3 December 2015
Is it really about the Beer?
As global giants swallow up my beloved craft beer makers, the question that I struggle with the most is how do I deal with the beer? What I mean of course is do I continue to drink it, assuming the quality doesn’t change. Or do I abandon these brews and focus on only the smaller breweries in hopes that they don’t get bought out.This is the very definition of a first world problem and I am okay that this is a concern of mine. I love trying new beers, regardless of who makes them. The problem comes when I buy beers on a regular basis and in the case of Mill Street from Toronto being bought by Labatt, this affects some of my choices. The Vanilla Porter and Tank House Ale are among my regular rotation of every day beers. They are well made with fantastic flavours and textures. I want to keep them, but should I?
Traversing social media and even among fellow beer people, the opinion is divided. Some say in order to keep the independent brewers going, we cannot support corporate behemoths in any way. Others are of the thought that as long as it is an arms length relationship and the newly acquired breweries maintain their quality and innovation, we can drink without reservation. I want to be on one side or the other, but which side.
I love Goose Island IPA from Chicago. Did I love it less when I found out is was not a true craft beer, having been bought by one of the giants? The short answer is no. I still make sure I have a couple in my fridge for a relaxing treat after a long day. The quality and flavours show the care these guys put into their beer and that is what I want in an everyday beer. Can Mill Street keep their soul? I really hope so.
My decision is always going to be made in the spirit of compromise. I wouldn’t be Canadian if I didn’t try to find the middle ground. My love of exploring beer is not going to stop when Am-Bev buys a brewer. I don’t buy Budweiser because I’ve tried it and it is just a bland, quantity beer. To me, a quantity beer is just there to get you hammered and nothing else. But will I still grab a Tank Ale once and a while like I do now to augment all the new beers I am constantly trying?
Yes. It’s pretty simple. I have to support the small guys, they are the ones getting new and innovative products into my beer glass. Mill Street may no longer be considered a Little Guy, but as long as they keep the heart of their beer in check, I have no problem grabbing a 100th Meridian to enjoy between new beers.
I guess time will tell. Will bland corporate beers continue to fall in sales with craft beers grabbing an ever expanding market share? I think so. As long as we, the consumer, vote with our taste buds and our wallets, there will always be breweries like Beau’s and Great Lakes to keep us in stock with new and innovative products. But to be honest, I’ll still have a Vanilla Porter from Mill Street every now and then, and I am okay with that.