I love beer.
I love import beer.
I love craft beer.
But I want it to die.
In The Beginning
I’ve been drinking beer since, well since before I was supposed to be drinking beer.
The first beer I had I believe was a Bud Light.
I hated it.
The second “beer” I had was a Steel Reserve. I had to chase it with a Little Caesar’s Hot n’ Ready.
As you can tell I was off to a good start.
But, mind you, this was a good 16 years ago. Outside of a handful of parts around the country, you couldn’t get much. A good beer selection meant the store carried both Miller Genuine Draft and Miller High Life at the same time.
But a buddy and I discovered World Market. It carried beers we had never seen of. Crazy import beers. Look at the size of that bottle!
We tried them and it blew our minds. We were hooked. Up until that point, the most outlandish beer we had tried was a Blue Moon. But in reality, in the store’s that was about as outlandish of a beer anyone could find.
After we sampled those Belgian and German beers from World Market we went on hunts. Extensive beer hunts, to find something new.
It wasn’t easy.
We’d have to stop in every liquor, grocery, gas station, or wherever beer was sold just to try and see if something else existed.
It took hard work.
It took determination.
We ultimately became best friends because of our drive to find new beers.
The Beginning of the End
Back then, having a brewpub in town was a game-changer. Few places had them. We could drive out to Grand Rapids and visit Founders Brewing Company. We made plans to drive to Indiana to visit Three Floyds.
Back then you had to make pilgrimages to find new beer.
And if you knew anyone heading out west you always asked them to bring back a case of Fat Tire.
Whenever you stopped by a brewery you knew you would find two things: great tasting beers and a great selection.
These were beers the owners had slaved and crafted over for years before ever opening a brewery or brewpub. And just about every beer on the menu was different. You’d find an Irish red, a pale ale, a porter, a stout, a wheat, an IPA for the bitter lover, and in some cases, you’d find a lager.
You could order a flight and every beer would be something different. Like a cheese plate where everything is different and delicious.
And Then, Something Changed
Eventually, investors discovered opening breweries was big business.
It’s led to an explosion of breweries and local brewpubs.
My hometown now has over 15 breweries within 10 miles of it.
Chances are, the town you live in has seen an explosion of brewpubs. Each sprouting up like a weed.
And yes, I do mean a weed.
The me of 10 years ago would have loved this. New beers to try everywhere.
But there’s a massive difference between the beer then and the beer now. Back then, brewers opened new locations after years of home brewing and perfecting their product because they loved beer. Now, most locations open up because they want to make money.
And if you’ve found many local breweries all taste about the same, you’re not alone.
Because many of the local breweries are all producing the same product.
An advertisement on my Instagram feed recently popped up. It was for a beer distribution service that would send kits to restaurants so they could make no-fuss beers without any brewing experience. Just follow the recipe and that’s that.
Do you remember years ago when there was an Applebee’s clone on almost every street corner? The restaurants hung up local high school photographs and sporting items. They served similar burgers and margaritas pumped up with so much sugar your teeth hurt.
And have you been inside to order a beer recently?
I have. I went to one of the “top recommended” brewpubs here in town. 12 beers on tap. 10 of them were an IPA or a sour. There was a random stout tossed on the menu for good measure.
That’s like going to a pizza joint and every pizza has mushrooms except for the one pineapple and ham option.
Or like ordering that cheese spread and every option is a cheddar variant.
That’s what the brewpub industry has become. It’s no longer a love for the product. It’s a cash grab.
And I want it to die.
It needs to die.
I do believe, over time, the bad breweries and the copy-cats will fall by the wayside. It’s one of the perks of capitalism. The good tends to survive. At least in theory.
I run a beer history and review YouTube channel. People tell me it’s a great time for beer. That it’s the golden age.
Perhaps we’ll get back to it, but I find this to be more the age of “Super Hero” beers than the golden age. Because breweries just churn out the same style of products faster and faster knowing people will pay.
I find it’s actually become much more difficult to find a great beer. Because there’s just too much junk allowed to make it to market.
So maybe, in a way, the hunt for good beer is as alive and well as it ever has been.
It’s just more expensive.