¡Viva la Revolución!
For many, craft beer is a drama. The industry is just as much a spectator sport as it is a hobby or consumer indulgence. We have our local teams, our rivals, personalities and companies divided into heroes and villains. We revel in stories of upstart underdogs tilting at giants trying to crush them for fighting the good fight. We follow beer legislation as if it were the NFL draft. Craft beer is our fantasy league.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with this perspective, so long as it is not obsessively followed to extremes. Many throw their support and their spending behind breweries and brands they truly believe in and enjoy, and at the same time refuse support to others for a variety of reasons. Personal spending decisions are just that — personal — and we all have our beliefs, our standards and our guidelines for where our money goes and why. Like good and loyal fans, we always support our team.
But let us not forget the fact that this industry is still a business, albeit one with ethical attachments we have seemingly hung on various aspects. There are thousands of players in this theater, from craft brewers to distributors to retailers to the bars and pubs that serve as the front lines of la causa. Outside of these official commercial standards are found a cast of even more semi-pro and amateur characters: the volunteers, the festival hosts, the app writers, the bloggers and critics, the swag dealers.
Craft beer is our fantasy league.
However, all these personalities and legal entities are not the craft beer movement. The actual revolution for better beer, dear reader, is you. Locally owned, batch-brewed, flavorful beer is a consumer-driven industry. No matter how you may perceive it, professionals in the brewing industry respond to a demand; they do not create it. Beer bars with dozens of taps and hundreds of bottles do not generate this consumer sector — the end purchaser does. Beer festivals such as this do not happen because one person or a committee wants them, they happen because you have demanded them. Your dollars are votes and the craft brewer is the voting machine, not the candidate.
So enjoy the show as it unfolds before you in this little slice of local and mercantile history. Cheer for the victories, mourn for the tragedies, and keep hissing at the lawmakers and scoundrels. Engage in it, pushing your support in one direction or the next like participatory theater. But while gods and legends of brewing fight before you and pass through your ranks as they ascend and fall, never forget that your pint glass and your seat at the bar are as much a part of this melodrama as any craft beer celebrity.
Drink what you like, and never apologize for it.
Originally written at the request of Chad and Nellie Montgomery for the Big Texas Beer Fest
Fair Park Automobile Building, Dallas, Texas
Saturday, 11 Aprill 2015.