1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Seattle: a city indifferent to craft beer.

Discussion in 'US - Northwest' started by Mages64, Aug 8, 2013.

  1. Mages64

    Mages64 Savant (370) Washington Sep 7, 2009

  2. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,015) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    I can't watch the video now (I'm at work, and I actually tried but it keeps buffering and it's too long anyway) so I'll check it out later.

    That said, though, I'd say this "indifference" isn't very surprising. Seattle is a big, very diverse, crowded city made up mostly of a lot of people who've moved here from somewhere else for a lot of different reasons. So to get a critical mass of people to universally embrace anything that somehow represents the city's shared identity would be quite an achievement. Like a lot of other things (good coffee, fresh seafood, organic produce, film festivals, live music, great restaurants, outdoor activities... I could go on), I think most people in Seattle just expect good beer to be readily available and easily accessible—but they don't really want to make a big deal about it. I personally view beer as something that greatly enhances other, more important aspects of my life, but I don't really think of it as something to focus attention on as an object in and of itself, if that makes sense. And I'm on BA every single day. Also, Seattleites are notoriously aloof and a little distanced/detached about just about everything, so why would it be different when it comes to beer?

    Thanks for sharing, I'm sure it's an interesting discussion.
    distantmantra and beertunes like this.
  3. My comments interspersed below in brackets. Cliffs notes: I have no idea what the hell this article was trying to say -- in less than a page it seemed to confuse me about its intentions at nearly every sentence. I didn't watch the videos, which may clear it up, but based on the snippet I'm not really interested.

    <below is quoted from source listed in original post>

    When Brew Talks finished the long trip from Los Angeles up to the Pacific Northwest stops, in Seattle and Portland, we found two established craft beer cultures, albeit cultures with very different takes on the role craft should play as a civic institution. [Two craft beer cultures? Do tell. Apparently this will be about Seattle vs. Portland and the role of "craft beer" as a "civic institution"? So, like, craft beer producers as a trade / lobbying group? Or craft beer drinkers? "Craft" as a civic institution is a phrase that makes no sense to me by itself.]

    In Seattle, which is the subject of today’s Brew Talks video (above), it became apparent that, despite the maturity of the craft industry, it has yet to become an outwardly-directed calling card for the city. [Okay, so this is about Seattle and how it's craft beer industry is perceived outside of Seattle?]

    “I would define Seattle as a city indifferent towards craft beer,” said Joel Vandenbrink, the founder of Two Beers Brewing, which hosted the event. [Interesting. Please elaborate.]
    “They don’t lean one way against and they don’t really do too much for craft beer.” [Okay, basically the definition of indifferent. Who is this "they" that you're referring to, and what would you prefer / expect them to do? Or is it the brewers who are indifferent?]

    Vandenbrink joined Ryan Hilliard, the co-founder of Hilliard’s Beer, and Kendall Jones, the founder of the Washington Beer Blog, in a discussion about the cultural and civic institutions that help promote a craft beer culture in Seattle. [Okay, so we're talking about cultural and civic institutions that promote, or could promote, craft beer? Slightly different presentation here than the first paragraph which had it the other way, "craft beer acting as a civic institution" -- whatever the hell that means, since last I heard craft beer was a beverage.]

    Jones passionately explained that Seattle is commonly viewed as a very progressive city, but that it’s regressive in many ways outsiders don’t consider.
    “This is the problem in Seattle – we are known for the Space Needle,” he said. “There are people in this town that resent the fact that we are known for the Seahawks or the Mariners. There are people who don’t want Seattle known for anything.” [WTF. I mean ... just WTF. Aside from the question of "what does this even mean," how does it relate to craft beer drinking and the institutions that either it supports or that should support it? Is this now about Seattle defining itself as a craft beer city in the eyes of the outside world?]

    Perhaps an indicator of Jones’ sentiment is the recent attempt by state officials to raise excise tax rates on small brewers. [(1) The craft beer industry effectively organized to lobby and shut that down (Yay!). (2) That's a state issue (which includes Seattle to be sure, but goes beyond the Seattle/Portland framing at the start). Regardless, now I take it to mean that lawmakers are anti-craft beer? So now it's cultural, civic, and state institutions, and they're not only indifferent to craft beer, but leaning toward hostile?]

    “While the state of Washington was trying to quadruple our excise tax to the highest in the nation, our neighbors down south [in Oregon] passed a little bill that elected yeast as the state microbe,” said Hilliard. “Does that give you a perspective on the different states and how they recognize craft brewers? I think that sums it up right there.” [Um ... no, going to go out on a limb and say that doesn't sum it, whatever "it" is, up.]

