One of my recent posts received some interesting criticism. Several people were of the opinion that when I visited Mikkeller Bar SF earlier this month, I drank the wrong beers, ie. I didn’t have any Mikkeller beers, and the ones I did have are not particularly hard to find in California.
Putting aside the fact that I’m Canadian and have never lived in California or anywhere else in the US, it got me wondering about why craft beer enthusiasts (CBEs) drink the beer they do. Which is more powerful: the desire to drink delicious, well-crafted beer, or the desire to try as many different beers as possible?
I understand that there’s a case to be made for drinking Mikkeller beers at a Mikkeller bar. The idea that the opportunity is a rare one is compelling, but not as compelling (to me) as the desire to drink GOOD beer. The taplist was dominated by an excellent variety of beers from the US, Belgium and elsewhere, almost all of which I had never had access to before, let alone on tap at a bar which prides itself on having one of the most perfectly designed tap systems in the world. So why should I limit myself to Mikkeller beers?
Because, as the critics put it, Mikkeller beers are “rare/exotic,” I “drank stuff I can get in central PA,” and I “might want to try something harder to get or a one-off next time.” Apparently the value of beer is measured not by its quality, but by its rarity.
Mikkeller is a gypsy brewer. Their skills notwithstanding, I have to admit that I’m not sold on the concept of gypsy brewers. They’re certainly highly influential, but I personally have more faith in brewers that build their business on a core set of proven, consistent, well-crafted beers.
What baffles me is the fact that, because Port, North Coast, Bockor and Petrus have permanent beers with mid-sized distribution, somehow they no longer deserve my business in the eyes of these particular critics. It makes me wonder if craft beer really is a bubble afterall. Untappd is the most obvious example of the gamification of beer, and if craft beer is just another drinking game, then what is going to happen when all the CBEs get tired of playing?
It’s a scary thought.