Just as I find it a wee bit boring to praise every statistical interpretation that marks craft beer's march from 5% to 5.87% of the US beer market, so too does this sort of story sound a lot like the story I have read more than a few times before:
It has been a popular tipple for centuries, but now the number of people around the world fancying a frothy beer has reached a new high. A report has found that in 2011 the quantity of beer consumed around the globe increased for the 27th consecutive year. For the tenth year running it was China that showed the greatest thirst for the alcoholic drink, making up a quarter of the world's annual beer sales.
Note: for the 27th year. I knew I had read about this before. The more people there are who live in stable market economies, the more beer there will be. Conversely, war is bad for beer. Not that 95% of what is being described and downed isn't industrial gak. And few of those consuming bazillions will, sadly, have The World Atlas of Beer on pre-order with Amazon.
Face it. The world and beer nerds are foreign countries. Yet, if you count back on all your fingers and two sets of toes and also your personal collection of Best of Kenny Rogers cassette tapes you will recall that 27 years ago is 1985. Did beer really warrant beer nerds back then? Imports and shades of brown. That was it. But how did we get from there to here? Could it be there is a correlation between the advance of popular beer and the concurrent advance of good beer? What if good beer sits in the margin of the mass made stuff? What if, at a macro level, without the volume of big beer propping up the entire industry at all points of input - malt production, packaging, research, etc - there would be no residual space for experimentation, no surplus resources for the geeks to play with?
What if the good depends on the bad? What if the beer you love is the child of the beer you hate?