Fuck you late 1980’s early 1990’s hypothetical adversarial Jerry Seindfield, I’ll tell you the deal. I’ve considered this thoroughly and i’ve come to a conclusion I am willing to share. The appeal, or deal, of craft beer is 3 fold. Actually its more fold but I am going to focus on 3, although you could argue that these are all aspects of a single fold, alas enough about folds. As I mentioned craft beer is part of a punk rock diy counter culture, it represents a tangible way to reject corporatism, and it is a tangible affordable way to consume art and culture. So sit back and accept some learning.
I don’t intend to spend much time on the first part of this essay as I believe my last post really beat down the Craft Beer is Punk Rock theme I push on this blog.
In brief Craft Beer is the result of people looking at what they were drinking and saying “this shit is shit, i can do better”. This of course couldn’t be done with out people trying out home brewing and figuring out how to make things aside from pale fizzy lagers. But consider in the late 70’s and the early 80’s when the first craft breweries were started there were no existing business plans for a small scale brewery. After American prohibition ended the North American brewing Industry was an effective Oligarchy. No one had opened a new brewery in 50+ years; could it even be done. In BC we see the effect of this lack of knowledge where our first craft breweries failed before they were appreciated (like Socrates… HISTORY, that right horseshoe bay brewing is the Socrates of Craft Beer in BC). These guys who started these breweries were doing it DIY. I honestly bet at least one brewery was held together by close pins. This is apparent even today, ever see Powell St Brewing’s first brew house? it was a large home-brew set up! So if was grading this paper i’d say: “Great you have shown to some degree that punk rock is similar to craft beer, how does that add to the appeal?” I’d reply pedantically: “Craft beer was and remains a niche’, in the earliest days one had to seek out and purposely opt out of the macro beer society much like punk rockers attempted to opt of society at large. Today Craft Beer remains a niche’ but a larger one, We are seeing the rise of Pop Punk with crafty beers like Shock Top and Rickards, along side true greats Four Winds, or Steal and Oak. So the deal with Craft Beer is that by drinking it we are not simply consuming a beverage but affirming a critical view of our society at large arguing that their are things that are messed up in our world and given the opportunity we will use our beverage choice to sustain our critical analysis.
You know whats sort of fucked up? Corporations. Look I’m not gonna sit here and pander the politic in a beer blog. I’m honestly surprised at how pompously i ended the last paragraph but i believe it is as close to fact as once can be to say we in the western world are becoming more fed up with the corporations.
Here is the thing, craft breweries are most often (i can’t think of any) not large soulless corporations such as Molson Coors or inBev. By buying craft we are making a simple easy decision not to give our money to a business based in the United States, Europe or Japan but to the guys and girls who live down street. You know that your 15 dollar six pack doesn’t help to buy some exec a new mansion whilst the guy at the bottling plant struggles to pay rent, but rather might go into a savings account to help the brewmaster’s daughter to go to university in the future. In short craft beer is one of the few industries where the consumer can easily reject large corporations all together whereas in other industries like toilet paper we are slaves to large corporate industries. Lets take solace in that small win.
Beer is art, Fuck you it is. Why did I get so testy there? When I mention it even to my craft beer drinking buddies I still get the eyebrow raise with a facial expressions that reads:
Here’s the thing it is the God Damn MONA LISA. Beer like paintings is an expression of culture in physical form. It lends context to our immediate society, and tells us about ourselves. Really? YES REALLY! Think about an English IPA, what does it tell us? It tell us about colonialism, it is a tangible example of british power relative to Indian. When faced with the problem of british service men serving in India without their precious ale, A hoppier ale was created to last the long journey into India. So? Well this tells us that British servicemen were not being assimilated into Indian Culture, It tells us the Empire was wealthy and strong enough that they could afford to ship creature comforts around the world and it shows us the importance of commerce in British Colonies. this is very much similar to what the Gleaners tells us about French Soceity in the 1800’s:
Here’s the important difference between high art and Beer, Beer is cheap, it does the same thing but an expensive bottle is $25, have you priced out the Mona Lisa lately? I’ll stick with beer thanks!
So what’s the deal with craft beer? Its a form of art that allows to consume culture whilst simultaneously rejecting certain part our society, it also tastes good.