow-this-is-amazing" experience to be had and, no matter what you do with beer, someone's going to enjoy it.

I think it’s bullshit to call something “homemade” if all you did was cobble together storebought items into a larger assemblage of food. If I scoop some Graeter’s onto some break-and-bake Toll House cookies, I don’t think I should be allowed to say they’re homemade. What are your thoughts here?

I prefer the finer things of the culinary realm: beer, whiskey, frozen pizza and potato chips. Maybe a dirty martini for Sunday brunch. Before I throw a Jack's premium 4-chez piz into the oven, I spice it up - literally. Mrs. Dash is my go-to pie enhancer. I'll even sprinkle some shredded parm or monterey jack (I never use sharp cheddar on pizza. That's almost as bad as eating deep dish) on it. But hey, you don't see me opening up a pizza joint. I've tried making homemade chips and it was a disaster. Why bother grueling over the bragging rights of something being "homemade" when you can grab some Ruffle's Sour Cream & Onion for $5? You know it's going to be good, and you don't have to waste time preparing it. Do these people wait more than five minutes for a table at a restaurant too? Why not eat as soon as you're hungry?

One of my co-workers brings in a sheet cake *for herself* on her birthday at work. While I love free cake, I also think this is an adulation trap where, by getting a piece of cake, I have to then stop by and wish her a happy birthday. It all seems like a refined sugar bribe, not to mention a little bit insane. Do I have to say HBD or can I just have my (her) cake at my desk without tipping my hat to the occasion?

Have you ever seen the photo of Kirk Cameron blowing out a birthday cake on a table with half-eaten subs, plus some weird lady standing in the doorway? This is how I envision your situation. It's like Jerry Seinfeld said: "Birthdays are symbolic of how little we've grown...That for the rest of our sad, wretched, pathetic lives, this is who we are to the bitter end – inevitably, irrevocably. Happy birthday? No such thing.” So, rub the delusions of grandeur in her face. Bring your own cake on her birthday and eat it in front of her. Don't let anyone else have a slice. And chug down some Tequila Rose. Hey, you gotta do you.

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