There’s an unfair standard in the beer world where we expect every brewery do to every style well. We don’t do this at restaurants, unless you’re some Cheesecake Factor stan who demands shrimp gumbo, shepherd’s pie and a side of orange chicken in one sitting.
It’s ok to excel at a few things. Atrium brewing sent me a comprehensive lineup of their recent releases, the Italian pilsner meatball, it was fine. The tropical parfait boy? I can live without. The Oktoberfest? Sure, perfectly deece.
I love breweries that have a weird reach in their catalog that shows the humanity behind the scenes. Private Press and Floodland are effectively boring, all their offerings are so good that you almost don’t even need to hear about them.
What about when things are sexy and inconsistent? Kuhnhenn fans ears are burning right now.
Take the Atrium hazy, Never Late Than Better. I mean it literally, I don’t need the remaining cans, it isn’t that good. It is pithy, has a crackly astringent hop burn, the mouthfeel can’t sustain the massive alpha profile it sets forth and the bittering is crushing despite it leading with a big dry hop nose. I like when breweries release these. It is like reading Nabokov’s first American novel and seeing the innerworkings. The hoppy alpha acid shortcomings are worth it.
This only matters if they are awesome in some other way, otherwise it is just a mediocre brewery like 8000 other spots. Maple Bourbon Barrel Bean’s is exceptional. This is a page from the old Alesmith workbook. Tightly wound body, deep roast, exceedingly gentle maple barrel presence, robust powerful toasty coffee profile giving Lindt truffle, cocoa and barista condescension like “YES UH BARRY LYNDON IS A COMEDY UH ACTUALLY.”
That push and pull makes brewery life dynamic. One flight with nightmare juice and MDMA downstairs flooding at the same time is incredible. Atrium is lovingly all over the place as is the Kentucky way. KY has this contropposto pose where you think of bourbon and that intensity leveled over its straight leg, but Atrium has this natural twist in its torso, that boyfriend who listens to Harry Styles and knows crystal profiles.
Inconsistent range is the spice of life.