Monday, December 23, 2013

2013 Beer in Review: Craft Versus Crafty Isn't Going Anywhere

Beer aficionados' reactions to Goose Island's release of various coveted Bourbon County Brand Stouts (BCBS) tells us a bit about the current state how we view beer, and it's not always pretty.

In short, beer is like music in 1993, full of people complaining about "selling out."

But in 2013 there's very little discussion of selling out in music. Instead, you like what you like. It helps that mainstream music is plenty weird on its own, whereas mainstream beer is not, unless you count Shock Top Midnight Wheat. Craft beer is still young, in its teenage, Holden Caufield stage, railing against "phonies," and while this is happening, maybe the world is passing it by.

Instead, we're having yet another discussion about "craft versus crafty," which is what a certain trade association wants us to talk about. It would be nice if beer in 2013 could be like music in 2013. Because how far do we want to take the "sell out" argument? If someone wearing Nikes wants to complain about Widmer's distribution network, I'm not interested in that conversation. You wear Nikes because you like them, right? They feel good? They look good? Okay. Now, what's wrong with Goose Island's Sofie?

(There's plenty wrong with Sofie's parent company, which makes sexist and homophobic beer adverts. Then again, where were those Nikes made? Innocence has a price, a craft beer is a more affordable price to pay than most.)
Like Jeppe at Evil Twin doesn't benefit from this schism. He has a boogeyman to rail against. It gets better: some of Evil Twin's beer is brewed at Westbrook in South Carolina. A significant amount of money earned at InBev, parent company of Anheuser Busch, helped build that facility.

Craft beer exists in large part because the macros didn't make what a significant number of people wanted to drink. Compare this to bourbon.

All that bourbon? It's good. Via GQ Magazine
If macros made beer as good as Beam makes whiskey, then maybe there isn't any craft beer.

I am interested in supporting local, and supporting good. Craft usually supplies the first part of that statement, but the "craft" label is less reliable in terms of taste, so in 2014 let's also distinguish between what tastes good and what doesn't.
For a good read on where Goose Island is, and where they will go, please see this Ad Age article. Though I have some concerns about their flagship beers, like 312 Wheat Ale, it seems as if they're spending their money wisely. Beer aficionados should do the same.


  1. Thanks for sharing that Ad Age article. I don't care much for the flagship lineup of beers, but I agree that the "specialty" releases can be pretty great.

    The one thing that caught me was the quote from CEO Andy Goeler: "We get very, very, very little direction from Anheuser-Busch,"

    Of course little direction is needed from AB InBev. Not long after the acquisition took place, brewers and administrators alike started leaving Goose Island. When that happened, AB InBev was able to install employees of their choosing.

    In the grand scheme of things, however, I doubt that will have much impact on the Goose Island I care to buy, anyway.

  2. Don't you dare tell me I can't drink my Sofie and Matilda because of fascists!

  3. your have a nice info and i like your post ^___^