I Drink Beer, Dammit

I think I’m late to the recent craft beer hullaballoo that followed the Brewer’s Association’s bitchy, little missive about the Big Beer Boogeyman trying to swoop on craft beer’s game with brews like Blue Moon and Shock Top. There has been enough whining, though. So, this might not be popular, but the Curmudgeon must speak.

I drink beer. Period. And I’ve said it before: So as long as your beer is tasty, I’ll drink it…well, as long as it wasn’t made from orphan tears, or something messed-up like that. But I’m willing to make an exception if the orphans were already crying anyway.

orphan

Except for her. Keep this orphan’s tears the F away from my beer.

For me, it started on December 12th, when SABMiller executive chairman Graham Mackay asserted that the basis for craft beer success is the desire for more variation and interest and “it’s also local, anti-marketing, anti-global, anti-big, and more focused on experience and knowing that about where beer is from.” This elicited immediate mockery from the Big Beer haters about how Big Beer just doesn’t get it, and how it’s about quality and taste.

Then, the next day, the Brewer’s Association fired-off a press release reiterating their standard for what constitutes craft beer, lamenting Big Beer’s sinister foray into the craft beer market, and claiming that Big Beer should be required to clearly label their masquerading beers as being made by the Big Beer Boogeyman (and, thus, not true “craft beers”). Hmmm. So, apparently it’s not all about taste. Otherwise, why does this matter?

Now, thisiswhyimdrunk makes a compelling case for the distinction between the Brewer’s Association lamentations and Graham Mackay’s claims of anti-big sentiment. However, it’s hard to deny the general contempt for Big Beer that courses through the veins of the majority of beer nerds. The accusations run the gamut: Their beers all taste like crap (not true); they are unrelenting and sometimes nefarious in their efforts to gain market share (probably true); they like to eat kittens (totally true).

whiplash

Graham Mackay thinking about kitten recipes.

But we operate in a capitalist system. Making money and gaining market share is what you’re supposed to do. It’s what makes the system function well, subject to smart regulation and enforcement, of course.

In fact, the capitalist system is like a zoo with lions, tigers, polar bears, and cute little animals like koalas and penguins. When a polar bear escapes and fulfills his lifelong fantasy of eating a penguin, or when the lions and tigers get out and eat the koalas and some zoo patrons, do you blame the lions and tigers and bears? No. Sure you might think the carnivores are dicks for eating cute animals and people, but that’s what they do (and partly what makes a zoo cool). You should be blaming the f-ing zookeepers.

And what do you think the purpose of the Brewer’s Association cockamamie definition of craft is (which actually seems simultaneously over-inclusive (Sam Adams Light) and under-inclusive (August Schell Brewing))? It’s about inventing a term to solidify a market niche and to gain and protect market share to the exclusion of others. Gasp!

And the label idea is silly. It’s not even worthy of the zoo’s suggestion box. These offending Big Beer brews are a completely different product line from their other beers and are geared to an entirely different market. Of course they’re going to label and market them differently. Are you mad that a Lexus doesn’t come with “TOYOTA” emblazoned across the back? The few people who actually care about this will know or easily find out.

It all boils down to this: I’ve had some good brews made by Big Beer and many terrible beers from so-called craft breweries. To me, it’s all about gettin’ the yummy in my tummy and what’s best and available at the time, not about what constitutes craft beer or who gets to call it that. So, maybe the Big Beer Boogeyman realized that he needs to get in on selling tasty beer. Wah. Deal with it. Just drink beer.

Update: Go read John Cochran’s thoughts (From Terrapin Beer) here. He masterfully drives home the point: This is all so silly. He also lists some of the goofier results from the Brewer’s Association line-in-the-sand.

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173 thoughts on “I Drink Beer, Dammit

  1. You pretty much summed up how I feel about the whole situation. If the stuff that comes out of the bottle is good, I don’t really care who put it in there. The internet has unfortunately created a world where anyone, despite qualifications or education, can be a critic. I think the results is people criticizing just because they can, not because they should.

    • It’s good to see there are others like-minded. I kind of thought this would land with a thud. And I think you’ve summed up the internet pretty accurately…that and, you know, porn.

  2. I basically agree. I do tend to avoid stealth macros, but on the other hand, I’ll buy as much BCBS as I can… which basically means that we’ve got the same strategy here. As you say, it’s “gettin’ the yummy in my tummy”… and I certainly don’t blame folks for drinking macros. As far as I can see, the Brewers’ Association announcement hasn’t gone over too well with anyone, including beer nerds.

