Stan has, I think, unexpectedly raised questions about the nature of the debts owed in good beer. It's in the comments under his Monday links. You can go look over there but it's sort of summed up by his own comment: "Do you share because you feel indebted?" I post this primarily to see if there are any observations to be made on the general idea but I would point out two things. First, you rarely see macro brewers thanked for their general contributions to good beer despite the obvious dependency of craft on industrialization - nor for their specific assistance given to specific craft brewers. I don't know the identity of the person who made these comments on a discussion board but they are pretty firm in how they suggest a lack of gratitude:
...we regularly provide malt, hops, expertise, etc to small brewers. Boston beer wouldn't be nearly as successful today had it not been for Miller brewing their beers for them and giving them access to our distribution network. New Belgium probably wouldn't be a going concern today were it not for Coors providing them with both malt and brewing expertise. Their beers were horrible before our brewers taught Kim how to keep her yeast happy. Coors also helped out both Maytah and Grossman in their early years. I could go on, but I think you get the point.
Are we sure who we owe a debt to? Also, are we all that sure that the debt is owed? That's my second point. I have been told a number of times that I fail to appreciate the debt I own to Michael Jackson. I think that is just silly. The wee secret is I had never heard of the guy when I started writing this blog and by the time I did I was well down my own path. I came to good beer through a few other routes: being a child of immigrants who took me to a few UK pubs as a 1970s kid, early 1980s imports, backpacking travels after college, early New England and Maritime micros from the mid-1980s on and then home brewing out in Canada's Atlantic edge depending on the few books I could find. Dave Line and his kin were far more influential, those who showed how excellent grain based beer could be made at home by anyone. So the messages that beer is "art" or is difficult or needs to cost a lot fails to impress me and often pose warnings. Plus, given all the casual gratuitous appropriation of the Jacksonian legacy, I'll add my own. I think he'd be a bit disgusted with the new adulterers, the flavour adders and hop hybridizers. Beer that no longer tastes like beer. Brilliant. We are marching down an evolutionary dead end that he helped trigger. Looking forward to the next wave myself. If anything, good beer now owes me a new wave.
Is that fair? You may not like me having said that. Well, it works for me. Doesn't need to work for you. Because as far as I am concerned, both you and I - whether brewer or beer drinker - may owe a lot to that one person who first tried a sip of the puddle in which the grain had sat for a week. Happy is the one who first clued in to the zymurgistic goodness creation had to offer. Everything and everyone after that is, well, just detail and largely commerce. We all make our own way to either end of the tap. I may take an interest in what someone has to offer and even, like with Jackson, respect them a lot. But duty? I've taken oaths of office in my life and have plighted my troth as well. I can tell the difference.