This week I tried my damndest to look at various reasons why Millennials choose to drink craft beer. You can read part 1, about the binge drinking habits (or lack thereof), and part 2, about possible socio-cultural impacts on the age group.
But the underlying focus of the discussion was this: why drink craft beer over macro options, aside from the fact that it simply tastes better?
Taste is most definitely the driving factor, but what about all these other secondary reasons I was so curious about? As it turns out, anecdotal responses match up, too.
Briana, who started this thought process with an excellent question about Millennial behavior, is from Texas, where we know both the Millennial population and the craft beer scene are soaring. I corresponded with her via email, where she reinforced a couple points I made in my post about Millennials preference for variety and group socialization over beer. When she goes out, she’s seen a growing trend in craft beer appreciation:
I kind of judge them on whether they are going to order a ‘regular’ beer or try out something new and different. When they do, it’s an immediate relationship building topic. We both have an immediate understanding and appreciation for the locals or for the unique and can bond over it with each other, the bartender, or the other patrons.
She also said that breweries have become a popular hangout spot for groups of friends, noting that :the brewery becomes more of an activity rather than just sitting at a local sports dive drinking cheap beer specials while watching a game.”
I also got in touch with Colin Alsheimer, fellow beer enthusiast and beer writer for Central Track, a Dallas-based online alternative news site. Colin’s a big fan of the growth he’s seen in recent years across Texas and pointed out that even though it may put him in a niche group of Millennials, craft beer availability is something he will consider when it comes to living in a certain part of the country. Luckily for him, craft beer is now big in Texas, especially his metro area:
People get very passionate about it. It’s now at the point where we can support multiple beer festivals in a given year, when before I don’t think we had any at all. It’s almost at the point where if your establishment doesn’t at least try with the beer list, folks won’t go (and take that with a grain of salt – my group of friends and the people I talk to aren’t at all an accurate proxy for the average millennial in Dallas).
I posed this question of “why craft beer” to Twitter, where I got a wonderful collection of responses that also just so happen to correspond with some of the points I made in yesterday’s post.
From Millennials or non-Millennials, there are plenty of reasons to drink craft beer beyond the fact it does taste better:
#CraftBeer lovers, I need your help! Can you tell me reasons you prefer craft #beer over macro options other than “it tastes better?”
— BryanDRoth (@BryanDRoth) December 12, 2013
I’d love to hear from you as well – aside from taste, why is craft beer your beer of choice?
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac
10 thoughts on “Why Do You Drink Craft Beer?”
To support local business. I know Stone, Sierra, and Rogue aren’t local but are still craft beers, but I almost always buy a NC brew for home or at a bar. I like supporting my micro-economy.
Agreed. When I try a new NC beer that really strikes me, it makes me proud to have it from “around here.” Allows a good brag toward less fortunate souls.
My main consideration is the style available. If Budweiser made a good IPA that tasted as good as my local favorites I would give it a shot. I also really enjoy being able to keep up with smaller releases that you just don’t get from the big guys. Some of the bigger craft breweries near me release interesting new beers throughout the year that get me to go in to the tasting room to try it. Plus only local breweries can put out special casks (that rarely stay good for more than two days) of beer that let me try an interesting variation on a favorite.
It sounds like the idea of “local” – both in production and community aspect – is very important to you. That sound about right? You certainly wouldn’t be alone!
Variety and quality. As Marvel said, if the big boys were making these caliber and variety of beers, I’d give them a try. I still buy Goose Island because the beers are still good. And if I’m going to drink a million of something, it’ll probably be Bud Light. I also try to keep a sixer of Miller High Life as a shower beer for after hockey; apparently there’s a study that says he rehydrates you as well as Gatorade. Anyway…
I think an apt comparison is cuisine. Sometimes you want something fast and easy; taste is of secondary importance, but usually when you’re eating you want something that tastes good. And Thai food is great, but sometimes you want Indian, or Chinese, or Italian, or Irish (God save you).
Variety and quality? Sounds like you need a Blue Moon or Bud Light ‘Rita!
Sometimes I do wonder what might happen if Big Beer blew things up, got crazy and decided to actually offer a limited release specialty version of its beer on a large scale. Bud has done this with their “zip code” brews, but then people are just comparing the beers to original Bud. I suppose it comes down to marketing and how adventurous they want to be, but there is at least the potential there. (That will never be pursued, I’m sure)
Beyond taste I’d say the number one reason for me is the variety of craft beer, both with the large number of styles and the incredible number of breweries out there. Not only do you have a lot of beers to choose from, which keeps you from getting burned out on one, finding new beers gives you a goal, and when you do find an incredible new beer its fun to tell other people.
Consider the analogy with music. If you hear a great song by an established band (e.g. U2) its not so much of a conversation piece, because anyone who listens to the radio will also know about that song. When you come across a gem by a little known band (say Adalee by the Deadstring Brothers) then the next time you see your buddy who is into rock and roll you have something to talk about. Same thing with beers. So when I buy a beer not only do I want one that tastes great, I want to find a beer that is new (to me). In doing so I can build ties with other like minded people. I think this is similar to the point Brianna was making about building relationships.
The dramatic expansion in the number of breweries also gives what I would call an underdog factor. When you find a local IPA (like White Rajah) is actually better than the established examples of a style (like Stone IPA) it’s kind of like watching Montana to beat Duke in the NCAA tournament. Its even sweeter if you know the local brewers.
This is all so good.
Above all else, I love your point about telling people about the great beer you find. Craft beer, which has an ad budget of essentially $0 for nearly all places, relies on word of mouth. It’s our voices that carry all the good things to know about what’s going on!