Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What's New?

In the seemingly endless march of new-to–Georgia breweries it can be hard to keep up with the flood of new products into the state. More importantly, it can be a challenge for customers to sift through the hundreds of beers on the shelf of their bottle shop or local pub and find just the right one. In some respects, beer shelves are starting to look like wine shelves in that there are more choices than most folks can meaningfully process and the fall back ends up being their favorite brewery or a reliable style. In other cases, ‘newness’ is regarded with particular esteem and those beers are not judged by the same standards as time-tested classics that are cast aside due to the drinker’s familiarity with them. So there’s a balance between venturing out into the world of the new yet not regarding newness itself as a virtue. “What’s new?” is a question our staff gets every day and, luckily for us, it’s rare that we don’t have a pile of new beers for folks to try any day they stop by. In many ways, it’s also heartwarming to see steady and growing sales of the time tested classics.

It seems we all got much more than we imagined in the wake of the 2004 state law changes. It used to be that one could name every state labeled craft beer on a page or two. Today, I suspect that even the Department of Revenue doesn’t know which beers on our shelves are supposed to be here and which ones arrived in the trunk of someone’s car. The good news is that the beer landscape is forever changed for the better and that customers now have more choices than most of them can process. This has opened up a whole new age of exploration where beer drinkers must take an active part in defining their own taste as opposed to settling for one of the 10 craft options available at their local grocery store. In this process we learn something about ourselves that we might not have otherwise discovered, and find ourselves engaged in a never-ending journey that has a quirky way of rewarding us in the most unexpected ways.

Beer is steeped in tradition and has a wonderfully rich history – part of which is innovation, creativity and rewarding the brewers that keep at it long enough to make something that sticks.

I can’t remember what the bad news was.

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