I swear to Crom that as soon as I clean out some kegs and get a day to myself there will be another brew day writeup, citizens – maybe even some how-to pieces – but for now, some gentle pontificating.
Recently, Collin at Brewed for Thought wrote about the problematic notion of “best” breweries or beers, as promulgated by those “Top 10” clickbait lists you see everywhere:
“The whole reason we have 3000 breweries in this country is because we, the beer drinking public, have rejected the Highlander, there-can-be-only-one conception of breweries.”
That resonated with me because shortly before his piece was published, I was asked by an 8 year old to choose a favorite beer style (not a favorite brand, but favorite style! What a beer-literate 8 year old! His dad is a homebrewer and old friend, and we were visiting).
Whenever I get asked this, I generally demur: it’s an impossible question because the honest answer is a moving target that changes with mood, weather, food, season, etc. But his dad volunteered American pale ale, my wife nominated Helles, and I wanted to play ball for the sake of this sharp kid. So I rattled off a handful, which was as specific as I could get.
But what really impressed me, upon further reflection, was that an 8 year old boy knew to ask for “favorite” rather than “best.” He understood the role subjectivity has to play. I think Milo would agree with what Collin wrote a week later:
“When we threw out the concept of a best brewery, we also threw out the concept of beer authorities. While there are certainly people who pay more attention to the brewery world and try more beers than others, that doesn’t make their opinion more valid. An important part of the culture we’ve created is rejecting that concept, and we should work on maintaining that rejection. Sure, those who are focused on and immersed in beer should be telling people what beers and breweries are killing it, but beer is a populist thing and we should all be celebrating the fact that there is a brewery for everyone, regardless of what you like beer to taste like.”