I took a conference call yesterday with a research firm that’s spending considerable effort studying the trends of craft beer and food. An honest look at craft beer from an outsider is an interesting pool to swim in. They asked the standard questions, thoughtful and curious, and it almost always turns in the same direction:
“Why craft beer? Why now?”
I can talk about how the locavore spirit and a push towards more thoughtful eating has naturally spilled over into beverages. I can talk about how this new generation of drinkers, those who have come of legal imbibing age in the past five years are those Facebook gernerationists that have grown up in a culture of eco-friendly, culinary aware coolness and craft beer just makes sense to them. But that really isn’t the answer.
Pour the same beverage in a pint glass, but remove the impassioned brewer who’s barley making ends meet but refuses to sacrifice quality, take away the friendly comunal tables, and the tap room jockey that can’t wait to talk about the seasonal release, strip that all away and that pint isn’t the same. Craft beer isn’t just a beverage, it’s a community. It’s a culture that’s grown around a shared fascination of a culinary art, but it’s the culture that’s the big draw. It’s the people. The beer is fantastic, the beer keeps us coming back, but it’s the people that have grown the phenomenon. It’s the fact that craft beer isn’t just something you drink, it’s something you get to live. That’s why beer.