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You Can't Drink Them All

Michael Donato, March 18, 2015 -   

Legend has it that the troll Útgarða-Loki once challenged Thor to a drinking contest, in which Thor would have to empty the drinking horn in one go. Little did he know that the horn was connected to the ocean and try as he might he couldn’t drink it all. 

There are a lot of beers.  No, really. There are a lot of beers. You certainly can’t drink them all, and you can’t even come close. It’s only natural to want to keep trying “Something I’ve never had before”, but it’s like trying drink to drink the ocean; all you might achieve is creating the tides.

Our database is only a subset of all the Untappd check-ins which are only a subset of all the beers enjoyed. Our database has 5414 new beers in 2014 with at least 50 check-ins. You would need to have about 15 beers a day, every day, just to keep up with the new beers. Maybe you only want good beers. BeerGraphs’ leaderboards can help you not get stuck drinking the random crap that’s out there for sure, but there were still 1019 new beers with at least a 4 rating last year. That’s almost three beers a day, which is definitely pushing that line between healthy habit and debilitating addiction.

You don’t like every style of beer though, so clearly you’re not looking to try every one of those 1019. Depending on what styles you like it’s even almost manageable.

Style

# of New Beers

Imperial / Double IPA

169

American IPA

118

American Imperial / Double Stout

112

Sour Ale

77

American Wild Ale

69

Russian Imperial Stout

69

Stout

51

Saison / Farmhouse Ale

41

Milk / Sweet Stout

26

If you stick to just the top two styles, American IPA and Double IPAs you could have one a day most days of the year and be fine. That is, you’d be fine if you can find just single bottles or drafts of those beers. A lot of times you end up having to buy a six pack of a beer in order to try it, and that certainly cuts out the amount of variety you can mix in.  You are better off if you’re not a hophead as you can sample a lot more of the styles and still drink a higher percentage of the new brews. 

This is an interesting list of what beer styles breweries are making. At least it’s an interesting list of what styles they’re making that people like and rate well. It’s pretty much what you’d expect; hops, stouts, sours and the new darling Saison. Are these beers popular because breweries are brewing them, or are they brewing them because they’re popular? A little bit of a catch-22 there.

Of course, few people have access to ALL the beer that’s released. So many breweries are hyper-local and most are at best regional. So you’d only get a subset of that, depending on which region you happen to live in. There were only 41 new Saisons with a 4+ rating, and even if you could get 75% of them you could easily drink 30 beers of the course of a year. 

So if you isolate a few favorite styles and could find single bottles of everything you’d be able to drink all the good new beer released to your area in a year. That’s just one single year of only new beers though, and it means not having all the other excellent beer that’s already been released. It means never having these beers again in search of trying another set of new beers this year. There are more and more breweries every year; in 2015 there might be 1500 new quality beers to try. 

In essence, there is no way to keep up. There is no way to drink them all. I’m fairly well versed in the beer landscape and seemingly every time I walk into the store there’s at least one thing I’ve never seen before that intrigues me. It’s all well and good to hunt those whales, but there is more than enough great beer for you to handle within your grasp too. 

Michael can be found on Twitter and Untappd where he's up to 837 unique beers. You can also email him at beer@ceetar.com.

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