The craft beer movement started with such noble intentions - to simply make a nice-tasting beer - but it's become an eye roll inducing elitist perversion of its former self.
It's time to end the craft beer revolution.
It was a good time for a short time, but now it belongs in the “Your time has passed” basket next to macarons, Mexican street food restaurants and artisan gelato (I mean seriously lemon is the only flavour you need when it comes to gelato, maybe lemon-lime if push comes to shove).
The craft beer movement started with such noble intentions: simply to make a pleasant beer, one friendlier than the tastebud-bashing domestic drafts Australia is so renown for.
Go to America and they will yell at you, “Fosters, Australian for beer!”
Hell, it is on tap in every pub in England. And the mother country knows a thing or two about putting on a craft beer revolution, quietly. They have long harboured a “real ale” community; a gathering of homely English neck beard types that meekly gather to discuss hand pumped ales in hushed tones. These poor chaps never seek to convert the standard larger drinker to ale.
Conditioned by years of football (read: soccer) hooligans attacking anyone exhibiting the slightest deviance from the norm, they disperse like hops on the trade winds in fear at even the slightest commotion. Like The Bilderberg Group, they deal only with their own.
But if you want it, it’s there in every pub. Which brings me to the problem of the craft beer movement: the people who drink craft beer.
Just as no one wants a knock at the door Saturday morning from a short-sleeve clad Mormon looking to add a convert to his quota, no one wants to stand at the bar next to a craft beer drinker on a Friday night. They both tell you what is wrong with your life choices in a direct and uninvited way.
'Why are you drinking that rubbish?' is the standard mating call of the craft beer enthusiast often found in his natural habitat, the brewpub or expensive non-chain owned bottle shop.
'But I like it,' you will foolishly respond, vaguely gesturing with your beer, and in doing so opening a door to a dialogue you will never be able to shoulder closed.
'Listen, that beer you are drinking is like all commercial beers, they have no taste, its mass produced piss.'
This is a signal to the craft beer drinker’s friend to join the conversation and help lecture you. Crafties tend to travel in pairs or packs, knows as ‘Slabs’ across most of Australia and ‘Cases’ in NSW, and they are much like the SkyWhale - a bunch of gassy tits that are full of hot air.
Their opening pretension is quantity. They will scold the lay-drinker for 'guzzling bland tasteless beers' urging you instead to sip and savour fewer 'good' beers, all while ordering round after round of pints for themselves (I do acknowledge it is well past time to examine Australian society’s dependence on alcohol but this is not the column for it).
Pretension number two, of course, is quality. They will tell you about wort, hops and mash. Brewing times and yeast types, this one was barrel aged while this is carbonated in the same fermentation process as champagne by Trappist monks. Whatever beer they are holding will inevitably be the best, richest, darkest most pure liquid to reside in a vessel since the cup that caught the blood of Jesus.
'Such variety!,' they will exclaim into the beer flecked beards, 'just let me tell you about this porter I am drinking, it tastes like burnt caramel.'
Say what you will about wine snobs being boring, droning on about their palette and noses, they do at least have a limited subject matter – grapes. Give them an open floor and they will wind down quick. Beer guys seem to have anticipated this and not to be caught short of material, go deeply overboard.
People used to say there is a steak and two eggs in every Guinness - as in it’s a meal and it will fill you up. Craft beer types, being literal fellows - engineers and IT professionals - took this to heart. They drink beer with food in it: pumpkin spiced ales, tropical fruit, coffee flavoured beer from beans digested and passed through an elephant, doughnut chocolate peanut butter banana ale, whole margarita pizza beer, beer with bulls balls or oysters and even coconut curry beer.
I need beer infused with bulls balls like European countries needs another layer of government. Don’t get me wrong, it is okay to experiment with craft beers – find out who you are and what you like – hell, I have even grated a little nutmeg onto the head of my stout for the sake of curiosity, but things can easily be taken too far. Below is an actual quote that appeared in my social media stream:
This is everything I love in one bottle – beer, bacon and maple syrup! #beerporn.
That is what giving up on life looks like. Have you eaten today? Because as Bachman-Turner Overdrive so tunefully observed, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
There is a beer that has been created using yeast grown in the beard of the ‘master brewers’ beard. Yes, human beard beer. I dare not Google foot beer for fear of finding out that that a Sock Bock beer exists. They have broken a beautiful thing.
Wine claims to hint at notes of flavour, craft beers just wacks them on in there like a ten-year old’s birthday party at a pizza joint, when the shy kid was forced to drink a cola full of Hawaiian/pasta/salt/pepper/lemonade and caramel topping.
Not only do you have to hold it down, now you have to talk about it at length. The greatest put down of rock criticism is 'talking about music is like dancing about architecture.'
Well, talking about the taste of a beverage is like looking to Peppa Pig to cure cancer. The lesson is that beer and wine should never be the conversation; they should be something you drink while you have one.
Jack Franklin is a Melbourne-based music, film and culture writer and misanthrope.