Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries

September 14, 2011

Beer Issues:

So Close, And Yet So Far To Go

Despite craft beer’s rise in popularity, too many places still offer nothing but crap.
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!
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I’ve been an absent Beer Dork lately due to both some personal time consuming activities that do not involve beer (boo!) and a bustling work schedule, but I’m still sampling on a regular basis … just trying to find the time to commit all these tasty treats to formal reviews.

In the meantime, I spent a portion of last week visiting one of our great American cities as I found myself in Boston. It’s a beautiful city, to be sure, and the locals are largely friendly—so long as one does not represent themselves to be a Yankees fan. It has many historical sites, focused primarily on the Revolutionary period, along with modern “tourist destinations” such as the Cheers bar, made famous by the ’80s television show, and the legendary Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox.

As I happened to have Missus Rings in tow, we spent a bit of social time and enjoyed some of the local hospitality by visiting a watering hole or three dozen. We had a nice time to be sure, but it struck me a bit, as we ended one of our evenings out, how friggin’ lame the beer selection is in the vast majority of locations we entered. I’ve noticed the same thing in traveling to other large cities. Too often, we walk into a bar or pub and we’re greeted by the same worn out handles: Butt, Butt Light, Stella, Sam, Guinness … and maybe a Harpoon IPA (which, to be fair, is local … but is as close to an “IPA” as Miller Lite is to a “true pilsner”). There were a few places with a local handle, usually Cisco (from Nantucket), but not many, aside from the local brewpub chain called Boston Beer Works.

It’s somewhat depressing that we are nearing the end of 2011, with the “micro brew boom” nearing its third decade and so many purveyors in major markets still dedicate their draft real estate to macro-brewed crap.
This is, unfortunately, nothing unusual. I realize that the bulk of the problem often lies with distribution access to small breweries and craft products and many large cities are totally corrupt—Chicago being the prime example—in terms of “pay to play” for handles in many of the most popular watering holes. I am also more than a bit spoiled in calling the Great Lakes State my home, as Michigan plays host to 95 breweries at last count and craft beer is found nearly everywhere. Regardless, I found it somewhat depressing that we are nearing the end of 2011, with the “micro brew boom” nearing its third decade and so many purveyors in major markets have invested in 8, 10, 16, 20 draft lines … yet still dedicate the vast majority (if not all) of their draft real estate to macro-brewed crap.

There is really only one way for the consumer—that’s you—to continue to wage war on this practice … and make no mistake: it is a war against lazy ownership/management, against distributor bottlenecks, and against big brewer dollars. The consumer must continue to ask for and buy local and quality craft beer and refuse to settle for “whatever they have.”

I’m certainly not against walking out of places that don’t serve any good beer. In fact, it’s happened often enough that Missus Rings no longer sputters about it. And I’m not suggesting that you can’t enjoy a place that doesn’t have “everything,” but there really is only one language that’s readily understood by the decision-makers who put slop on tap: money. Vote with your wallet and vote often. Support your local stores who carry craft beer and handle it well—keeping it out of direct light and regularly rotating stock. Support your bars and restaurants that put local and quality on tap—and do so when you’re at home and when you’re traveling.

We continue to make progress and the tide is turning, but this past week was another reminder of how far we still have to go.

Drinkin’ And Thinkin’

Beer Dorks News

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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...