Beer is big business. Not only does it involve breweries big and small, but bars, governments and a lots of secondary industries (where would sports be without beer?). It is also an industry with little product differentiation outside of craft beer, meaning that lots of money is spent by breweries every year on advertising and product development to try and gain a competitive advantage. A lot of products come and go (anybody out there still drinking dry or ice beer? Molson Cold Shots?), but every so often there is a monumental quake of Bud Light Lime-proportions. Other breweries are quick to compete and suddenly there are four or five beers that are basically the same. That competitive advantage, while insanely profitable in the short run, is now lessened.
Trying to predict the next craze is a game, both for breweries and beer drinkers. Luckily there is significantly less capital invested by the drinker. Recently, Ontario was introduced to two canned versions of the black and tan. For the unaware, a black and tan is a combination of a dark beer (usually a porter or stout) and a lighter beer (a pale ale or pale lager). If poured correctly, the dark beer should rest atop the lighter beer. I was hesitant to try the canned version, but eventually bought a Hockley Valley Black and Tan on a whim. Obviously the two beers (in this case, their stout and light ale) are not separated in the can, ruining the visual appeal of the black and tan that probably attracts a lot of drinkers. One of my concerns was that the beer would look like a very thin porter (and beer is one of the few things in this world where thin is not a good adjective), but the Hockley is an impressively robust brown.
Where the beer starts to falter is the aroma, a really malty chocolate that smells like it has been overcooked. The stout does not overpower the flavours, with the full graininess of the ale present. Lots of chocolate and some roasted notes from the stout, but the beer tastes like a malt syrup has been added to an ale. A stout with lots of bitterness would probably have been better as I barely finished off the can. I don’t see the pre-made black and tan taking off anytime soon.
And then another bottle from my seemingly endless supply of Black Oak 10 Bitter Years. I have already forgotten the time when this wasn’t available. That time seems like the Dark Ages. And the 10BY is our muscular 1980s hero, saving us from the Soviets or Viet Cong. All it needs is a hit ballad that features lots of synths and a sax solo.
Today: 840mL. Year-to-date: 135.69L.