From the HBD Archive
From: (Al Marshall)
Subject: unknown
Date: 1992-06-17 16:36:00 GMT

Subject: Lupulophobia in Milwaukee

George Fix writes:

> Jack Schmidling's generic ale was indeed clean as a whistle. I did, however,
> have some stylistic quibbles with it. Jack, those high alpha Chinooks need
> a generous malt charge to balance them off. I hope you had a chance to taste
> Bob Jones' Brown Ale. It clearly showed how really delicious a clean well
> balanced beer can be.

I was not present nor have I tasted THE GREATEST BEER MADE WITH RECYCLED
AMERICAN MATERIALS (insert small US flag icon here :-)).
Nevertheless, this brings up a pet peeve of mine:
the seeming obsession with "balance" by certain figures in the AHA.

Let me say first that I respect George highly in matters of science
(I have to, I'm not a physical scientist), but
we part company when taste comes into the picture. To make a point,
let's assume for the moment that Jack did NOT approach George and say,

"George, I have here a bottle of <insert AHA style category here>
beer, how do you think it would do in competition?"


"George, I seem to be having a problem with mash extract, do you think
this beer is out of balance?"

Under these assumptions (and from my experience with Jack Schmidling's
outlook, I find it difficult to imagine him asking for such feedback)
I find George's fatherly advice about beer styles rather inappropriate.

Bear in mind
that I am extensively self-educated in these matters but
I have not been through the Beer Judge Certification Program, and hence
am not "Politically Correct". Consequently,
when I taste such a beer, I'm able to say either "Man, that's bitter...
I like it!" or "Man, that's bitter... I don't like it!" without feeling
ashamed of myself. If Jack had the temerity to put a style-name
on his beer, the better comment would be "I don't think you brewed what
you tried to brew", although again, I find it difficult to believe that
Jack would call his beer anything other than "THE GREATEST".

Sadly, I think the AHA in general
is dominated by this obsession with beer style
at the moment. What is worse, it is my unscientific impression that
the majority of the styles are skewed toward maltiness (most AHA figures
call this "balance").
I have christened this obsession with balance to the detriment of
hop bitterness, flavor and aroma "lupulophobia".

Anecdotally, lupulophobia
seems to be *somewhat* more common in the Midwestern United States
and relatively rare in the Pacific Northwest. Note the number of
small breweries brewing lagers in the Midwest vis a vis the P. Northwest
as support for this view. I was recently enjoying a pint of the first
Pilsner microbrewed in Portland, and reflecting that the
impressive hoppiness would probably not be attempted in many other
(Sadly, I've heard that the brewer intends to "tone it down".
Commercialism rears its ugly head even here).

Finally, I wonder why George advises Jack to taste a brown ale. Was it
because Jack was trying to brew such a beer? If not, I translate
the comment as, "I wish you had brewed me something more like this".
This is not necessarily inappropriate, since I take such things into
account when I brew a beer I hope my friends will like. But again, if
Jack wanted the AHA thought police to like his beer, he's not the
person he seems to be on HBD.

Basically, I'm impressed by the report that Jack's beer is clean (and
unoxidized?). I wish I had been around to taste it (and to get a load of
the brewer's world view, no doubt :-)).

I'm looking forward to seeing HBD'ers in Portland OR next year at the
AHA conference and subjecting you to a healthy dose of IBUs :-).

-- R. Al Marshall

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