American craft brewers have so radically altered the perception of beer in the United States that the very notion of what is considered beer has been fundamentally changed.
While the days of sports bars serving 10 different brands of the exact same pale lager-style beer aren't exactly over — just go to any Hooters for confirmation — the variety of styles available to beer drinkers has dramatically expanded in recent years. In fact, while Hooters remains a bastion of pale lager sameness, I was shocked recently to find that you can actually get a decent variety of brews at Beef O'Brady's! The times they are a-changing.
But for those who grew up thinking of beer as simply a bland, mass-produced lager, the current American Beer Renaissance is not necessarily a welcome sight.
Acknowledging that some folks will never embrace change I present my list of 10 Beers Your Granddad Wouldn't Recognize As Beer:
1. Holy Mackerel's Mack in Black: Why it's different: It's an Imperial Stout brewed with pomegranate juice. Why your grandfather wouldn't recognize it as beer: Imperial Stouts, despite being a fairly old style, were not popular in the United States until the last decade or so. Plus, pomegranate is a new-age hippie fruit.
2. The Bruery's Trade Winds Tripel: Why it's different: It's a strong Belgian Ale spiced with Thai basil. What your grandfather would say: He wouldn't say anything. He'd just scowl disapprovingly.
3. Heather Ales' Kelpie: Why it's different: It's brewed with seaweed. If Granddad tried it, he'd find it is really just a malty brown ale-like brew with light smoky notes. But he'd still say, "Unless you are from Atlantis, seaweed should not be in your beer."
4. Samuel Adams Utopias: Why it's different: 27 percent alcohol. Grandpa can appreciate the can-do American spirit it takes to create a beer so bursting with alcohol, but his philosophy has always been, "Anything over 5 percent alcohol is liquor!"
5. Cantillon Rose De Gambrinus: Why it's different: Tart, acidic and funky flavors. Gramps will swear you've served him a raspberry balsamic vinaigrette — and that is no way to treat your elders, son.
6. Budweiser American Ale: Why its different: It's an ale yet still named Budweiser. What Grandfather will think: He'll think you're on the wacky weed again, and he'll look your straight in the eye and say, "Budweiser brews lagers, not ales."
7. Terrapin's Wake-N-Bake Coffee Oatmeal Stout: Why it's different: Coffee and oatmeal make it as much breakfast as beer. Grandpa's reaction: He isn't sure what waking and baking is, but he knows those Terrapin punks are up to no good.
8. Avery Brabrant: Why it's different: it is fermented 100 percent with brettanomyces (a wild yeast strain) and aged nine months in Zinfandel barrels. This beer is so far beyond Grandpa's understanding of beer he just wants you and the thing you keep calling a beer off his damn lawn. Now!
9. Jolly Pumpkin Fuego Del Otono: Why it is different: It's brewed with spices and chestnuts, inoculated with brettanomyces and aged in oak barrels. What your granddad doesn't understand is that this seasonal beer is actually designed to be consumed by humans, not chipmunks, and that many people look forward to its release each year.
10. Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock: Why it's different: Smoked malts give it an intense hickory-smoked bacon aroma and an unrelenting smoky flavor. What will grandpa do? If he's from the South, your Grandpa will immediately pour it on barbecued ribs and find it makes a tasty accompaniment. But he will not think to drink it.
— Joey Redner is a beer enthusiast and the owner of Cigar City Brewing in Tampa.