I'm don't want to get too deep into the shitstorm unleashed by the statement of the US Brewers Association, only that I subscribe to pretty much everything Alan says here.
Anyway, though the debate is of little concern to me, a beer drinker living in the Czech Republic, it could be said that it is part of a wider issue. We often hear calls (often by interested parties, it should be said) to support local/small/independent breweries because their being local/small/independent makes them almost automatically better than those that are global/big/corporate and I'm frankly tired of that nonsense.
There are a number of reasons why I like (and believe is important) to support small businesses, whatever they produce. They are pretty obvious, so I'm not going to specify, but all of them, without exception are subordinated to the value they can give me in exchange for my money.
When it comes to beer, "value" to me means the balance between price-quality-availability. If a brewery is not able to deliver that value, I won't care about its size, onwership structure or address, or even how nice their owners are, I will take my business somewhere else, if that somewhere else happens to lead me to a multinational company, well, so be it. I won't go without beer if I fancy one. Don't forget, either, we are not speaking about long term investments, bonds issued by countries deep in debt or any other shit like that. We are speaking about something you buy, not because you really need it, but because you want to get intoxicated, for fuck's sakes! (Besides, macro brewers aren't that evil, after all)
But let's be honest, do you know all the people behind your favourite beers? Have you spoken to them? Have you shared a pint with them? So how can you be certain about their ethics, they long term strategies, their business practices? How can you be certain that if these people were in a position similar to [insert name of your most reviled macro brewer] they wouldn't act the same way or even worse? Moreover, how local can they claim to be when most of their ingredients are imported? And aren't pubs that sell macro brands also small, independent, local businesses?
And please, do yourself a favour, do not bring any idiotic anti-capitalist rants here, not when you have your fridge/cupboards/cellar full of stuff made by a some small, independent companies from who knows where.
A lot of the beer writers I know (and I'm with them) actually have gotten far less dogmatic BECAUSE they know macro brewers. If you sit and chat with them, listen to them talk about beer, and sample their product, it's a lot harder to see that line the BA is trying so hard to draw.ReplyDelete
The more you know, the less clear everything becomes.
To me, it has become very clear. There are only three categories of beer: "I like", "I don't like", "I don't quite like, but don't quite mind drinking". All the rest are subcategories and labels, basically.Delete
And you are right about the people working at the macros. Once they don't have to follow the corporate script and speak openly, you can find that they have every bit as much passion for beer as the craftiest of the craft, but maybe with quite a lot more knowledge.