“Here’s What’s Killing Craft Beer”: A Measured Response

Miles Liebtag has gotten to the bottom of what is killing craft beer: it’s you.

In this brisk 2200+ word read, Miles wanders from accusing breweries of giving in to hype, shaming consumers as anti-intellectuals, and deriding everyone else from wholesalers, to marketing reps, to “seriously unfunny memes.” It is a wild ride plummeting down the side of an ivory tower at breakneck speed.

Up top, if abusing independent clauses and conjunctions were a crime, this man would be a mass murderer. I have read pieces from Hegel and Deleuze and Guattari that were more economically written, and those were translated from other languages. If you didn’t dip your toe in that self-indulgent read, let me break you off a piece of this spicy prose:

“The industry — in its perennial obsession with novelty and trend, its dependence on “limited” release cycles and ephemeral brands, its reliance on social media and need to break through the noise at any cost — has created this consumer, has enabled him and told him in so many words that what he wants is right and good and there’s no real need to think about any of this shit for any longer than it takes you to drink a 3oz sample because the next one is coming and it’s even better.”

That is a single 88 word sentence and the entire piece is non-ironically written like this. Fittingly, the central conceit of Liebtag’s cloud screaming is that consumers are weak minded and fearful of educating themselves. Brewers in turn, indulge these simpletons and embrace their tawdry desires and everyone, except Liebtag presumably, is dumber and worse off.


At the outset, Miles goes in on people who have knowledge of beer marketing and basically drops elbows from the high rope on anyone who would dare follow the newest developments in beer. In a statement almost veering headon into self-parody, Miles succinctly declares:

“[O]ne’s Beer Knowledge is often in direct and inverse proportion to one’s Market Knowledge. The former is what one knows about beer qua beer: how and why and when and where it’s made, and how that set of questions has both historical and political dimensions, what makes a beer look and smell and taste the way it does. The latter is one’s knowledge of trends, brands, who and what’s hot, what’s trading well, what’s rare, who’s on the outs, etc. It’s not that the twain shall never meet, just that they rarely do.”

Far be it for me to denature what is already so flawless put, but basically, there are two separate classes of people in this man’s mind: the learned erudite classes who lovingly thumb timeworn tomes by Hieronymus, Daniels, Mosher; and the grubby batterfaced Instarone masses who can barely link together a Killer-Instinct-tier runon sentence combo.


The best part of this false dichotomy is how he paints anyone who has knowledge of beer trends as some vapid “ignorant, mean-spirited or shallow” person and then stands agape wondering why he is the subject of satire. Literally no one wants to share a beer with someone like this. In fact, with some subtle changes to tone, the entire piece almost becomes amazing parody like some Dickensian autocrat, here I will do it for you:

“This current of anti-intellectualism is to some degree the extreme edge of an over-correction to the American beer scene of yore, which was rightly derided as aloof and abstruse, an impenetrable subculture where the gatekeepers were largely middle-aged white male beer geeks,” the man noted as he tapped out his cohiba, ruefully running his fingertips along the seams of his epaulettes.

Ok I lied, I didn’t even change any of his actual words. He literally writes like the antagonist in shitty movie where some meanspirited beer journalist is trying to shut down the youth rec center.

Basically, if people who know about marketing (and only marketing mind you, “ne’er the twain shall meet”) then they are petulant philistines incapable of bigbrain concepts like water profile adjustment and thermal isomerization of alpha-acids.  THEY’RE TOO DUMB. Don’t even get Miles started on attempting to condescend on high and explain beer to “non-traditional” (i.e., not middle class cishet white male) beer drinkers.” Knowledge was weaponized against them, so the unwashed idiot masses instead follow trends, and nothing else.


There’s an entire section where Miles both calls out people for being uneducated and insecure, and then fans the flames of his own insecurity to a conflagration that could sustain an 8 hour barleyboil.  I love that in /r/iamverysmart fashion, he frames the dilemma as “i know so much about beer that, people are basically very intimidated by me.” These are the types of dramatic heels and Cicerones that are the VERY OBJECT of derision. It’s almost like he was like “what’s at the barb of that joke? How do I heighten this undesirable aspects in myself to cash in on these tropes.”  The rant is capped with a pithy jab at non-cicerones who “mock [him] for no reason other than their own insecurities and lack of a viable standup career.” These are the hills Miles is prepared to die on.

I won’t saddle you with the scintillating section summarizing his homebrewing resume, but spoiler alert; it stands in stark contrast to social media idiots who would never be able to whip up an all grain batch. By this point, from a person like this, you can already imagine how it would go. If I wrote this character in a sketch, at the table read they would be like “hey tone him down a bit to make him believable.”

