For the first time, I am going write about my other passion, beer. This is something that I have been thinking over for some time, some events over the last couple of weeks have prompted me to take time to write about it though.
When I moved to the USA I was afraid I was going to have to live with substandard beer, but it was around this time three years ago, well it was this time, it was Thanksgiving weekend and we went to my cousins place in St. Paul MI. For Thanksgiving, we had only been in the US for two months so we were very keen to see some more of the country and we flew out to the mid west from San Diego.
At the time the craft beer scene in Aus was very small in fact it was tiny it had not started to take off, and had little exposure, what we knew about was the likes of White Rabbit, Little Creatures, Mountain Goat, Red Back and possibly a couple of others out there, that I can’t think of. Beer it’s self I thought at the time was good stuff, and was always nice to get a beer that was different from my staple beer which was Coopers Pale Ale.
Moving into the US I didn’t know what the beers were like, and to be honest I didn’t want to try them in case they were not good. So I held off, my cousin took me to a number of Midwest Micro brewery’s around St Paul and Minneapolis and some in the county side around Minnesota. This was the start of my journey and the start of me discovering real beers, with strong Malts and stronger Hops, beers with different profiles, colour’s and flavors. It happened so fast I can’t for the life of me remember what brewery’s we went to all I know is that we went to a number and tasked some fantastic beer, we ate out of food trucks that stopped at the brewery’s. Some of the places asked where I was living and were surprised that I had not tried some of the west coast beers and pointed me to some of the places I needed to go. The midwest had some really nice IPA’s and I was hooked, I now had to try them all.
When I was back in California, I first went out to Stone Brewery, tried them all, and I found my self liking the bigger hop bombs the Arrogant Bastard, the ruination etc. then it was on to try every brewery I could find, only to discover a crazy amount of breweries in San Diego County, and they do love the West Coast IPA, High Hop IBU’s and a lot of alcohol content. I was in my happy place. I tried more than I can think I also started trying beers from other regions some from north of California, more mid west, Texas beers and east coast, and when I traveled I found beer from the area’s I was in to try.
Back in Aus it seems there was a beer revolution starting to take off at the same time, places like TruBru whom I got to meet many times on trips back to Aus was doing beers from all over the world in growlers, discovering this I was so very happy. Somebody was finding local and importing beers and putting them on taps and getting people to taste some of beers form Aus and round the world. I was also pointed to The Crafty Pint This online publication does more advertising the local craft beer scene than most, and when I moved back to Aus and I was struggling to find tasty beers to try these two were my first go too places.
I do struggle even now to find good beer, the scene here in Aus is changing but just getting to the limited private stores that carry local and imported craft beer is a problem. you can’t just go down the shops and get some craft beer. Now the scene is one that Coke, Coles and Woolworths have all invested in craft breweries as well as Loin Nathan, CUB and Asahi are also investing in breweries not just their own. The distinction between craft and not is being blurred, some or most marketing still calls some beers “Craft” when they are mass produced.
For my mind Craft beer is:
Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by a beverage alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.
A brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation. Flavored malt beverages (FMBs) are not considered beers.
I know that Australia so far has not really labeled what Craft beer.
Now of course the challenge is to get the beer in to main stream, I have had some friends say that some beer I like is terrible, it occurs to me that they were neither prepared to the massive bombardment of Hops that assaulted they pallet. With only “Yellow Fizz” as a base line how are people that have never touched a high quality beer ever going to know what is good.
Don’t get me wrong there is a place for commercial beers, but teaching people what craft beers are all about is going to be a challenge I heard one group say that craft brewers have to get better at advertising, well with places like Purvis, Slow Beer, Copplins, and whole range of pubs putting on tastings and running regular night and have regular craft beer behind the bar for people is a great start.
Then there are the apps, Untapped is a great one, keeps track of the beers you have tasted from the US but needs breweries to enter the beers into the system or send them to untapped to be added. Now Tapped is a even better it is a local (aus) app that tells people where the craft beer is being tapped around them.
Social media I see lots of breweries on Facebook, twitter and Instagram, but really that is only a drop in the hat, compared the the multi-million dollar advertising budgets of big beer. So with social media unless somebody you know follows or see’s a breweries beer how do you find out, word of mouth and well epublications like The Crafty Pint. Word of mouth is how I discovered Dainton Brewing, another cousin knows one of the brewers from Uni. small world but it works out. On the flip side how do you know who makes the beer you drink, or where the money goes. There needs to be some clear labeling.
Coming up however there will be some interesting events this year there was Good Beer Week back next year, Craft beer Risen and I am sure there will be more. but to use an old adage think global, by local, have a look at the beer you are drinking do some research if you are not sure and support the local brewers, I think there are going to be some interesting times ahead.
Get out there and have some craft beer. keep an open mind and try everything.