Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Are You Drinking "Craft" Beer--Or Not?

Jim Koch and The PubScout
I was hoisting a few awhile back at Foley's Pub in NYC with Jim Koch, CEO of the Boston Beer Company--aka Sam Adams--and naturally, beer was the subject of the conversation.  I asked him, apart from his own products, which beers on tap he considered to be "good." He  told me, "All beer is good." Then he added, with a sly smile,  "But some beer is better."

Hard to argue with diplomatic logic like that, though I've definitely had beers that would not qualify as "good" unless they were being compared to Mountain Dew or Diet Coke.

All beer may be "good," but is all beer "craft" beer?  How is "craft beer" defined? To determine that answer, I checked out how the Brewer's Association defines a craft brewer. In three words, that means small, traditional and independent. And even those words are more thoroughly defined here.

Why does it matter? Simple. Because some of the beers you may currently drink are being kicked out of the craft beer category by the prestigious Brewers' Association. As Jason Notte's excellent piece indicates, "This year, a whopping seven breweries punched their tickets out of craft beer, thanks to acquisitions by larger breweries. Drinkers may still consider them craft and their new owners certainly think they're craft beer, but the Brewers Association thinks differently at this point..."

He also correctly points out that Jim Koch's Boston Beer Company is still a craft beer, because it falls short of that six million barrel per year mark. But Notte also suggests Jim's beer will exceed that eventually. And that means Sam Adams will no longer be considered a "craft" beer, at least by the Brewers' Association.

But again, why does it matter? Do you drink your beer because it's "craft" or because it's good? Does that "craft" tag matter to the average better beer lover? I doubt it. When you belly up to the bar, do you ask the barkeep," What kind of CRAFT beer do you have?" Or simply, "What kind of BEER do you have?"

I do the latter. Because, truth be told, the making of beer is a craft, and a time-honored one at that. Some, indeed, are better at that than others, and considering the decisions of the Brewers' Association, I am led to steal Koch's classic dictum: All beers are craft beer, but some beers are "craftier." 

Just tell me the names, barkeep, and I'll decide.

Because, as Jim correctly says,"... some beer is better."


The PubScout

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