I just read an interesting article on Time.com. Perhaps I’m a little late to respond, but I will anyway. I’m the one with the blog. The article itself is grossly misrepresented by its title, as E.S. points out here. In fact, the growth numbers aren’t pulled out from the overall growth of the craft industry, so it’s hard to justify the argument with the numbers laid out in the article. Just because craft beer is growing doesn’t mean all subsets of craft beer are growing.
However, it’s not hard for me to believe that big beers are indeed garnering more support. One of the best quotes from the article gets at a possible reason for this shift. From Sam Calagione (founder of Dogfish Head):
It’s a kind of a blue-collar connoisseurship. Anybody can afford to buy the world’s best beers. But if you wanted to buy a bottle of the world’s best wine, you’d have to spend thousands of dollars.
I think there will always be a stigma, albeit a lessening one, that wine is more high brow than beer. Why? It will always be more expensive than beer. And we Americans equate price with quality. But the surge in big beers is turning more people on to the quality to be found in wine-esque beers, in my opinion.
As any self-respecting beer drinker knows, big beers aren’t for chugging. Sipping is recommended. Making the adjustment from a watered-down lager to a nice barleywine takes some doing. Truthfully they shouldn’t even be in the same beverage category. Don Younger agrees:
You’ve got to be careful with them. But they are self-limiting. They are very rich. It would be like trying to drink a quart of whipping cream. Your body will reject it because they are so rich.
I’ve never had the pleasure of drinking a quart of whipping cream. But I have had the pleasure of drinking many a high gravity beer. And I hope that more and more people have that same pleasure in coming years. As an upstart brewery, part of our duty is to educate the consumer. We’re up for the challenge.