    That isn’t to say that Vandenbrink and other local craft brewers aren’t actively pursuing change. [Excellent, so the craft beer industry *is* organizing to promote something that is different from whatever it is right now.]

    “I have some template letters that I give my regulars, that I have written or one of my guys has written and I mail those to legislators,” he said. “There are certainly laws that I want changed.”

    One of those laws Vandenbrink helped to change was his ability to pour other Washington-made craft beers over his own taproom bar. Now, he’s advocating for similar changes that would give him the ability to sell Washington-made cider products as well.
    But in order for Washington craft breweries to effect regulatory change, they’ll need more of an organized effort.
    “Breweries could do better to band together and talk to our legislators and do it from the top down,” said Hilliard. [Oh, I see. So this is about craft brewers in Washington organizing into a lobby to change state policies to promote craft beer production / consumption in the state. And the best example provided by this article is allowing breweries to sell cider in the taproom? Aside from that, what is problematic about current laws, and what should change?]
    sharpski and beertunes like this.
  4. The chances of me sitting through a hour-long video "discussion about the cultural and civic institutions that help promote a craft beer culture in Seattle" is about the same as me standing in line for an hour to get a beer.

    And if this is about Portland envy, the chances get even slimmer.
  5. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,015) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    Typical Seattle indifference :p
    woemad, KiMiRaiK, whiskey and 8 others like this.
  6. beertunes

    beertunes Poobah (1,035) Washington Sep 24, 2007

    Haven't watched the video yet, and may not. But, Seattle is so indifferent to craft beer that at 25% of all beer sales are craft, only PDX is higher. In Western Washington a craft brewer, Mac n Jacks, sells more beer than does the Budweiser brand. Yup, we're pretty indifferent.
    woemad, NWer, tozerm and 4 others like this.
  7. I watched the video. This somewhat reminds me of the "epic" no rare beer in WA thread. The title is a little misleading, we aren't indifferent, we love craft beer. We've all become accustomed to good beer here and expect it, but aren't pushing the boundaries as much as other places and therefore aren't as talked about on the national scale as a craft beer mecca. We used to be at the forefront of the craft beer movement, and now we are content to bathe in the sweet hoppy goodness all around us while other states catch up to us (and some surpass us). There are some who trying to re-energize the industry out here and I think we are moving in a positive direction. We could certainly push the boundaries here more than they have been in recent years, but we are also very content with what we already have, the new breweries popping up all the time, and the availability of other great beers from around the world. I'd love to hear Washington Craft Beer mentioned right up there with the rain, the Space Needle, Grunge, and Sasquatch when anyone thinks of the Evergreen State (for those of us here, we know it is, but the rest of the country may need a reminder, somehow). Although I am perfectly content to let them think what they want while I enjoy another pint of great WA beer. Shit, am I becoming indifferent now too?
    DimensionX and beertunes like this.
  8. As a born and raised Washingtonian, we're aloof, indifferent and passive. And proud of it.

    Every time I go to Brave Horse in South Lake Union, I feel old. And I'm only 31 (32 on Saturday). No problems in Capitol Hill, but goddamn is SLU a bunch of babies.
  9. Maybe if you dudes had rare beer
    Mages64 likes this.
  10. Alas, we do not.
    bifrost17 likes this.
  11. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,015) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    I'm sorry, I'm 44 and I left my reading glasses on my Hoveround. At the ripe old age of 31, did you just call a bunch of 20-somethings "babies"? That is adorable. ;)

    Also, I think taking pride in being indifferent and passive is an oxymoron or something.
    hansw and beertunes like this.

  12. Even with the smiley, I always get the impression you take my posts way more seriously than you should.
  13. FUNKPhD

    FUNKPhD Advocate (505) Texas Apr 13, 2010

    Seattle just seems like a weird city. Can I have a brown bag lunch now?
  14. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,015) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    That's because I'm old. I still have trouble mentally inserting ironic "air quotes" into everything I read.
  15. Eighty

    Eighty Savant (355) Washington Feb 17, 2013

    No, you're thinking of Portland.
    FUNKPhD likes this.
  16. beertunes

    beertunes Poobah (1,035) Washington Sep 24, 2007

    44? Get off my lawn, ya snot-nosed punk! Harumph, kids these days, with their computer machines and craft beers!
    draheim likes this.
  17. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,015) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    Actually, it turns out I'm 43. I always have to ask my wife these days to remind me how old I am.
    flexabull and beertunes like this.
  18. Watched the video. The discussion is actually very interesting. The guy from Two Beers comments about Seattle's indifference are not about the people being indifferent, but rather about how the city is indifferent to what type of business you run. He said his relationship with the city is one of regulations, permits, taxes & paperwork. All three panelists were pointing out that the city & state are missing opportunities to promote tourism & local shopping by choosing not to promote the excellent craft breweries we have. All three seemed like intelligent, reasonable people who are passionate about beer & think we could be doing more.

