Bar Tending & Beerspectives
by Matt Martinkovic
|Brewsearch & Development -
Nik's Wunderbar - Whitehouse Station
I was one of the many beer people concerned over the recent Consumer Reports' piece on the
best-tasting craft beers. I, like many others, thought the report really didn't understand the
current industry since some of the brands they tested aren't really craft beers in the truest
sense. Take Shocktop, a "CR best buy," that's owned by Anheuser-Busch — does that count as
a craft beer? Somehow the article missed the point that there are, in my opinion, three
categories of craft: first there are true craft beers, second, craft beers actually owned by
corporations (re: Blue Moon and Shocktop), and third, craft "macrobrews" (re: Boston Beer
One of the finest true craft breweries anywhere, Stone Brewing Co. and its CEO, Greg Koch,
had a similar reaction and took it one step further in an open letter about the so called "crafty"
issue. Essentially Koch wants everyone to get along and drink a beer. He commends Consumer
Reports for helping to make the concept of craft beer in general known to its mainstream
audience. And......well why don't you check out his open letter for yourself.
Dear Craft Beer Supporter:
The August issue of Consumer Reports covered a number of popular items ranging the gamut
from the usual technologic items to modes of transport and household appliances. But, those
thumbing their way through this long-trusted advocacy periodical also had the opportunity to
read about something that has never been included in the history of that publication, or many
mainstream publications for that matter—craft beer.
It’s likely that many Consumer Reports’ readers aren’t fully familiar with the term “craft beer.”
They may have heard the term, but they may not actually know what it means. Heck, even the
publication itself has had to brush up on the definition of the term as a result of their article. This
isn’t a knock on them. To be perfectly honest, the term hasn’t existed all that long, and it takes
time for items like that to make it into the national lexicon. That’s what makes Consumer Reports
devoting significant ink and page space to the largest growing segment of the American alcohol
beverage industry so important.
In short, it exposes its readership, people concerned about getting the very best whether its
vehicles and computers or ales and lagers, to something that is the very best. As an advocate
and strong believer that consumers should not settle for products generated strictly to appeal to
the lowest common denominator mindset—plain, cheaply manufactured, characterless and
otherwise inferior goods produced to maximize profit at the expense of providing quality to the
end user—I applaud the arrival of craft beer to the lives of millions of engaged Americans via
their mailbox, newsstands and the web.
For far too long, the large advertising budgets of mammoth brewing conglomerates have pulled
the wool over the eyes of the American consumer. Television, radio and print would have the
average citizen falsely believe that the industrialized notion of beer (and the wealth of macros-in-
micro clothing faux craft beers they churn out with the speed and associated passion of a
robotic assembly line) is the only choice available in the market. But the truth is, the U.S. is
home to well over 2,500 small, independent brewing companies offering a wealth of beer styles
going far beyond the watered down, corn- and rice-based ‘beers’ this country’s population has
almost solely subsisted on for the better part of the past century.
It’s time the American public demanded more, and the first step to the realization that we all
deserve better than the cheapest, least offensive thing some smoke-billowing, goliath
manufacturing plant can get away with producing is for the public to be aware that there is
something different out there, something backed as much by all natural ingredients as it is heart
and authenticity. I commend Consumer Reports for becoming the latest publication to shed an
informative light on the craft beer movement as well as the plethora of brilliant flavors that
comprise it, and look forward to congratulating the next wave of high-profile outlets to do so.
CEO & Co-founder
Stone Brewing Co.
Not much I can add to that. Mr. Koch makes a lot of sense. We've come along way in the craft
beer world but still have to not only protecting our gains but continue to grow.
Matt Martinkovic is not only a recognized beer authority but a well known ecological writer whose
work has appeared in the The American Midland Naturalist (University of Notre Dame) among other
industry publications. He also has been an agricultural consultant on, of course, the growing of hops.
|What's The "Crafty" Story?
|To all my readers and friends. I'm moving on to a new bar coming soon to White House Station. It's
Nik's Wunderbar and its going to be something very special - an exclusive Bavarian beer hall and beer garden
focusing on German dishes and German brews. The staff will be wearing traditional Bavarian dress too! Stop in
and see what it's all about. We should be opening in early October.
454 Route 22 West Whitehouse Station, NJ 08888