A new year has begun, which means so has the tradition of making resolutions and not sticking to them. So! What have members of the Fervent Few pledged to change in 2019 when it comes to our favorite fermented beverage? Let’s take a look.
Arvo: “My New Beers Resolution is to just enjoy beer. Not to care if it’s something new or if it’s trendy, but to just enjoy well-made beer. To buy a six pack on my way home from work and just drink that ‘til it’s gone. Not to worry about what I will choose next, but to instead just enjoy that specific beer the whole time. To have beer become part of the background of the occasion and not the focus.
My second resolution is to drink more flagships from breweries. No other reason than I hate seeing them get old on the shelf. We all need to go back to enjoying beers with less ingredients or adjuncts. Bring on the Ambers, Pale Ales, and Brown Ales in 2019.”
Nick Yoder: “Last year, I resolved to drink more cider and buy more six packs. I did an OK job of both. I also made a goal of visiting 50 breweries, 40 of them new to me, which I hit. So this year I'm looking to up my goal from last year a bit, with 55 breweries visited and 45 being new to me. I want to drink at least one beer from all 50 states. And I'd like to broaden my international horizons, so I'm aiming for beers from 50 different countries, even if I know that might be unattainable.
Along with that, I once again hope to drink more cider, enough that when I make a top 10 list, it's not just organizing the 10 I had that year. And I'd really like to focus less on ticking and more on stocking my favorites. I doubt that will happen, but that's what goals are for.”
Lana Svitankova: “This was a terrific year, really. Next year I hope to visit more festivals (volunteering at one at least, which will be a first for me), meet more amazing people, write more educational stuff about beer, translate another beer book into Ukrainian. And keep my beer running club going. Pass practical exam for BJCP judge and Certified Cicerone as well.”
Thad Parsons: “I’ve been thinking about this for awhile. I want to be better organized in my tasting notes and to find some way to represent my work (product selection) to my shop’s customer base. On the first note, I fell way behind on the digitization of my tasting notes and have hundreds of notes that need processing from 2018. On the second, one of the most common questions that I get about the shop’s selection is, ‘How it is made?’ I’ve been thinking of a way to show the thousands of beers, wines, and ciders that I sample/drink over the course of the year.”
Josh Mills: “Visit the ancestral homeland of at least three beers, like a Kölsch in Cologne, Pilsner in the Czech Republic, and ESB in Britain.”
Rob Cartwright: “I'm stealing one from Arvo: to have beer become part of the background of the occasion and not the focus. Nothing wrong with looking forward to opening up a special beer (or two), but don't lose track of all the good stuff going on around you.”
Matt Paonessa: “I think my New Beers Resolution would probably be to try to relearn how to love and be excited by craft beer and the industry as a whole again. Maybe unwind a little and not get so irritated by quickly changing beer trends, or speculation thereof.
2018 saw an ever-increasing presence of haze and NE IPA, beer foam printing, glitter beer, the rise of Brut beers, and a damned Planters peanut beer. It felt like the craft beer industry was outright assaulted by gimmicks and chic/niche styles this past year, often at the expense of quality, and I find myself becoming jaded. It'd be nice to be able to compartmentalize the white whale, Instagram, and hype culture a little better. Finding fresh old world beers and great craft Lagers can't be the only thing to sustain my passion!”
Jason Berg: “There are a few goals on my list, mostly around beer and cider. For education in 2019 and beyond, I am continuing my Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) training, including picking up classic examples while studying the style guide categories. This will also be paired with education topics with my homebrew club, podcasts, videos, and online study groups. My intent is to prepare for the written exam in the next 12-18 months to advance to the next rank. I intend for this to lead into the BJCP cider judge track and the Cicerone program.
The past couple months I’ve been getting into homebrew cider, and just recently started another batch of homebrew mead. I have less experience and connection with these, so I’m finding new sources—books, online, podcasts, and reaching out to local cideries, orchards, and apiaries—to learn more about the topics. As specific goals, I want to figure out solid processes around cider from store-bought juice, sources of fresh, natural juice, and a recipe for graf (beer cider) that fits my personal preference for what this style should represent.”
C. Sean West: “In 2017, I tried to focus on yeast and pitch rates. In 2018, it was water. I’m thinking 2019 will be grain. So I’ll be trying out different methods of evaluating flavor and aroma and seeking out small, independent maltsters. Additionally, I’ll be opening a small neighborhood-focused brewery in about five months, so lots of beer goals/dreams coming true this year.”
Jim Plachy: “In 2018, my resolution was to try more ciders, and I thought I had failed miserably, but it turns out that I had drank 80+ ciders last year. It's just that most of it wasn’t consumed at home. For 2019, I’m going to go with a pretty common one. It's time to drink down the cellar. Bottle shares aren’t happening like they used to, and I’m watching some beer go well past its prime. I’m not sure I’ll buy less beer destined for the closet, but I’m going to drink through it more quickly.”
Colleen O’Sullivan: “As a consumer, I’d like to start asking pubs I frequent to have dry cider or perry available. There are so many phenomenal small production ciders and perries out there, but you never see them. Dry perry doesn't get the love it deserves. When it's on form, there’s no better drink in the world.”
Austin L. Ray: “My goal is to drink less this year. I’m not doing great so far.”
Mat: “Last year, I went with a goal of buying more 12-packs and tasting through the same beer more often. Shockingly, I actually did quite well with that. For 2019, I want to revisit some of those old school IPAs that get overlooked from time to time. For example, I picked up a super fresh six pack of Bear Republic Racer Five a few weeks back. Before I knew it, I had crushed four of them. It was perfect. I want more of that in my life.”
Tyler W. Plourd: “My parents are notorious for participating in Dry January and each NYE I'm reminded of this commitment. This year my Mom is going dry until April 1st, which I find absolutely insane, but kudos to her. Being in the beer industry, going dry isn't unheard of or shameful, so I would love to modify my parents’ Ninja Warrior-esque effort by going dry during the week (Monday-Thursday).
I've been waiting for an opportunity to try Athletic Brewing Co. out of my home state of Connecticut, which now is getting distro to the Boston area where I’ve recently relocated. Non-alcoholic beers have a negative stigma attached to them, but with a Golden Ale, Stout, and IPA in their arsenal, it seems Athletic is trying to put a new spin on the otherwise dull category. Having a six pack in my fridge could be a great option during the week if I'm really craving a beer after work.”
Willie Lee: “This year I want to try beers from local breweries I’ve never touched or heard of. With so many choices on the shelf, I tend to stick to names I know. Time to step out the box a bit.”