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Part of something bigger

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The Thanksgiving Holiday has given me a chance to catch up on some reading. I’m about halfway through Christopher Mark O’Brien’s Fermenting Revolution. Much of the first half of the book on the history of beer and revolution seems to me to be very conjectural (such as: “Maybe Jesus turned water into beer instead of wine?”). However, I’m really looking forward to the second half of the book, which seems more centered on beer today and is being done to preserve not only good beer but also the world.

One quote from Richard Boston, author of Beer and Skittles, got me thinking:

The consumer revolt against big brewers that has taken place in the last three or four years is unique. I know of no other industry of this size that has been checked in the direction it had taken by the massive resistance of the customers. This is gratifying to beer drinkers, but the achievement is one that is important to others as well. It has demonstrated that we need not be endlessly manipulated by the forces of the state or big business.

The trends in the beer industry towards microbrews and away from the big guys really does fly in the face of recent tradition. I equate it to the decline of Target and Wal-Mart (albeit slowly) and the emergence of thousands of mom-and-pops to take their place. Regardless, I think it’s cool that capitalism doesn’t necessarily mean big companies focused on low prices. Customers have a lo of sway, and ultimately it is their demand that changes what customers produce.

The beer industry does more than produce beer. Sustainability and a focus on local production and community are beginning to peep through and only show signs of picking up. Christopher Mark O’Brien’s blog and Brewvana are two excellent sites that come to mind when thinking about the positive impact the industry is having on our world.

I’m excited to become part of the brewing industry ? not only because I love beer and I love the Christian communal tradition of brewing, but also because the industry is in the midst of some major changes. This move towards local production and quality products could potentially trigger changes in other industries. And that would be sweet.

One thought on “Part of something bigger

  1. One more way the internet is changing the world.

    Beer used to be dominated by the guys who could make fancy commercials and put them on during the Super Bowl. Why? Well, because the way for beer lovers to communicate was largely limited to beer industry insiders and homebrew clubs. There was no real way for people to get a different perspective than what BMC was offering, because the cost was prohibitive.

    There were people who desired better beer, and people who knew about the little breweries, but there was no way for them to talk. Enter the internet, a way for people across vast distances to discuss brewing and the craft beer world. All of a sudden, people like me can look up reviews of bars that offer good beer selections when I’m traveling. I can find out before I go somewhere what bars or liquor stores offer the local craft beers I want to try. And as people like me are able to do such a thing, it increases the market demand for small craft breweries that wouldn’t ever have succeeded otherwise.

    And when the major breweries produce the tasteless watered-down swill that we’ve grown accustomed to, people are willing to try new beers that they never knew existed. “The long tail” has now started wagging the dog.

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