Friday, 10 August 2012

nineteen eighty five

Beer blogger Alan McLeod posted yesterday calling out the press for heralding all-too-loudly the 27th consecutive year of global beer growth. He is right to do so, and ends with some piquing industry-level questions around the beer you love being "the child of the beer you hate". Nice. However, there was one bit that irked me:

Face it. The world and beer nerds are foreign countries. Yet, if you count back on all your fingers and two sets of toes and also your personal collection of Best of Kenny Rogers cassette tapes you will recall that 27 years ago is 1985. Did beer really warrant beer nerds back then? Imports and shades of brown. That was it.
 No. No no no. Well, maybe. But no. Of course beer is mega old. Hops have been grown in England since the 16th century, with hops being included in malty brews since a century before that. But did it ever "warrant beer nerds"? A first recorded mention in 1835 puts even the all-hallowed hipster-snuggle-bunny IPA at around 50 years older than Dr Pepper (a delicious drink that predates coca-cola. A brief aside: I was so excited by the adverts for Dr Pepper as a child that I once gathered some friends together at cub camp to enter a talent competition just so we could buy some with the winnings. It was worth it.)

I really like the questions about the beer industry, probably because I can't think of a satisfying answer. I also agree that beer in 1985 sounds terrible (I am too young to remember it). "Imports and shades of brown". Probably not a million miles off. But I think I might point Alan in the direction of UK's CAMRA. 14 years earlier, they saw the same problems:
CAMRA was formed in March 1971 by four men from the north-west who were disillusioned by the domination of the UK beer market by a handful of companies pushing products of low flavour and overall quality onto the consumer.
My point is that without beer nerds in 1985, craft beer would not be where it is today. The question then is how relevant to beer-lovers is that 27-year growth, whatever the efforts by a relatively small segment of the beer market to improve and diversify the product?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for taking up that point. I might have differentiated between CAMRA at that point as just people who wanted a class of product and today's nerds who want barrel aged cherry soaked elf made black IPA porters from Slovakia. But I didn't so well put.