What better way to start a linkfest than a rant on beer. For me, the continued rise of craft beer is nothing if not logical due to the inferior (and declining) quality of mass market beer. In the United States, Prohibition destroyed much of what was a reasonably active brewing culture, leading the way for a market owned by only 3 real players by the late 1970s. With Carter’s legalization of homebrewing and the ascendancy of small breweries like Anchor, beer culture in the US started its ascent by 1980 and hasn’t looked back.
But what’s changing the game now is the consolidation of international brands, beers that would be considered imports to an American consumer. With InBev and Diageo buying up legacy brands like Guinness, Heineken and Pilsner Urquell, what once were strong brands (in identity and flavor) are becoming diluted (in identity and flavor). While I’d be hard-pressed to find evidence that the recipe of Guinness has been changed (and even the least sensitive corporate masters would be foolish to step on that landmine), the brand has certainly been diluted with additions of theoretically related products like Guinness Black Lager. The mass market transformation of other beer markets besides North America has led to broader acceptance of the craft movement worldwide, producing players like BrewDog that stand toe to toe with the centuries-old incumbents in the UK.