Featured Contributor – John Fahrner @fahrn13 from Michigan
It wasn’t all that long ago when going out to a bar meant that you had a very limited selection of beers to choose from, most of the time Bud Light, Miller Light, and Budweiser. As consumers we seem to have revolted against this line of thinking, and prevaled! Now even family restaurants always seem to have something on tap that is of the craft beer variety. Breweries like Founders, Stone, Short’s and Dogfish Head seem to be more popular than ever and it’s created a buzz over not only their one time releases but also their annual releases. What has become an interesting phenomenon to me is that many of these releases seem to be hitting a point in which the perception of these great beers, and by association great breweries, are becoming so popular that there is a section of the craft beer community that seems to be turning their nose up to the industry powers simply because they have gained notoriety. It’s almost like the people who become a fan of a band until they get popular, after that all you hear is “I loved their first album”. The whole concepet is strange to me, if you love a company like Bell’s isn’t it beneficial for that company to be as wildly successful as possible as long as they keep cranking out quality products?
This line of people pictured above are waiting outside in the cold on black Friday in 2014, the reason why is because Bourbon County Barrel Stout held a launch party this year to kick off their annual highly acclaimed stout. Must be something spectacular right? Well it’s a pretty fantastic stout, especially if you’re willing to allow it to age to perfection. Obviously there’s a lot of people that share my opinion on this brew, yet so many people like to make a point of advertising that they’re drinking this beauty and follow it with comments like “This is pretty good but over hyped”. OK, why the contradiction? I completely understand the idea of not wanting to wait in line or fight through a crowd for a beer. The hunt for a great craft selection is just as much a part of my beer expeditions as actually drinking whatever I find. So why not continue into the well of obscurity then as opposed to making comments that imply you’re above beers with a reputation to uphold. Believe me, if you don’t want to take part in the hunt for the next batch of 120 IPA that finds its way to Michigan that’s just fine with me, more beer for John! Also whatever style it is you search for there is always a more obscure beer out there that is worth your time too, It’s one of the reasons that the craft beer industry exists. This leads me another point.
Most of us who have slain our macro overlords trying to force feed us fizzy yellow beer didn’t discover the world of IPA, Stout, and Barleywine by going out and dropping $20 on the first 6 pack of something that we never heard of before. If that was your path to beer enlightenment I applaud you. For me, and I assume the majority, I eased my way into it. companies like Samuel Adams, Sierra Nevada, and Bell’s (since it’s local in my home town) opened the doors to the world of better beer. It always seems like these great breweries are almost treated like cast offs in most stores which is ludicrous! These breweries are pioneers in the field, like it or not without Sam Adams the beer scene would likely be far less expansive than what it is today. These breweries made different beer accessible in this country and we’re mentioning them in the same breath as companies like Guinness simply because they have grown to the point in which they can afford to advertise? If you have abandoned Boston Lager or Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale because you’ve had it and you simply want to play the field fine, to an extent I’m with you. But the idea of turning your back on these companies because you saw some actor knocking back a Bells Oberon in the big summer movie is nuts. If you still enjoy these beers keep enjoying them. Every dollar that you pay for the occasional six pack of Sierra Nevada helps fund the way to their next beer camp collaboration. If Sam Adams Octoberfest isn’t your thing, that’s fine too but by no means should you poo poo a limited release by the Boston Beer company because of a preconceived notion based on a entirely different beer that happens to share branding.
There’s nothing wrong with falling out of love with a beer, it happens to all of us as our tastes grow and mature. Even with award winning beers like KBS and Hopslam breweries tend to make adjustments to their beer year after year in the attempt to provide you with a more enjoyable experience. Still if I were to take 20 people and put them in a room and give them an unlabeled stout and ask their opinion on what they just drank I would be willing to bet I’d get 20 different responses. It comes with the territory of making a product that is always evolving. The point of this article is to point out that the hipster movement in beer that needs to identify how good Oberon was when it was called Solsun or complain about how terrible a company is because they happen to have a light beer option in their line up need to relax. It’s beer, a wonderful beverage that should enlighten your pallet and lubricate conversation into enjoyable subject matter. Legally you still have to be 21 to consume alcoholic beverages, can we collectively get rid of the high school attitude that implies by enjoying a beer that has some brand recognition you are enjoying beer incorrectly?
John Fahrner Bio:
John resides in Wolverine Lake, MI and is interested in craft beer, the Detroit Red Wings and MSU.
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