Monday, May 19, 2008

We've lost that loving feeling, but ...

Ken Hadley and David Little @Maxs_2008.05.19Before SAVOR on Friday, I sat down with Ken Hadley of Otter Creek Brewing and had a state-of-the-biz discussion.

The craft beer industry was born in the early 1980s, burgeoned in the early 90s, crashed in the late 90s, and seems --seems-- to have become firmly (permanently?) entrenched in the 20-aughts.

Back in the, now, early days, each new face, each new brewery, each new brewpub was a special, unique thing. We who experienced those births had grown up without good beer. In our small ambit, good beer was something to be protected and adulated.

Nearly 30 years later, a new generation is drinking the results, a generation that was not even alive back then. For it, there is no longer a sense of wonder at new beer and breweries. That's not because of callousness, but because craft beer is now a given, an expected thing.

The craft beer industry has become a victim of its own success. To an an order of magnitude, there's much more good beer sold now than ever was then. Quotidian success has replaced exalted exclusivity.

[Photo taken a couple of days after SAVOR: Ken Hadley (l) of Otter Creek Brewing and David Little of Savannah Distributing (r) at Max's Taphouse in Baltimore.]

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