Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries

July 11, 2011

Beer Issues:

The War’s Still Going On, Dear, And There’s No End That I Know

Big beer is taking the gloves off against craft beer.
by Eddie Glick

I like my beer like my women: pale, strong, full-bodied, and extremely bitter.
Contact Eddie»
It really did seem like the worm had turned. You could buy good beer just about every place imaginable. Yeah, maybe the selection wasn’t that of a world class beer bar, but if you were in Wisconsin you could almost always find a New Glarus brew, in Michigan a Bell’s, in Minnesota a Summit. Bars that I thought would never even think about carrying a craft beer now had one or two tap handles. And maybe the battle for good beer wasn’t over, but it looked quite a bit like the good guys (that’s us, by the way) were winning.

But this war’s just getting started.

The latest salvos have been fired in the last four months, coming along different fronts. The first was A-B’s acquisition of Goose Island. While that was out in the open for all to see, the second attack is far more nefarious. The new tactic is big breweries sponsoring state legislation that makes it more difficult for craft brewers to operate. MillerCoors used the murky world of Wisconsin politics to insert new rules that will harm craft breweries into the state budget. (I’m still not sure how laws that affect an entire industry can be enacted through the budget, but [thank the fucking Lord] I’m not a lawyer). Now the douchebags at A-B are forcing through similar legislation in Illinois.

Big beer has realized that once customers start drinking flavorful, quality beer they don’t go back to mindlessly buying cases of crap.
We’re starting to see the gloves coming off from MillerCoors and A-B. They’re seeing their sales slip more and more each year, and they’ve finally grasped the fact that they’re in a fight for their lives. Big beer has realized that once customers start drinking flavorful, quality beer they don’t go back to mindlessly buying cases of crap like Bud Light and MGD 64. It’s not like wine or liquor, where consumers might drink wine for a while before coming back to beer when the mood strikes them. Because once someone discovers what real beer tastes like, they don’t go back to being a regular shit beer drinker. Ever.

Which is why we’re seeing these latest attacks on craft beer, and why we’re going to see more of them in the future. It’s scary because there’s so much money and clout being thrown around that we as simple beer drinkers can feel pretty powerless. But there’s still stuff we can do. Get even more militant about drinking locally brewed beer. Buy growlers of fresh beer at your local brew pub instead of a sixer at the Kwik-E-Mart. Only shop for beer at independent retailers that give a damn about craft beer. Complain loudly about there not being enough craft beer tap handles at the bars and bowling alleys you frequent. Tell your friends, relatives, and co-workers about good beer. It’s easy:

You, upon seeing your co-worker drinking a shit beer after work: “Oh, I see you like beer. Have you ever tried [insert an accessible, locally brewed beer]? It’s good, and it’s brewed just across town. I really think you’d like it.”

Big beer’s money and clout is hard to fight, but by banding together we can take them on.
Yeah, there’s some stubborn folks who won’t drink anything but their brand or something they’ve seen an ad for. But even if it puts a little nugget of curiosity in one person’s head, it’d be worth it.

Keep home brewing, or take it up if you haven’t already. It’s easy, cheap, and fun. It makes you appreciate well made beer all the more, and it makes your spouse, kids, parents, neighbors, and friends ask about beer and the brewing process.

Stay informed. Visit Support Your Local Brewery to learn about what’s going on in your neck of the woods. Make sure you know your local government reps and what their stand is on locally brewed beer and the positive impact it has on economies and communities.

Big beer’s money and clout is hard to fight, but by banding together we can take them on. Join your community’s home brewing or beer tasting club/guild. Your state might have a beer appreciation association, like Michigan Beer Nut or Wisconsin Beer Lover. Join it.

There have been some successes. Minnesota recently passed a landmark law that, I think, will lead to a boom in craft breweries in that state. I want to be hopeful, but I’ve always been a pessimistic bastard, and the latest setbacks make the future look a little bleaker for craft beer in its war against shit beer tyranny.

And I can’t say if we’re ever gonna be free.

Today is the feast day of St. Arnold, patron saint of beer.

Drinkin’ And Thinkin’

Beer Dorks News

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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...