I made a promise to myself before Mrs Velkyal and I made the move from Prague to the USA that I would not allow myself to become a blinkered drinker; that I would try beers made by the big boys of the brewing world over here, whether that be SABMiller, AB-InBev or Molson-Coors. I don't believe in objectivity when it comes to rating a beer, and I am slowly allowing myself to worry less about adjuncts, some of which are essential to a given beer style.
Admittedly I will rarely blog about beer from the big boys, not because I think they are necessarily awful beers, nor yet because I want to show off my serious beer drinker credentials by mouthing off about them, but because there are plenty of others out there taking that role and I simply can't be arsed to repeat ad nauseum the prejudices of other people, I don't want to fall into group think. I will say this though, having had a few bottles of Budweiser since I have been here and I can think of at least a couple of Czech lagers which given the choice, I would drink Budweiser instead of.
One thing though that I have noticed of late is comments about how the big boys are trying to muscle in on the craft beer scene by producing beer which to the uninitiated seem as though they would be craft beer, think Blue Moon from Coors or the Michelob range from AB-InBev. Perhaps I am being overly generous to the industrial brewers, but is imitation no longer the sincerest form of flattery? They have recognised a market trend and because they are businesses they want a piece of the action, it is a natural part of market economics. Is does however challenge preconceived notions about what is and what is not "craft beer", and if a brew from one of the big boys happens to meet those criteria, is it disingenuous of us in the beer geek world to not call it "craft beer"? It might not be "good" be in our world, but it is "craft" beer, which is another preconceived prejudice that needs a swift kick in the crotch, not all "craft" beer is good, in fact I can think of plenty with is boring, plain or just down right crap.
Now, speaking as a Brit, I wonder if our devotion to, and championing of, smaller breweries is because we have an in-built cheer for the underdog attitude? A bit like cheering for Fulham in the Europa League final, or supporting Ross County in the Scottish Cup Final (on a side note, having been to Victoria Park many times when I lived in Fortrose, I am supporting County in the final for affectionate reasons rather than plucky underdog cheering). What happens though when the small brewer becomes a medium size brewer? How often have you heard people claim that Deuchers IPA isn't as good as it used to be? Strangely such comments come out when a brewer gets a larger share of the market - a bit like,and I have used this phrase before, bitter Pearl Jam fans claiming Nirvana sold out for commercial success.
Those somewhat random thoughts then lead me to the question in the title of this post, who do we as beer bloggers, geeks and lovers think we are? What is our role in the beer community? What do the brewers actually think of those of us who take time to write about their beers? Answers on a postcard to....well ok, leave a comment.