Friday, 2 March 2012

What makes local beer better?

This is my contribution to The Session #61, as hosted by Hoosier Beer Geek in Indianapolis.

In the interests of doing something different (and since I've got a spirits exam coming up and so it's what I'm reading about at the moment) I though I'd take a bit of a diversion and think about the alternative to having local styles of anything.

I'd like to think that anyone who is serious about getting into beer flavours is broad minded enough to think about flavours other than beer. The exploration's the thing, and without people being resourceful enough to use what they have around them, and having the pride to say 'this is good, this is worth keeping' the world would be a very dull, homogenised place. Think about Jarzebiak Rowan berry vodka, Krupnik - flavoured with wild honey and spices, Wisniowka - flavoured with wild cherries. Whether you, personally, like them or not you have to appreciate that they are part of Polish history and culture, rooted in the Tatras where the raw materials come from.

Similarly without local variation we'd have no intense, aromatic rums from Jamaica sitting on the shelves alongside light Cuban rum. Without geographical origin being important how could you differentiate between row upon row of Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blends.

So what makes local beer better? Well, the fact that it is local, and without local beer styles having been (however historically) important we might all have no choices to make as consumers. The fact is, an alternative to local beer being important is just far too boring to contemplate.

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