The Firkin for November 2021

For this Firkin opinion piece, with the turkey merely a leftover memory and Christmas fast approaching, I want to get a little grumpy.

Just a little. Then I can get back to my cheerful but wary self. Here is a short list of beer items that I am NOT thankful for…

  • the lactose-isation of beer from pastry stouts to milkshake IPA’s
  • the slowed but still going IP theft labels
  • anyone not feeling welcome in a taproom
  • Whole Foods not being able to scan a single can, only 4-packs
  • lack of half pint pours in many places
  • the font size on labels growing ever smaller
  • idiots not wearing masks

That feels better. Now onto the final month 2021.

The Firkin for May 2021

I have been thinking about how to get the vaccine hesitant jabbed with any of the three medicines. Concurrently, I have seen breweries hosting vaccine pop-ups.

And I hope to see more of that so we can drag that vaccinated number up to at least 75%.

But here are some “fun” ideas as to using beer to increase vaccination rates…

  1. Only non- hopped beers if you can’t show your vaccination card. As much as people claim to love historical styles, no one seems to drink them.
  2. The three lowest states in vaccination rates cannot sell hard seltzer. See how fast White Claw and Truly line-up to get people Moderna.
  3. The unvaccinated will be allowed into festivals but they get special wristbands and can only drink through a straw.

The Firkin for March 2021

In a hopeful sign, I have started to think about how I would feel going back to a brewery and imbibing actually on premise. Obviously after I get my two shots (hopefully in April)

For me, it is going to be in stages. Like a cautious child dipping their toe into a cold lake. I will probably get a half pint outside and drink fast and be super watchful. Then it might be a full pint but still on guard. Then an outdoor taster tray.

Then and only then will I venture inside and take a stool at the bar where that same three step process will happen again.

I do not know how long it will take to feel secure. When I was younger, I was in a car accident where a driver left turned into my car and slammed into me. The passenger door behind me was crumpled. For a long while, when I saw someone turning near my lane, my heart would beat a little faster and my hands would grip the wheel tighter.

Now, that feeling is long gone. I am looking forward to this Covid crash feeling being a memory too.

The Firkin for May 2013


Beer Advocate magazine is always good to start me off on a beer industry tangent, and the latest issue is no exception.  In their opening salvo, they returned from the 2013 Craft Brewers Convention with three key notes and among them, they mentioned that, “We shouldn’t be celebrating fewer people drinking beer, even if it’s large brewers taking the hit”

With all due respect, I think that is hogwash.  And that is not simply because I am more bullish on the future of craft beer than the Doom & Gloom camp.  It’s because I believe that a consumer who leaves Bud or Miller or Coors or any watery beer on the bar is leaving low quality behind.  And in the end those people will be drawn back to craft beer if they haven’t been already.

I will grant that some people are leaving for health reasons or for wine or spirits but if 10 people stop buying BMC, I think some of them are becoming craft beer consumers.  Until a study of buying habits is done (which I would like to see), I won’t hazard a guess as to the percentages but craft beer must be winning some of those people. But let’s say 3 out of the 10 become “crafty”.  That means a net gain of 3.  Craft beer hasn’t lost, it has gained.

Now you can argue that for future growth, we will need the other 7 people too but the big multi-nationals won’t lose their gigantic market share overnight.  They may very well be shedding a trickle of market share each year well into when my nephews are having kids.  And none of them are even teenagers yet.

And since when has B-M-C been truly considered representative of beer?   I thought craft beer is the true representation.  I stopped eating at McDonald’s and Burger King because my concept of what makes a “burger” has changed.  And as craft beer matures into a well-known industry that same change of perception will happen to more and more people who will call B-M-C beer because that is what it technically is; but when they say beer, they will mean “craft”.  Much like when I say “burger”, I mean In-n-Out.

Craft and Industrial beers are not twins who can feel when the other is hurt.  They are distant cousins at best and if one loses steam or their reputation, the other will not be tied to their fates.  And I am not gloating over the B-M-C losing ground.  I would prefer that they make better beer and if they continue to refuse to do that, at least distribute better beer.

There are much thornier discussion to be having in the craft beer world.  Taxation, green initiatives and others should be occupying our time.