Monday, January 30, 2012

Beer Culture

One of the things I love most about beer is beer culture, that is, the stories of the people and places behind the beverage you’re consuming. Beer is about the coming together of communities. Throughout Europe, local beer culture is vibrant. In the US, Prohibition doused that flame, but thanks to a humble peanut farmer (Jimmy Carter) and the craft beer revolution that he sparked, local beer culture is making a comeback in the US. In some cities and regions of the country, it is more vibrant than others, but it is clearly making a resurgence wherever you go. The number of options available to the craft beer drinker in pubs and retail outlets is exploding. Some of my favorites come from breweries such as Surly, Bells, Flying Dog, Dogfish Head and New Belgium. And I can’t wait to taste the new beer from DC Brau. But here in Western New York, the local brewing revolution is still in its early stages. Sure, there are a plethora of brew pubs and tap rooms and no shortage of places to fill your growler. But most of that beer (unless it’s Flying Bison or Pearl Street) comes from somewhere else, even if it is nearby (Southern Tier). We have yet to reach the tipping point of beer culture where we have multiple new breweries opening, such as in Minneapolis or Washington, DC. And so, a small group of us gathered last Friday night at the Thirsty Buffalo to talk beer and what we can do to help promote beer culture in Buffalo, a city with a once proud brewing tradition. I’m not sure if we actually decided on anything or really accomplished anything, but one thing is clear – beer once again brought together a (small) community. And I imagine that we’ll be doing it again soon if just for the sake of good times and good beer. Cheers.

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