I got to thinking about the importance of having a strong core range of beer, and how excellence across the core range is also a sign of a great brewer. Having used Sierra Nevada as my example in the previous post, I shall do so again. Their core range consists of the following five beers:
- Pale Ale
- Torpedo Extra IPA
Now, I will be perfectly up front and honest and say that I am yet to try the Porter and the Stout, a major oversight on my part to be sure, especially given my love of darker beers, but one which will be rectified at my earliest convenience. If, however, you look at the rankings these beers get on BeerAdvocate and RateBeer, they are consistently at the higher end of their respective scales. Their core range is thus solid and well regarded by the wider beer drinking community. Of course, Sierra Nevada brew their seasonal and one off beers, and they rate very highly in the ranking sites, imperfect as such sites are.
One off specials add a little sparkle to a brewer's offerings, that it is certain, but when there is a massive disparity in the opinions of the beer drinking community between specials and the core range, you have to ask questions as to whether or not a brewery is really all that great. There are always questions of who a brewery's target market is, whether it is the cognoscenti of the beer world, or the average Joe just looking for something cold and wet to drink when out grilling, or having just cut the grass. But this brings me back to my original point in last week's post, is there anything I would rather drink when grilling than a well made pale ale or pilsner anyway? Probably not.
I guess in some ways I just apt to disappointment when I try a brewery's seasonal and one-off beers and they are light years ahead of the core range as it begs the question, if you can do this style very well, why doesn't the core range reach those heights as well?