Fur­ther Read­ing

Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine - - Busi­ness Of Beer -

share of at­ten­tion, there’s also con­tin­ued move­ment hap­pen­ing among the in­dus­try’s much broader and dis­persed base—among the thou­sands of small and in­de­pen­dent craft brew­eries that have since ap­peared in the space opened up by th­ese big­ger brew­ers. That move­ment il­lus­trates the com­pli­cated re­la­tion­ship be­tween com­mod­ity and craft and why in­de­pen­dent own­er­ship mat­ters.

Con­sider cof­fee. For many years and in many Amer­i­can house­holds, cof­fee came in a vac­uum-sealed can­is­ter and one brand was more or less in­ter­change­able with the next. Then, as Amer­i­cans be­came more af­flu­ent and ac­cess to more and var­ied types of cof­fee in­creased, tastes changed and be­came more dis­crim­i­nat­ing.

This shift hap­pened across al­most every type of food and bev­er­age as small pro­duc­ers of­fered up al­ter­na­tives to the sta­tus quo. Some rec­og­nized op­por­tu­nity in this trend and found ways to repli­cate a more craft-like ap­proach at scale, reach­ing a much wider au­di­ence and ac­cel­er­at­ing change in the process. But as what was once unique be­came com­mon­place, many con­sumers grew thirsty for new and novel ex­pres­sions. This in turn has helped cre­ate a re­cep­tive au­di­ence for the next gen­er­a­tion of small, in­de­pen­dent pro­duc­ers, many of whom are ex­plor­ing in­creas­ingly niche di­rec­tions and a hy­per-lo­cal ap­proach as they seek to fur­ther dif­fer­en­ti­ate them­selves and their craft.

Says Bouck­aert, “If you con­sider when craft beer started, we had gas sta­tion cof­fee. We had Won­der Bread. The pen­du­lum had swung to­ward some­thing that was per­fected and util­i­tar­ian—but it didn’t have any­thing to do with taste.

“Now, thirty or forty years later, we are in a whole dif­fer­ent era where we have wines in the United States that peo­ple dare to com­pare on a world­wide scale. We have beer in this coun­try that can eas­ily out-com­pete any­body in the world. Cof­fee is prob­a­bly there. Choco­late. We’re so lucky. We could never have done some­thing like this if Sam Adams and Sierra Ne­vada were not around, if this whole en­vi­ron­ment hadn’t changed,” he says. “And now I think about beer in a dif­fer­ent en­vi­ron­ment. Who do we want to be? What is our craft?”

The Hall­marks of Craft

That spirit of con­stant in­no­va­tion and rein­ven­tion is one of the most im­por­tant hall­marks of craft and why a di­verse base made up of many small and in­de­pen­dent brew­ers, each ex­plor­ing dif­fer­ent facets, will al­ways bet­ter serve and sup­port the in­dus­try as a whole. Many craft-brew­ery own­ers are also in­spired by what they ap­pre­ci­ate in other brew­eries when de­ter­min­ing their own rea­son for be­ing, which For more in­for­ma­tion about the in­spi­ra­tional brew­eries listed in “Keep­ers of the Craft,” see th­ese Craft Beer & Brew­ing Mag­a­zine® ar­ti­cles:

Casey Brew­ing & Blend­ing » “Break­out Brewer: Casey Brew­ing & Blend­ing,” Fe­bru­ary/march 2016 » “Fruit Gets Per­sonal: Brew­ing with Heir­loom Va­ri­etals,” June/july 2017

Scratch Brew­ing » “Break­out Brewer: Scratch Brew­ing,” Au­gust/septem­ber 2015 » “Brew with the Sea­sons,” Cook­ing with Beer Spe­cial Is­sue, 2016

Jester King Brew­ery » “Break­out Brewer: Jester King Brew­ery,” Fall 2014 » “Méth­ode Gueuze: Made In Amer­ica,” Fe­bru­ary/march 2017

Jolly Pump­kin Ar­ti­san Ales » “Break­out Brewer: Jolly Pump­kin Ar­ti­san Ales,” beerand­brew­ing.com/break out-brewer-jolly-pump­kin-ar­ti­san-ales/

Can­til­lon » “Fruits of Their La­bor,” June/july 2015 is an­other way that a di­ver­sity of small and in­de­pen­dent brew­eries helps sup­port a more ro­bust com­mu­nity.

The founders of Pur­pose Brew­ing men­tion their ap­pre­ci­a­tion of brew­ers such as Casey Brew­ing & Blend­ing (Glen­wood Springs, Colorado) and Scratch Brew­ing Com­pany (Ava, Illi­nois), for ex­am­ple, and es­pe­cially Jester King Brew­ery (Austin, Texas) as in­spi­ra­tion for cre­at­ing beers with a sense of place and pur­pose. In turn, Jester King Founder Jef­frey Stuff­ings cites Jolly Pump­kin Ar­ti­san Ales (Dex­ter, Michi­gan), as well as Bel­gian brew­ers such as Fan­tôme, Can­til­lon, and de la Senne, as help­ing to in­spire his ap­proach.

Al­though they’ve just opened, the founders of Pur­pose Brew­ing say they have no am­bi­tion of grow­ing the brew­ery much be­yond its cur­rent size.

“Our in­tent is to stay tiny,” Wil­son says. “You can’t do on a large scale what we want to do. It’s just not pos­si­ble. You can’t go pick cher­ries off the most beau­ti­ful cherry tree in Fort Collins and make 10,000 gal­lons of beer, or 1,000 gal­lons for that mat­ter.”

But by pur­su­ing their am­bi­tion and fol­low­ing their heart, Pur­pose Brew­ing and the thou­sands of small and in­de­pen­dent brew­eries like it play an in­spir­ing role in defin­ing and mak­ing rel­e­vant the “craft” in craft beer.

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