    • I was having some BCBS the other day, and I thought to myself, “Self, if this isn’t ‘craft beer’, then I don’t really care what ‘craft beer’ means.” Of course, even if it was, I don’t know that I would care…but I guess my point is that it’s all a little silly.

  3. Right on the money! The fact is, beer wank is on the rise. Getting twisted up over definitions is a waste of time. And sometimes having big-business know-how isn’t a bad thing. For instance, yesterday I decided to have some Canadian Cream and I had to strain all sorts of odd solidified bits out of it. That’s what comes of a small enterprise.

    • Wankers, indeed. As my FB post linking to this post said: Sometimes a beer is just a beer, until douchebags get involved.

      I would still totally drink some of that Canadian Cream, though. After surviving booze made in the woods (and containing a rotting apple), I am fearless.

  4. Pingback: STORM WATCHER—The last drink before Armageddon? « Liquorstore Bear

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  7. Nicely put.

    I too have had some real duds from micro-brewers, along with some exquisite ones. Craft brewers have provided an invaluable service to beer drinkers in proving to corporate America that there is a viable market for beers which taste different than what typically comes from big beer. If big beer takes it seriously enough to come up with some products which are delicious, we all benefit. If a craft brewer decides to bottle something which has an incredible name and an awful flavor, he’s just as guilty as the big boys.

    On a side note, as a healthcare professional, BCBS means Blue Cross Blue Shield to me, which certainly qualifies as Big, but has little relavance to beer – hopefully.

    • Agreed. There is way too much clutter out there and way too many bad ‘craft brews’. Hopefully, the by-product of the Bigs making good beer will be to crowd out the crappy small beers. Thanks for stopping by.

      And that’s funny. I’ve had both BCBS (beer) and BCBS (insurance provider), and I can definitively say the beer is tastier.

  8. Well said. I’m like you…if the beer tastes good, I’m all for raising a frosty mug. If not, I’ll just pour it down the drain. The rise of the independent brewer has done some really great things for the industry and has, as you point out, shown Big Beer there is a market for something other than their standard fare.

    The bigger problem is distribution. There are some really good beers, so I’ve heard, that I simply cannot get where I live because the distribution is controlled by just a few companies. And, I also understand that some beers are “local” brews, but it would be nice to get a beer like a Red Oak or a Fat Tire without having to drive several hours. But then…I’ve always got an excuse for a road trip!

    • It is interesting that the three-tier distribution system just kind of shifted the shenanigans from the big brewers to the middle man, instead of ridding the system of it. Hopefully, with New Belgium setting up shop in the South (Southeast) you will get you better access to Fat Tire!

    • Hey, I’m a pragmatist. If orphans are crying already anyway, no sense in wasting the tears. And kittens may be cute, but they’ll just grow up to be evil cats, right?

      Thanks for stopping by, Kimbernator.

  9. Oh. come on. Unless there are barriers built to protect independent brewers (however stupid and awkward those barriers may seem) their giant counterparts will drive them out through their ability to get better ingredients cheaper, expensive processes faster, and so on. A big brewer can afford to run its small experimental brewery at a loss for three or five years, coming out with better brew, That would kill the independents. But why should the big brother be allowed onto their territory at all? Let them have fun in their small market segment. They are not a threat to the big brothers. It is just the big brothers want to go out hunting for more money using weapons long prohibited for their cruelty ))) The corporate beast can be saited. It can only be controlled.

    • I think I am fine with your scenario, but I think your ultimate result is overstated. I imagine, for the most part, just the weaker “craft beer”, which there is plenty of, will get crowded out.

      And don’t you think that Boston Beer Company (considered by BA as “craft”) subsidizes its special releases with their ubiquitous Boston Lager (and Sam Adams Light), and that New Belgium subsidizes their giant foeders and Lips of Faith Series with their general offerings (which clearly crowd out smaller brewers for shelf space).

      I have seen people smarter than myself point to the music industry for guidance. There are still plenty of indie labels around even though the big labels have their own “indie labels”, which are presumably also subsidized by Justin Bieber and other such mass-produced stuff. And ultimately, it has just increased access to better music (from the big label indies and the “true incides”).

      Maybe the Brewer’s Association should just allow certain members to be certified as a “Brewer’s Association Craft Brewer”. That’s fine by me…it’s kind of like organic products. It’s not like products that are not organic should have to be clearly labeled as “Not Organic”.

      • Well, perhaps you are right, but I’ve been inside some largest beer corporations and they are just ruthless guys… Maybe music is easier to produce than beer? )

  10. In general I usually buy “craft beer” but it is really all dependent upon taste. As long as it tastes good, I’m all for it. And every kind of beer serves its purpose. Even though I say I like stouts, there’s a huge variance in that category. Does that mean that Guinness is inferior to some backwater home brewer’s Russian Chocolate Imperial Root Beer stout just because it’s a product of big business? Sometimes you want something smooth or refreshing and sometimes you want a beer that’s complex. Where it comes from is less important than how it tastes or how well it’s made. Great article.

