Craft Beer: An Adventure or a Preservation?

Looking back when I first began my craft beer adventure not so long ago, I had one thing on my mind; I had to try as many beers as I could. I wanted more of those sweet and juicy flavours I had discovered when tasting my first Gamma Ray by Beavertown, Eternal by Northern Monk and Bloom by Verdant. I quickly fell in love with the ‘murk bombs’ that are NEIPA’s and the cloudier they were the better, before finding its sweeter West Coast counterpart. I was smitten.

Mostly, this still applies as I discover new breweries and those that I am familiar with continue to put out new and exciting beers week in, week out. But one thing got me thinking recently. A sentiment that I hadn’t really thought of before that made me think, ‘Yeah, actually, you’re right!’ Many of us will have participated in either Dryanuary or Tryanuary depending on which side of the fence you sit, but after that came the hashtag ‘#FlagshipFebruary’. Something I hadn’t heard of before…

What is #FlagshipFebruary you ask? Well my interpretation of this, and what I can gather, is this is a celebration of the beers out there that were either among the first to really push the craft scene OR they are beers of your choosing which are staples in your beer stash. Now an example of this from the UK would be Jaipur by Thornbridge, a beer which is still widely regarded as one of the first beers to really push flavour into a beer at a decent ABV. Of course there are many more, which is the main goal of this new hashtag and celebration.

Now the more I thought about this, the more I began to think of the implications if we forgot about the beers that brought us to where we are today. It would be like forgetting music of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s (or before) never existed when, in truth, it shaped the music we listen to today. Whilst it’s all well and good that we keep chasing new beers and experiences, I think it’s worthwhile stocking staple beers that remind us of where we came from. For me, like them or loathe them, my journey began in earnest when I won a crate of Brewdog in a Christmas raffle, so I always have cans of theirs in the fridge of some variety.

The main concern that people seem to have raised is if breweries keep churning out new beers they may experience burnout and people may not want to have any of their older, or core range beers. The main philosophy here being that they have a core range of around 4/5 beers in regular production, broken up by seasonal/experimental beers throughout the year. Personally, I am a real fence-sitter on this one as I see the argument from both sides and depending on what mood I am in I will fall into one camp or the other very easily. On the one hand, I am excited and eager to see what new beers breweries can produce, but by the same token I don’t want them to lose the art of perfection and rush beers or try and grow/produce too quickly and their beers suffer as a result.

You can see why breweries are quite keen to regularly produce new brews, given more people are now turning their noses up at beers which they have tried beforehand and apps such as Rate Beer and Untappd influencing their drinking habits. But, as more criticism comes towards the craft industry saying the bubble will soon burst and start to shrink, I do hope that as a collective we can conserve the beers that made us the drinkers we are today and not forget our roots. After all, we all started somewhere, even if it was with a bottle of Punk IPA…

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