Has the craft beer culture changed over the past 5-10 years?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by PrimustheOne, Mar 17, 2017.

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  1. PrimustheOne

    PrimustheOne Initiate (73) Nov 23, 2016 New Hampshire

    I was an active member on BA about 7 or so years ago. I left primarily for health reasons. At the time, the snob factor of the craft community seemed to be at an all time high. A few examples

    - I remember people getting relentlessly flamed for daring to criticize sacred cow beers.
    - No price was too high to pay for beer, and you where flamed for saying so.
    -I attended a craft beer party organized via a BA forum, and literally got snubbed for not bringing "worthy" beers.
    -Endless chatter about beer hauls and advocating waiting in line for hours to get a whale, as if were the most normal thing in the world.

    I came back expecting more of the same, but was pleasantly surprised to see the intense fanboyism had diminished in the forums, and a few articles posted advocated socializing over ticking beers.

    I think this is a change for the better. Have you noticed a change over time to the culture?
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  2. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,906) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    The blind and intense love affair with "craft beer" has been over for a while now. Welcome back. But it sounds like you were hanging with the wrong crowd and focusing on the culture's surface.
    Of course. Like practically all cultures in life, beer's is constantly changing.
  3. PrimustheOne

    PrimustheOne Initiate (73) Nov 23, 2016 New Hampshire

    Thank you for your reply. How has it changed? For the better, for the worse?
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  4. bleakies

    bleakies Disciple (364) Apr 11, 2011 Massachusetts

    Ten years ago you never heard people asking if New England IPAs were overrated.
  5. ypsifly

    ypsifly Meyvn (1,073) Sep 22, 2004 Michigan

    I think most of the Neckbeard/Douchebag contingent has moved over to FB groups making BA a little more tolerable for the rest of us.
  6. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,325) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I still read lots of post about people paying outrageous amounts for beers. A brewery local to me (Tired Hands) had a can release yesterday. The price per 4-pack (16 ounce cans) for the two beers released was $22 and $24.
    I still read on BA where folks will wait for hours in line to buy beers from breweries like Tree House, Tired Hands, etc.

    I do not think it would be fair to say the above is the norm (just like it wasn't the norm 7 years ago) but this stuff still does go on.

    Needless to say but drinking craft beer does not need to be 'hard'; just go to your local beer store and pick up a 6-pack of a beer like Sierra Nevada and enjoy.:slight_smile:

  7. TheWolf

    TheWolf Disciple (327) May 26, 2015 Delaware

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. The evolution of the culture from chasing whales at bottle shops to the boom in non-distributed brewery only releases has transferred the unfortunate behavior you feared would exist from these forums to Instagram and twitter pages.

    I was reading the thread of a certain PA brewery's Instagram account today and the argument was whether or not a recently released $24/4-pk imperial stout that sold out in an hour was a gimmick beer or not. Crazy.
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  8. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,906) Aug 23, 1996 California
    Staff Moderator Fest Crew Society

    I could write a book, but in 2007 there were under 1,500 breweries in the US. Today, well-over 5,000 with nearly 2 new breweries opening per day in the US alone.
    That's too broad of a question, as today's beer culture is massively diverse and many of the changes over the years have both pros and cons.
  9. sjverla

    sjverla Initiate (0) Dec 1, 2008 Massachusetts

    I was actually thinking about this on my drive into work this morning, specifically about the term "whales".

    When I joined, whales were M, Dave, Dirty Horse, etc. There was more or less a canonical list. Now it's much more "personal whales" - stuff that people want desperately to try but haven't been able to (and the overwhelming majority of these are currently hazy, fruity IPAs). I think the industry has exploded sufficiently to the point that while there are beers that have a general consensus of stature, it's not the same. I could just be jaded, but to me there seems to be less mystique.

    Not that that's a bad thing. Just a difference from when I first got active on the forums ~2010.
  10. PrimustheOne

    PrimustheOne Initiate (73) Nov 23, 2016 New Hampshire

    Thanks everyone, lot's of good insight!
  11. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Savant (948) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    The biggest change i see in the last 5 or so years is the trend towards drinking local. This maybe the result of so many breweries opening but it is a change.
  12. HopsDubosc

    HopsDubosc Initiate (156) Apr 24, 2015 Vermont

    The biggest change for me is how much time I spend in eating/drinking at breweries now. Whether locally (Foam, BBC, Zero Gravity, Prohibition Pig, etc) or while traveling, many more breweries are now set up to offer one stop shopping than ever before: pints, flights, food, swag, growlers, cans, music, entertainment etc.
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  13. PrimustheOne

    PrimustheOne Initiate (73) Nov 23, 2016 New Hampshire

    Indeed. Craft beer has become so mainstream, that a brewery specializing in gruit in my area does a healthy business.
  14. Celtics76

