Let’s face it, America is in a second infancy of beer drinking.  Starting out, we had people who came from Europe (and elsewhere) for whom drinking was essentially ancient tradition.  However, tee-totaler prohibitionism drove a wedge between the populace and beer.  Not only did it drive a wedge between the general American public and beer, it drove it between belief (religious) and beer.  The happily married couple of beer and church was wedged apart by religious extremism and anti-German sentiment.  Racism and bigotry has often been one of the greatest dividers among the human race.  Divided were we.

Once “beer” was re-introduced to the American public, it was ever marred by the strained relationship.  Vapid products like American light lager gained hegemony (and still does!) the market place.  Of course, the role of conservation during the Great Depression regarding more important matters and the subsequent world war drove the need to save precious grain for more essential matters.  It’s funny how once things change, they stay the same.  We more or less had an entire generation of people weaned on flavorless American lagers.  It wasn’t until the beginning of the homebrewing revolution that people became “aware” of real beer.  Furthermore, it wasn’t until 1979 that it became legal to brew at home.  Even further, I’d venture to say that the average American wasn’t really aware of craft beer until recent years.

Now the industry is blowing up.  Even the big boys are playing along with their supposedly craft products.  The whole system is moving at a breakneck speed, although I’m hoping things will just relax a little bit.  Actually, I write this because of some craft beer drinkers with whom I’ve come in contact.  They are excited about good beer—but always on the next one, taking little time to enjoy what’s in front of them.  I’ve been guilty of this, too, so I’m not simply pointing fingers at people.  However, I’m excited about the prospect of us as Americans slowing down a bit and getting comfortable with good beer.

It’s a bit of a Catch-22 because this situation fuels growth and interest in craft beer, something I’m hoping to have around in the next few years. However, we need to be able to relate to those persons who are just now getting into the world of craft beer.  We want to usher them in gently, not move them in a “ludacris speed” (thanks to Spaceballs for that one).  What are we going to tell the craft beer neophyte?  Try this, this, this, that, this, that, that, that, these, those, go there, do that…  If we do that, we may lose them.  There is a time for venturing into more and more selections, but I’m looking forward to the day when we’ve all, including myself, gained enough maturity to be comfortable drinking good beer without worrying about all the beers we’ve not had.  Sometimes I really do feel like a baby beer drinker looking at this huge world around me.  All the sensory data.

As a metaphorical sidebar, babies learn a ton in the early stages of development so we should drink in the knowledge while we can… but let’s learn to relax a bit, too.