  11. Yes! I’m thirsty and as luck would have it, stocked with beer. Craft brewery beer in bottles and tall boy cans of the other stuff. All good. Except for Export, Bud, Bud Light, Canadian, 50, etc. There’s no return to those – ever! Happy New Year.

  12. It’s really all about the search for better beer! As you long as you don’t settle, keep trying something new, and make a mental note of which ones to never ever ever go back to. The Bigs will always taste the same, whether you try them this year or next, but the Micros will vary from batch to batch, so its always an adventure. And then there’s the adventure of that one amazing keg that finds its way to a pub near you, that you are likely never to find again, unless you go to them. It’s the difference between more malt, more hops, bitter hops, bitter malt (?), slightly more alcohol, a lot more alcohol; is it better ice cold, slightly cool, drunk from an imperial pint, or sipped from a 6 oz glass. Cheers!

    • Agreed. I am constantly cycling new beer through the fridge.

      Although, there is something to be said for the consistency the Bigs have mastered (indeed, craft brewers consult with them pretty frequently in matters of quality control). There is also something to be said for adventure and slight variation between batch (as long as it doesn’t veer to far).

      Thanks for stopping by!

      • great discussion / debate! We drink beer “differently” here in the Northwest. PBR is the Big of choice here, for some unexplained reason.

  13. From the Beardivism archives:
    Little known beer fact: craft brew conditions and strengthens upper-lip whiskers due to the higher sweat-and-blood content (SABC). The pasteurization process at most large breweries renders the SABC useless in macro-brews. For the love of your beard, drink craft.

    • I actually drink mostly craft (although I will drink just about anything depending on the circumstance), but my beard is weak. In fact, I just shaved off my up lip for shame (and because the Notre Dame BCS game is coming up, and I didn’t have significant facial hair for any of the regular season games. So it would clearly adversely affect the outcome of the game if I were to have facial hair for the BCS game…right?

  14. Although there are a few around, we could do with a few more boutique beers in Australia. Too much imported beer. Too much Fourex consumed (but I concede, it is great if chilled close to absolute zero on a 40 degree afternoon) horses for courses, mate.

    • I’ve never had XXXX before (admittedly, I had to look it up). I will totally try it if I come across it. And with beer, it’s always horses for courses, indeed (I had to look that up, too).

      Crazy X-ray pics. I like them.

  15. I barely qualify as a beer drinker and had no idea about this political drama, but I thoroughly enjoyed your writing. I found myself completely persuaded to agree with you even though I haven’t done my normal eons of research…. That’s amazing. I’m glad you were fresh pressed so I could fibd you… And congrats, and thanks, and good on you for drawing the line at creepy orphan tears. :)

  16. Awesome post, Agree with everything said, as a fellow beer lover! Enjoyed myself reading that buddy. I’m new to the site, so check me out and pass me round too! already doing the same for you!

  17. Pabst Blue Ribbon or Hacker Pschorr are my steady favorites. Benjamin Franklin saw the proof of God’s love for mankind by the invention of beer. Amen to that! Happy New Year with beer.

  18. I have no problem with “corporate” beer. I drink all kinds of things, but I do agree with the need for labeling. A laissez-faire capitalist system is always doomed to failure (as has been proven over and over again with horrendous results). The idea of a corporate stranglehold is also antithetical to the notion of free enterprise as people think of it in terms of the American Dream. I like the idea of independent small time brews. It’s romantic in its pure Americana. However, and this is especially true in an economy with corporate control run amok as ours is, there needs to be something in place to protect the little guy from being spent to death by big businesses with which it cannot compete with directly. I’d rather not have corporate breweries do to beer what Wal-mart has done to independent grocery stores (to say nothing of the negative effects to local economies). It’s too easy for corporate beer companies to undercut independent breweries without some kind of regulation (whether that’s mere labeling, which is not a big deal at all, though Americans do love to bitch and moan about it for some silly reason, or something else). At least that’s my MBA informed opinion. Personally, I’ll drink anything that I think tastes good.

    • Perhaps the better answer is for BA to allow certain brewers to label their beer as “Certified Craft Brewed”. Because I can’t think of any other product (other than for health reasons, such as cigarettes) where they would be required to do something that the BA is proposing. I think craft beer should focus on themselves, educating the consumer, and a consistently better product instead of trying to handicap the competition (which is something they incessantly complain about the big brewers doing to them).

