Actually my thought is why bother?
As homebrewer’s we have the freedom to brew with whatever the heck strikes our fancy. Craft brewer’s do to some degree, but they always must have at least one eye on what will sell. Sometimes beers sell because of hype, sometimes because of reputation and people return because of flavor. Everyone’s preference is different and the other night I decided buckwheat rates a solid meh. There is just nothing truly wonderful about any buckwheat beer I have tried and as always, I strive to try them all.
At a local bottle shop I came across a Mikkeller/Three Floyds collaboration named BooGoop. The beer was basically an American barleywine made with buckwheat. I decided to drop the coin (actually several coins!) and purchase the beer after I noticed it was brewed at one of my favorite breweries in Belgium, De Proef. De Proef has made many of the Mikkeller brews and while most are solid, Mikkeller mainly relies on hype from the beer rating sights to achieve their price point. To some degree Three Floyds has done the same with their wildly popular seasonal release, Dark Lord. Anyway, I poured the BooGoop and was immediately struck by how cloudy the beer appeared. The aroma was hop centered, but muted and not bright. The beer was underwhelming, quite hoppy, decidedly alcoholic, somewhat tasty, but certainly not worth the price of admission. The beer was so muted in fact I started looking for what the cause might be and then it hit me, buckwheat!
I got to wondering what other buckwheat beers had I tasted which underwhelmed. The first that came to mind was Sara Buckwheat Ale which is a witbier of sorts (tough to be a witbier without wheat) and is just an ok brew or at least is not wonderful by the time it makes it across the pond. I could not quickly think of another until it dawned on me Rogue makes a Buckwheat Ale and also bottles it as Morimoto Soba and neither, well they are the same, but neither are stellar, at least not to me. Now Rogue makes another Morimoto, the Black Obi Soba Ale, and it is a solid brew, but again, nothing to write home about. A quick scouring of the web only yielded buckwheat in a few other commercial examples and most of the sites spoke about gluten-free which is another group of beverages I do not enjoy, probably due to the sorghum.
So my palate may differ from yours, maybe you love the buckwheat beers and scream out “Otay Panky”, but next time I see one I think I’ll take a pass.
(PS: You know I’m lying, if I haven’t had it before I’ll at least have to take a taste!)