|My beer, baby!|
Locals only! When I was a surfer, way back in the '80's, "localism" was a big problem. Hardcore surfers would fanatically--and sometimes violently--protect their local surf spots. Surfers from out of the area were considered nothing more than invading barbarians, and treated as such. Every once in a while, fists would fly on the beach, but more often than not, a nomadic surfer out hunting for waves beyond his normal purview would simply find his car vandalized in the parking lot. Locals were also quick to tell anyone who would listen exactly how their precious surf breaks were better than any other beach anywhere.
So, what's this got to do with BEER, you ask? Well, I've met a few folks who are almost as fanatical about their local beer as those surfers were about their local waves. I'm personally acquainted with a couple of folks who won't drink anything but that one beer they love from that one brewer they always visit. Every t-shirt, hat and growler they own has that brewery's logo on it. Of course, I've never seen anybody lay a North Shore style beatdown on somebody over their beer preference, but I imagine it could happen someday.
This "Beer Localism" is a relatively new phenomenon. Until the craft beer revolution, almost all Americans drank mass-produced, macro-beers manufactured in mega-breweries far, far, away from their neighborhood pubs--hell, most still do! 80% of all beer consumed in this country is produced by brewing giants AB InBev or MillerCoors. Craft beer is gaining on them, though! In 2013, craft beer reached 7.8% of the US beer market, up from 6.5% the previous year. The number of craft brewers across the nation also rose to more than 3000! That means more and more people have access to craft beer produced very close to home. (This info was pulled off the Internet, primarily from press releases from The Brewers Association.)
There are now a lot of folks like me who have developed a very sincere loyalty toward their favorite local breweries. That's very easy to do here in Portland, Oregon, the city with more breweries within its borders than any other in the world. Yes, some of my favorite beers are produced within a few miles from my front porch--and it's world-class brew, I'm telling you. Laurelwood Brewery, Hopworks Urban Brewery, Ecliptic Brewing, Burnside Brewing, Breakside Brewing, Base Camp Brewing, Cascade Brewing and several others are actually within a reasonable walking distance. Don't hate me.
Most of my Portland drinking chums have their clear favorites, and they won't be shy telling you their preferences when asked. Personally, I have to admit my own preference for local beer, which waxes a bit political, but still has a solid foundation built on taste. My local beer is... FREAKING AWESOME! The fact that I can do my part to support a major cornerstone of our local economy with my beer money is another awesome thing.
Are you a loyal supporter of a favorite, local, craft beer? When someone brings a sixer from some out-of-state brewery to your backyard BBQ, do you jump up and shout LOCALS ONLY? If so, I'd like to know! Drop me a line and let me know why your local beer is the best. Of course, it's not better than my local beer, but then, nothing is...