I want to make the iPhone of beers. Let me explain.
For the last 15 years, I have been fascinated by beer. I have brewed my own beer on and off during that time. I have been to many microbrews, brewpubs, and had others’ homebrew. If there’s one problem I have with these “craft beers” is that they seem to be for the connoisseur only. If beer isn’t your favorite drink, or if you just don’t have an appreciation for the hop, or even if you just like to drink a lot of beer, these beers might not be for you. But if you’re a beer geek, and you know all about International Bitterness Units, you know what Saaz hops are for, and you might describe a beer the way others might describe a wine, you love these beers. I love these beers. But I don’t think beer like this will ever become the national drink. Like the Android phone or the Linux operating system, any geek can give you a long list of statistics as to why their preferred craft beer is superior. The water comes from the perfect spring. The grain is malted on the summer solstice. The trouble is, if you can tell the difference between those things, you’re not everyone else.
I recently watched Beer Wars where the claim is made that something like 80% of American beer comes from Anhueser Busch and Miller/Coors. They also stated that a number of imports like Pilsner Urquell and Hoegaarten are part of these companies’ brands. I don’t know if they are included in that 80%. If they are, it’s kind of a misleading number because while just about anyone who wasn’t already drunk knows that Budweiser and Coors taste like shit, you simply can’t allege that of good imports like Newcastle or Guiness.
That 20% comes from brewers like Sam Adams and Firestone-Walker should be seen as a victory. That’s a lot of beer that created a connoisseur market out of thin air. But, I have to tell you, as fun as this can be, I think it’s getting a bit old to drink beer made with caffeine that is also 10% alcohol and over 100 IBU bitterness. It was fun the first few times.
I can appreciate these beers, and I do. I’m sipping on “Ruination IPA” right now, which is about as bitter as tree bark. But I find myself coming back to the easy drinking, well made, excellent tasting beers like Newcastle.
So I want to make a beer that’s neither the industrial sewage of Budweiser nor the bitter wine-strength geek beer. In other words, neither Windows nor Linux. I want to make the iPhone or Macintosh of beers.