Why do people eat a hamburger rather than Spam? Why do people like a Ferrari better than a Pinto? It seems the answers to these questions is somewhat obvious (cost prohibitive aspects to the Ferrari aside). Quality, quality, quality.
It is intriguing when those who are unfamiliar with craft beer ask the question, “What’s fueling craft beer’s growth?” So, here is the two cent answer: quality. Well, variety, too.
It seems that America has been undergoing a slow revolution in its flavor matrix. With the at-handedness of food shows, internet ordering of hard-to-get ingredients, and “atypical” restaurants, we are literally being exposed to a world of foods and flavors. Hopefully, the oft quoted statistic, that Americans essentially eat the same eight to ten basic meals, is becoming a thing of the past. The average America is starting to demand better foods, more flavors, deeper variety. All for flavor.
What happens to people when they’ve decided to no longer settle for vapidity in their foods? They start exploring flavors and start seeking out new experiences. Why should beer be any different? What happens when people will no longer settle for a post-prohibition and hegemonic monopolization of their beers? Well, craft beer is born. We are awakening from our post-prohibition angst and finding that beer vs. no beer is no longer a legitimate distinction to make. We are finding, like our foods, a whole new world of possibilities. Possibilities where enjoyment, complexity, and flavor are replacing excessive imbibing as a primary pursuit.
In short, if you need to ask what is fueling craft beer’s growth, look no further than your plate. I hope it’s evolved over time.