Craft Beer: Malady or Misnomer?

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WTF is that STRAW doing in there?!!!

We have a great number of inventive brewers and quality brewhouses here in this country. People who have instilled a few generations of brewers, now, with an eye for quality ingredients and the care, knowledge and artistry needed to make some seriously world class beer. We riff on tried and true European styles, stamping them with our own spirit of adventure and exploration. We took the Pale Ale and made the American Pale Ale, for example. Somewhat lighter in color and body than the Brit version, but much more aggressively hopped, so creating a new species of fermented magic. We took the tradition of the Imperial Stout and applied it to, well, every style we could think of! It's not uncommon to hear phrases like “Imperial Pilsner” or “Imperial IPA” bandied about in beverage stores like sports stats or celeb gossip. We have started our own tradition of brewing, borrowing, as we are wont to do, from the great traditions that preceded us. We call it “craft beer.” And I call bullshit on that!
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Spaten, this is how the Germans get down.

Before you break out the pitchforks and torches, hear me out. The idea of American craft beer is based on one simple fact. One easily recognized difference from our Brit, German, Irish and Scot friends across the pond. Most of the beer consumed in this country is garbage. The status quo in this hemisphere is cheaply produced, mass marketed swill that tastes like it was collected from a urinal where somebody, who may have at one point in his existence brushed against a hop plant, took a piss. A vapid and unapologetic shadow of what real beer tastes like. There is a long history behind this though, and prohibition didn't help matters at all. In fact, that's the single biggest reason Anheuser Busch is the biggest brewery in this, or any other country. Our taste for beer got dumbed down. We, collectively, would pretty much drink what was available in those dark years between 1920 and 1933. There is a lot to this story, but Anheuser Busch was a well established company before the teetotalers and pretty much just ready and waiting to seize the opportune moment, to fill the void the nanosecond alcohol was legal again. Like Cthulu, dead but dreaming, awaiting the right words to be spoken to awaken and spread darkness over the land. Well, at least that's how I envision it happened...
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Scotland, where beer and skirts are taken seriously!

So, given this wretched state of affairs, it seems any brewery in this country that is trying in earnest to make a quality product is said to be making “craft beer.” You know what they call that in Europe? They simply call that a brewery that makes BEER! The word “craft” never enters the equation because most of them actually give a shit about quality product, grains, hops, water, yeast, etc. By our standards MOST breweries in Europe (admittedly not all) are producing “craft” beer. To them it's simply what one does when one calls oneself a brewer. Quality is implied, a standard that tradition demands adherence to. The very act of calling our best offerings craft beer in itself shines light on the fact that the average quality across the board here in this country is far lower than theirs. I don't want to have to use that word. I don't want it to be necessary to use an adjective to describe quality above the norm. I want the norm to BE quality, making it only appropriate to add a descriptor if something sucks! Suck, however, is the bar by which beer is measured in this country, and so the term “craft beer” was born out of necessity, but we CAN do something about it! Stop drinking shit beer! I know there are a lot of brewers and beer nerds out there that will drink swill because, as my home-brewer uncle says, “eh, it's beer flavored.” I find that completely unacceptable! The next time you're out in public (at a metal show it will be easier to get away with this) and see a hipster (yes, even at a metal show... they are everywhere!) looking particularly smug with his beverage choice of PBR, smash that cunt in the face with a Two Brothers, New Holland, Sierra Nevada or even a fucking Sam Adams! Stop kneeling at the altar of mediocrity! Let us all unite! </ end rant /> Live well and drink better. Jack [Disclaimer: We are not advocating the use of violence against hipsters, even though it is always hilarious.]

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