    Hilliard seemed the most frustrated at one point re:proposed excise tax increases when he pointed out that they could choose to brew here, but not sell or distribute their beer in Washington.

    Worth one's time to watch it IMO.
  19. But the additional state taxes didn't happen. And what would be the result of state and municipal governments promoting craft beer? More beer, including more mediocre and bad beer? Increased sales for current brewers, squeezing out local consumers? Increased tourism to Seattle as a beer destination? Increased non-beer shopping, etc.?

    I don't see how any of these benefit me as a local consumer. For me, it's not indifference --- it's opposition. I don't want my tax dollars being spent promoting craft beer. Our local brewers seem to be doing pretty damn well. I don't want them to be overly regulated, of course. And I would like for it to be easier for them to get their product to market and for them to be financially competitive in this market. But I in no way want to have increased competition from non-local consumers for the local products that I want.

    Finally, I would like our local brewers to be able to go fishing if they want, or blow a bowl if they want, rather than catering to consumers 24/7. ;)
  20. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,015) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    But don't you at least want the legislature to name a state microbe?
  21. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,015) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    Well I just sat through this as my inner journalist diligently took notes of some of the more interesting points/comments that were raised. Enjoy.

    What's changed and what's stayed the same
    Vandenbrink: In Seattle, people just look for "good beer." Not local beer, not Seattle beer, just good beer. After that, people are looking for "what's new." What's limited, what's seasonal. Also, growth of sours, barrel-aged beers, Belgians.

    Jones: Demographic is changing, going more mainstream, getting younger. Young people today have grown up knowing only craft beer.

    On government support of local breweries
    Jones/Hilliard: Seattle indifferent, "you're just another business." All their dealing w/ the city is regulations, taxes, permits.

    Vandenbrink: What I would love Seattle to do is a marketing campaign: "local local local."

    Overall complaint: Lack of support from government, high taxes; it's a missed opportunity to bring in tourists and dollars.

    Jones: 2/3 of the craft beer consumed in Washington is from out of state. (Me: I did not know that. And I wonder if that includes imports?)

    General discussion about growth of growler stations (I fell asleep during this)

    Beer culture
    Vandenbrink: Seattle to Portland comparison not really apples to apples. Difference between Seattle and Portland: Seattle loves good beer; Portland loves Portland/Oregon beer. Vandenbrink (who is from Grand Rapids): Seattle doesn't have homers (my word not his) like Michigan and Oregon.

    Jones: We don't have homerism (again my word) but we have huge companies bringing in lots of people from around the world, many of whom don't drink beer at all. South Lake Union reference.

    Summary/Q&A
    Jones: One thing local breweries could do better is to self-promote, keep making more beer, use social media. It's the city's business to promote craft beer in Washington. Oregon is fiercely provincial, goes way beyond craft beer. Washington Beer Commission trying to educate people about what beers are local. "Drinking local is a good thing."

    Hilliard (re: "drinking local"): I just want to point out that Seattle is 173 miles from Portland, and that Bend is 163 miles from Portland.

    Vandenbrink: Would like to see more all-Washington collaboration projects

    On the business of brewing
    Hilliard: Spends a lot of time on the business/marketing side

    Vandenbrink: "I don't make beer unless I sell beer."

    Hilliard: I see a lot of support on the legislative level, but not on the regulatory level

    Hilliard: There's a brewery in every legislative district in the state

    Jones: One thing that drives me crazy is the mentality that big is bad, small is good. At some point every brewery is too big. Consumers need to get over that. More collaborations between smaller and larger breweries. If you're a small brewery just starting out, get involved w/ the brewers guild.
    woemad and beertunes like this.
  22. kscaldef

    kscaldef Advocate (680) Oregon Jun 11, 2010


    What was really peculiar about that set of comments is that pretty much every year the Oregon state legislature also debates raising excise taxes on beer. (And every year it gets defeated.) Claiming that Oregon is a much better environment for brewers because WA considered raising taxes is either ignorant or disingenuous.
    sharpski likes this.
  23. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,015) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    Oregon also has a state income tax whereas Washington has sales tax. Not sure how that plays into the whole scheme of things but I think it's worth pointing out.
  24. beertunes

    beertunes Poobah (1,035) Washington Sep 24, 2007

    Thanks for the summation, I'm not inclined to put the earbuds in and watch an hour long video. I know Kendall and Joel, and find them both to be smart, funny, involved people who I have a lot of respect for.
    Prufrockstar, leedorham and draheim like this.
  25. Reidrover

