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I've Never Heard Of That Brewery Before, Are They Any Good?

Michael Donato, November 17, 2015 -   

There are so many breweries. So so many. As a result I’m still driven to try something I’ve never heard of when I see it. This is fun when visiting a new city or country, to delve into a large assortment of beers and breweries you’ve never been exposed to. Often times you’ll recognize a brewery or beer from recommendations from others, but many times you discover something new for yourself.

Then there are the new distribution contracts that bring a new brewery into your backyard. Sometimes you’ve heard about a brewery and seeing it suddenly be available to you is a great joy. I remember the thrill I felt when I learned Bell's would be distributing to New York and I might be able to get a bottle or two of Hopslam. Alpine, thanks in part to Green Flash, has recently started showing up as well, to my delight. The thing is, there are so many breweries now a days that many of them are making mediocre beer. 

I wandered into the beer store a few weeks ago. I’d had my fill of fall seasonals, and we’d mostly passed harvest season. Winter beers were trickling out, but it’s never been a season I’ve gravitated towards. Imperial stouts have their place but drinking a 12oz bottle of an 11% thick and boozy beer by myself on a Tuesday night doesn’t particularly feel responsible. Imperial stouts just don’t lend themselves to casual drinking while watching iZombie on the couch.

So I was looking for something to excite me when I noticed a shelf showcasing the No-Li brewhouse out of Spokane, Washington. Though I’d never heard of it, the labels and beer descriptions appealed, so I bought a Mosh Pit, a Rise and Grind, and a Crony.

Beer

BAR

Style+

Rise And Grind

2.79

104

Crony

0.18

98

Mosh Pit

-2.03

87

None of those were remarkable. I occasionally find myself with a six pack of something unremarkable and regret it, so it was nice that I’d only bought singles of these. The Mosh Pit was supposed to be a tart cherry ale that I found neither tart enough or cherry enough to be noteworthy. The Crony was okay but it had a syrupy slickness to it that is present in some brown ales that I don’t care for. The Rise and Grind was the best of the bunch, being a decent coffee stout that I could definitely keep drinking.

I give some credit for beer names that aren’t simply ‘Brown Ale’, but  there is literally no rhyme or reason to the random collection of memes and phrases decorating the labels here. There’s not even a story behind them. No-Li is not a bad brewery, but nothing I tried was particularly interesting. 

That’s the risk these days with so many breweries popping up and so many others expanding distribution. Maybe if I’d checked out the leaderboards while I was in the shop I would’ve steered clear, but I didn’t. I should’ve stuck to beer that’s been vetted by people I trust, or by the leaderboards.

I’m going to try to be more discerning on which random beers I purchase; life’s too short to drink bad beer after all, but I can’t promise I’m not going to grab something off a shelf on a whim.

Michael can be found on Twitter and Untappd and is almost out of Harvest Ales. You can also email him at beer@ceetar.com.

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