Craft beer is finally getting its due. Last year, craft breweries saw their profits rise 20 percent while overall beer sales remained level. I’m really, really happy about this, but just because it’s craft doesn’t mean it’s good.
eer is great. Really, really great. I’m a big fan. And I’ve been a big fan of craft beer since before “craft beer” was a term everyone knew. In addition to being a craft beer fan, I’m a huge proponent of entrepreneurship and as many craft breweries are still small, privately-owned start-ups, their increased success as a market segment pleases me greatly.
In addition, the seemingly unending dominance and consolidation of the big brewers of the world is hardly something I think any beer fan wants to see continue. Especially here in Ontario, where the big brewers have a cozy, monopolistic stronghold from which to sell their product, more variety is a good thing.
But this is exactly where this whole “craft beer” argument, if you can call it that, has gone awry. The argument about quality shouldn’t come down to craft brewery versus big brewery, and it too often does. Because it’s now “cool” to be a craft brewery fan, it’s decidedly uncool to like a beer that comes from the big guys. Recently, whether it’s because of my spiteful nature or not, I’ve been feeling a real internal push-back against craft beer, and I’m not happy about it.
I know what you’re thinking, “well what are you doing? Drinking Bud Light now? I can assure you, I haven’t gone crazy, I’m not drinking Bud Light. And, in fact I’m still drinking some great craft brews1, all I’m saying is, we need to remember that great beer is great beer, no matter who brews it.
Another thing: the hoppy, IBU, alcohol-percentage pissing contests that have been going on in craft brewing is going to hurt the industry in the long run. These small breweries who are trying to make a name for themselves by making the most bitter beers in the world are going to turn off more people than it’s worth. India Pale Ales were for a long time my favourite beers, but the nuclear hop race that’s been going on, exclusively amongst the craft breweries, has all but ruined it for me. Flying Monkeys, jesus christ, just stop it already.
I wish the best for craft breweries as a whole, but I reject the notion that because your beer was made down the street that it’s better than a pint of Hoegaarden. Let’s just get back to worrying about how the beer tastes and worry less about the size of the brewery it came from. Now someone get me a Guinness.
Shout out to Great Lakes Brewing Company↩