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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Overrated Breweries

Just in time for the GABF, Denver's Jonathan Shikes offers his take on the six most overrated breweries in the US:
  • Dogfish Head: "I have yet to find a Dogfish beer that didn't involve a grimace."
  • Russian River: "Pliny the Elder is a great beer, but it's not any better than half a dozen other IPAs in Colorado alone, let alone California."
  • Brooklyn Brewery: "They have a great reputation, but maybe that's because New York has so many people and is starved for in-state craft breweries."
  • Goose Island: "The beers ... remind me the selection in Colorado in 2000."
  • Bear Republic: "I can think of a dozen IPA that are more balanced and more flavorful than Racer 5."
  • New Belgium: "The world seems to crave Fat Tire, and that is fine. But I've never met a real craft-beer lover who drinks it."
Bold--and amusing--comments. (He's dead wrong on two of my favorite beers, Racer 5 and Pliny, and shows that the Colorado palate is just different than the West Coast palate.) Now, does any blogger have the courage to do the same for Oregon? Yes! Behold my own six-pack of overratedness:
  • Cascade Brewing. Another gose? Do we really need another gose?
  • Hopworks. Mostly attractive to cyclists because of the rich parking opportunities.
  • Upright. Make me a "Fourteen" and then we'll talk.
  • Full Sail. Come on, John Harris, what have you done for us lately?
  • Hair of the Dog. The world wants to know: when will you make a "Jeff?"
  • Brewers Union. Give this damned cask thing a rest, will you?
Someone had to do it.


  1. Ah, a serial complainer with nothing better to do. He might drink craft beer, but I would guess that he likes moaning and groaning more than the actual drinking. These kinds of people are a dime a dozen and not worth listening to.

  2. That guy is an idiot, he judges the breweries based on one beer. Maybe call the article 6 most over-hyped beers, then I could agree on some level. A very weak article with no thought, just wants to scrap up some controversy for a few page views.

  3. Pageviews: heh. Yeah, I don't doubt it. (And it worked!) But the notion that some breweries are over-hyped is worth discussing. Which breweries would you say are?

  4. Hmmm...
    I would have replaced New Belgium with Sam Adams personally. That brewery gets way more props in the heartland and the mainstream than it should.

    And I love Fat Tire.

    As for overated Oregon breweries, the only one that comes to mind is Widmer. Just have never really enjoyed their lineup, especially their hefe.

    Different strokes for different folks though.

  5. Well that made it sound like I just don't care for their beers.

    I see their hefe getting more hype than I personally think it deserves.

  6. Dammit,
    I was all stoked to see a real most overhyped list and am now disappointed. A # of those breweries on your own list I really would put on my most overhyped though.

  7. Hey Beervana, thanks for posting my list and for the honest disagreement and discussion. The point was to spark discussion (not Internet flaming like some of your commenters and some of mine like to do). I've enjoyed just about every craft beer I've every tried, including those from my list. I just think some breweries get too much hype.

  8. I also would have replaced Dogfish with Oskar Blues. Dogfish is at least original, and consistantly works at injecting life and variety into the craft beer market. Oskar seems to be hell-bent on punching people in the palate (see Dale's Pale and Old Chubb) and offering little in the way of original. Really I don't see what the big deal is about Dale's, it's just another over hopped Pale Ale. But I do appreciate their can crusade!

  9. Jonathan, I actually agree with Dogfish, Brooklyn, and New Belgium. Bear Republic and Russian River seem too small to really count as overhyped, and Goose Island is just trying to move into a new echelon. But I think it's a worthwhile topic to discuss.

    I also think breweries can get too hot and become overrated and then later become underrated. Widmer is now underrated, for example.

    I actually relate more to overhyping than overratedness. On the national list, I'd put Allagash on the overhyped list (but perhaps underrated owing to the lambics), probably Three Floyds and Victory.

