Brewers: Make whatever beer you want, just brew it with passion.

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Recently, I was catching up on podcasts and I stumbled upon the July episode of Andrew Witchey’s (Dancing Gnome) podcast, Good, But Not The Best…

If you’re unfamiliar with this podcast, it’s a monthly show that first dives in to the latest happenings at Dancing Gnome and then moves in to an interview with an interesting guest. (Highly recommend subscribing to this show.)

Anyways, on the July episode of Good, But Not The Best…, Andrew tells us that he made the decision to retire his Underscore fruited sour line. He states his reason for doing so is partly because he didn’t enjoy making them and also because one of the key employees who helped make that line so successful happened to move on to another endeavor.

As you can guess, the decision to retire Underscore wasn’t overly popular with Dancing Gnome fans. And for good reason; Underscore was extremely popular.

I learned this popularity first hand during the release of dbl__ Quadberry in 2019. When this beer was released last year, I rushed to the brewery and missed getting cans by ONE person. They literally ran out of cans ONE person in front of me.. I was devastated (and it was terribly hot that day, from what I can remember.)

While I certainly enjoyed the entire Underscore series, I have to admit: I 100% agree with Andrew’s decision to retire it.

When it comes to a tap list, I believe that “less is more”. I would much prefer to drink a handful of great beers that were brewed with passion than a large list of “meh” beers that were only brewed to make sure there was a “beer for everyone on tap”. (sorry for the run-on!)

Let’s be honest, it’s 2020 and there’s WAY more breweries today than there were just 10 years ago. With so many breweries out there, especially in Pittsburgh, it’s not hard to find a beer that you’d enjoy.

The idea of “brewing a beer for everyone” just simply needs to go away. I believe we should usher in an era of “brewer’s choice” where brewers create niches for themselves based on their passions and tastes.

Think of it like this: if you’re hungry for a steak, you’ll likely go to a restaurant that specializes in making great steak. So, if you want a great lager, shouldn’t you go to a brewery that specializes in great lagers?

I want to see the craft beer industry evolve just like the restaurant industry where each establishment has it’s own “specialties”. I rarely go to a “food for everyone” restaurant and instead chose my destination on which is creating the best of what I’m looking for (i.e. Hyde Park for steak, Alla Famiglia for pasta, etc) Why can’t we live in a world where we go to Gnome, for instance, for great low ABV and lager beers and then go to, say Cellar Works for great fruited sours (shoutout to their Fruit Whip series!)

We can all agree that brewing is an art form, and it should always be treated as such. Great art comes from a place of great passion and if we want to continue to see great beer emerge, we need to allow the artists (a.k.a. the brewers) to create from a place that’s near to their hearts.

I’m sad to see the Underscore series go away, however, I know that Pittsburgh is loaded with great sours programs. So, if I do get the hankering for a great fruited sour, I know I can head to any of the wonderful breweries who are super passionate about the style… and I know those beers are going to be delicious.

I’ll wrap this rant up by saying kudos to Andrew for being brave enough to follow his passion, even if it meant making an unpopular decision and also for retiring a successful program. And for the rest of you brewers out there, I say make whatever beer you want, just make it with passion.

Cheers, yinz!

You can listen to that episode of Good, But Not The Best… here.