The times indeed, as the good Mr. Dylan once said, seem to be a-changing. That change appears to be a sort of reversion, a return to simpler times when the goal was less about the accumulation of wealth and more about a job well done. Consumers are demanding locally grown foods, locally produced goods and artisan works from local craftsman. People seem to be more and more willing to spend a little more to support a local business in place of a major corporation. It is evident in the success of small batch coffee roasters and the immersion of online clothing marketplaces (such as etsy), but there are few better examples than that of craft brewing.
When I got my first job behind a bar, craft beer was scarce. Micro-brews were something alien, something that may take up a shelf or two at the local liquor store but hardly had a place behind a bar. If you wanted to seem like a connoisseur, order a Heineken, otherwise, give me a Bud. Sure there were choices, but each brand was at least national-sized macro brewers raking in millions of dollars a year. Now it seems that for every corporate beer on the menu there are two local options. Having a dozen seasonally rotating taps is no longer uncommon. Dollar for dollar the corporate beer industry still has craft beer crushed true, but the trend is clearly shifting.
Today I had lunch at a pub I used to frequent as a student. Visually not much has changed; brick walls, black ceiling, TVs, pool tables. We used to go for a basket of yam fries and a few jugs of something domestic. This time I was given two menus, one for food and one equally long just for beer and cocktails. The funny thing is, seven years ago I would have been impressed. Surprised that a pub like this had so many choices. Today I looked at the menu and said, “what haven’t I tried…”. Seeing a beer menu with at least a dozen craft beers on tap is no longer surprising, if anything it’s becoming commonplace. Come to think of it, I’m not sure any of the bigger-brand beers I would have ordered as a student were even available on draught.
This change in values comes just as much from the consumers as the producers. The more people begin to demand local beer brewed with care, the more brewers are willing to rise to the challenge. The consumer is becoming disenfranchised with the big corporations. Their eyes are beginning to open and what they see are choices. The stringent brand loyalty that used to be so prevalent is beginning to fade away in place of experimentation. So demand more from your beer, our craft brewers are ready and willing to accommodate.