I hate beer. It is nasty and flavorless.
But I love Craft beer.
It tastes fantastic, is full of flavor and complexity, is made with quality ingredients and tends to have interesting stories. It tastes nothing like crap beer.
There is no price point at which mass produced crap American lagers like Bud Light, Coors and PBR are attractive to me. I would rather drink water than a watered down beer-like liquid. I have high standards for all food and drink from coffee and beer to tacos and cheese. I choose quality and flavor over crap and blandness.
Does that make me a beer snob?
To most Americans beer (and coffee) are supposed to be cheap, nasty or tasteless and have no redeeming characteristics whatsoever. Listen to a typical crap beer drinker and they will rail against all these damn craft beer hipsters ruining their beer enjoyment. They will grow incensed that anyone would or should pay more than $2 for a beer. (Or whatever mythical number they have decided is how much they pay for their beer) They ridicule anyone who prefers their food and drink to have flavor and be high quality. Arguing about why all beer should be (Do they always speak in passive voice?) cheap and that crisp is a flavor while deriding all those “high-falutting” craft beer hipsters.
Crap beer drinkers are more beer snobs than I am.
So many people expend great energy trying to convince me that beer is meant to be cheap and tasteless and that anything that has flavor or costs more than a can of soda is wrong. They are set in their opinions, unwilling to try anything that might change their world view of how beer (or coffee or any other food) should be. They aggressively promote their beer as the only real beer and lack of flavor as the main goal. There is no room for dissent, quality or opposing viewpoints.
They are beer snobs. Maybe reverse beer snobs but snobs none the less.
Having high standards does not make you a snob. Having low standards and pushing them on others makes you a snob.
The definition of a snob from Dictionary.com is;
A person who believes himself or herself an expert or connoisseur in a given field and is condescending toward or disdainful of those who hold other opinions or have different tastes regarding this field.
To most folks, beer is just a liquid you consume in order to get drunk. To me if Craft Beer had less alcohol I would drink more of it. I have absurdly high standards for all food and drink. Because it’s worth it. I’m worth it. I will not drink bad coffee and will go without or drink a Redbull instead when I need caffeine. I have never paid for an American lager mass produced beer and won’t. I drink water instead.
So before I go fully off into the deep end with this concept let’s flip it around to a more practical approach. San Diego is a Craft Beer hotbed. To date there are approximately 87 operating craft breweries in San Diego county. That’s a LOT of craft breweries. As with anything that is growing stupidly fast there is a wide range of quality amongst the players. There are a massive number of world class, amazingly great breweries producing crazy good craft beers every day. Some are marketing juggernauts, some are small product focused leaders. Most make awesome beer And some make crappy beer.
So here is my list of my personal favorite breweries based solely on the quality of their product (beer) In no particular order.
- Alesmith – They are one of the best beer makers anywhere. All of their beers show a clarity of purpose and vision that is singularly stunning. Yes every beer they make tastes awesome, but every beer they produce has perfect clarity of flavor. That’s stupidly hard to do, consistently.
- Societe – All their beers rock, all of the are unique and focused. They don’t all taste alike but you can taste the vision and the mission in each one. They don’t strive for hip or cool, they don’t give customers what they want and they make some of the tastiest beer in the state. They make gloriously unique and tasty craft beer.
- Modern Times – Superbly crafted and brilliantly creative beers. Every beer they make is, layered, complex and nuanced far and above the norm in this beer city. Every sip reveals a new layer.
- Green Flash – Even though they are one of the big boys they are radical, non conformist and push boundaries every day. Their beers are crazy unique, bold, intensely flavorful and widely ranging. They make some of the most boundary pushing beers out there.
- Lost Abbey – True Belgian abbey inspired craft beer that ranges from brilliantly executed nuance to stunningly over the top perfection. They have nailed the art of nuance and intensity. Awesome beers.
But in any massive growth market there are those who seem to have jumped on the bandwagon without anything but a slick marketing plan and a “let’s make money and be cool in craft beer!” mindset. They lead with marketing, fail at craft beer and yet still have great success. I was originally going to name the worst ones. but instead I will only say that I really admire the business idea that they had of taking a bunch of surf and skate pros, making a craft brewery to make a PBR tasting and priced beer but then make it hip with slick marketing and athlete endorsements. That’s freaking genius and they are making tons of money. Too bad they are making absolutely terrible beer.
After all I must be a craft beer snob since I have high standards.