Face it, most of the major brewing companies have become in essence, beverage manufacturers. So it is not all that surprising that many of the new beers offered are essentially fruit infused concoctions. A phenomena that extends across many brewing styles, from IPA to Stout to Helles to Porter: Reinheitsgebot be damned! For someone like myself, who loves the purity of recipe and tradition, this is indeed a sorry state of affairs, partially brought on by the unrelenting demand of the capitalist system to always sell more product, whatever that product is.
It would come as a bit of a shock for those who still buy into the illusion of craftiness to discover that the concerns at a board meeting of Sierra Nevada, Boston Beer, or Anheuser-Busch InBev have very much in common when it comes to the sales of their products. Add to that the Big Board demands of the stock market, and it is not difficult to grasp that much of the essential aspects of brewing culture, will be surrendered in the name of increased sales. At this point marketing becomes a holy essential, which is why Boston Beer was deeply disappointed by the failure of Samuel Adams Hopscape to move as an early seasonal, which I reviewed as a pleasant wheat ale but did not tickle the flying fickle finger of fate of the consumer. Then there is the latest seasonal:
Where to begin with this? It is a pleasant enough drinking experience if you enjoy having a natural flavour orange in the finish. But I fail to grasp the utility of the graphic design. Skull with orange slice eye sockets? What looks like honey dripping down from the top of the skull? Surely, hasn’t that skeleton concept been overly used, from Rogue Dead Guy to Heavy Seas? Then there is the declarative on the carton that seems somewhat disingenuous from a company concerned with Angry Orchard cider, Coney Island hard soft drinks, and alcoholic seltzer water:
Samuel Adams was a bold & determined rebel. He masterminded the Boston Tea Party and was among the first patriots to call for American independence. He united our country in rebellion against the British Empire in pursuit of the American dream. Oh, and he was also a brewer. We proudly named our beer after this hero.
The “Oh, and he was also a brewer” seems to me to encompass the cynical attitude so prevalent these days. Never mind that the billionaire titans of the beverage industry will use patriotic gimmicks to sell more product until the numbers drop. Now repeat after me: I do believe in craft beer, I do, I do, I do!