“Fizzy, Yellow Beer” Is Not Your Enemy

By Andy Sparhawk

I’m not an expert on revolutions, but it seems to me that to spark a revolution these days one needs three things:

  1. A cause or idea to fight for.
  2. An enemy or opposition to said cause.
  3. A series of bumper sticker-quality rallying cries that galvanize supporters and draw the line against the opposition.

Craft Beer Is a Revolution

Craft beer is a cause that I vehemently fight for. However, like many revolutionaries, in our haste to gain supporters we can easily lose sight of what is actually important. When ideals are confused, it’s not only easy to muddle what you are fighting for, but who or what you revolted against in the first place.

So what is the core ideal of the craft beer revolution? It’s the idea that beer lovers should have the freedom to make their own purchasing decisions, from the largest variety of beers available, with as much information as possible about the companies who make the beer.

The revolution is not about subjective judgements of the superiority of one beer over another. It’s not necessarily a fight against big business, or restrictive laws, or fizzy, yellow beer—though those ideas make great bumper stickers and tweets. Yet it seems like the fight against fizzy, yellow beer is what resonates and gains traction, especially with new supporters of craft beer. They are led to believe that those beers are the enemy.

Fizzy, yellow beer is not your enemy.

The craft beer revolution is far greater and more complex than color and carbonation. As we invite new appreciators into the craft beer resistance, we must separate the symbolism of “fizzy, yellow beer” from the reality of beers that happen to be yellow and fizzy.

Five Fizzy, Yellow Beers You Should Be Drinking

Five Fizzy, Yellow Beers You Should Be DrinkingIt isn’t hard to see that stouts and IPAs are different from traditional fizzy, yellow beer. What’s difficult is recognizing the less obvious qualities of lighter, more subtle examples of craft beer. What these beers lack in color, they make up for in flavor, food compatibility and thirst-quenching drinkability.

Don’t be afraid to be loud and proud about these so-called “fizzy, yellow beers.” Viva la revolución!

German- Style Helles

German for “light,” helles are a great introduction to craft beer for someone who is used to premium light lagers. Pleasant grainy notes reminiscent of freshly-baked bread are the focus. These beers are also extremely compatible with food. I’ve had wonderful pairings with everything from salads and seafood to a mango-infused stilton with duck confit. Don’t be afraid of the light.

Examples

Pilseners

While we’re tearing down the oppressive walls of beer stereotypes, I’d like to mention that if you pledge allegiance to hoppy beers, you’d be quite the turncoat to deny yourself the original hoppy style—the noble pilsener. These beers are simple, flavorful and refreshing. This time of year, I love a pilsener with grilled clams drizzled with Sriracha and butter.

Examples

American Cream Ales

Cream Ales are light and refreshing, typically with a high level of carbonation (aka “fizzy”). Born of revolutionary ingenuity and innovation, the BJCP Style Guidelines describe Cream Ale as “an ale version of the American lager style. Produced by ale brewers to compete with lager brewers in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States.”

Examples

German-style Berliner Weisse

This wheat-based style is light and fizzy and about as far away from mass-produced beer as you could imagine. So much so that even the most ardent anti-establishment craft revolutionist might need to sweeten it a bit with a fruit or herb-based syrup to take off the bracingly tart edge—and that’s okay.

Examples

Belgian-style Lambic \ Gueuze

It would be a shame to not give a fruity and sour gueuze-style beer the time of day just because of its color! These beers have aromas and flavors often described as “horse blanket,” “barnyard” and “leather”—but don’t let those funny adjectives scare you away. The presence of Brettanomyces yeast lends some interesting characteristics that shouldn’t be missed.

Examples

Distilling the craft beer revolution down to quibbles over color and carbonation does a disservice to the amazing beverage of beer, and to America’s small and independent brewers. It is the open-minded and eager who will proudly pour a pils, raise some helles in a raucous toast, or take the leap to crack open a gueuze—a beer that we might not have access to (other than imported versions) were it not for the craft beer revolution.

So don’t let a catchy phrase or bumper sticker derail your judgment. Arm yourself with knowledge and don’t fear fizzy, yellow beer!

Andy Sparhawk, the Brewers Association's craft beer program coordinator, is a Certified Cicerone® and BJCP Beer Judge. He lives in Arvada, Colorado where he is a homebrewer and avid craft beer enthusiast. On occasion, Andy is inspired to write on his experiences with craft beer, and if they are not too ridiculous, you might see the results here on CraftBeer.com.

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