There is a joke in Canada about why drinking American beer is like making love in a canoe. The punchline notes their common proximity to water. We may protest that those days are long gone if they ever existed. But who are the "we" who protest? One of the fallacious ideas popular among craft beer nerds is that the 93% or so of people who like beer who do not drink craft beer are fools. We are told that craft beer is the future. We pray for that day that 8% or more of all beer drinkers will soon reject gas station beer for the good stuff. I sometimes wonder who the fools really are.
I was at a ball game last evening in Watertown NY. It is a fine thing to live in a border town. I picked up some Goose Islands, a mix 12 of Brooklyn as well as a few Ommegangs at the grocery store as part of the run but those beers were not on sale at the ball game. There were a couple of light beers on offer and they sold fast. The gang of young couples ahead of me bought themselves rounds as did the Dads over by third base enjoying the Friday night, watching the kids running after fouls. No one was out of control. Every beer seemed to taste like a good reason for another. It was a community beer drinking session.
When I have complained about the good beer meets good food movement, I hope I have made clear it is because of the limits of its appeal. Most people have no interest in fine dining. Most don't care that good food matches with good beer anymore than they care to learn that they might actually like light opera if they just spent some time with it. Some may call them fools but others call them customers. If North American craft beer is ever to move into mass appeal of session drinking, our craft brewers will have to accept that their beers need to be placed in the hands of those young couples and those Dads. It has to meet them where they are found on a regular basis. And where is that? Not at fests or beer bars. Certainly not tucked under linen at precious food pairing events. They are heading to the grocery store, in the backyard and at the game. They are buying beer.
Tasty, accessible, affordable, not needing note taking and not intense. That's what a session beer is. Macro-brewing knows it. Some micros get the point but not enough yet. The session goes on. Will craft beer join in?