Mar 29, 2012

Why aren't beers as good when they get popular?

I came across this article on (read it here) today, and had some thoughts about it. There is something I see more and more often in the beer committee that sort of drives me nuts.

Jim Koch

There seems to be this sort of "want it both ways" attitude that beer geeks seem to want. They want craft beer to become more and more popular, and mainstream, but when it does, they start to hate it. Jim Koch wrote about this a while back, that I posted on my blog titled "The Paradox of Popularity (The Paradox of Popularity on the Beer Czar) where he discusses much of the same issues. Beer people call themselves "Beer Advocates" and say they want to promote the craft beer industry and educate people that there are more choices then "fizzy yellow beer" the "Big 3" crams down our throats. Yet, when a craft brewer starts to make it big, like Sam Adams, Dogfish Head, Sierra Nevada and the like, the craft beer community tends to turn their backs on these "sell outs" complaining of a drop in quality, changing recipes, and even how its just "not cool anymore".

This write up about Oberon being overated sparked a lot of these same issues, and displayed them to me pretty clearly. First off, let me just say, Oberon is one of my favorite, ( I even wrote about it here) it not my all time favorite summer brews. Its a crisp, refreshing, drinkable, enjoyable beer, that I am glad we get here in Arizona. The author even writes about when he use to drink it, it was "new and refreshing and exciting" Its no longer new, and I would argue, its never been exciting, but its still every bit as refreshing, why not like it anymore. If all you want is new and exciting, that will always be there, but a good beer is a good beer, and always will be. Oh, and calling it a "sort of" craft beer? It was a craft beer when it was new and exciting, why is it not anymore? Craft beer has to do with the ingredients, and process, not output. One more thing, if someone wants to put an orange in their beer, so what? Let them. If someone wants to paint "Hello Kitty" on their Ferrari, they can, I don't have to like it, and I don't have to do the same, but so what? Its their beer.


One of my personal hero's
I think the mistake a lot of us make, it making a connection between quality, and popularity. Just because something is popular, doesn't mean its the best, or even good. If that was the case, Bud Light would be the best beer, McDonald's would be the only place to get a burger, clearly, and thankfully, that isn't the case. Just because Oberon maybe Bells best selling beer, its not their best, and I am most of the fine folks at Bells would agree. Margaritaville isn't Jimmy Buffetts best song either...

So what, lots of people love Oberon, doesn't mean we have to stop loving it. Its still the same beer it was. If some hipster can't stand the thought of sharing a good beer with the uneducated masses, that is their prerogative, but please, don't try and sell us on the beers quality, and taste or lack of, when all you liked about it was that it was new, and refreshing, and cool, and you were the only one drinking it. So, raise us a glass of Oberon, hell, even drop a slice of orange in it if you want, and lets greet summer with smiles, and many many pints of this old, unexciting, but still very much refreshing golden orange beverage!!!

1 comment:

  1. There's a certain "snobbery of the obscure" that is not limited to beer. "If you like ____ band, you should really hear their early stuff." You can find parallels in other food (cheese, wine), environmentalism, fashion, music, etc.

    You are right; popular does not equal bad. However, there is a certain mentality that is attracted to things that are rare. If Chimay were as ubiquitous here as it is in Belgium, no doubt this mentality would be opposed to Chimay.

    Personally, I don't have the time or energy for pretense. I drink what tastes good; I wear what I think looks good on me and is comfortable; and I say what I think (most of the time - sometimes I try to preserve other's feelings).