11 September 2016

I Don't Love Every Beer I Try, Here's Why...

Perhaps this label would work .

I was drinking a beer the other day that didn't do it for me. It was uninspired, bland and tasted like what a group of marketing executives thought a beer should be. The logo was minimalist, finely tailored to stand out in a fancy restaurant as craft but not to challenge the esthetics of the beautiful space it was being consumed in.  I see these "brands" more as the craft beer segment of alcohol purchases continues its surge. I'm nowhere near an expert on beer or the industry, but I drink new beers all the time because I love the journey and flavours that I find. The adventures and beers I've had are not unique to me and I actively encourage everyone I meet to get out and experience all that this amazing community has to offer. But lately I've seen some stuff that doesn't sit well with me and my own life.
The search for a profitable business while brewing well crafted beers is not a bad thing. If they didn't make money, your local Craft Brewer wouldn't last long and we would be left with the same old choices we've always had. I applaud anyone who can figure a way to take their passion for brewing great beer and make a life from it, that's the dream of many a home brewer. It's not the person who wants to share their beer with the world that has caught my eye though, it is those who seek only to profit from the rising trend that leave me with the wrong kind of bitter aftertaste in my mouth.
It's not that I am against anyone wanting to grab a share of an ever growing market, but many times I feel that some are in it for the wrong reasons. Watching places like Muddy York and Anderson Craft Ales grow their brand and spaces slowly as the money comes in and their dreams get bigger is pretty amazing. The people behind the beer are in it for more than just a quick buck (I hope) and it is a joy to share a pint with people who seem to genuinely care about their community. There have been other times where I hear about a beer, try it and find nothing behind it. I'm just a regular guy who loves to try new beers, I don't have the time or expertise to investigate every new brewery that opens. I rely on those who have the connections and links to keep me informed of the business end while I pursue my emotional one. That is what I write about and when I get a beer and hear about or feel the lack of substance behind it, I am at a loss.
I know what drives a man to want to share a beer, I do that all the time. But to create a beer with the sole purpose of making money, regardless of how that gets done seems counter to everything I've learned in the last year. It has occurred to me that some of these brands have been created with the singular purpose of being grown just enough to get the attention of the executives at Big Beer so that they can affect a buy out and the windfall of money that could generate. I don't know if that's true, but in my gut, I'm certain that discussion has occurred and those are the ones that scare me. Because what has been built can be torn down. Some of the brands I'm seeing get widespread distribution in the LCBO have little behind them but a "group of friends" and a "dream". Many of my favourite Craft Brewers are still waiting for that kind of exposure. The money they make goes into upgrading equipment and expansion, not photo shoots and lobbying for another SKU at the liquor store.
 I hate to be negative and always try to find the best in any beer I try. Knowing that something might just not be for me and my palate, I never slag a beer or the people who make it. But there have been times where I wonder what I am drinking and who I am supporting by buying or talking about this beer. I don't buy macro because I've given them enough of money over the years and my dollars should go to those who are making a difference in the beer world. But when the contents of my glass are billed as craft and I find out its little more than a lifestyle marketed as a beer, I feel cheated.
The best way to support local craft beer is to go to the source. Not only do you get to experience the atmosphere and people who work there, more of the profit stays with them. There are good examples of people who work hard at creating beer, contract brewing it to get going and then turning that into a brick and mortar brewery. Descendants in Kitchener is one of those. They took a real leap of faith, leaving everything behind to pursue learning brewing in Germany. Returning to contract brew and get that elusive LCBO listing to finally getting their own brewery that has quickly become a community hub with events happening all the time. Great people making better beer. That's a story I can get behind.
 I'm not sure what the future holds, I am certain we will see even more "brands" coming unfortunately. I can only hope that we will be able to tell the difference and choose our next beer wisely.
 I know I will.
The Polkaroo approves this message

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