On a previous rant, I covered an annoyance of some places that serve craft brews in frosted glasses …which is a mild pet peeve, but really not a big deal.
I find it funny also that servers will respond to my title question by listing “Bud, Bud Light, Miller Lite …” and so on, before getting to the one local and one import handle. Ugh.
As if nearly every place with a license in the country didn’t have most of that macro-swill crap taking up cooler space!
“Do you have anything local?”
Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don’t.
Often, they’ll say something like, “I wish.” At least we have a kindred spirit—even if we don’t have good beer.
It’s sometimes even better, if I ask, “Do you have any microbrews or imports?”
Have you ever heard something like, “we have Killian’s and Corona”?
Uh oh.
Don’t get me wrong. The fact is, the entire thing really is getting better. There is a tremendously wider selection available nowadays in nearly every establishment. In fact, I’m finding more and more places that do NOT serve macro swill at all …except for maybe a grandpa or lawnmower beer, like PBR, Old Style, or Strohs. And I’d argue that the future is even brighter …
There was a day, when I was just reaching drinking age, when a “premium” beer was something like a Michelob or Bud Dry. Nowadays, even the cheapest young (legal) drinker is well aware of the craft brew world and that there’s more to life than the commercial stuff. With the movement to local and organic foods, homemade consumer goods, and environmental products, the “drink local” movement is a natural.
Further, there’s an anti-commercialism vibe out there, which, in many cases, totally rejects anything put out by the big ad breweries. The new hipsters thrive on the local microbrews, craft beers or the grandpa beers, such as Pabst. (Pabst is actually a contract brew, produced primarily at Miller/Coors facilities, and now for sale by the Kalmanovitz trust. It also owns Old Style, Schlitz, Stroh’s, Lone Star, Blatz and other “old” labels, which have seen sales increase steadily since 2002).
Nowadays, even the cheapest young (legal) drinker is well aware of the craft brew world.
All this adds up to bad news for the big guys, who are seeing falling sales and are unable to respond in their preferred and traditional method—advertising dollars—because much of this market rejects their screaming ads, touting nonsense such as “triple hopped” or “lager lesson 101.”
Further, their attempts to fight back using the craft brewers’ weapon of choice—quality ingredients in macro-craft beers (Blue Moon, ShockTop) or “partnerships” with establish craft breweries (Redhook or Widmer anyone?)—is met with skepticism and sometimes outright disdain by the many modern consumers, who are making a choice to support the smaller producer. Even better, products like Bud Light Wheat do some of the craft brewery’s job for them in educating consumers with some training wheel products that there is more to life than pale, fizzy lager.
They’ve been forced to resort to mega-mergers to acquire market share, as we’ve seen with InBev/AB and SABMiller/Coors takeovers.
Of course, all this adds up to about 7 or 8 percent of the U.S. beer market at this point …but it’s the only growing segment of the market and it’s a far cry from the 3 or 4 percent only a few short years ago.
The future is bright for American beer consumers. There is no place on Earth with the wide variety and availability of quality choices that we have here …and it won’t be long before more and more servers will answer that title question properly: “Well, we have several local beers on tap, including …”