“There is no such thing as a bad beer. It’s that some taste better than others.” -Billy Carter
There used to be a time not long ago when picking one’s beer rested on one single choice: local or imported – often taken seriously only at the beginning of a big night out. As the sun set, taste buds became less and less discerning for obvious (and increasingly justified) reasons. Tasting notes, dimensions, smoothness and the likes were reserved for wine drinkers. They had the time, not to mention the coin to indulge. Beer was just beer, sometimes also affording one the luxury of choice between Pilsners, Lagers and Stouts. A heady mix of barley, yeast, water and hops that both hydrated and relaxed at the same time, a necessary ingredient for a guy’s night out but definitely not the focus.
Fast forward to the present (the transition has been steady over the last decade) and words such as IPA (India Pale Ale), Bright Ale and a plethora of other fancy terms sending (some) beer drinkers giddy have become commonplace – if not in the brauhauses in Munich then at least in cities around the world. Beer would seem to have arrived.
This brings one to inspect the new craft following a bit closer – is it that beer has joined the ranks of both coffee and whisky as an evolved pleasure of artisanal (*cringe*) indulgence or is it more that a pint has become more of an affirmative liberation for the tradie that feels left out?
According to homebrewacademy.com, craft beers – also referred to as Specialty Beers, Artisan Beers, Gourmet Beers, Boutique Beers and Microbrews amongst others – can be broadly categorised into three areas in terms of their manufacturing environment:
Small: With production under 6 Million barrels annually
Independent: Less than 25% of the brewery owned by a non-craft beer
Traditional: Over 50% of the beer comes from all-malt beer which signifies higher quality ingredients
According to berghoffbeer.com, not all beer is created equal. Below are a few of the points in favour of the boutique blends over the traditional mass-produced labels:
Not unlike wine, microbreweries use a blend of handpicked ingredients that are perfected over time to offer a unique experience.
Craft beers offer a wide range of flavours and alcohol content for unique experiences to suit varying palates and moods.
Microbreweries use creativity in their brewing processes, unlike big brands that churn out large volumes of brew, often using the same tried and tested techniques. Variation is very often the spice of life.
- Supporting Local Business
Craft beers are more often than not small to medium sized local breweries that rely on their community for patronage to stay afloat.
Whether you are an occasional or habitual beer drinker, experience ordering a craft beer the next time a situation permits, keeping in mind the laborious process that your brew has gone through to reach your table. Try and identify the tasting notes and know that your drink of choice can now be a discussion topic that goes beyond ‘bitter’ or ‘strong’. Wine aficionados, eat your heart out! Cheers!