Like most, my first beer was from the world of light, yellow, fizzy beer. Much like losing my virginity, it was scary at first, and I had no idea what I was doing. Also like losing my virginity, it didn’t last very long. In my home town, Sam Adams was considered exotic, but I quickly gravitated away from big beer in the BMC crowd to what the tiny craft section my local grocery store had to offer. Once I moved to Austin, TX though, is when I truly discovered the big wide world of craft beer. IPAs, Porters, and Witbiers, oh my!
What I’m suggesting in this post might be blasphemous, but stick with me. I think…macro beer…is…amazing. Gasp! Boo! Hiss! Now before you rally the villagers and gather the torches and pitchforks, it’s definitely not because of the flavor. Big beer has been around for a long time and has accomplished some pretty incredible things.
They consistently make the same beer, every time
Budweiser alone produces over 120 million barrels a year. That’s a staggering amount. What’s also staggering is that a Bud Light, like McDonald’s, tastes the same no matter where you drink it the world over. Some breweries that makes less than 5 thousand barrels a year have trouble pulling this off. Anyone who has ever homebrewed knows that producing the same recipe consistently every time is difficult. Multiply that by several millions scales and you’ll quickly become impressed. The amount of control and precision necessary to pull off such a feat is just mind boggling. Batch to batch, macro beer is comfortingly consistent.
They survived prohibition
In 1919, Prohibition devastated the beer industry. When passed into law, there were just under 1,200 breweries in the United States. By the time it was repealed in 1933, less than 20 survived. Those that survived had to quickly switch production to other products in order to keep their doors open. Coors began producing ceramics, and is the worlds largest producer of engineered ceramics to this day. Yeungling began producing ice cream and kept at it until 1985. They reopened the dairy in 2014. Pabst, due to its location in Wisconsin perhaps easily switched gears from beer to dairy, manufacturing cheese. When Prohibition ended, they switched back to beer and sold their line to Kraft. Big beers not only survived, but they thrived in this serious blow to the industry. The prohibition experiment likely set back the development of new styles until the beer renaissance of the 1970s.
They force micro brewers to up their game
It’s not personal, it’s just business. Capitalism at it’s finest. Stomp out the competition and maintain your market share. Can you blame them? BMC has survived, even thrived through adversity and they’ll be damned if they let some upstart micro brewery roll onto the scene and steal their thunder. It’s war, and they’re out for blood. You’ll take their Budweiser, ummmm, America when you pry it from their cold dead fingers. How can you possibly fight them? The craft beer scene is firmly in place now and likely not going anywhere, but you can’t let up. You have to keep applying the pressure. Quality over quantity has to be the mantra. Mediocre beer cannot be allowed into the market place. Consistency must be maintained and a loyal fan base must be cultivated. Micro brewers are known for pushing the envelope when it come to experimentation and creating new and unusual beer. Not all are hits, but it’s important to crank it to 11 and make the big boys sweat.
You can’t please everyone, and there is no accounting for preference. Some people will never, never, never, ever like craft beer. And that’s fine. How boring would the world be if everyone liked all the same things. The struggle is real, but it’s also where all the fun is. Like you trying to get a date for Saturday night. Chin up buckaroo, you can do it.