As everything in modern life, we go around with that old statement saying: “in my time things were better”. Can that sentence be applied to beer manufacturing and beer taste too? Well, I´m glad to say that the fact that it has become so trendy in the world meant that more money is going to brewing and research. There are new flavors, new brands and some bold steps being given towards the creation of new, better beer. Read on to find out which is my view on the change of the beer taste with time.
This is the low side of it. While there are many more craft beer brands making awesome beer in the world today than ten or fifteen years ago, the big manufacturers have industrialized so much their products that they lost something.
Best-Selling Are Not Best-Tasting
This is a rule that can be applied to the 21st Century without holding back. The fact that the best-selling beer in the United States is Bud Lite doesn´t means that it is the best beer to drink in the US at all. In fact it is the one that is present in all large supermarkets and big places. It is safe to say that the beer brands with the broader reach are often the ones that have the more optimized production process, most competitive price and, as a side effect, the softer, more artificially-flavored of them all.
Bottles, Cans And Draft
There is much being said about the recipient in which the beer is presented once it is finished. To bury the first myth, most hand-made beers are not draft-only and can be found in bottles as well as cans and growlers. This is a feature that best beer-bars of Barcelona, my home town, know. This buried myth allows some of the best-tasting beer in the world to come in fridge-friendly formats and allows bars to offer a wider variety than if they were only offering draft beer. The amount of cask or keg-stored beer is limited, but if you include beer in bottles and cans, the result is virtually limitless.
The Price Factor
This is where the big manufacturers of beer are holding up because the taste difference is very noticeable but it translates into the price. Buying good craft beer is not cheap. If you are a daily drinker, exchanging your six-pack of Bud Lite for a pack of Founder´s Brewing All Day IPA can really mean a difference by the end of the month. Does the Founder´s beer taste better? Arguably yes. Is it made with better ingredients? Of course, hand-selected in most cases. Still, the price factor might prove to be decisive for a large sector of the population.
Arguably, the process of manufacturing small amounts (relatively, we are still speaking of hundreds of thousands of liters) can mean a closer attention to detail and a further follow-up of each step in the process. There are craft beer brands out there that have nailed the process and perfected it so much that quality does not vary from one to the next. Brands like Founder´s, Nómada, Reptilian, Cigar City among many more are a guarantee of good taste and no matter where you obtain their bottled product; it is never sour or excessively citric as happens many times. This is because the manufacturing process has the perfect blend of industrialization and artisan hands that gives a consistent, yet great-tasting result.
There is no other beer experience like sitting in the bar of your favorite bar and asking for the beer you want in that moment and get it in a cold glass with just the right amount of foam on top. That being said, what most of us who don´t have such a big monthly income do is to mix our beer-drinking habits. At least my take on it is to have my six pack of Estrella in the fridge, which is a good, cheap, industrial beer and also go out for some premium draft ones. Do I make exceptions with occasional growlers, cans and bottles? Yes, I do that all the time, but that Tuesday night I get home tired from work I open an Estrella, sit in the couch and enjoy life´s small bottled pleasures.