    Reidrover Advocate (640) Oregon Jan 14, 2003

    I would like to chime in on the comparisons between Seattle and Portland..maybe i should say Washington and Oregon.
    I am not a native Oregonian having arrived here back in 2000, but i am intensely proud of Oregon, its just infectious.
    Its that localism is very strong here and many if they can afford it will pay more for Oregon products, this is definitely clear in the beer market, i will always buy Oregon if there is not something special i am looking for.
    Oregon is just that way, maybe its because we are the poor relatives squashed between Cali and WA?
    Every second car i see has that green Oregon heart sticker , its just strange but wonderful.
  26. NWer

    NWer Advocate (635) Washington Mar 10, 2009

    I'd watch it but I'm too busy watching baseball. Then I think I'll go fishing.
  27. beertunes

    beertunes Poobah (1,035) Washington Sep 24, 2007

    Plus, the Elk are running and it's Salmon hunting season.
    BuckeyeOne likes this.
  28. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,015) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    I believe you meant...
    I'd watch it but I'm
    too busy watching baseball.
    Then I'll go fishing
    The Elk are running
    and it is Salmon hunting
    season... (no rare beers)
    sharpski, Eighty, NWer and 2 others like this.
  29. Are you trying to get a gig writing for Portlandia?
  30. Reidrover

    Reidrover Advocate (640) Oregon Jan 14, 2003

    LOl..its not just a Portland "hipster" thing.
    Like i said its Oregon..young,old ,liberal conservative
  31. NWer

    NWer Advocate (635) Washington Mar 10, 2009

    Not the Portland I know.
    Portland - liberal
    Clackamas County - conservative
  32. beertunes

    beertunes Poobah (1,035) Washington Sep 24, 2007

    A couple weeks ago, you didn't even know what a "pod" was.;)
    Prufrockstar and draheim like this.
  33. Reidrover

    Reidrover Advocate (640) Oregon Jan 14, 2003

    I think you misunderstood the "localism" aka "Oregon LOve" is apolitical it just isn't Portland.
    I am in Conservative Salem and many conservatives think this way.
    WA seems more mainstream America with pockets of localism.
    I see the same localism in Portland,Salem,Bend,Newport,Lincoln City,Medford even Klamath Falls.
  34. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,015) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    I haven't spent a ton of time in Oregon, so I'll take your word for it (and I understand your point, that Oregon pride transcends political divisions). And for what it's worth, the extended version of the quote from Kendall Jones that kind of spurred this tangent of the discussion was along the lines of "Portland/Oregon is fiercely provincial, and we love them for it."

    But to call Washington mainstream America? I'd say that's a stretch. Both Oregon and Washington are pretty out there relative to a lot of the rest of the country. We're not Alaska, but still.
  35. Reidrover

    Reidrover Advocate (640) Oregon Jan 14, 2003

    But it is is true WA is more mainstream you elect more republicans who take an extreme modern American conservative bent..compared to Oregon.
    Oregon electzs one Republican.Walden who is very moderate and always works with Democrats for what is good for Oregon.
    I take a vacation in Spokane every year I notice the difference.
    WA is mainstream USA thats not a bad thing. Provincialism is a good thing in my world.
    Don't get me wrong I like WA but its no Oregon
  36. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,015) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    You're drunk, aren't you?
    NWer likes this.
  37. Reidrover

    Reidrover Advocate (640) Oregon Jan 14, 2003

    No . Are you?
    You deny WA elects far more Republicans who follow the far right drift of the national GOP?
    Its public record
  38. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,015) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    Yeah, kind of. But I'm a better typist.

    Oregon has 16D-14R in State Senate, 34D-26R in State House.
    Washington has 25D-24R in State Senate, 55D-43R in State House.
    Oregon has 2D-0R in U.S. Senate, 4D-1R in U.S. House.
    Washington has 2D-0R in U.S. Senate, 6D-4R in U.S. House.

    More? OK. Far more? Denied. Cheers!
    checktherhyme and tozerm like this.

Share This Page