      And although I only touched on it briefly with a passing reference to “subject to smart regulation and enforcement” and my silly zoo analogy, I should reiterate that I don’t support a completely laissez-faire system. Operating in restraint of trade and without some fairness is unacceptable. Also unacceptable is crony-capitalism, where only the deepest pockets have access to the policy-makers and unduly influence the rules of the game.

      In any case, someone else summed up how I feel: When will beer just be beer?

  19. Keen article. I once had a friend ask if there was anything I wanted from the market while he was there, I gave him money for a six pack of Blue Heron and he came back with Blue Moon. That was some watery trash.

  20. Orphan tears. Heh. I chuckled roundly at that. Nice post and congrats on being freshly pressed! I’m going to go poke around the rest of your blog and see what other barbecue and beer related hilarity I can find.

  21. I agree on the labeling bit. That’s just not necessary. Beer consumers that really care will most likely be aware of which beers come from big beer. I know because I am a beer consumer who avoids buying beer from big beer. I knew when InBev purchased Goose Island. I knew when Coors purchased Blue Moon.

    I also agree that, generally speaking, people should drink what tastes good to them. The primary reason I don’t buy big beer has to do with their dominance of the distribution chain. When InBev buys or produces a new *craft style” beer they are adding to their already sizable shelf real estate at the super market. Meaning, that to some degree their size enables them to control what shoppers see when then hit the beer isle. So, although it’s egalitarian to say people will drink what they like, marketing tells us they. will drink what catches their attention.

    I acknowledge that this is simply the way capitalism works. But, as a consumer, I want options. So, when I go to the store and buy local or craft beer I am voting with my dollars to make sure that choice continues to be available to me. InBev won’t miss my 10 bucks, but Great Lakes will.

    Good post. I will follow your blog, as I am a total beer nut.

    • Thanks for stopping by. Hopefully, you’ll stick around for more hyperbole, hilarity, and reviews of good beer.

      And I agree with the distribution chain issue. It appears to me that even if the bigs are crowding out the little guys at the grocery store (which Sam Adams, New Belgium, Sierra Nevada are also doing to a certain extent), I hope that the rise of the beer store, and wine and liquor stores taking beer more seriously, will mitigate that.

      And unfortunately, the 3-tier system seems to be a little broken…at least in the sense that it is not entirely precluding the shenanigans it was intended to preclude, and that it isn’t firing on all cylinders in terms of fostering healthy competition. Perhaps it needs better enforcement or at least a little reform.

    • Indeed. As is apparent from my review archive, I rarely review any stuff from the Big Guys. There a number of Big Guy and Big Guy-owned brews that are worthy of a positive review, though. And I can’t see the point of banishing many of the good beers from Goose Island, Red Hook, Widmer, etc. Hell, I’ll even drink a Blue Moon or Shock Top…they’re not bad at all (in fact, if they were horrible, I don’t think the BA would have its grundies in a bunch).

  22. Well written and damn funny. If you can’t make ‘em, buy ‘em. Look for a lot of the big guys to swallow up the better of the “craft brewers.” Like Coke and Pepsi, sometimes big corporate lacks the passion both in craft and marketing to put out an interesting product. What they do excel at is distribution. But you’re right, it’s all about taste. Salty kids’ tears, an interesting niche.

    • Thanks. And up till now, it’s a completely untapped niche. I see a business opportunity. Craft orphan tears.

      I think they will start buying up more. And I will keep buying the beer. I think much of the selling will come from family-owned breweries. Family-owned business succession is tough. And you gotta retire at some point (or die with your boots on). Those people have to think about their employees, their family, their retirement, their beer’s legacy, etc. I don’t think it’s fair to box them in another corner on who they can sell to (unless that is one of their main concerns…in which case, good for them).

      I also think that perhaps some of the big craft companies like Boston Beer, Sierra Nevada, and New Belgium might get into ownership interests in the small beer companies.

    • Thanks, LB! I had come to the conclusion that I would never be fresh pressed because most of my posts review a product, and I convinced myself (even though I have never read this anywhere) that they wouldn’t Fresh Press a product review, particularly booze. At least that’s what allowed me to sleep at night…eventually…after crying.

    • Thanks. As one whose nickname is Wingnut, I couldn’t help but check out your site. And as a 37-year-old, I can verify that hangovers only get worse. And to answer your question, you are never too old for swings, but if you have kids it’s even more socially acceptable.

  23. I drink beer; I love beer; beer is a thing of beauty. Beer is alive and well in Canada. (and I don’t mean Molson Canadian or Moosehead) Big Beer is like big anything – take it with a grain of salt. “big beer” is trembling over the prospect that the masses might discover the truth about the swill they call beer. If ever in Vancouver B.C. check out the Alibi Room – over 30 ridiculously delicious taps. Back to my peanut butter porter….

