February 9, 2012

What Craft Beer Means to Me

I’ve never blogged in my life.  I still have yet to activate my twitter account.  My Facebook page rarely changes.  It therefore goes without saying that my decision to waste time blogging about beer is a monumental one for me.  I know what you’re thinking: really, another beer blog?  Perhaps then it’d be best if  I kick things off by explaining the basic premise that drives this whole blog: craft beer is bigger than beer.

Don’t get me wrong–I love a delicious hoppy beer as much as the next person.  However, in my opinion, craft beer is more than an experience of the palate.   Indeed, two industry giants–Sam Calagione and Alan Newman –have both recently lamented the growing trend in craft beer culture towards snobbery.  For beer snobs, the craft beer experience is limited to the palate and is most akin to that of a music or movie critic.  Taste, aroma and IBU’s are all that matter.  Both Sam and Alan rightly consider beer snobbery bad for the industry.  Alan Newman goes on to suggest that craft beer is about more than the palate and instead includes stories, memorable experiences, and becoming part of the local community.

All of which got me thinking: what does craft beer mean to me?  The more I thought about it, I began to realize that it comes back to two things:

Craft beer connects people.  I have no problem sipping wine by myself.  However, something is missing when I drink a good beer in isolation.  I feel an impulse to share the experience with a friend–to compare notes on the beer, relax, unwind, laugh, and talk.  Beer is relational and fosters conversation.

Craft beer connects people with a place.  One of my first impulses when trying a new beer is to identify where the brewery is located.  I like connecting beer with a specific place.  To state the obvious, the reason I support local breweries is because of my strong connection to my local place.  At the same time, I love experiencing other cities through tasting beer specific to each place.  To me, beer contributes to a sense of place and local pride.

In short, I believe craft beer is a powerful and unique medium for bringing people together.  That is why I think it’s a shame to reduce the experience simply to that of  IBU’s and aromas.  Thus, the purpose of this blog:  to provide a forum for craft beer lovers to discuss good beer and constructive ideas for improving the communities we live in.  What does craft beer mean to you?

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