I’ve long been fascinated by the way craft beer “insiders” (aka beer geeks) perceive their perceived “enemy”: Mainstream Beer. Logic and reason seem to fly out the brain’s window when fans of craft beer contemplate who ought to be allowed into the craft beer club and who ought not. (A point I contemplated at length in the last chapter of my book Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer.)
This is all apropos of another example of the illogic of the beer geeks: The desire of some of them to oust “foreign” beers from the Great American Beer Festival.
The GABF is just what the name implies: a festival devoted to American beer. Last year, there was rumbling that Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, and Leinenkugel all ought to be booted from the festival because they’re “foreign owned.” (Leinenkugel is owned by SABMiller.)
What I wondered at the time was: Do critics want to go that road? Because that would also mean booting Mendocino Brewing Company, one of the oldest craft brewers in the United States. It’s been foreign-owned since the late 1990s. That, by the way, is not a criticism of Mendocino’s original owners; in the late 1990s they faced a choice: sell or go under. They opted to sell — to save the company — and to continue to make great beer.
Of course the more interesting question is this: How many people who drink Mendocino know that it’s no longer wholly-American-owned?
More to the point, if they did know, would they suddenly decide that the beer is undrinkable? Hard to know. Worth pondering. (And if you’re up for more beer-related ruminations, check out Stan’s latest blog entry, in which he asks people to comment on “extreme beers.”)