    • I read liquorstorebear.com, religiously. I think he is from BC, and he has occasion to review some tasty-sounding BC beers. And I do like me some Red Racer IPA (although, it’s a little pricey down here). If I ever make it back to Vancouver, I’ll be sure to hit the Alibi Room.

  24. This article reminds me a bit of a ‘documentary’ I recently watched. I loosely call it a documentary because it was mostly craft brewing companies lamenting about their difficulty with the bigger beer companies and their power over the market. More importantly, I don’t think it should matter where the beer comes from as long as it is good. I’m extremely lucky to live in an area where we have a few local craft brewing companies that make really exquisite beer. Very rarely do I ever get a beer from a large company (except NYE when I was offered a bud light and out of all other options).

    • We’re pretty lucky, too. Good beer has really exploded in the DC-area in the last 5 years. And in the last couple years, several very good breweries have popped-up, with a couple more hopefully to come. I have lived in places with tons of beer and places with hardly any. The latter definitely sucks, but even places like South Carolina (one of the places that sucked) is even getting some good breweries now.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  25. I loved this post! I’ve been enjoying beer for several years and while my microbrew epiphany led me far away from Big Beer, I still enjoy a watery Miller Lite on particularly hot days, especially when I visit my home state of Wisconsin (though the connection is more reminiscent than real).

    Yet, I found myself wrinkling my nose and shaking my head a little during your post. I am not familiar with the labeling tactic you are railing against, but I do agree with some commenters who point out just how ruthless the Big Beer industry is…and thus, some regulation is necessary along the way, to create barriers for them as they create barriers for micro-brews.

    you yourself say “Also unacceptable is crony-capitalism, where only the deepest pockets have access to the policy-makers and unduly influence the rules of the game.” – and that is just it! The deepest pockets of Big Beer completely control the distribution of beer in the U.S. and use that as a control mechanism on the markets that micro brews can develop. This is not the only answer, and perhaps you’ve covered it previously, but when it comes to developing markets, tapping into distribution routes is huge. Of course, the micro brews are then trying to hitch onto the ride that other breweries have developed over the years; but that would be like criticizing a farmer for trying to tap into the distribution system that brings food to a restaurant’s kitchen. At some point, providing local delivery must give way to jumping onto a distributor’s truck. In the beer industry, the Big Beer companies tightly control just how much space is available on those distribution channels, or so I hear.

    Mmmm, beer, though – whoop!

    • I acknowledged that Big Beer sometimes does not play fair in the current system. My point, however, is that is a problem with the rules and the enforcers of the rules.

      But, except maybe in the case of breaking up monopolies, rules and regulations are not about retribution. Nor should it be about creating barriers for the Big Guys to the benefit of the Small Guys. That’s just reverse crony capitalism and is just as inefficient. There is way too much crappy craft beer clogging the shelves to be encouraging inefficiency in craft beer market.

      It’s not about hobbling the successful. It’s about creating, reforming, or actually enforcing a system that fosters fair competition with rules that apply to everyone. Indeed, the 3-tier system was supposed to insert a middle man to prevent the Big Guys from muscling-out competition; but it also prevented local brewers from muscling out competition (unfortunately, what actually happened in each instance is that the shenanigans just shifted to the middle man). But certainly the local, smaller brewers shouldn’t be allowed to act in restraint of trade any more than the big guys.

      And the answer to not letting the biggest pockets control the way the game is played and rules are made is to not let the biggest pockets control the way the game is played and rules are made. The answer is not to put them at a disadvantage in favor of someone else.

      Thanks for visiting. I always appreciate the well-thought out replies. I do agree with you in that the distribution is system is quite problematic. Let me know if I am an idiot and completely missed your point. Perhaps I read too much into your “creating barriers” comment, and we are essentially saying the same thing: It’s about making the game fair, but not about picking winners and losers and intentionally putting some at a disadvantage (or trying to fix the problem by reversing the disadvantage).

      • I really appreciate your posting and comments and I look forward to reading your beer posts – what a treat to stumble on your blog, thanks FP!

        I think you got my point – perhaps we just disagree about the extent that Big Beer has control over the creation and enforcement of “the rules”… My belief about this is based on mildly informed perception, so I could be pretty far off, but I suspect that Big Beer has a gal in the negotiation room every time a state or federal regulation affecting beer is discussed or decided. I’m not accusing them of blatant bribery of elected officials, but that wouldn’t surprise me – just that they are likely so embedded in the rule-making process that they would never make a rule that didn’t favor their buisness…and that doesn’t strike me as fair competition with rules that apply to everyone. Yes, the rules apply to everyone, but they weren’t fairly decided. Again, I’m not in the industry, so I don’t know for sure, just my perception of the situation.