The section on style parallels shows how little this man actually talks to other people beyond the carrera marble bust of Charlie Papazian that he houses in his spacious foyer. People love pilsners, in fact they are aggressively in vogue. Maybe the twain be split so wide, his lordship cannot see the muckmired serfs enjoying their peasant kolsches, for IG likes, NO DOUBT.

At this point, I am reticent to even summarize his lengthy lists of “cures” for the industry because it reads like some Jonathan Swift modest fermentation proposals. Fine, here:

Publicans: don’t hire troglodytes, host catered events where the learned classes provide food pairings, and clean your lines you filthy savages.

Wholesalers: [monocle falls into snifter] don’t hire imbeciles who sell as much product as possible, moderation is key [pushes a sterling silver fork into some osso bucco] for beer is the libation of the masses and should remain accessible to even the stupidest of consumers at peak freshness, despite their inability to taste the difference on their TIKTOPS and the DESK CORDS.

The Fourth Estate: This man hates listicles. We get it. Everyone is getting dumber, except presumably Miles, bc Twains do be like that.

Breweries: make core brands at the expense of doing profitable things in an increasingly competitive marketplace, lol k. This is some Nathan for Brew time of shit here.

Alright I have typed almost half as many words as Miles, so time to shut this down.

The people ruining craft beer aren’t instagrammers taking photos of hazy beer. The real people ruining craft beer are the ones like Miles who nonironically are condescending, dismissive gatekeepers predicated on knowledge of brewing production. They are the soft targets in comedy, they are the tired tropes in UNILAD videos, they are the wince inducing guys at the bar telling you the tired ass IPA origin story. I assure you, the culture surrounding the (entirely binary subsect) or “marketing” mavens is not the one disenfranchising people and making beer an object of laughable consideration to normal people.

The Miles Liebtag’s of the world do more to push people away from beer than an algorithmic churning IG dipshit with a ring light and a DSLR, I assure you.

Come play in the mud with the filthy “beer marketing” subhumans, our palates are fine.


Cantillon La Vie Est Solidaire is Likely Top 10 DDB beers for 2019, Just Incredible.

I can’t hang with actual vin Jaune jura bangers but La Vie Est Solidaire was mind blowing. It has that radiant blast of acidity and tangelo akin to Zomer, but the swallow is long and bitter with Brett B aspects contributing brie rind and construction paper. Endlessly crushable because each sip run a tart bitter jab haymaker combo. The strange depth of those dusty oxidized tannins from that lime/clay soil is so expressive in this lambic. We had vin santo with @beersnobbin and that felt like vigneronne with leather interior, but this is something entirely different. The earthiness to the long swallow reminds me more of Herfst and the 3F strains of musk and twine, and I love the diversity in this loon. It’s frustrating when something expensive or inaccessible exceeds expectations because what’s the fun in that? Confirmation bias, no idol toppling, no one learns anything, but one can’t thrive on pithy hyperbolic takedowns for review sustenance all the time. Sometimes things are just good because they do, it how it be. I’m actively trying to think of a cheaper analogue to this and it’s pretty tough, maybe @funkfactorygeuzeria Dweller on the Threshold? That’s not exactly falling off the shelves either. Who cares. There’s a lot of amazing beer and his just happens to be one of them. You don’t need it, but be sure to thrust your filthy glass towards his bottle at the share, sip an ounce, don’t say thank you, then write an Untappd takedown about how it didn’t live up to the hype. By sweeping the leg and producing nothing, you are the true palate master.


Mad Fritz Brewing The Bird and the Beasts is absolutely bizarre. Why does this exist.

Ok, Mad Fritz makes strange beers. I don’t mean that in the “Paul Arney sure is wacky” sort of way. I mean it in the “what in the name of Napa-branding is going on in Saint Helena?” Nothing is remotely close to style, and that’s fine, if you’re OEC. this is not OEC. This a brewery with so much experience and resources that no one restricts them, almost to a fault. They do whatever they want. If you’ve ever had to sit through your friend’s Moth short story or listen their Noise Band mixtape, then you get it.

The bottles use those French swingtop gaskets and have labels that look like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Each bottle has this lengthy moral parable on it. It drips in divorcee Pinot Grigio aesthetic. The brewery itself has insane experience and resources and seem to have zero cares about profitability. Mad Fritz gonna Fritz. Their barrels are named Goethe and Nietzsche, leaving even Shaun Hill blushing. This barleywine though, is not good. This is not bad from a lack of proficiency, it’s just unpleasant to drink as a net experience.

