The recent rapid rise in the popularity of microbreweries seems to have marked a turning point in beer diversity. For numerous decades, connoisseurs of alcoholic beverages were faced with the bland selection of mainstream lagers, primarily manufactured with an emphasis on quantity over quality. Craft beers offer an alternative, a true variety of tastes and flavours, but where has this resurgence of independent, smaller breweries arisen from?
The use of the word ‘craft’ in defining a craft beer is incredibly apt, as microbrewers harbour a similar ethos to that of a master craftsman. Their motivation is derived from the appreciation of their product, rather than volume. Appreciation of beer is a personal preference, with not all taste palettes desiring the same experience, which leads to the conclusion that no single beer can hope to satisfy everyone. However the rise of craft beer, has presented the welcome dilemma of selection for consumers. There is a wealth of different flavours available, which vary from the peculiar – the essence of pizza – to more elaborate flavours. Taste can also be affected by location, with flavours of craft beer differing from region to region. Meaning that the taste of Ghent will almost certainly differ from the taste of London or Paris.
The rise of craft beer has also been complemented by a change in the perception of drinking beer with a meal. The different flavours on offer will complement different types of cuisine. For example a porter - a darker beer- is best suited for consumption with meat. Where as a fresh and fruity beer, will complement dessert dishes, such as a cheesecake or sorbet. Restaurants are not only acknowledging the changing relationship between food and beer, they’re now catering for it. Larger franchises are now exerting a greater effort to identify different craft beers, in order to supplement their menus. There have even been examples of popular restaurant chains creating their own unique craft beer, specifically to complement their specialty dishes.
Another possible cause for an increase in the popularity of craft beer is that they are appealing to a younger age demographic - beer is becoming fashionable. Across Europe new bars, public houses and restaurants have launched, dedicated to providing a venue with a vibrant atmosphere and a vast selection of craft beers. Beer festivals showcasing microbreweries have proven to be success around the continent, attracting large crowds of men and women. The positive reaction to festivals is a clear indicator of the ambition for people to discover new beers.
The current intrigue and curiosity resonating from the new wave of continental drinking culture ensures that, as long as the quality and consistency of craft beer is maintained, the blossoming beer renaissance will continue for a long time.