Power Hour: What is craft beer?

Power Hour is a new segment where I will spend exactly one hour answering a question. The question can be on beer, writing, myself, anything. You can submit a question anytime by leaving it at the bottom of a post or sending it privately to me here.

Start the clock! This is the first Power Hour. In one hour I will answer a question and post it. Questions about what? Anything. I’ll stick to beer for the most part but I’m game to answer any questions you have on life, writing, video, etc.

Why? Well as I wrote about earlier this week I’ve been having a hard time just writing and posting. It’s not writer’s block. Maybe it’s laziness. Who knows? Hopefully this will get the words flowing and help you out at the same time.

If you have any questions you want answered simply leave it below in the comments section or send it privately to me here.

One last comment before getting started. I could probably write thousands of words on an individual question but I’m limiting myself to one hour. 60 minutes. 3600 seconds. The rest is up to you. Help me answer these questions by filling in the gaps and leaving your thoughts in the comments section.

On with our first question and it’s a big one!

What is craft beer?

The first post I ever wrote on Short On Beer was about how I didn’t know what craft beer is. That was on a very Meta level. While I’m still figuring this out emotionally (mentally) I’ll try to answer this question with some facts.

The Brewers Association defines craft beer as, “An American craft brewer is small, independent and traditional.” They go on to define small, independent and tradition. Cool. So what does that mean?

Simply put, craft beer is beer made by breweries that aren’t AB InBev (Bud), MillerCoors (Miller and Coors) or other large companies. Beer brewed by them is usually called macro beer.

This begs two questions. First, what is different about the beer? Second, what about the breweries owned by these large companies?

Side Note: I kinda feel like I’m on an episode of 24 trying to get all this done in one hour.

What is different about craft beer from macro beer?

Isn’t all beer brewed with water, hops, yeast and malt? True. However certain breweries (including some craft breweries) can add adjuncts (mainly corn) to their beers. They do this to lower production costs and “sweeten” beer.

Macro breweries are infamous for doing this. Craft breweries, for the most part, shy away from this method of brewing. Adjuncts are not healthy for you. It is filler. Think of McDonalds. How great does that Big Mac taste? That bun and other ingredients are loaded with fillers and those fillers taste good to your brain. The same happens with beer. Beers like Bud Light and jam-packed with these enhancers that trick our brains. We are indoctrinated into a world against bitter beer.

Craft beer is known for brewing with real ingredients. Drink better, live better.

Are breweries that are bought by macro beer companies still craft?

Yes and no.

Big beer companies continually try to acquire growing craft beer companies. Recently Blue Point from New York was acquired by AB InBev. Before that Boulevard from Kansas City was bought by Duvel. One of the more famous acquistions is Goose Island by AB InBev.

To me, it’s entirely up to you whether or not you still want to consider these breweries as craft breweries. I have visited Blue Point before and after the “takeover” and it was still the same people, in the same tiny dark tasting room, pouring the same beers.

It took me awhile to start drinking Goose Island as I labeled them a craft beer enemy. I had my first BCBS recently. 5 stars, for sure. I’d trade organs to get more.

Time for writing is just about up! I have a ton more to say, and I’m sure I’ll add some thoughts in the comments section but there is only a few minutes to get this online and formatted to make the one hour deadline. Heck, I thought of this at 2:50pm today and look what’s we’ve made. This has been a blast! I hope to keep doing this…let’s say once a week? How does that sound?

What do you think about Power Hour? Good idea? Do you have any questions you want me to answer?

Lastly, I want to know what you think craft beer is. Share your thoughts below!

I hope you enjoyed Power Hour. Make sure to sign up to receive email updates at the bottom of this page so you never miss anything on Short On Beer!

Straddling the Line Between Novice and Expert

Glass with Short on Beer etched

Yeah that’s a glass with this blog’s name on it.

I am not a beer expert. I am not a beer novice. What am I? Hopefully I figure it out in the next 700 words (SPOILER ALERT: I don’t). I don’t even know what craft beer is. I’m straddling some imaginary line that separates these two informal and irrelevant classifications in the ever-growing world of craft beer. Besides being a Cicerone or working for a brewery, what certifications (on paper or socially) can one have that sets them apart from the average craft beer drinker? Secondly, does it really matter?

What does one do if they don’t have the time to devote to becoming a Cicerone or financial stability to switch careers to the brewery life? Start a blog of course. Does that automatically make someone a beer expert? No. A beer novice? Nope, not that either. Therefore there are no rules when it comes to blogging. We can post whenever about whatever. And the main reason to blog, at least for me, is to provide quality content that I want to write about that my readers might want to read. I leave it up to the reader to decide whether or not my opinion on beer matters. And if they do think that, aren’t I a beer expert then? Do I even want to be a beer expert?

A few months ago I asked some question on Twitter about the best brewery logos. Among the feedback I got a satirical response about a brewery in Kentucky I’ve never heard of that was/is involved in a trademark infringement lawsuit (exhibit A: it could be copyright infringement but does it really matter? Since I’m not a beer expert after all I don’t need to be 100% accurate). I responded with someone like, “oh that’s a cool one.” A third person chimed in saying that I had no right to call myself a beer blogger [because I didn’t get the joke]. I was pissed off for a bit. But I bit my tongue instead of getting into a Twitter war and did made the best passive-aggressive move: block the jerk and move on. I guess deep down I might still be ticked and this part of this rant is my way of getting it off my chest. I offer my sincerely apologies that I wasn’t caught up on the recent brewery turf war news. I have a life outside of beer. Am I a beer expert then? I guess not. Does this mean I should stop blogging? Of course not. I blog about what I want write about that hopefully my readers will enjoy. Now if I was writing on recent brewery logo law news that would be an omission. Maybe ding my beer blogger scorecard then.

There was a recent Twitter spat between two well-known beer bloggers that I respect and read. I am not taking sides or commenting on the situation. However it just goes to show that a few simple words online can be implied the wrong way. Even if there was no malice intended, they can make a difference. This is a reason why I do not call myself a beer expert. There is undue pressure put on them to express thoughts at 100% accuracy. Why would I want that? Blogging is fun. Scrutiny isn’t.

Playing devil’s advocate on this one, isn’t the goal of all beer bloggers is to make money just talking about and drinking beer? And don’t you have to be a beer expert to do that? I’m still trying to answer that myself but at this point I think the answer is no.

In my best Tim Ferriss impression, what is an expert? Besides the few available certifications, isn’t all you need a few public speaking appearances, good knowledge of the subject matter, an online presence, and have your own opinions? Well it looks like I’m almost there. Back to being a beer expert.

What this rant is trying to get at is that I’m stuck somewhere in the middle. And I’m okay with that. I’ll just keep writing about my beer-y adventures and maybe provide some useful knowledge along the way. That’ll keep me happy. That’ll keep this blog going. Don’t force me into being someone I don’t want to be. I don’t care about the semantics involved with Lambics. Like Josh Dion says, “Never take beer or life too seriously.”

I have some new, fun, creative features in the works for this blog (can you say Fantasy Beer League?!). Beer expert or not. If you stuck with this rant to here, thank you. I probably wouldn’t have.