So my wife and I just attended a nice event in Crown Point, IN this past weekend and I had the chance to sample probably 20+ different beers. If you've seen my recent posts in the other threads here, you may have read that my clumsiness last week resulted in a broken foot, which means that I was being pushed around in a wheelchair at this event. That was good for some reasons (get to front of the line, lots of funny conversations about either being a trooper or having a great idea to get my wife to wheel me around, etc). Anyway, long story short, the event served to get me excited for the future of craft brewing and also to reinforce my confidence in my own brewing efforts. I know a lot of it comes down to personal taste, but I have gravitated lately toward American IPA styles and also other hop-forward brews. However, I'm finding more and more that breweries seem to be eschewing the flavor and aroma uses of the hops in favor of going for bitterness. Has anyone else noticed this? I like having a nice bitter bit in a beer, but I also thing is has to be balanced (sorry for the over-alliteration). However, I was getting very little hop nose on the brews I tried. In my own brews, I really like to smell those bright citrus and floral notes coming through. A good beer, IMO, should hit all the senses: it should look appealing, you should smell it coming, then get the mouthfeel, depth of flavor in the taste, and then hear yourself say "Ahhh." Had I not been in a slightly handicapped state, and there with fellow brewers, I'd probably have tried more varied brews, but stuck mainly to IPA and similar styles. I was really happy to see the proliferation of small breweries from Indy to Chicago and in between, but I was still a little put off by the tendency people have to go almost comically big on bitterness. I sort of feel like there's an elitist feel, like "we're going to make this and if you don't like it then you don't know good beer." I'm of the opinion that a beer doesn't have to be bland and light in order to be enjoyed by the masses, that you can brew a tasty beer that is complex and flavorful and that everyone can like for different reasons. Anyway, to finally tie up this overly-long rant of a post, I was able to get home and crack open a couple of my own beers and really enjoy them. Not only do I like the flavor, but I feel that they compare very well to the commercially-produced brews I had just tried. It gave me a lot of pride to know that I'm not just having to choke down some toxic swill simply because I spent time, effort and money on it, but that I'm producing something that is legitimately good. That is all.