A beer that behaves like the rich kid on the block pretending to be edgy and cool and in the end just tastes obsequious and insecure.
Rating: 77 points
Stats: Pale Ale. 5.3% ABV. 60 IBUs. Creemore, Ontario.
Size: 473mL can
Colour: Light-orange amber – unfiltered
Mouth Feel: Medium carbonation; creamy finish
Pairing Notes: n/a
Do you recall those musical bands that are made up by record companies? Bands put together with the sole purpose of creating a truly ‘manufactured’ product? There are certainly scads of boy (and girl) bands that fit the bill. The Spice Girls certainly comes to mind; The Monkeys a couple generations earlier is another. But truly, no generation or country seems immune to the phenomenon. The craft beer industry isn’t either, apparently … because it makes money.
Take a look at this label: it’s fun, playful, exceedingly colourful. It is a bit reminiscent of Flying Monkeys. The difference is that you feel like this one has been designed by a focus group and not a couple of wing nuts that like to make beer and laugh while doing it (no offence intended, Flying Monkeys). Now try to find the name of the brewery on this label and you’d be forgiven if you said “Mad & Noisy Brewing” since that’s what’s on the back of the label. Except read the legal fine print about where it was made and by what corporation and you’ll see that it is actually brewed by Creemore Springs … which in turn is owned by Molson-Coors brewing. Not to get off topic, but Creemore was once a small independent brewing company that had a niche market a decade ago before the craft movement really took hold. Sensing the market was changing and they were losing ground, the big brewers like Molson started to buy up the small renegade outfits, not with the purpose of putting them out of business, but to buy their way into the micro brewing market. In 2012, Creemore, now distanced from its own roots, tried to find them again by creating a ‘made up’ culture within the brewery where they esteemed would be “fun” and where experimentation could once again take hold: enter Mad & Noisy, the cool table in the middle of the in a room filled with businessman.
Anyway, to the beer. As you can tell, I’m approaching this with a lot of bias and not entirely trusting of the motives of this company. But I am on a mission to explore and if a beer wants to position itself as different, I’m willing to give it a chance and take a look and, in this case, a swig.
Not for the Faint of Hops
That’s their slogan. So I was thinking this must be a crazy, bad-ass hopped filled brew with IBUs out of the world — right? Let me put this another way. If someone claims their Buffalo chicken wings aren’t hot — they’re infernal suicide hot — and if you ordered those wings and found they were really “medium” in heat, you’d have to ask what the hell the vendor was trying to pull, right? Well, in the world of hoppy beers, 60 IBUs makes these “medium wings” in the hop world, at best.
I don’t personally like being made a fool but I feel that’s exactly what Creemore is attempting with me and other beer drinkers for who purchase this beer — beer drinkers who look at the front label, not the back. My plea to Creemore is just be honest — stop trying to be something you’re not. Stop trying to be trendy when you’re owned by the 7th largest beer company in the world. What really galls me on top of it all is that they’re charging ‘top dollar’ for an inferior product that they are making on an assembly line at half the cost. Hops and Bolts? More like cops and robbers ….
My review of the beer itself? It’s interesting and not at all bad. But it isn’t all that great either. I appreciate the experiment. I appreciate the notion of taking Czech pilsner qualities, like using the noble “saaz” hop and some German(?) malts and pretending to make a bad-ass American pale ale. It’s a cool idea and I was game to try because I really do love Czech beers. But what they’ve done is create a beer with a clear identity crisis that doesn’t know if it is sweet, strong, tropical, American, or European. There is nothing wrong with any of these notes, but when you play them together, you get a disharmonious symphony that you may appreciate, technically, but grates on the palette.
All this did was confirm my disdain for mass produced beers produced by large corporations.
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