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09-08-2013, 09:11
Visit the Called to the bar site (http://maltworms.blogspot.com/2013/08/smugness.html)

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Currently enjoying Tom Acitelli’s Audacity of Hops (http://www.amazon.co.uk/books/dp/1613743882), an occasionally breathless but incessantly fascinating gallop through the past 50 years or so of American craft beer history. I’ve just passed the mid 1990s and coming closer to the time when a major shakeout in breweries was on the horizon and then I notice an excellent article in Draft (http://draftmag.com/features/will-it-fall-brewery-beer/) by the ever lucid Joe Stange. There’s an interesting coda to the debate from Lew Bryson here (http://lewbryson.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/will-it-fall-yes-it-will.html). It’s all very enthralling.

And of course this all poses the question: could it happen here? There are lots of breweries and I personally don’t always feel confident when I go into a pub and are faced with a row of hand pumps or keg taps for breweries I’ve never heard of. Is this still about pub quality? I’ve had flaccid cask beers and sterile, still craft keg, which I am sure could have been sorted out in the pub, but then I’ve also had dull, unimaginative beers that were surely brewed by committee.

However, does this mean that I should be actively calling for a shake-out? That I should be hollering for the closure of breweries up and down the land? I don’t think so. A certain amount of these new start-ups represent someone’s dream, while others are the cold calculation that this brewing lark can make money in the short term. Who am I to say that someone should lose their business, whether I agree with the ethics or not? I would never want anyone’s brewing business to fail, no matter how bad the beer is, I think the lack of quality would do for this hypothetical bad brewery — the market, as is the case about the argument with lads mags that was so succinctly argued in the Guardian here (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/08/lads-mags-market-modesty-bags?INTCMP=SRCH&commentpage=5), will sort things out. If a beer is bad, you don’t drink it. I wonder if there is an element of mean-spiritedness, elitism and sheer arrogance in wanting breweries to fail? The flip side of craft beer is perhaps smugness?

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