        Glug, glug!

      • Good to have you at beerbecue. And it seems like we agree on the problems, just perhaps disagree on the root of the problem and how to fix it. It would be boring if everyone agreed on everything, though.

  26. I come from the Country of Labelling – a.k.a Germany, and, incidentally, the Land of Beer as well (Bavaria & Bohemia). Big Beer Companies and Crafts coexist just fine without labelling. In the Region where I live, Upper Frankonia, there are around 1000 micro breweries, they’ve been there for centuries, and they will keep brewing beer as long as people drink it – which includes me, sometimes in vast quantities. To boot, most German big beer corps sell beer that wasn’t made while having sex in a canoe. It works because everybody has different [beer] preferences. I particularly like dark, malty beer, with little hops and a high alcohol content, a.k.a Bock-Bier (Buck-Beer), but there’s enough blond-lovers among my friends and family, and I’ve also been known to drink Öttinger or Sternburg, a.k.a. Hartz-IV-Bier (cheap beer for people on social benefits, not half bad for 80 eurocents/litre or 3,60$/gallon). Personally, when I was visiting with family in New England, they handed me a bottle of Sam Addams and said “We have good beer here, too, now”, I nearly wretched

    • There is some good Sam Adams (and much mediocre). They have been trying recently to bolster their experimental portfolio. But they do seem to fancy themselves a German based brewer. They do use tettnang tettnanger like their going out of style.

      I can’t imagine brewing beer while having sex in a canoe, but I wouldn’t put it past Brew Dog, Mikkeller, or Evil Twin to try it.

      It’s good to have some Germans stopping by, especially ones from Bavaria (I think from whence my last name Probst came).

  27. I like that you say that you’ve had good big beers and terrible craft beers. Same. I don’t care who makes it as long as it makes me happy.
    Blue Moon on tap in the summer can make me happy. I completely own it. I still enjoy a big, frothy glass of unfiltered wheat beer.

    • Exactly. And people try to playa hate Blue Moon. It’s not a bad beer at all. In fact, sometimes, it can taste pretty, dang good.

      Thanks for the comment and for stopping by!

  28. Weak analysis. Like it or not, purchase decisions and consumption are an everyday form of “voting” – a statement of economic support. You can buy Chinese goods and all the baggage that comes with that, or you can put a little more effort into it and find a free-world alternative.
    Same thing for beer. I vote for human scale brewing and actively encourage my friends to do the same. Corporate brewing hasn’t earned my support.

    • Well that’s no fun, Charlie (I’m old). You tell me it’s a weak analysis, then don’t address my analysis. I agree that purchase decisions can be considered voting with your wallet. I just think taste is just a more weighted component of my purchase analysis (particularly if comparing beers made in the US).

      And it’s quite a leap to compare buying Chinese made goods (which presumably carry the child labor, below living wage, non-free society baggage) with buying a Bourbon County Brand Stout, Red Hook, Widmer, August Schell, or even a damn Blue Moon, which are all work of US human hands who care about their product.

      And I don’t think that because a small minority of craft beer drinkers, who are themselves a small minority of beer drinkers, care about who makes their US-made beer, should overrule the notion that, generally, a company should be able to market their premium products under whatever name or through whatever entity they desire. If it’s a product targeted to a completely different market…why wouldn’t it be packaged, marketed, managed, and produced or manufactured differently?

      You don’t really see this with any other product. And apart from the difficulty and speciousness of actually mandating how who has to label what, requiring Bourbon County Brand Stout to be labeled as AB, would be as silly as requiring Ford emblems on Aston Martins in the late 90′s and early 00′s.

      As I have said to other commenters, maybe the Brewer’s Association should start a “Brewer’s Association Craft Certification”.

  29. Exactly. I’m a firm believer that people should not apologize for liking what they like.

    My wife’s step-dad loves him some Busch Light. We’ve tried to expose him to some terrific craft alternatives – some of which are brewed just down the road – but at the end of the day, he’s gonna drink his Busch and he could give a crap what anybody thinks.

    • Nice. I support that.

      The other day my grandpa tried a Blue Moon and liked it (although he’ll probably return to his usual macro lager). But who is anyone to tell a man with 68-year-old shrapnel in his backside what he should be drinking or that he is not trying a real craft beer. For that matter, who is anybody to dictate to anybody what they should drink.

