I am answering the question posed by the Hoosier Beer Geek located here.
This question poses the thought for beer as the slow food movement has done for food. Closer to the source means its fresher, or better for small businesses or what ever the mantra of the day is now. One way to look at it is from the elitest stand point, “my beer is better than yours because it is brewed right here.” Does that mean we have another way to add snobbery to beer geekdom?
Alcohol is a way to preserve the harvest for long term storage. You can look at it as something similar to drying or pickling. Oddly, pickling is a good analogy because we are allowing a microorganism to feed on our harvest in order to protect it from harmful bacteria. In the process of saving the harvest we found something much better than what we originally had.
What exactly does this have to do with local beer you ask? Mainly that because of the technique of preservation, the farther you get from the place where it was bottled the more it will change. Beer like wine has life. Where you sourced your ingredients has less to do with the finished product than how you treat the product once it has left the brewery (not to say that good materials are not important).
The majority of the beer I drink is brewed right here at my brewery. I have the luxury of drinking it at its freshest as well as drinking it as it ages. This is a unique perspective on the life of the beverage. The real question we should ask ourselves, how do we know that a brewery isn’t sending its freshest beer out to distributors and saving the older (better aged and ready) beers for the tap room?
I guess that is my answer. Since I drink my beer as local as can be, I have full control of when my beer is ready and what constitutes fresh in my beer.
Something to think about … now to find a pint…