For those of you who don’t know, Beer Wars is a movie about the struggles of craft brewers to stay competitive in a beer market dominated by giant corporations like AB InBev and Molson-Coors. The movie itself has gained substantial attention, praise, and scrutiny from beer enthusiasts North America wide. It hasn’t made its way to here yet, but CAMRA Vancouver has organized an upcoming screening for us. The screening was originally supposed to be last night, but unexplained complications resulted in the event being pushed back to Sunday, January 31st at 4PM. To make up for the delay, CAMRA has recruited some of our local brewers to be on hand to serve beer, those being Steamworks, Yaletown Brewing, Granville Island with their new limited release Chocolate Stout, and Red Truck with their Limited Release Porter. Since District 319 is a licensed and private venue, patrons will be able to have a few beers while watching the movie, something many of us haven’t legally ever been able to do. To get tickets, head to the CAMRA event page and purchase away.
I’ve also heard a rumor that there might be an epic beer announcement made at the screening. Considering that Greg Koch, CEO and co-founder of the legendary Stone Brewing Company, is said to be attending, I wonder what this rumored epic beer announcement could be? I’ve already guessed at it and have been sworn to secrecy, but I’m hoping our clever readers will be able to guess at my suspicions.
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.