    • That says it all: I like beer. And hopefully one day that statement needn’t be qualified to anyone…a day when a beer is just a beer.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  30. I’ve managed to avoid the bad craft beers, thankfully. I think the issue is the big beer vendors in the US don’t leave a great impression, but hell, good beers sometimes get bought out (for instance, Chicago’s delicious wheat beer 312 is now owned by Budweiser).

      • Haha!

        Yeah, seriously. It’s not their fault they did it so well a big vendor picked them up.

        Also, frankly, the craft brews in Illinois have nothing on Wisconsin. Goose Island isn’t bad, but it’s only one brand.

  31. Pingback: I Drink Beer, Dammit | South African Trekking and Catered, Guided Multi-Day Hiking Trails

  32. It is always interesting when a home-grown company, which is admired by the masses (fulfilling the American dream) crosses over to the BIG BAD CORP side of the street and is thus hated for corporate greed. I think of Starbucks for example. I am not saying it’s good/bad – it just is…and when is that line crossed?

    And it is all about ‘yummy in the tummy’ – good point…and Coors & Budweiser will never have to worry about any ‘tummy in the tummy’…

    • I think it’s all so silly. Starbucks is a pretty responsible company. I roll my eyes whenever people rail against it as an evil corporate beast. “Don’t
      be successful!”

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • Nice link. I have a friend who still has a complete six pack of Billy Beer. I am guessing it didn’t age well, though. That Hop N Gator sounds awesome, though. I’d totally try it. It’s like the precursor to Four Loko!

  33. Great post! Agreed on all counts! I live in southern Delaware, home of Dogfish Head, and I HATE when people around here lament how Dogfish Head “sold out” because they distribute all over the country now, and their brewpub is now a chain. Bottom line is they still make a lot of damn good beers, just a lot more people enjoy them now, and they’re making a lot more money, which is the point. Get over yourselves, beer hipsters. “I knew about 120 Minute IPA before it was cool.” Good for you.

    And on the other hand, I also enjoy a lot of “big beers” like Shock Top and Blue Moon (and yes, I knew they’re brewed by Anheuser-Busch and Coors, respectively; it’s right on the freaking box), and when I’m watching NASCAR, nothing but Budweiser feels right.

  34. Well done, sir! And congrats on getting fresh pressed. I agree 100%. I’ve tasted some real garbage that was local and tiny. It’s not about what’s on the label, but what’s in the bottle, as we say ithinkaboutbeer.com.

    • Thanks. I thought the post would be unpopular, and that I would catch some flak; but it appears that most people at least agree in principle. I think it’s kind of funny that Big Beer is so often characterized as being out of touch with the tasty beer drinking sentiment, but it would appear that the Brewer’s Association is a little out of touch, too…even with a majority of beer nerds, I dare say.

  35. I spend a lot of time drinking beer since I work at http://www.playgroundentertainmentgroup.com and I started drinking miller high life when I was 12. Along the way growing up in the wine country I started drinking fancy trappist beers and all kinds of other exotic fair working in a pub for the privileged. Let not forget the throngs of pretentious hipster beer drinkers, only drinking pabst or something that costs 12 dollars a glass, but nothing in between.

  36. So well said! I used to enjoy the creativity in craft beers, but then became severely celiac. It is beyond irritating now to go to a pub and get taunted by the bartender for ordering a “commercial” gluten-free brew. No, there is not the same variety as in craft beer, but there’s also less medical danger to me. If it weren’t for “commercial” beer, I wouldn’t be drinking beer at all. ( and with time, some of the GFs are becoming quite tasty!)

    • Have you tried Brunehaut? I haven’t tried them yet, but I trust I Think About Beer’s taste:

      http://ithinkaboutbeer.com/2012/08/30/brunehaut-bio-blonde/

      http://ithinkaboutbeer.com/2012/07/23/brunehaut-bio-amber-2/

      Also, I hear Omission (I think made by Widmer?) is pretty good. They have figured out ways of using regular malts, but waving a magic wand or something and removing the gluten protein. Best part: No Sorghum!

      Thanks for stopping by. Hope the gluten free offereings improve!

      • Yes, sorghum really has no place in beer…yuck! I’m not a hop head, so the Omission Pale Ale wasn’t to my taste. But I’ve got a six-pack of the Lager in the fridge right now. That and Estrella Damm Daura are so good, I had to hide them from the rest of the family on our last vacation. Oddly, they cannot say they are gluten-free in the US, so you have to do your research before you go shopping. Sad that celiac is on the rise, but bigger numbers does mean more options.
        Thanks for the links! I’m enjoying your blog!
        Melanie

  37. The micro brews taste better. As a person that has brewed his own beer I have not seen any commercial beer that compares to micro brews in taste.

