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Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by skcusab, Dec 30, 2012.
You and I both live in well developed craft markets. What Belgians are you referencing?
Today vs 5 years ago: Way more beer, way more breweries, better distro, much younger crowd (craft beer is exploding in the 20-something crowd). Craft is on tap everywhere. The more limited stuff is infinitely harder to get, but, there is more "top 1%" beer to be had that kind of balances that out. The biggest things are really that a) craft beer is a bit faddish at the moment, and it remains to be seen if that holds or not. And b) there is a genuine rat race for everything beer related - be it the next limited release, tickets to Extreme Beer Fest, 2 hour long lines at Hill Farmstead... beer has become the end goal, rather than an accent to the adventure. The shelves were paved with as much Fou Foune and other Cantillons as you wanted, but it was a rare purchase because $12 was way too much to pay for a bottle of beer.
Today vs 10-15 years ago (things didn't change much during those years): "Rare" beer was stuff we take for granted today like Unibroue, Delirium, Chimay, etc. Everything "fancy" was called a microbrew. "Beer bars" were far and few in between, and even many of the ones in existence served some non-craft stuff. The large bottle culture didn't really exist yet, almost everything was 6/12 packs. No online discussions or reviews or anything - you bought everything based on packaging, experience, and/or word of mouth. Choices were minimal and destination beer stores weren't a thing yet. At a nice restaurant you drank wine, no exceptions.
I can't speak to much longer than that - only been drinking craft for maybe 17 years or so...
Interestingly, the three time periods have definitely been very different and very distinct. 5 years ago was much better than 10+, no question about that. Today vs 5 years ago is the more challenging question. Lots of things are better, and lots of things are worse. Ultimately I think we're in a better spot today, though in some ways the "golden era" is over, whereby everything you wanted was at your finger tips but it wasn't popular enough yet that you had to worry about it.
I've been a craft beer drinker for 15 years now...and things have gotten infinitely better on the domestic front...though the rising prices and proliferation of super limited stuff is somewhat annoying...back in the day it was all Belgian...all the time...for me...but now there's so much more to explore...love it.
Not really the Belgians themselves. 10 years ago i actually lived in Pullman( small college town). So perhaps that is impacting. Pullman/moscow has a great deal of selection compared to the days of yore. And i did visit Spokane back in the day. If there was Cantillon on the shelves, there was not much of it.
Way better now. The American craft scene has multiple versions of almost every style available so we can get something close to what we want when one of the highly sought after beers sells out. We can also order by internet and the bar and restaurants are expanding their menu's to where it's not hard to find something decent almost anywhere. My foray into good beer in the eighties consisted mainly of imports and the price difference between those and domestic was substantial, and the availability was very hit and miss before something dissapeared altogether.
There is certianly more information available now as opposed to 10+ years ago. Anything that wasn't from BMC was termed "micro-brewed" regardless of the actual size of the brewery. More styles, more options, and more opportunities.
On the downside, the days of stmbling upon a great beer are essentially over. Instead of dropping in to a star\pub and seeign hwat is there, you now can go to the place *because* they have a specific beer. And now there are lines, reserve lists, and other things that were never an issue.
In all I like the present more than the past.
I usually only read these boards and never comment, but I am curious on how the typical 32 year old feels about this thread. I, of course, would drink crap when I was 21 and favored the European brews back then before I knew any better. My craft attention didn't truly start until 2005 and I have been learning since. For all who say it was better 5-10 years ago must have just liked having full access to items now rare, because all I can say it gets better and better every year for me as to what I can obtain for variety, and for the amount of places who have decent options on tap.
^ I really agree with this.
20 years ago the craft scene was bleak, and many imports were far from fresh. Microbreweries were starting out with pale ales and porters and such. I don't recall any "beer bars".
15 years ago craft beer was improving, with local IPAs and stouts (Chicago and OH for me) becoming more popular. European beer generally was from Germany, and was never fresh. I remember brewpubs, but not "beer bars".
10 years ago craft beer was further improved, with national distribution of some of the more popular microbrews. Belgian beer was starting to become bigger. German imports still weren't fresh. I started seeing "beer bars" in higher numbers.
5 years ago craft beer was rocking. Lots of choices, nothing was too difficult for me to get via trading, no one had coined the phrase "whale" that I recall. Some breweries were kicking out bourbon aged stouts starting 5-10 years ago too, although they didn't have fanatical followers.
Today the availability of excellent quality craft beer is better than ever. Imports too, although German imports still aren't fresh. Lots more demand has made some beers scarce, but really who cares? There's a lot of good beer to be had anyway.
I don't really see much room for improvement from the current situation. Cantillon is harder to get these days, but really I rarely spent the money on it when it was widely available. People generally want what they cannot have, so I guess things look bad to many other people.
In my neck of the woods in the Northwest, people love local. And when I speak local, I mean within blocks like in England. It's about time SOME industry is strong enough to be supported by a 10-block radius.
My only beef today is how expensive it is. But we can't blame the brewer.. only the FED.
My complaint is that the growing demand is really making it hard to get some of the stuff that I really, really want sometimes...
