Born-again beer drinkers and appreciating the multiple aspects of beer

Posted on April 17, 2012

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Those recently converted to craft beer can be as fanatical as any born-again religious fundamentalist. As though repenting for what they see as years of immoral consumption of macro lager, they lament, “Oh, what have I done? All those evenings wasted! But now I know better, and will never let the swill of macro lager cross the threshold of my mouth again.” This refrain might be an exaggeration in literal terms, but not conceptually. This initial fervor is to be understood, but just as limiting to ones world view as the beliefs of any evangelist.

Beer is not just a consumable product, it is history, culture, science, craft, and on. There is not a beer on the market that does not have an interesting story behind it, and like all art, each creation is built upon a history of previous work. (This concept is brilliantly shown in Kirby Ferguson’s Everything is a Remix.) If the savour of one of the top selling American beers is not what makes a beer attractive to someone, there are other areas to appreciate: quality control, business acumen, history, marketing prowess, and culture, to name a few. Importantly, it is possible to appreciate something without promoting it or consuming it.

Just as there are many shades of beer, there are many shades of beer appreciation. After an afternoon of drinking small batch, cask conditioned ale at the New England Real Ale eXhibition, a draft PBR might just be what the palate and body craves. When someone is confident in their love of beer there is nothing to prove and it opens up a whole greater world of appreciation – and fun.

The craft beer evangelist holds a very important role in the craft beer industry’s growth, and it is not to be suggested that they stop evangelizing; however, without perspective the message can be alienating – to at least 94.3% of people drinking beer (based on volume consumed).  After the born-again has been reborn there is a tendency to talk about the error of their earlier ways, stating they are a better person now and implying those who have not been reborn are lost and doomed. No one is doomed to a tasteless life, no one is a fool for enjoying non-craft beer. After all, this is beer we are talking about.

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Posted in: Consumption