    • There is plenty of bad micro brew. I’m not sure what falls in commercial vs micro, but part of my point is that there are number of very good beers (some world class) left out of BA’s definition of craft beer (many of them partly or fully owned by AB InBev or Miller Coors), to wit: Goose Island (particularly the Bourbon County Brand Stouts, Matilda, Pepe Nero, Madame Rose, Sofie, Pere Jacques); Widmer makes some good beers, Redhook has some, I hear August Schell is solid (I’ve never had any), AC Golden apparently makes some excellent beers (even some sours and wilds). Terrapin barely squeaks into BA’s definition of craft because they are minority owned by Tenth and Blake. As I said, not all Big Beer sucks, and some of it is definitely better than the smaller brewers’ beers.

  38. I find myself agreeing and disagreeing with you. Yes, I believe if it tastes good, you should drink it. I also wholeheartedly agree that Big Beer shouldn’t have to toss the parent name on all brands they produce (great Lexus example). However, I see nothing wrong with having definition behind what a Craft Brewery is and perhaps law around which bottles can display a Craft Beer designation. The alcohol industry has been doing this sort of practice for centuries dating back to Germany’s Purity Laws. It’s why only French Champagne can have a capital C and why whiskey has all types of spellings and capitalizations. It’s why my friends at Buck Shoals winery couldn’t call their Mid-Night Royal fortified wine a fortified wine. While these rules may sound crazy, they protect an industry. Craft Breweries are creating jobs and stimulating local economies. Why not protect them given that the big three have mostly foreign interests?

    • I’m fine with that. I don’t know about a law, though, because I think the distinctions are all too specious to be taken seriously. As an example, if Bourbon County Brand Stout is not craft beer, then the standard is petty and useless, because it’s based largely on corporate ownership rather than the region it’s made in or the stuff in the bottle. All the other things you cite relate to what’s in the bottle or the region it’s from. And I actually think the region thing is somewhat stupid, to a certain extent, as it mostly has to do with $$$ and not what’s in the bottle.

      I think it would suffice for the Brewer’s Association or some other trade group to develop a Craft Certification that members of the Brewer’s Association could apply for. Then perhaps, and I’m not an IP attorney, an enforceable IP issue would arise if big beer made up their own craft certification (if it seemed like it infringed on or created unfair confusion in the marketplace).

      Thanks for stopping by. I am appreciating this debate and discussion.

      • We’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t admit it was about $$$ on either side of the brewery wars. It’s all about where your money is going. For me, I like buying local knowing my drinking habits are supporting local businesses and employing workers. That was the idea of the regional standards. The local provinces wanted to ensure quality so that when they brought their products to the next village over, folks knew they were buying a quality product. All Bordeaux’s then had some standard of consistency. A Craft Brewery designation needn’t be so strict, but it will help keep consumers educated on what is in the bottle (no rice) and where it is from.

  39. Beerbecue, congrats on being freshly pressed. I like and agree with: “it’s all about gettin’ the yummy in my tummy and what’s best and available at the time”. Big Beer and/or Craft Beer __my taste buds can handle both and I don’t give a hoot about “locale”. :-)

    Peace and blessings to you and yours, Beerbecue!
    Ron

  40. Good post, some people I know get really anal about ‘proper’ beer, then again what constitutes beer in countries that are not the UK are in fact lager’s. Personally I never drink beer, I’m a lager drinker – beer to Americans. But yes, who gives a shit who made it; a machine or some old grampy in his shed – long live capitalism.

  41. I use to drink beer, just to get drunk and didn’t really care about anything else. As long as it was cheap and got me drunk, I was good. Now that I am older and slightly more sophisticated (slightly), I find myself always on the search for a good beer. I don’t care who makes it, like you clearly expressed in this post, as long as it’s yummy in my tummy, it’s all that matters to me. Great post!

  42. Great read and love the zoo/capitalist analogy! I am an avid beer lover and I make a point to try anything that strikes my interest. Although it rarely falls in the category of the big beer companies, it does happen on occasion. If it is quality and does not taste bad I am happy. Besides some of the worst beer I have had is from “the little guy”. That does not mean i have not had my fair share of unpleasant beers from the big guys but it is all the same, everyone can fail and everyone can win. To truly appreciate beer you have to have an open mind and be willing to try many variates dispute where they come from. On a side note those who are local and “small time” craters, big beer is not a threat, the little guy has been crafting beer longer than industry has been around so don’t sweat it. Find your target audience and you could popular amongst friends and family or even a local celebrity.

  43. Pingback: I Drink Beer, Dammit | Adventures In A Jayco

  44. Pingback: WHAT IS CRAFT? | ALEHEADS

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