DENVER — Even as brewers from across the country showed off their boldest and most daring beers during the opening night of the Great American Beer Festival Thursday, they acknowledged that consumers in Colorado and nationwide are looking more than ever for accessible offerings, marking a turn from the push for extremes that marked the industry just five years ago.
Highly-sought-after brewers poured simple pilsners, krieks that were more fruit-forward than tart and hazy India pale ales that replace the classic bitterness of the style with more of a tropical-fruit feel. Yes, there were puckering sours and alcohol-laden barrel-aged stouts throughout the Colorado Convention Center, but even those were tamped down by adjuncts such as banana or vanilla, or they featured local tastes that appealed to drinkers on a level beyond just their daring.
Eric Wallace, co-founder of Left Hand Brewing of Longmont, saw that played out in the way that people streaming to his booth asked for Sawtooth Ale, a traditional English-style ESB, in roughly the same proportion that they were seeking out his Barrel-Aged Fade to Black foreign stout. While a certain percentage of customers continue to seek out edgy and more extreme beers, he believes qualities like easy drinkability are becoming more important to the American craft-beer consumer than they once were.
For more on the rise of craft beer, click here to read the full story on the Triad Business Journal's website.