It’s easy to take collaboration in the world of craft as fate; as the natural outcome of combining thousands of people who all agree that their job is The Best Thing Ever. With each brewery visit comes a chance to combine mutual obsessions. And the best way to accomplish that? Field trips.
Beer and religion have walked hand in hand for thousands of years, from ritualistic brewing in ancient Turkey to the Trappist monasteries of Belgium. And just like born-again Christianity rose from the ashes of burned-out spiritual lives, so did craft emerge from a beer culture that had pretty much dried up.
Co-op breweries, with their minimal costs, democratic involvement and intensely local feel, look a hell of a lot like craft beer’s militia. They represent a community no longer simply using its buying power to steer the market, but one empowering itself to join the fight.
Looking back, we survey a country where beer was once the agitator of rebellion and omnipresent companion to social discourse. Behind us is the mass industrialization of beer, but also the craft explosion; ahead of us—possibilities.