Daily Archives: August 8, 2008

Column: Don’t judge a beer by its label

 

This past month I have found myself guilty of judging before being fully informed on several occasions – a big no-no for a journalist. I should know better.

I like to think of my self as classy, semi-stylish and refined gentleman and I like my beer to reflect that.

Several times this month I turned my nose up at trying a new beer because I thought the labels looked cheap or gimmicky and boy was I wrong.

The cool art-deco Orval; the painted branding of Stone and Rogue; the classic seafaring nature of Anchor, the rustic artiness of Dogfish Head and Smuttynose; the simplistic nature of Allagash, and South Hampton; the well balanced look of Brooklyn, Avery and Hitachino Nest and most foreign beers especially those from Italy and Belgium have labels that are not over designed and give the impression of something I want to enjoy.

To me there are different categories of labels that turn me off. There is the childish: Clipper City Brewing Co. and Opa-Opa; the amateur: McNeil’s Brewery and Stoudt; the ones with too much going on: Magic Hat and Flying Dog and the corny: Ballast, Unibroue.

Of course this is all clearly subjective and everyone’s artistic tastes are different.

I learned this past month that I will never judge a beer by its label again, not even subconsciously. Of course, we all know it is about what is on the inside that counts but when you are in the beer isle and need to make an impulse buy, a really bad label may get passed over.

This month Clipper City, Opa-Opa, Ithica and Ballast made me realize what I was doing subconsciously. I had passed up buying all three of these beers in the past just by the fact that there was something else to buy that looked more appealing. After it was suggested – through different avenues –  I try all three, my palate was thanking me.

From each of those breweries I found an IPA and really, really like.

No longer will a bad graphic designer fool me. They are just trying to keep all of the good beer to themselves.

 

What I have had and liked this month

 

Ballast Point Big Eye IPA — An India Pale Ale brewed by Ballast Point Brewing Company, San Diego, Cal.

I guess I am just a sucker for beer brewed in San Diego. This IPA poured smooth, with a nice looking, two-finger head. It was hoppy and crisp with a slight bitter bite on the palate. I held off on buying this one for a while because I was unaware of the brewery. Won’t make that mistake again.

Advertisements