    Celtics76 Crusader (704) Sep 5, 2011 Rhode Island

    In a way, you need to create your own culture. I refrain from hanging with folks who only care about the latest hyped releases and turn their nose up at simpler beers. I call these people "amateurs". I'm at a point where I don't need to rush to Trillium for every new hyped collaboration or Headroom, etc. (for example). I'm perfectly fine going to my local bottle shop and getting one of the many great readily available beers out there, and avoiding all the nonsense.
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  15. Leebo

    Leebo Initiate (192) Feb 7, 2013 Massachusetts

    OP, In New Hampshire? Where abouts? I'm a drink fresh, drink local kind of guy. Enjoy what you like. For me, not a ticker, trader, rater, or wait in line beer guy. Support you local brewer( if they are good) Go from there. NH has lots of options these days.
  16. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,007) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    And sours were still relatively unknown. More and more folks started becoming interested, but often complained about Cantillon pricing back then. I put some nice age-worthy things away, but no Lambics. I honestly never would've guessed that some esoteric sours would become so cherished.
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  17. JrGtr

    JrGtr Disciple (398) Apr 13, 2006 Massachusetts

    I don't know about anyone else around, but I would sure read books regarding the beer world and culture by you and / or Jason...
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  18. Dan_K

    Dan_K Zealot (517) Nov 8, 2013 Colorado

    All of the stuff you mentioned I have seen on BA in the last 6 months, except the 3rd point. Most BAs are pretty cool, and I've met about a dozen now. Because of the strict rules around here, it does keep some of the riffraff away.
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  19. Ranbot

    Ranbot Savant (902) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    I agree with @ypsifly that the more immature and obnoxious behavior has moved to social media. That's where the whale hunters congregate to brag about their conquests. The format of social media is also well-suited for thoughtless and troll-like comments, so those types of people tend to go there. I'm in a Facebook beer group and it's got all the dumb behavior and more that you would have seen 10 years ago on BA, so those people are still out there as part of the overall "craft beer culture"...Don't fool yourself. BA's format attracts those who are little more thoughtful.

    Instead people were asking if West Coast IPAs are overrated. :wink:
  20. AZBeerDude72

    AZBeerDude72 Poo-Bah (1,852) Jun 10, 2016 Arizona
    Society Trader

    I think the current day craft scene is awesome. Tons of great people, tons of great beer, and a lot of choices, could not be better.
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  21. Keene

    Keene Defender (664) Sep 11, 2009 Washington

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  22. PrimustheOne

    PrimustheOne Initiate (73) Nov 23, 2016 New Hampshire

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  23. flaskman

    flaskman Aspirant (289) Aug 3, 2015 New York

    I see more expensive bombers and pricey 4 packs. It is getting tougher to differentiate yourselves from the other guys. Much more choice and the big guns trying to keep market share with overpriced variants and limited editions. That is only going to last so long. The local micros are figuring things out and the selection is better than ever. I believe that a shakeout is coming and it will be at the expense of guys like The Boston Beer Company, Inbev and Sierra Nevada.
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  24. spaceman24

    spaceman24 Initiate (0) Oct 7, 2008 Texas

    If saying there are more breweries as an answer to how craft beer culture has changed in 5-10 years intrigues people enough to buy a book, I'd be happy to write a dozen or so.

    Sneak peek: Volume 1: Bourbon County moved from four packs to single bottles.
    Volume 8: People still like IPAs.
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  25. Satchboogie

    Satchboogie Savant (958) Oct 16, 2010 New Hampshire

    Volume. Even 5 years ago, it was still a bit of work to find really great beer consistently, especially in NH. Now it's just easy. 5 years ago, NH's really only good shelf stout was Smutty Imperial Stout. That was IT. That's why Kate Day, Dark Lard, SouthHampton RIS, etc were such a big deal. Now we have Stone IRS, Founder RIS/KBS, Parabola, Speedway, Kelson Vinatta, Henniker King Misanthrope, Ten Fidy, High Westified, etc etc etc. Now, I still tend to go out of state for IPAS, but it's so easy now to stock up at Alchemist!

    It's been fun seeing how mainstream craft beer has become. 5 years ago, no one who wasn't a beer geek had ever heard of PTE or Heady Topper. Now I see casual beer drinkers drinking Alchemists, etc and talking about the PTEs of the world.
  26. Satchboogie

    Satchboogie Savant (958) Oct 16, 2010 New Hampshire

    And this is the change that I haven't liked in the last decade. All of the bcbs/kbs beers have become far more difficult to obtain and far more expensive. (but I don't care much for KBS now anyways, there's so many better BA stouts available now).
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  27. spaceman24

    spaceman24 Initiate (0) Oct 7, 2008 Texas

    I agree. I think the truck-chasing and hoarding of popular beers has intensified, maybe as a byproduct of more people getting into the scene, which sucks for me, but oh well. Maybe they'll move onto the next trendy beverage soon. If not, more money for the breweries is good for them.
  28. eLMsITYbUM

    eLMsITYbUM Initiate (89) Oct 24, 2007 New Hampshire

    Yes there is tons of variety in the craft segment. With that comes a great deal of growth. My problem lays in mediocrity, which unfortunately there is tons of... Not saying every new brewery falls into that stable, but a great deal of them do.
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  29. eLMsITYbUM

    eLMsITYbUM Initiate (89) Oct 24, 2007 New Hampshire

    I don't really chase Heady ,Focal Banger or Sip much anymore as I've discovered Garrison City, from right here in the 603! Those are still all great beers, that I enjoy when available to me. Not (as much) travel involved with finding GC, that's all.
  30. PrimustheOne

