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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dear Craft Beer, I Stopped Giving A Shit. Love, Me.

Dear Sweet Craft Beer:

This posting will be hard for you to read, I can tell already.  But I have some things I have to get off of my chest (mainly your calf-high brewing boots), and it's only after I recently read an article about how big breweries are making a push into craft beer that I had the proper amount of frustration with you to adress this.  Please bear with me.

The topic is nothing new.  Like the latest Hollywood release or prime time TV show, its a re-hash of things that have been talked about for years in the proper circles.  Meaning, by dorks on forums and people who sell craft beer.  Yes, we all know how large breweries like ABInBev, MillerCoors, etc., are trying to draft (no pun intended) on your success by pushing brands not affiliated with their larger chain of ownership.  Example, Tenth and Blake, the "craft" arm of MillerCoors and their library of non-MillerCoors brands, like Blue Moon.  Is it clear that the larger companies are hiding the fact that they control these brands?  Yes. Is that ok?  Of course it is.

What got me thinking about our relationships though, were some quotes in that article about these new brands from the Evil Big Breweries.

"There are two types of consumers," says Anat Baron, the director of the documentary Beer Wars, which explores the battle between micro- and macro-breweries. "Consumers who shop by price and just don't care who makes the stuff that they buy, and other consumers, which are a minority, but I think a growing minority, that actually care about who makes what they buy."

I never realized it before, but it's this exact line of thinking that made me stop being so in love with you.  The idea that there are only two types of consumer - one that cares and one that doesn't - is the exact source behind the Beer Snob label that has been cast down on myself and others like me.  I call the loudest "bullshit" at this quote.  You know me, Craft Beer.  I love you!  I run in your fields and climb your trees.  I celebrate you at any chance I can find and I bring others to lay at your feet in some bizarre and possibly pseudo-sexual ritual, but I am also broke as a joke.  As a result, I cannot afford your higher-priced gifts.  So I shop according to price because I have to, but also because I WANT to.  What I have noticed is a trend of breweries selling your wares at insane prices simply because the product was aged in a barrel for 6 months.  And sure, the brewery has to account for some of that, but there is a point where someone has to say enough is enough.  No, I won't buy your high prices any more!  I love you, but there is a point where you can be too full of yourself and you need to be brought back down to Earth, to your humble beginnings of IPAs, Pale Ales, and Stouts, sans bourbon aging.  I shop for craft beer by price, and I don't care who brewed it.  If they make good beer, well ... that's the bottom line.  I also drink Coors and PBR.  Does that make me someone who simply doesn't care about you, or who made you?  No.  It makes me a thirsty man who, at the moment, is drinking a Coors.  And if other lovers of craft beer could just try a little harder not to snob it up, maybe they could enjoy it, too. 

There is a misnomer about you, craft beer, arguably started by craft brewers, and that is beer made by large brewers is a bad thing.  It's bad!  Regardless that it's over 50% of the market and has been for a number of years.  Regardless that those beers are the hardest to brew.  Don't even look over there, focus  on craft and how artisanal we are - look, we have beards!  And these things - they are hands!  That we use to pick up malt with!  That white stuff, actual grain dust!  See?  We ARE different!  What craft brewers fail to see is this is the same marketing their "evil" large breweries have engaged in for years.  In fact, it's the same type of marketing that businesses  engage in.  This attitude that all craft brewers are buddies and there is no competition like there is in Big Beer is bullshit. Everyone is selling you, Craft Beer.  This is a business and they are out for my money just as much as Coors is.  Some brewers even say they don't advertise, because that's what big beer does ... again I say Bullshit!  If you print flyers for pint nights, you are advertising.  If you sponsor homebrew functions, you are advertising.  Print coasters?  Advertising.   Sell shirts?  Still advertising!  The idea that one is better than the other is a poison in the craft industry.  

Well, Craft Beer, that's all I had to say.  I felt I had to tell you why I stopped really caring so much about you and decided to just drink what I want to, regardless of who makes it.  In the end, it doesn't really matter much.  We are all going to die with failed livers, pissing into a bag in a hospital bed, so why not do what you enjoy now.  And for me it's not buying into your marketing that you are better because you care, or because you don't use corn in your beer.  If you really wanted to be better than Big Beer, Craft, you'd stop worrying about what Big Beer is doing and worry about what you aren't.