It is said that the most vehement believer is the newly converted. The craft beer revolution is still in its infancy. In its youth, as is natural, there will always be growing pains. We find some in growth where we question the way in which this growth is accomplished (picture Goose Island’s sale to AB Inbev). We also find pains in the size of overall growth and how it meets the definition of what is craft beer (i.e. Sam Adams). But these are obvious examples the ones that easily leap out at us.
The growing pains that we tend to miss stem from pride. One example of this falls to CAMRA, a group originally set to save “real ale.” Check out Tandleman’s beer blog post that talks about trying to change the view CAMRA has over what should and should not be included as “real ale.” Over at Brewdog they make some decent points on the subject as well.
Over the past weekend, we saw the birth of a new holiday. Session beer day came about through the efforts of Lew Bryson and the Session Beer Project. An effort that shares the idea that a beer doesn’t have to pack a huge wallop of alcohol to be enjoyable. A novel approach to beer it would seem. The craft movement has fought against the “tyranny” of small watery lagers for so long that no less than bigger and stronger and more in your face is the only thing that is possibly good.
This brings us to the battle that all this originally came from. Weren’t the original craft ales brewed because the beer at the time was bland and watery? People wanted something more than what was offered. To some this now means that lagers are inherently bad and ales are inherently good. When you explore the roots of the movement you will find that many of the pioneering brewers were inspired by European beers that they had during time overseas. Much of the time those beers were actually lagers, especially when you consider that largest market share of beers sold in the world is a lager of some form or another. Kinda makes ya wonder what you might be rebelling against, doesn’t it?
As the craft movement ages it begins to explore more and learn more. Some might view it as the fad of the week but it could be seen more as part of growing up. There is a whole new taste world for us to explore that has been all but forgotten for quite some time before now. Look to breweries like Jolly Pumpkin and Wolverine Brewing Co. as they create their own path to follow. There are quite a few others that are making their own magic happen but these two are close to me so I gotta promote them before some of these others. But thats the thing, Jolly Pumpkin has proven that there is something more than what has been considered normal when they beat out breweries from Belgium with their own Belgian inspired sour beers. And Wolverine has proven for a couple years now that just because it is a lager does not mean it is anything like the macro brewed watery beer that most have come to expect.
With age comes wisdom, maybe when the craft movement has grown a bit more it will begin to see that their really is quite a bit of common ground and space enough for everyone’s tastes to have a share at the keg.
As for me, I need a pint…