A few weeks ago I asked a question to the followers of The Session. A question that I could not fully answer myself; not because I didn’t know the answer or because the answer was as simple as the question implied, but because the question left many possible inferences and I was not sure where I would take it.
So what does The Landscape Of Beer look like? If you ask me, I’ll tell you to just take a look around. We are both the face and the landscape of beer.
While the beer world is huge, there are only a small percentage of consumers actually using social media, blogs, applications, and similar avenues to appreciate and share the love of the craft and their hobby. The faces we see online, at festivals, or just hanging out in breweries are what the landscape of beer is all about.
Writers make the news and break the stories, pub goers experience ounces of love one glass at a time and share it with their compatriots. Social media connects individuals that are worlds apart around a similar interest. Without that connection, what would the industry be?
Take a look to the past; before it seemed like only a few breweries owned the marketplace, back when there were only a few brands obtainable far and wide, most neighborhoods supplied their patrons with their beverage of choice. Each neighborhood or region had beer that was uniquely their own. This is far from the case now where familiar styles are readily available, but local consumption is undoubtedly on the rise with craft brewers popping up in many local communities.
This growth would not be possible without people like you and I. We are shaping The Landscape of Beer. The world of Macro and Micro beer is quickly vanishing. While there are breweries that focus only on their immediate area, a good number of them are looking into international distribution, expanding into new states, and further reaching in their current areas. This expansion is only possible because we are demanding their products. When we share them with our friends or talk and write about the love we have for any producer, our voices are being heard and echoed across the world. Everyone wants to savor a mouthful of the beer that makes our hearts sing.
What does this mean for the future? We are currently in a world of expansion and “predicted” buyouts. Will we return to a time that was similar to the pre-prohibition era, with a few minor changes? Will greater things be in store? Will we see no real change to the growth and quality of beer that is available now?
One vision of the future holds a handful of national breweries. This could be a possibility within the next 5 years. If the number of smaller, local brewpubs and breweries continues to keep pace, many neighborhoods will be able to have a constant supply of beer available to them without travel or worrying about breweries from outside the area, much like before prohibition.
I have been on the scene for about 6 years now and have learned a substantial amount. When I dove into the world of beer, I knew nothing. My eyes were open to an endless abyss of flavor and new friends. Some were fresh faced and over enthusiastic, just like myself. Others were slightly more experienced, and beyond that I even ran into a multitude of enthusiasts who knew what beer was even before I was born. I looked to them for guidance and I am now at a point where others are looking to me and my peers.
We can create educated, well informed consumers, or monsters who take after the likes of those INSATIABLE ANIMALS! While both are needed to keep the industry afloat, the quality of beer that flows depends upon the ones who pay attention and filter flaws from the system.
Take a look around and consider where you want beer to go. The shape of the landscape is up to us. When it is time to hand over the reins, let’s do it in a manner that shows we welcome the change; and not like an old curmudgeon who wants the kids to GET OFF OUR LAWN!