Best Craft Beers – Consumer Reports

Was_soll_ich_werden_34You know you’ve arrived if you’re finally being rated in Consumer Reports

Best Craft Beers – Consumer Reports.

Until now, craft beer has enjoyed modest publicity, being reviewed in mostly beer oriented publications and local media. Yes, we’ve had the occasional national article. Being rated by Consumer Reports kicks it up to a whole new level. It means we matter.

Interestingly, CR defines craft beer as beer that is produced by “small, independent, and traditional” brewers and “produces at most 6 million barrels of beer a year.” Six million barrels? I think it’s time we come up with a new definition of craft beer. I like the “small and independent” but “traditional”? I would hardly call Sam Calagione “traditional.” Let’s go with innovative. Six million barrels? Maybe in the case of Dogfish Head, but I doubt Neshaminy Creek Brewing, a Great American Beer Festival 2013 Gold Medal winner for their Churchville Lager, produces six million barrels. BeerTrotter, a website that reviews GABF winners, has Neshaminy Creek at “…around 1,100 barrels brewed in 2012, the building may be churning out as many as 7,000 barrels within a few years.”

I have some issues with the article. Shock Top being listed as a CR Best Buy? It’s inclusion as a craft beer is appalling, but that’s what you get when you define a craft as under six million barrels production. Most craft beer snobs sneer at their inclusion. To their credit, CR includes a statement that they  “…included craft beers that market themselves as such.” That explains a lot, but made me wrinkle my brow a bit. I think they should have refined their definition a bit before undertaking this type of review.

So what makes a craft beer? I think I’m going to go with a paraphrase of Justice Potter Stewart’s quote on pornography, “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [“Craft beer”], and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it.”

What is your definition of a craft beer?

Happy New Year to you all

Happy New BeerWelcome 2015

2014 is officially in the books. No more can happen, bad or good that year. There were some high points, and some low points. But this is not where we discuss that.

One thing that has remained constant is beer. You can have one (or two) after a tough day at work to take the edge off. You can have several while celebrating a life event. What has changed over the years, is that the beer has gotten better. We are no longer tied to one of several mass-produced types of lager. We don’t have to settle for mass-produces mediocrity. The variety of beer out there, is staggering. Whether you like light beer that does have flavor, an amber with some bite to it, or a stout you can almost chew, it’s out there.

At times the choices can be daunting. Sometimes I spend more time mix and matching a six pack then I do in cooking the dinner for the beers. But I am rewarded when I take that first sip.

Lately, there has been some bantering on twitter about hops. Some consider the pro-hops faction to be beer snobs. Others want nothing but porters and stouts to be produced. All I can say is, be glad that whatever your preferences, you have a multitude of beers to choose from. We live in the Beer Days of Thunder. Breweries are opening at an incredible pace, each making a wide variety of types. If you can’t find a beer style that suits you today, you must not like beer.

Happy New Year.

In Fermentum Veritas

Charlie “Lightstone” Blitzstein