The Firkin for May 2010


Wine gets it and beer doesn’t. It seems to be a thorny issue. Especially now that craft beer has raised it’s profile. Beer has prestige where once it was only a plebian drink. But the pro-beer crowd seems to feel that despite innovation within the brewing industry and educated palates of consumers that proper respect isn’t being given and that wine is sitting on its grape laurels.

That is so beyond the point to me. Beer shouldn’t be compared to wine in that way. By reducing it to a class struggle or vying for preeminence at the dining table, it takes away what is great about both drinks. And it makes both seem like inaccessible drinks for the highly cultured few.

Beer does not have to justify itself as classy. Beer is classy. And wine people who put down beer as beneath them and the beer people who fight every perceived slight just reinforce the old and outdated image of beer as just a watery lager for the masses.

An argument is made that there should be a level playing field. Wine and spirits and beer starting at point A. They are all great and deserve a participation ribbon. That seems very short sighted. We should celebrate the heritage of beer and marvel at the journey it has taken. Then the beer world needs to focus on what is good for the advancement of beer. Not in comparison to others but simply beer.

Beer does not need to keep up with the Jones’s of the wine industry. Remember that this new renaissance started not to compete but to make a good beer because the beer available was watered down and not getting any better. It wasn’t done to win a competition of beer vs wine.

Oddly enough though, I love beer vs wine pairing dinners where people can vote on what works better with their palates. This is because it is an educational setting. It may be externally a competition but in the end people from both sides of the aisle are being exposed to different flavors and their combinations.

The people of the craft beer world need to use whatever GPS is needed to relocate where beer is in history and move forward from there. We are not on the same trajectory as wine or spirits or coffee or tea. They have their own arcs. If beer has a problem then let’s find a BEER ANSWER.

If an alcohol law need to be changed, then we should craft resolutions that fit this industry.

If restaurants don’t use beer to cook or as an accompanying beverage, then we should start restaurants that are beer centric.

If informed media exposure is needed then, then we need to provide either the content or the screens, be they computer or TV, for potential customers to see it.