Thursday, August 13, 2009

Craft Beer IS American Beer

Craft beer IS American beer.

The United States of America was founded in 1776 by English descendants who fled their homeland to find a sense of freedom they had been denied. After the first English settlers passed, the new land of America continued to be cultivated, broken, and expanded upon. Not only the English, but others came to this new land seeking hope, opportunity, and ultimately, freedom. The new America was a land of freedom and opportunity in the most romantic sense of the word. In reality, the cultivating of these foreign and untamed lands that we now call home was hard back-breaking, soul-crushing, spirit-draining work which took the lives and hopes of many. And yet, America remained a symbol of hope and freedom to millions the world over. When the threat of foreign oppression loomed once more, the peoples of America did the only thing they could: they rebelled, standing up for their newfound freedom and spirit of opportunity. America is not the youngest country, but we are young, and as all young children do, we are continuing to struggle for a sense of identity and purpose under the light of Freedom.

Where does craft beer play into all of this?

Beer is the life-blood, sustenance, and social lubrication that, through victory and through folly, brought the first immigrants to America and slaked the thirsts of the millions who followed after. Beer of all origins and ethnicities kept the men, women, and children fed and rejuvenated during those early years. As more immigrants fled to America, they brought with them their passionate culture of brewing and beer.

With all things American, innovation wasn’t a choice; it was a way of life. If one couldn’t adapt then one was doomed to misery and eventually death. As German, Dutch, Irish, and Austrian immigrants, to name a few, brought their love for beer to America, diversity, selection, innovation, and choice reigned.

So what happened?

Prohibition. Two world wars. Depression. Industrialization. And a fresh new market which knew nothing of the beertopia previously enjoyed by their elders. Count in an atmosphere still laden with unease in regards to all alcoholic products in general, a new generation of buyers ripe for the culling, and the macro American lager kingdom quickly emerged.

Many were to rise, many were to fall, and only a few of those giants still live today, towering over all others so as to wholly control the beer market. The explosion of the popularity of light lagers rose rapidly over a short amount of time and due to a multitude of reasons and factors:

Marketing genius. Booming technology. A thirsty workforce. Old fears of alcohol and inhibition. Religion. Government policy. Ignorance. Laziness. Economics. Dirty business tactics. Corporate warfare…to name a few.

This is how just 3 big breweries eventually came to rule over not just the beer drinking public of the United States of America, but over a large majority of the world’s social consumption of beer. And not just any beer, their beer. The Big3 care about one thing and one thing only: profiting off the drinkers who drink their internationally produced, marketed, and brewed beers of similar appearance, aroma, and taste. America’s freedom, nay the freedom of the world, is under a very real threat which targets the heart of American beer and the American beer drinker. Are the Big3 the heart of America? Is this where we have come to, intentionally, uncontrollably, and irrevocably 400+ years later after our home-brewing fathers established our freedom and ratified our rights? As millions immigrated over the coming centuries to America in search of their own freedom, through victory and folly, they cherished their culture and shared it with the growing cultural identity of America: diversity.

Where is diversity and freedom in America now? Is it in the Big3? In large corporate conglomerations that no longer exist for the people, demanding instead that the people exist for them? Is it in monotony and conformity? Is it in the perpetuation of materialistic propaganda?

The Big3 aren’t even American owned companies anymore. They may brew and market their beer to Americans, but all three are owned by foreign corporations. The independently minded artisanal American craft-brewer represents American beer far more than the Big3. Just as our founding fathers revolted against their oppressor, so too are the freedom minded brewer and drinker. One beer at a time. One person at a time. American craft beer is fighting the good fight for diversity, taste, and freedom of choice.

Craft beer is the Beer of America, and ironically, just as America was founded by the very immigrants we scorn and scoff at now, the realization of that loss of beer diversity and choice came about in the 1960s and 1970s by American soldiers fighting for our freedom on foreign lands. Returning home, they discovered a sea of similarly mass-produced beers which boasted lack of taste, flavor, and diversity. The beertopia they had enjoyed in foreign lands opened their eyes and their palates to a freedom of choice they hadn’t even realized they had been missing, so supreme was the ruling hand of the macro light lager Kings. And not just our soldiers, college students and young adults travelling overseas discovered a rich diversity of beer that they suffered without back home in America. Their eyes were opened.

Returning home, our young soldiers and young entrepreneurs now started to fight for their own freedom at home, the freedom to brew craft beer. To brew with choice ingredients. To experiment with different flavors. To be cognizant of their right to enjoy and brew beer of diversity and quality. Just as our forefathers and foremothers before us, a new revolution against an oppressive ruling force had begun: the battle for real beer diversity and real beer choice.

Decades later, our battle has touched not only countless numbers of men and women of all ages and backgrounds in America, so too has the fight for real beer diversity and freedom of choice spread to other countries.

Craft beer IS American beer.

Michael Jackson would aggravate his fellow Englishman and critics alike by declaring the United States of America the most exciting place to drink beer. Why? We may, nay, verily we do, lack the long storied history of a century’s old established culture. Instead, we are a melting pot, proudly so, I say. As a 3rd generation descendant of a Czechoslovakian immigrant, I am proud of my heritage, both American and International. It is this exact melting pot of international proportions that makes the American craft beer scene the most invigorating one in the world.

Would you lie back, without a fight, and let someone else dictate to you what you should drink based solely on the choices they give to you? Craft beer is at the heart of freedom of choice. Choice is beautiful, but only when that freedom and that choice are available to all, supported by a bastion of knowledge and free will.

So, if craft beer is real beer and real beer is American beer, just what IS American beer?

The heart of American beer is about the freedom of choice, the beauty of diversity, and the independence to pursue choice and diversity. No other industry exemplifies this more than craft beer. Craft beer is choice, and I want as much diversity as possible so I can make as many choices as possible, thus perpetuating the thirst for more diversity and choice. I have nothing against a good lager, but in a sea of lagers, I want to be able to choose what lager I want to sup at any given time. Of course, craft brewers want you to drink their beer. And after you do, they want you to decide for yourself whether you like it or not. And after you try theirs, they want you to set out on your own and explore until you feel you don’t need to anymore, and then explore some more. You can’t, don’t, and won’t know if you don’t try.

As for me, I am American Beer. I eat, sleep, dream, live, and sup every day on that American dream: Freedom. Choice. Diversity.

(an original work written by kristyn lier. plagiarism is not tolerated)

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