Craft Beer vs Mass Produced Beer – 15 Eye Openers
Why craft beer? What exactly is it, and why should you care? How is it different from mass-produced beer? If you are not yet a proponent of craft beer, you might ask questions like, “When I drink a beer like Shock Top or Blue Moon, isn’t that craft beer? Isn’t that what you are talking about?” The answer is no and no.
Let me explain with an anecdote:
Have you ever had the thrill of spelunking, also known as caving or potholing? This is the exploration of virgin caves throughout the world. Largely an individualist’s “sport,” it can flush the explorer with adrenaline as she squeezes into a black hole not yet explored. It is also a “team sport,” because some of those tight spots may result in needed assistance from other fellow explorers. It can be challenging and dangerous. According to Wikipedia, “for many it transcends sports, as many cavers pursue cave science, mapping, photography, and the management and conservation of cave resources.”
For those who are slightly faint of heart but still want the thrill of exploration, there are many caves throughout the USA that conduct public tours on lighted paths, while retaining the aura of the explorers’ sport.
Recently, a friend told me of a cave he visited with a McDonald’s fast-food restaurant in its depths. No kidding. This form of mass marketing violates everything that a cave enthusiast seeks. To me, it is so repulsive that it would destroy any joy that caving might have instilled in me, making me repel the science of cave exploration, and resent the “food chain” for its extreme arrogance.
And so it is regarding craft beer. Craft brewers are small, independent and traditional, and their numbers in the United States are growing, even though the overall beer industry shrunk by 1.3% by volume in 2011. But in 2011 – that same time period of a shrinking industry - craft brewing grew by 13% by volume. In the first half of 2012, it grew by an additional 12%.
This means that a large segment of the beer drinking public has discovered craft beer, and is choosing it over mass-produced lagers. They love the terroir reflected in craft beer, the individualist’s development of the recipe, the rich flavors, discovery of styles and the history behind these styles. These craft beer enthusiasts photograph the beer, the process, and the areas that spawned the style. They may even make videos of it or of the craft brewers themselves.
Eye Openers regarding craft beer:
Keep these points in mind when you go on your next craft beer adventure. Seek beer bars and breweries that list craft beer “before” the mass-produced beers. Most will still carry the mass-produced beers with the splashy ads and big budgets, but will show a reverence for craft beer dominating the taps, served in clean glassware at the right temperatures.
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