    PrimustheOne Initiate (73) Nov 23, 2016 New Hampshire

    Yea, I agree. Often when I try a beer from a new brewery, I frequently find myself thinking "there is nothing special about this. I might as well drink a Smutty".
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  31. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Savant (948) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    I agree with that and feel the same way about many new beers from established breweries.
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  32. DrStiffington

    DrStiffington Initiate (0) Oct 27, 2010 New Jersey

    I agree with a lot of the posts already made. Some things have changed for the better, yet I still see the behavior the OP asked about.

    Biggest change for me personally from 7 years ago is that I buy growlers or cans right from the brewery now and much les from stores. Hell, my favorite breweries Kane, Carton, Conclave, Troon, Other Half, etc. didn't even exist 7 years ago and now it's 90% of what I drink.
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  33. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (3,001) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Society Trader

    First off, welcome back! I will say that if you stick around, you'll definitely come across the stuff you mentioned above again - especially in the regional forums. I think the difference is that that kind of conduct is in the minority and tends to be met with strong push back from the BA community. A perfect example was a recent thread on "drinking just 'good' beers". Most people were very reasonable, but then some people came in and essentially were arguing about only drinking whalez ... needless to say they met with some pushback on that regard.

    At the end of the day though, every has differing opinions. Some people don't mind paying more $ for a beer they like/want, some people won't spend more than $10 for a six pack on principle. Some people don't mind waiting in line for beer - others never would. There are lots of opinions on here but its all good since we all love beer (I'm assuming since we're all on BA :wink: )
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  34. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,385) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Society Trader

    The main news stories have changed over time in this order:

    - Big brewer sues little brewer
    - Big brewer buys little brewer
    - Craft brewer sues craft brewer
    - Craft brewer expansion
    - Craft brewer layoffs
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  35. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,383) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado

    I agree a shakeout is coming. I think inbev is going to be fine. They pay investors to buy into new trends and sellout of stale ones. Breweries like ballast point, Boston Beer, etc are going to feel the burn. I also think sierra Nevada and new belgium are going to be ok. Boston Beer and Ballast Point both have a portfolio of "sameness". All of sam adams beers taste similar to me when comparing style to style. Ballast Point uses the same beers and just throws different flavor additions. Shit, Sculpin is the craft version of the bud a rita series of beers. Sierra Nevada on the other hand is constantly pushing new flavors with beer camp and their other multipacks, and people seem to really enjoy them. New Belgium also sees changes in the culture and adjusts for it. Add in lips of faith and they appeal to tickers as well.
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  36. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (2,579) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland

    I to joined BA in 2010. Since larger distribution/shop world class beer chasing seems to have migrated to waiting in lines for small batch local NE IPAs, the terms truck chasers and Whalezbro have decreased in use the last few years.

    Culturally in the US, since 2010, we as beer drinkers and brewers are getting alot more mature, experienced, and knowledgable overall and as a national beer drinking culture have really closed the gap with UK/Belgium/Germany. For consumers, there is easier access to higher quality and also fresher beers now than back in 2010 I would argue. More breweries in your area means the odds are much more in your favor now that there will be at least a few great beers you can get fresh in your vacinity where before there may have been none just due to not many brewers back then and the law of averages.

    It sounds like over in Europe, Asia and elsewhere in the world, craft beer (US influenced styles) seems to be really catching steam as well.
  37. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,113) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina

    So much has changed! You can now get a fruity, American-style IPA and a pulled pork slider at any "craft" beer bar across the globe.
    #37 herrburgess, Mar 18, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2017
  38. denver10

    denver10 Poo-Bah (2,619) Nov 17, 2010 New Mexico

    I have never traded and it could be simply be a matter of paying more attention but i think beer trading has expanded over the past 7 years. Personally, I think the culture that has been spawned from beer trading is the worst thing about the craft beer scene.
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  39. johnInLA

    johnInLA Champion (873) Jun 12, 2005 California

    While I wouldn't go as far to say the "trading culture" is the worst thing, as I do think there are positive aspects of trading, I do agree that many of the negative aspects of what I see today's beer culture seem to come from "secondary market" motivation.
    jrnyc likes this.
  40. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (3,001) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Society Trader

    I feel like the worst of the secondary market motivation is with people selling rather than trading beers. For sure there are those trying to "win" every trade, but the most egregious issues I see are people who are selling whales on the secondary market at astronomical markups.
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