For our first question of the new year, what one word, or phrase, do you think should be used to describe beer that you’d like to drink. Craft beer seems to be the most agreed upon currently used term, but many people think it’s losing its usefulness or accuracy in describing it. What should we call it, do you think?
“Craft” is a highly problematic word and concept, particularly for the consumer. It is, in fact, a trade organization concept and while it may be useful in that context it is not for the consumer. “Independent” has been thrown around a bit lately but that again is a term for the industry and not the consumer. I’m with my friend Jon here: The beer I want to drink is “good” beer.
As a consumer, I am attuned to the industry as a whole due to my history and background. A business is not inherently bad because it is big but based on its overall behavior in the marketplace and within the industry. [Yes, I do drink primarily craft beer and very little beer from the macros but that goes back to what I like to drink. Now, if macro brewers were to start making beers I actually liked then ethical considerations would begin to weigh heavier in any decision. Keep in mind that even within craft beer there is a lot of unsavoriness.]
Also, as a “word guy,” I can tell you that there is no satisfactory-to-all-parties word or short phrase that can sum this up. There simply is not. If you think that there is I would hold that you don’t really understand language or concepts. That is not to say that better words or phrases cannot be found for certain aspects/views/sides/whatever but full agreement across a broad swath of the affected population. Ha ha ha.
For our second question of the new year, what two breweries do you think are very underrated? Name any two places that don’t get much attention but are quietly brewing great beer day in and day out. And not just one shining example, but everything they brew should be spot on. And ideally, they have a great tap room, good food, or other stellar amenities of some kind. But for whatever reason, they’ve been mostly overlooked. Maybe 2018 should be the year they hit it big. Who are they?
This is an extremely tough question for me. Much attention from whom? All of theirs beers are spot on? With a great tap room, etc.? That throws out almost everyone, if one is honest. Notice I said “almost.”
I would argue the opposite, which is that too many people are over-rating mediocre breweries and that too much hype for a brewery can cause it to veer from the path that brought it to prominence in the first place.
I adore the fact that I live in a region with ~30 breweries, most of which are physically closer to me than not. I adore it as several are generally great and the rest I can be glad are here but I mostly just forget about them on a daily basis.
I am also not a huge fan of the idea of “hitting it big,” especially in this industry. Capitalism and the drive to “hit it big” is overall an extremely damaging concept. Not everyone can be “big” and in craft beer, especially, it is a huge problem driving people to go too far into debt to keep growing since that is what is expected. But I fail to understand how a small brewery serving its local community (of sufficient size) cannot be a success without having to grow (too) big. Or perhaps serving its state or local region. But if the idea is that everyone has to become a national-sized brewery with distribution in all 50 states and perhaps also overseas then please let me off the ridiculous train. I want no part of that vision.
For our third question of the new year, name three kinds of beer you’d like to see more of. It’s clear hoppy beers, IPAs and all of the other hop-forward beers they’ve spawned, are here to say. There seems to be a few other styles that are popular, too, like saisons, barrel-aged beers, anything imperial and also sour beers of all kinds. But lots of other previously popular beers seem sidelined these days. What three types of beer do you think deserve more attention or at least should be more available for you to enjoy? They can be anything except IPAs, or the other extreme beers. I mean, they could be, I suppose, but I’m hoping for beers that we don’t hear much about or that fewer and fewer breweries are making. What styles should return, re-emerge or be resurrected in 2018?
Vienna Lager, British mild (in the US), and various Bocks.
Now I do not simply want more of them, I want good ones. I would also love to see a few (available-to-me) non-barreled aged Imperial stouts that are complex, tasty, affordable and available all-year-long.