At least some of us have been there – at a bar with a bunch of interestingly named craft beers on tap, none of them lower than 7-percent alcohol, and one pint in you’re not so steady on your feet. This is the result of the IPA-centric craft beer movement that launched in large part to offer an alternative to easy-drinking, low-alcohol, mass-produced beers. The good news, at least for those of us who admit to liking those beers, is that craft brewers are getting into lagers and other alternatives to the hoppiest stuff.
“The pendulum is shifting back toward more balanced, refreshing styles,” says JC Hill, co-owner and director of brewing at Alvarado Street Brewery. “There have been all these crazy flavorful palate-wrecking beers.”
ASB’s most popular beer is, naturally, an IPA. But Mai Thai, accounting for half their production, is just 6.5-percent ABV. “Where craft beer is today that is considered low, which is crazy,” Hill says.
Crazy indeed, but at least there is hope: ASB’s Monterey Beer, a crisp, 4.5-percent lager, is now ubiquitous in six-packs around the county. Their Alvarado Pils (pictured) routinely sells out. Lower-ABV options have their place. As Hill puts it: “You can have a couple and not get completely twisted.”
Lynn’s Arcade in Seaside sells dozens of canned craft beers, about half of which are IPAs. The selection is guided by ratings: “It’s tough, given how we buy beer, because we go off of ratings,” Matthew Talley says. “It seems the higher the alcohol, the higher the rating. I want two or three pints and to not be laid out.”