My column at Food and Dining: "Localism + Beer."
Then it goes here.
Brewers: Can you "justify calling beer local"? Are you being hypocritical when you do so?
Here's another comment posted to the original piece.
Buying local just for the sake of it makes no sense if the quality isn't there. And now that the number of new small breweries is growing, it is inevitable that there will be plenty of 'weeds in the crop'. The concept of 'local' beer is nice, but only if the 'local' beer is good. The problem is that often it is not very good at all; and sometimes it is even shockingly overpriced to boot for what you're getting.
So I don't care how big Goose Island (or any brewery) gets or who owns it...if they (or any brewery) continue to make a good beer, it stays on my list. Growing numbers of 'good beer' lovers are beginning to feel the same way.
Following is my reply, which I've refashioned a bit in light of subsequent events.To begin, a quote from my piece:
"If my shift to locally brewed beer implied being compelled to drink an inferior product, obviously I would think differently."
That's fairly clear, isn't it? We do not disagree, and no one is asking you to drink local beer that tastes like ass. You appear to be taking issue with the next sentence I wrote:
"Fortunately, it does not."
So, we do not disagree that quality is paramount. Local beer quality seldom is an issue where I live (metro Louisville), and in fact, I'm hard-pressed to recall the last time I experienced an undrinkable beer hereabouts. But I have no idea where you live, and perhaps it's a different situation there.
Moreover, your opening swipe implying an ideological compulsion to buy local "for the sake of it" plainly is gratuitous. It also is unmerited by my Food and Dining argument, which explains (in admittedly cursory fashion; that annoying word count thing) the economic aspects of localism that might matter to craft drinkers, too. Of course, these aspects extend beyond craft beer. They do not exempt them. Both principles and palates have their places.
I understand the panicked, ongoing rush to defend Goose Island, which in fact is dead. Yesterday, it became even more dead, if that's possible: Goose Island CEO, John Hall, stepping down, A-B InBev exec taking over. Hall now "will be part of a newly-formed 'craft advisory board' at A-B InBev," meaning that he'll be the rough equivalent of an affirmative action appointment to an entity which is the GREATEST ENEMY OF CRAFT BEER IN THE HISTORY OF THIS PLANET.
Now more than ever, Goose Island no longer exists in any relevant fashion compared to what brought craft beer to where it is today, or to what craft beer stands for. I lament the loss, because Goose Island was the first American brewpub I ever visited back in 1992, but nowadays there's good beer everywhere, and it isn't necessary for us to directly subsidize A-B InBev to produce a GOOSE ISLAND ZOMBIE CRAFT BEER UNIT that means absolutely nothing to A-B InBev save for its unquestioned utility as a tactical chess piece to keep genuine craft beers off store shelves and draft lines.
Finally, I think your conclusion is utterly mistaken. Growing numbers of beer lovers are coming to our segment with a keen local orientation, looking to learn exactly how what we do (and who we are) jibes with their expanded consciousness in other areas of human experience. They're interested in community connections, because it seems to them that craft beer is a neighborhood not unlike the places they're examining closely before living there. They're connecting dots, collecting information, and then deciding for themselves. I intend to help them do so, whether they drink my beer or not.
I'll stop here. Thanks for your comment.