I decided that I wanted to do something out of character for many beer blogs on the internet. I wanted to say thank you to the large multinational brewers and show that we are not all against them.
Seems like only yesterday that the topic for a month was regular beer (not to mention my take on Session 40) so I am feeling there is a bit of overlap happening. But then Craig goes and takes the opportunity to summarize his understanding of Albany ale... on the very day I made a local breakthrough, too. I do have a slight quibble in that I am pretty sure there was commercial brewing in Albany almost all the way back to the beginning of the Dutch presence in 1614 but what's a couple hundred years between friends?
The point is, however, that the bigness of beer goes well back. Unger's work with records from the medieval Low Countries indicates that the state was "the big boy", controlling access to and the price of gruit, the common pre-hop bittering agent. That tradition moves to Albany almost 400 years ago where big moves through generations of the Gansevoort family, a name that lives on in the hotel business, who seem to have either gotten out of beer or at least begun diversification around 1800, to the early 1800s when brewers like Taylor make brewing big and teach America how to make brewing big. Then (as Maureen describes) lager happens, big moves west with the nation and gets bigger... and that's all she wrote about Albany ale. By 1899, it is just a fond distant memory of a 96 year old man.
Which leads us to what I have dubbed "American beer" and the question of what we have to thank the big international breweries who make the sugar water that tastes something like beer that makes up something like 95% of all beer consumed. I suppose we can thank them for making something so dull that home brewers, then micro brewers, then craft brewers and now post-craft brewers have been driven to make something else. Thanks for the science and technology invented to ensure the the sugar water that tastes something like beer always tastes the same so that good beer can also be made reliably. Thanks for being that bad example for everyone who prefers the good one.