Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries

April 29, 2010

Beer Diary:

What’s On Tap?

The answer to that question is only getting better and better.
by Rings

Rings is an equal opportunity imbiber. He can also be found sampling his way across multiple continents, or wasting time at and Prost!
Contact Rings»
I know, the last time I threw a rant up here, it was about craft brews in frosted glasses …which is a mild pet peeve, but really not a big deal.

I find it funny also that servers will respond to my title question by listing “Bud, Bud Light, Miller Lite …” and so on, before getting to the one local and one import handle. Ugh. As if nearly every place with a license in the country didn’t have most of that macro-swill crap taking up cooler space!

“Do you have anything local?”

Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don’t.

Often, they’ll say something like, “I wish.” At least we have a kindred spirit—even if we don’t have good beer.

It’s sometimes even better, if I ask, “Do you have any microbrews or imports?”

Have you ever heard something like, “we have Killian’s and Corona”?

Uh oh.

Don’t get me wrong. The fact is, the entire thing really is getting better. There is a tremendously wider selection available nowadays in nearly every establishment. In fact, I’m finding more and more places that do NOT serve macro swill at all …except for maybe a grandpa or lawnmower beer, like PBR, Old Style, or Strohs. And I’d argue that the future is even brighter …

There was a day, when I was just reaching drinking age, when a “premium” beer was something like a Michelob or Bud Dry. Nowadays, even the cheapest young (legal) drinker is well aware of the craft brew world and that there’s more to life than the commercial stuff. With the movement to local and organic foods, homemade consumer goods, and environmental products, the “drink local” movement is a natural.

Further, there’s an anti-commercialism vibe out there, which, in many cases, totally rejects anything put out by the big ad breweries. The new hipsters thrive on the local microbrews, craft beers or the grandpa beers, such as Pabst. (Pabst is actually a contract brew, produced primarily at Miller/Coors facilities, and now for sale by the Kalmanovitz trust. It also owns Old Style, Schlitz, Stroh’s, Lone Star, Blatz and other “old” labels, which have seen sales increase steadily since 2002).

Nowadays, even the cheapest young (legal) drinker is well aware of the craft brew world.
All this adds up to bad news for the big guys, who are seeing falling sales and are unable to respond in their preferred and traditional method—advertising dollars—because much of this market rejects their screaming ads, touting nonsense such as “triple hopped” or “lager lesson 101.”

Further, their attempts to fight back using the craft brewers’ weapon of choice—quality ingredients in macro-craft beers (Blue Moon, ShockTop) or “partnerships” with establish craft breweries (Redhook or Widmer anyone?)—is met with skepticism and sometimes outright disdain by the many modern consumers, who are making a choice to support the smaller producer. Even better, products like Bud Light Wheat do some of the craft brewery’s job for them in educating consumers with some training wheel products that there is more to life than pale, fizzy lager.

They’ve been forced to resort to mega-mergers to acquire market share, as we’ve seen with InBev/AB and SABMiller/Coors takeovers.

Of course, all this adds up to about 7 or 8 percent of the U.S. beer market at this point …but it’s the only growing segment of the market and it’s a far cry from the 3 or 4 percent only a few short years ago.

The future is bright for American beer consumers. There is no place on Earth with the wide variety and availability of quality choices that we have here …and it won’t be long before more and more servers will answer that title question properly: “Well, we have several local beers on tap, including …”

Drinkin’ And Thinkin’

Beer Dorks News

Want to know how healthy the craft beer industry is? As always, look to Portland. Craft pioneer Bridgeport announces sudden closure, adding to a growing list of PDX casualties.
Did Anheuser-Busch Chicago offer their shit beer to Cody Parkey before his missed field goal? Because that may explain why he "accidentally" biffed it.
Chicago now has the most breweries of any city in the country. Other things Chicago has the most of: murders, mobsters, and Ditkas.
Trying to spin it positive, BA releases end of year graphic. Only 5% growth in the craft sector when nearly 1000 new breweries opened? That's a collapse waiting to happen.
R.I.P. Tallgrass... another casualty as the regional/national craft beer market continues to get squeezed.
Wait... Constellation Brands cut all of the Ballast Point and Funky Buddha sales staff? They merged it with their Corona/Modelo staff?? We're SHOCKED!!!
Pizza Beer founder crying about failure of company, blames everyone else. Reminder, the beer tasted like vomit. Try having better ideas or making better products so you're not a failure.
It's Bud Light so doesn't really matter, but we expect this beer to be sitting around for awhile.
Indiana brewery to open with controversial beer names to "get the conversation going". Translation: taking advantage of serious issues for free publicity.
Hundreds of amazing beers in Wisconsin and the Cubs took back the one everyone drinks just because it exists and people have heard of it. How fitting...