A Good Beer Blog


Have you read The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer - A Rant in Nine Acts by Alan and Max yet? It's out on Kindle as well as Lulu.

Maureen Ogle said this about the book: "... immensely readable, sometimes slightly surreal rumination on beer in general and craft beer in particular. Funny, witty, but most important: Smart. The beer geeks will likely get all cranky about it, but Alan and Max are the masters of cranky..."

Ron Pattinson said: "I'm in a rather odd situation. Because I appear in the book. A fictional version of me. It's a weird feeling."


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itslunchtimeca -

Well, yes and no. I compared the whole craft beer trend to indie band trends in the 90s - ( shameless plug ) and I think the same rules apply. Small local bands eventually lose some of their ability to connect to their local fans as they grow. A larger public happens and are they ever still local?

It depends on how they evolve. Do they continue to have a local presence in where they are produced? Do they have to make many concessions in the recipe to ensure that the product can be distributed widely (Fresh beer tastes good)? Do they move? Is the local label just code for something else?

I am not up on the American craft brew movement because we don't get all the brews up here but I have seen craft brewers in Canada expand both ways as suggest in the above article and I have some misgivings. The same applies to local food movements.

The larger question that I am left with is whether the local beer label needs to be affixed in order to denote quality. Maybe consolidation with care is not a negative thing, The real issue may be around how to allow smaller players regardless of location to enter the market. Or just come to the conclusion that this is just a natural progression from indie to stadium rocker.

Irving -

Brewers like Sierra Nevada and Oskar Blue are able to expand because of one simple fact, they produce quality products. If I can go to the supermarket and buy Sierra Nevada Kellerweis while I'm buying my milk, I'm all for that. I don't see the "consolidation" as a problem if we are getting a quality product.

Also let's be honest, we are at the height of the Craft Beer bubble and that's bound to burst sooner or later. When it does the strong will survive and maybe yeah your local brewery won't survive but if beers like The Abyss are more common place, I say the real winners are us.


Mark -

@itslunchtimeca, I think you make a good point about the "local" label. It is interesting to observe the explosion of the nano-brewery: one driving force behind that idea is that a regional population can take pride in the idea that the brewery they support sources ingredients from their own backyard (whether that be truth or not… but that's another topic).

But, in my opinion, "local" does not correlate to "quality." There's a definite trend present, whereas brewers that care enough to source local ingredients will likely care enough about the process to brew and care for their beer properly, leading to an excellent result; on the contrary, nano-breweries may lack brewer experience and those important learn-from-your-mistake moments. This can negatively effect the resulting brews regardless of where you bought the malt.

The difference between a nano and a homebrewer, in that effect, is the scale up and the capital investment which defines how urgently they must sell their wares regardless of their quality. A homebrewer could dump a 1/6 bbl batch without much worry and chalk it up to experience. Crafts and nanos, not so much.

Jeff Alworth -

There will be consolidation for sure--eventually. (It's already happening, actually, and will accelerate as the founders begin to age out of brewing and retire.) I'm not sure this is the best evidence of the coming consolidation, though. Could be the opposite. The US market is still super tiny in a lot of the country, and companies with the money to make inroads into craft-poor regions will actually open them up to other craft breweries.

There's a ceiling for more expensive ale in the US--ten percent?, twenty?, fifty? Whatever it is, that ceiling is far above the current level and the creation of more craft-beer drinkers will help all able craft breweries. East coasters should be pleased to see Sierra Nevada coming to help push craft beer.

Stan Hieronymus -

It is worth remembering that this isn't only about these breweries selling more beer east of the Mississippi. Beer that Sierra Nevada might have made in California and shipped to Virginia now might be shipped to Arizona. It's about overall growth.

Alan -

I have no problem with the business model. I just have a harder and harder time associating this with the values of microbreweries.

Jeff Alworth -

"Values of microbreweries?" That's a hugely loadedconcept.

I suspect we hold very different views about what that means, but I don't want to speculate based on an off-hand comment.

Alan -

What "off-hand comment"? It's a rich succinct concept steeped both in tradition and opportunity, extra leggy and wide in the the best sense of both words. Get on board and strap yourself in if you need a little extra assurance about this rocky ride that is the information superhighway.

The Beer Wrangler -

considering the uniqueness of the US as a market, (vast country, with the major populations in the East and West quarters) then having a brewery on the East and West coasts makes alot of sense. Other countries don't have the physical size (e.g. UK) or the population (Canada) to make this model make sense.

US craft breweries may have to build a model that looks a bit like larger companies having a brewery in lots of regions/countries, but as long as the quality and consistency is there then why not? What we don't want, as happened with Guinness, is the beer coming from licensee breweries (or ones not in Dublin) were generally regarded as an inferior product. (I'm looking at you Labatt's "Guinness"!) They have to be very careful that people view products made on both side of the country are equal.

Third Street -

Us little guys will come swoop in the locals when big brewers go national.