Brewing is an art. Real beer is unique, creative and well thought out. This does not mean that good beer must be complex and highly sophisticated, but it does mean that mass market appeal should not be the number one driver behind creating a new beer. Making money is not a bad thing, we all need to put food – and beer – on the table. But a balance needs to be found between creating a successful commercial beer and a beer that is unique and tasty.
Beer festivals and other beer related events, such as the recent Caskival at DIX, are great venues for brewers to dream big and showcase more experimental beer. Attendees at these types of events expect to find creative beers. Boring beers tend to get overlooked at cask beer festivals. Sure, some of the more creative beers may ultimately fail, but failure is all part of success.
The beer industry is divided into two polar segments – craft beer and macro beer; the medium sized regional brewer is now almost completely extinct. Most macro brewers, such a AB-Inbev, focus on reaching as large an audience as possible. Creativity must be a foreign concept in these large breweries; here commercial success is far more important than creating a beverage with integrity. On the other hand, craft breweries have a more balanced approach – creativity and commerce seem to have reached a happy medium.
It saddens me to see craft brewers sacrificing creativity for financial reward. I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but craft brewers need to jump off the lime lager band wagon. Just stop, no more – Please! We all expect this sort of thing from Miller and Budwesier, but craft breweries, never. There is nothing creative about emulation and imitation.
I’ll state my point again; real beer is an art. Art is creative, and emulation is not creative. It is really that simple.