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Getting big

I “like” New Belgium Brewing on Facebook. Today I was browsing my wall and saw a picture that they posted today of some new (enormous) tanks that they are installing. I’m a weirdo and I like to read the comments to try and get a pulse of what people are thinking. New Belgium beer is not distributed in PA or most of the east coast so there is a strong desire by those who have had it before to get it shipped where they cannot get it now.

I ran across the post below. The names and faces have been blacked out to protect the innocent.

I don’t get it. What’s the problem with a microbrewery getting big? Is it the fear that they will become what we have come to hate? Is it a fear that what was once special, is not so anymore? I would argue that the bigger a microbrewery gets the better for everyone. The have greater power on the distributes (stupid three tier system) and bring craft brewing closer to the general public.

Isn’t the goal of any business to grow? I think we have become so used to finding these little breweries and claiming that we found them, they are special, they are ours. In New Belgium’s case, Fat Tire used to be something that was a rare gem. Something special. In the places that New Belgium distributes, I would say that Fat Tire is a standard beer. Very good, but not the “something special” that it used to be. As our tastes evolve and new styles are brewed, the beers that founded the breweries we love don’t hold the water they used to. Admit it, if you saw someone holding a Fat Tire or a BrewDog End of the World, which beer would you get more excited about? My example is a bit exaggerated, but it does hold water.

I think most craft beer drinkers are looking to find solid beer, but also something new and different. Does getting big take away from the specialness that we hold so dear?

4 thoughts on “Getting big

  1. I agree and disagree.
    On one hand a business is a business yes, buts its final goal may not be to grow forever. Its goal may be to grow in value, stability, to where the owners/employees are happy where it is.
    People are afraid that New Belgium is going to, or already has, grow too fast. The principles on which New Belgium was founded seems like are being pushed aside simply so the company can grow was fast as possible. Before New Belgium started its large expansion and the growth to many states, there flagship beer, Fat Tire, tasted very much different then what it does now. From everyone I’ve talked to who had the beer before and after, they all say how sad it is that the beer has been changed to an easier mass market beer.
    Maybe New Belgium is just following in Sam Adams footsteps, but the culture of New Belgium Brewery just is(was) not the same. It feels to me that they preach one thing while they are slowly changing into something else.
    You are true that they can only help in getting people more aware of Craft Beer.

  2. Jeff the Winter Warmer turned out pretty good. I found that I liked it much more after about 3 months worth of aging. Some of the harsh bitterness from the large amount of dark grain had a chance to settle down and it came more into balance. If I had to do it again, I think that I would get rid of the crystal malt, cut the chocolate malt in half, and also cut the molasses in half.

    The molasses had a much bigger effect than I thought it would on the beer. The flavor came out a bit to much. The crystal malt really didn’t add any complexity and the chocolate malt was a bit heavy handed. With those cuts I would probably add a pound or two of Marris Otter to the grain bill and pump up those toasty/bready notes with good body.

    I might be doing another run at this beer again soon. Once my budget clears up a bit (car needed a new water pump along with some other fun things) I will hopefully brew up another batch and have it ready in time for New Years.

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