In a recent article I espoused the view that a good brewery is consistent in their brewing process; that is, from one batch to the next, I’d expect a brewery’s flagship porter to taste EXACLTY the same. But inconsistancy (intentional) is also necessary…at times.
So when is inconsistency a desired quality?
Special releases (including certain seasonals). Dark Lord, the yearly special release that hails from 3 Floyds comes to mind. In order to get this beer, an individual has to stay awake into the wee hours of the night to purchase special tickets. Then, they must travel to Munster, Indiana as the beer is only sold by 3 Floyds at the brewery on that day. Then the individual must wait in hour all day, just to buy a limited quantity of the beer. Now, if this special Dark Lord kept a consistent recipe, I doubt that the hype surrounding it nor the anticipation of drinking it would be so intense.
I noticed that come of the older bigger craft breweries in the past few years–noting the trend in the craft community that values these intentionally brewed anomalies–have brewed outside of the boundaries of their classic lineup to include specialties. Boulevard’s Smokestack series comes to mind.
But, not all special releases should be different year in, year out. For example…for the most part, when I pick up a bottle of Dogfish Head’s Aprihop, I want it to taste like last years Aprihop. And let’s face it…it would be pretty awful if Spaten suddenly through a curveball in their Oktoberfest recipe.
On a side note, sometimes the fluid nature of special releases ends up being a bit of a bummer. For example, I recently heard that 3 Floyds was aging this year’s Dark Lord on Whiskey barrels. If this is the case, I doubt I’ll be heading to Dark Lord Day 2011. I’m not a huge fan of bourbon aged stouts.
What special releases do you most look forward to? Personally, Jolly Pumkin’s Perseguidor gets me going.