The underlying barleywine itself looks more akin to Belgian tripel or a Wheatwine. It is radiantly amber with brassy tones. The nose is outright bizarre. It is both astringent with orange zest and clove, but also intensely bitter. It is off style, in every style. The taste transitions into this grapefruit pith and JUUL pen. You are left clawing through the bitter oaky ballpit for the cognac. If you approached this expecting a sessionable A Deal With The Devil, prepare for intensely tannic Curieux. I don’t know how. The finish is clementine furniture polish, long and fusel despite the 10.5% abv. It is so strange because the wild ales from this same brewery were very good, but then we have this grand marnier lacquer train derailing. 🍊 🧼 When a brewery gets to do whatever they want, sometimes the public gets exactly what they deserve.


Revolution Brewing Strawberry Jacket, Seedless Smuckers Integration

When @revbrewchicago announced a “strawberry Straight Jacket” I was both excited and filled with jammy trepidation. Strawberry is a notoriously difficult fruit to wrangle in fermentation. If if runs too rich, you get a smuckers disaster and your world class barleywine turns into New Glarus Wisconsin Redfashioned. If you run too lean, it’s a Kiwi Herman plastic fatality. Furthermore, berry and boozy peanut brittle is so decadent even the enamelly challenged in the U.K. don’t hazard the combo. Thankfully, this is good stuff. First, the base beer doesn’t seem exactly like Straight Jacket. It feels closer to Boss Ryeway or whatever the Saharan dry canvas of Code Switch was painted upon. That’s a good thing. The berry is prominent but not distracting and feels like unset arabesque detailing on Byzantine pornography. It’s all sticky.

You know those weird grandma candies that are strawberry with jelly inside? Ok that’s is the olfactory. You know how grandpa reeks of old crow and says “they can come here just gotta do it legally is all” that’s the base beer. It’s a merger of sweet tolerance and latent violence. The preserves and fruit leather quickly escheat to extremely dry/rye aspects. Add some grenadine to single barrel four roses, you’re already there. Lonestar.mp4. The aggregate result doesn’t feel entirely like barleywine, it feels like…Kuhnhenn. That’s a good thing. Avis car rentals aside, this is a tightly constructed beer that sticks the berry patch landing. I like it less than VSOJ and Boss Ryeway, above ROSJ, and well above the recent Ryeway. So: in the middle of one of the best barrel programs in America. 2, 8 no sats barely instafills at $110/4pk. It’s like, you pull up in a Porsche Macan and people are like “is that an Audi? Oh it’s pretty nice.” And you get the obligatory deference. Strawberry barleywine is well engineered but nobody is quaking at the hips like when the VSOJ911 revs. Someone should get VSOJ911 as a license plate. 🍓 🥖 🍷


Wow Four Roses Small Batch Select is a spicy new bourbon you can safely disregard if u feel like it

These little lacquer boiz are popping up in a few markets. I bought this thinking 4RsmbLE had a different sticker and then read it was 6 and 7 year strains bro. U JUS GOTTA FIND UR OESV STRAIN DOG. So at $60 you’d expect this to be markedly better than the regular ass small batch, but not quite as good as the older single barrel picks. This is basically the case.

It’s a lot of Darjeeling and clove and allspice, an exceptionally dry and Lipton driven affair. It doesn’t have the syrupy body or residual depth of confectionary hugs to balance the split cherrywood. As a result it feels older, less balanced, a Patagonia fleece for your esophagus. the finish is longer than I expected with a red hots crackle to it. It’s mad deece. Now that even regular old Noah’s mill is $70+ this is kinda in that segment that three years ago would have cost $15 less. It’s fine but nothing exceptional, better than a daily drinker but nothing you would dazzle Company with. It’s like 89 octane where you go, why does this exist.

Soon dumbshits will start reselling all the McKenna and Eagle Rare so enjoy having only old crow and Kessler on the shelf. Stupid assholes using fermented water as blue chip stocks will be the death of all fun in every hobby. Might as well start stockpiling vintage Green Chartreuse now. #bourbon #whiskey #barrelaged #singlebarrel #fourroses #kentucky #mash #corn


NEW San Diego MALT COUTURE LIVE SHOW: 7/18 at the Casbah!

If you live near San Diego this is not to be missed. link in bio, Ganon in comments. You will be cleaning spent grain out of your jeans for weeks afterwards. We are going full attenuation with guest taps, spicy beer news, and a linen closet bottleshare for those baller vips including awesome ticks from @jwbrewing // @horusagedales // @foragerbrewery // @caseybrewing // @monkishbrewing // @creaturecomfortsbeer // @moonlightbrewing // @wrenhousebrewing :::: like what more do you want? Like seriously do you think you’re better than me? My dad owns Club Penguin he will fukn cancel ur account.