In Defense of Beer Growing Pains

As we’ve written about many times, Arkansas is finally experiencing a beer renaissance. We’ve also stated many, many times in the past: “Listen, Arkansas will catch up…. Just look at these other states (pointing fingers at Missouri and North Carolina) and that’s the future!”

Well my friends, the future is happening. We are still behind, and perhaps we’ll never be a Colorado, California or Oregon, but that’s OK. We can be so much more than what Arkansas was two years ago.

Most of us beer geeks are very happy about the recent surge in available retail beers and new breweries or brewpubs. We love a selection, and we love to talk about beer, and now we can talk about our growing beer selection. Hell, I’ve already talked about beer and selection like what? Five times already?

What comes with this new beer market, however? What are the responsibilities of the “beer knowledgeable?”  What will happen to the current small group of Arkansas beer lovers?

As the market grows, people’s tastes will change, people’s opinions will change, and people’s attitudes will change. Sometimes for the good of craft beer… and sometimes for the worse.

We currently have some beer snobs among us. Generally speaking, being a beer snob is bad. No one enjoys a snob, you see. Some people look for a snob, or perhaps trust a snob, when they are looking for an educated opinion on a particular subject. But no one wants to hang out with a snob, unless they want to act snobby with the snob. Just one more time: snob. Disclaimer: I’m not pointing out John, but rather the complete idea of a snob.
The beauty and magic of the beer movement is the lack of snobs. Beer traditionally represents the working class- it was the drink that brought forth civilization, and it was the drink that nourished people through humanity’s horrors, and it’s the drink that everyone enjoys. The current American beer movement represents unity, high caliber workmanship, art, and being awesome. Samuel Adams, one of our patron saints of craft beer, exemplifies this when they literally shared as much hops as they could JUST to keep brewers alive and producing good beer. How many “collaboration” whiskey or wines do you ever see, compared to craft beer? We see brewers HELPING each other rather than eating each other alive. When Fritz Maytag kick started this craft beer boom, his main focus was to grow the market as a whole, rather than compete against any other brewers. That’s a piece of magic – and it is still in use today.

So as Arkansas experiences more beer, we will see more people taking interest in this beer. You will see people rally behind the battle cry of “BIFF LIGHT SUCKS!” And yeah, we are guilty of that. Like, really guilty. But you’ll never, ever, see us point at someone who is enjoying a Biff Light and tell them that beer sucks, then laugh, then talk about how our craft beer is so awesome it made my lazy eye energetic and vivacious.

We need beer geeks that welcome all kinds of beer lovers, and help them decide what beer is right for them. There is no wrong beer. It will pain some to say this…. But it’s true. There is no wrong opinion. Yeah, some are totally insane, but it’s an opinion, and in ‘Merica, we respect that.

But what happens if there is a general consensus that a beer is bad? And what if the educated beer drinker knows this? That’s where we encounter the slippery slope. As a true beer geek, it is your responsibility to SUPPORT GOOD BEER. Just because it’s craft doesn’t mean it’s good. This is vital in a growing beer market. We must support GOOD BEER. And if it’s in an appropriate place, explain your opinion.

Sit down, let's talk about beer.  I'm friendly and approachable.  And super cool.
Sit down, let’s talk about beer. I’m friendly and approachable. And super cool.

It’s great to see debate and discussion about craft beer because that shows that people are thinking about beer. Recently, there was a good debate about Prairie Artisan Ale pricing on the Facebook group Arkansas Beer Geeks. (If you haven’t joined this group, we highly suggest you do!) So is it good or bad for beer prices to be rising?   As with most of life’s answers, yes and no. I’ll stick with the argument that growing a beer market is good, and super premium options are good. If you’ll look into the future- Colorado, California- you’ll see a well-developed market with amazing affordable craft beer and amazing luxury craft beer. There is no wrong beer.

Hopefully we will have a fresh new crop of beer lovers who know and understand the responsibilities of being a good beer geek. It’s about education and love, dude. We want everyone to love beer. We want everyone to feel welcomed to the beer scene. People want good beer, and we should be there to show them the way. Beer is better than wine when it comes to a social or culinary beverage. Hands down. We have to let people experience this – not talk down to them or talk bad about other beers.

There is no wrong beer.

So as we experience more and more people talking about beer, getting snobby about beer, interested in beer and drinking good beer, let’s remember to raise our glasses to being a good beer geek, sharing the love, and welcoming anyone and everyone into the beer scene. Let’s raise our glasses to supporting good beer. Let’s raise our glasses because beer is art.


6 thoughts on “In Defense of Beer Growing Pains

  1. Michael Butler says:

    Have to agree for the most part. I love good beer. Mind you, my palate is not as refined as others, I don’t have the depth of knowledge as some (Chris Butler to name one), but I do know what I enjoy and what I don’t. I am always open to try new and better beers, beers that I have never tried or thought of trying, and let the chips fall where they may. It is a bit…snarky, when you say “Gee, I don’t really care for this ___________”, and a few act like you have just crucified Christ all over again. Different tastes, different people, different times of the day or different seasons all affect the various moods of beer drinkers…and I welcome that.

  2. Michael Roberts says:

    I’ve said for the past 6 months or so that Arkansas may be headed for a beer crash. Boscos pulling out of the River Market is a sign of this (although lets face it, Boscos beer is pretty pedestrian). I certainly wish all the new labels all the luck in the world, I’m just afraid we have some brewers who are flying too high, too fast.

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