    In Oregon, the currently overhyped breweries are probably Cascade, Upright, Hopworks, Ninkasi, Block 15, and Double Mountain. But then, these are also some of my favorite breweries, so it doesn't seem like "overhyped" is actually a bad thing.

    Bring on the hype!

  10. Jeff, You are right. Maybe I should have called the list "overhyped," rather than "overrated." As for NW breweries, I'm looking forward to trying a couple of them in about four hours at GABF!

  11. Yes, overrated and over hyped are very different. By saying overrated you're alluding to the quality of their product.

    Not entirely how you're defining hype Jeff, word of mouth? marking? It's kind of a weird cloud created by excitement and expectations I guess. How do you personally draw a line for over-hyped?

  12. Jeff: Russian River may be small...but based on the feeding frenzy that is the yearly release of Pliny the Younger, I don't think it's a stretch to call them overhyped. The borderline irrational worship of the craft beer nerd masses for Pliny the Elder is further evidence.

  13. Where've ya been? We dropped the cask thing and now only produce limited batches of Harvest Scrumpy. The six beer engines have been replaced with a single sweating Stella font.

  14. Block 15 and Double Mountain overhyped? I don't think so. They are smaller than Bear Republic and Russian River. You can get their beers in Portland, but can Californians get Block 15 or DM? (I'm pretty sure the answer is No.) It's definitely a "to each their own" as I don't get the Ninkasi love that everyone else has. I did like the collaboration Ninkasi beer at the OBF Buzz tent (a Belgian IPA with some sort of twist I don't recall), but their mainstream beers just don't do it for me. After reading your review of Maiden The Shade, I regret not trying it during my short stint in Portland, but I didn't want to be disappointed again.

  15. How do you personally draw a line for over-hyped?

    Well, as one of the vectors of hype, I guess you could just look at my archives. By the way, there was a blogger who once called Block 15 Oregon's best--starting the B15 hype. Wonder whatever happened to that blog?

    The six beer engines have been replaced with a single sweating Stella font.

    Whew. You can't swing a dead cat in this state without knocking over a firkin of mild.

  16. I think some people are mistaking 'overhyped' with 'overhyped by a handful of craft beer snobs'. Upright overhyped? They're tiny. Even HUB is pretty small. They just started selling in Washington State, if I remember correctly.

    How about Rogue? Oh, I forgot, craft beer snobs don't consider Rogue a beer worth drinking...

  17. Scrumpy! You're barking up the wrong tree?! ;-} Might as well say your making Veal Scallopini in this state...

    Sounds great!

  18. Rogue is overhyped but until they get honest pints, i won't consider them ;)

  19. Jeff,

    The Block 15 wasn't hype, it is a well known fact, look it up, they were unanimously voted best brewery in the universe by all carbon-based life forms in existence. As to that blog, who cares, it was over-hyped anyway.

  20. Sorry, gotta disagree about Hopworks. We've been fans of Christian's beers since his days at Old World (before Laurelwood bought it), where none other than the sainted Jim Kennedy anointed him a wunderkind. While he has only made a few ventures into non-NW-style beers, who can fault his Treehugger Porter or IPA? And you've got to admit his dedication to organic and sustainable practices sets the standard for brewers nationwide. But it's fine if you choose to stay away…it just means more for the rest of us!

  21. Comparing beers and breweries is like comparing your children. "Over-hyped" and "over-rated" don't make sense to me. You can like and dislike beers even within the same breweries regardless of how much they are talked about. Pelican just won some awards. Not impressed with the Cream or the Scotch, but loved the IPA. Not over-hyped, just different tastes. Try everything, I say.

  22. Enough with overhyped and overrated. How bout we talk about overpriced? With Rogue leading the list with their way overpriced 22's. Add that to their dishonest pints as mentioned above and I think they would top the overpriced list.

  23. Rogue overpriced? Nah... I have yet to pay more than $2.50 for a 22 oz.

    Course, I should disclaim that I only buy Rogue at the brewery during their dock sales and only mismatched cases, and I work 200 yards from the brewery. :-)

    It's all perspective...