Five years ago DFH & 3 Floyd's distributed to my neck of the woods. Then, boom, they gone!
Then we could pick bombers of Behemoth off the shelf at Friar Tucks. Now it is a crap shoot to get some after driving to Munster. In 2008 Expedition, KBS, Olde School and the like sat on the shelves in Peoria.
Ten years ago I was trying to singe my taste buds with cask strength single malt.
Fifteen years ago I considered Newcastle Brown a good beer.
Today I drink an incredible variety of stouts, barleywines , belgian style, IPAs and lagers, but like so many things still wish I knew then what I know now.
Today I picked a 6 pack over a bomber just because it was $2 cheaper than the bomber. And higher ratings!
Overall better now, but I miss Cantillon being a shelf beer.
I remember that back then, "micros" were heavily associated with the PNW and Colorado.
We used to get both DFH and FFF in the Twin Cities (mid 90s-2000 or so) and until very recently, western WI. The worst thing about the craft boom is the difficulty in getting certain beers and even entire lineups from certain breweries. I know there are lots of other options, but I want some damn Alpha King! Surprised that you have trouble finding Expedition Stout in your neck of the woods, is THAT becoming rare now?!?!?
What I have seen in the last 5 years (and more so the last 2) is the availability of good craft beers. I am from the South and up until a few years ago, you had to go to a specialty store to get anything other than BMC. Now I can go into almost any grocery store and find plenty of beers I like to drink. Maybe not any of the rare stuff but plenty of highly rated beers. I just bought a 6er of Smuttynose IPA at Food Lion.
The biggest issue I have over the last 10+ years is the focus on "innovation" by throwing any and every weird ingredient in a beer and hoping it works and too many jack of all trades master of none type brewers without focus. Demand for "what else you got" has resulted in too many brands of mediocre beer vying for beer consumers attention which has caused freshness issues to get worse instead of improving. I have seen a shift by brewers from wanting to make the best damn "x style" beer to gain attention from customers and the beer press to use of non traditional ingredients, big bottle formats, rare releases, high abv's, release parties, bbl aging, high prices, etc to attempt to capture consumers attention. To me alot of attention being paid to craftbeer these days has little to do with effeciently making a unique, drinkable, quality product at a reasonable price that people want to return to again and again, and more to do with grabbing headlines and beer geek attention one release at a time- which I don't think is all that sustainable.
Well, I only come into the BA forums occasionally (so I'm not into the fetish aspects), but from the 7 years ago I started, things are better.
I don't get into this "whale" thing (I just now learned about this).
Yeah, I used to get "rare" stuff, but, then again, I'm 15 minutes from Wisconsin.
I don't need "whales"; I have New Glarus, hahaha
Though, it is a bit frustrating that I have to go to Milwaukee to get any of the special releases from Lakefront, Central Waters, or (sometimes) Capital. I generally am selective about those, anyway. I like to try them on tap. It helps me justify $5-6 for a pint, hahah
Bombers are expensive, yes. I just don't buy them.
You want me to drop $12 on a bomber...Fuck that. New Glarus lambics are $8 for a 750ml. 6-packs are under $7.50.
I don't let price necessarily stop me from trying something I want. Iif there is a REASON it is expensive, I don't mind. If it's expensive as part of the "marketing," I'll move on (Goose Island never gets a dime from me!).
Most of the bombers are $$$ to cater to a certain market (I know a guy who knows squat about craft brews, but he buys the $$$ bombers to feel like he knows what's going on)...just like how wine is priced; you scare ignorant people who don't want to LOOK ignorant into spending WAY MORE than they should, so they can feel like they know what to buy.
As other have said, THERE ARE SO MANY OPTIONS!
Coulda got a IIPA today for $12. Instead, I got a variety pack of August Schell. The Emerald Rye in that blows my mind, and I have 3 other styles to explore and savor...all from an OLD, traditional brewery from my region! $8 for a 6'er of any of those I like. How can I complain!?!
I've always thought of Craft bier as "Drink Local," so I don't really get into the trading and searching for things out of my region too much (maybe this is just fatigue from 7 years of intense sampling). I lived in AZ for a few years, and I did the same thing there; I focused on what they had regionally, and I enjoyed and appreciated what was around me. The grass always LOOKS greener. But the bier in front of me tastes WAY better.
For me, I have a brewery now 5-10 minutes away from my house. That rules.
I just spent 15 minutes today trying to figure out what Wisconsin-only craft bier I wanted...cause there were so many choices at the SUPERMARKET.
When I go for a day trip or a road trip, I can, literally, plan my travels around local brew pubs!
That is AWESOME! I can count on most medium-sized cities having a brew pub. That is AWESOME!
New Glarus is $7.37 for a 6-pack. That is AWESOME!
As I see it, if you think things are worse because you can't get some rare, snobby biers, you need to re-evaluate your priorities.
Drink local, love local; it's fresher, anyway!
What's the best bier? The one in my glass!
Agree with this 100%. Also, BA forums seemed more fun 10 years ago, but now I'm just being a grump. Back to my 12 pack of SNPA.