Resting on our Laurels
I was in a market last night looking to pick up a six pack when I noticed myself leaning toward choosing some California beers. Specifically, Lagunitas and Stone varieties. As I stood there I thought to myself that California has a lot of great bottled beers. And that scared me.
A few California brewers are bottling their beer and selling it with a "fuck you" attitude: Don't like it, then don't buy it, but we're still going to make it. And a lot of the beer is great. Very much like the beer we brew here in town. The difference is that our great beer doesn't make it into bottles and get sent out to take over the world. A lot of what leaves Portland is commercially tested, focused-grouped styles that don't necessarily represent the great experimentation that Portland brewers are known for. It's more of a "Here's what you asked for" attitude which doesn't necessarily represent what's really going on in the city.
Don't scold me for leaving out a couple of important facts. I know that bottling isn't as easy as a snap of the fingers. And there is a hell of a lot of logistics in distribution. There is also a lot of economics and politics in both. Plus, there are exceptions to this rule. I think that Bridgeport makes a great IPA, both draft and bottled. Hair of The Dog also has a great lineup of big beers that leave Portland in bottles.
Overall though, the bottles that are leaving our state's border from Portland are not representative of what's being brewed here, and that ratio needs to increase. Not only to to keep our title of Beer Capital of the World, but also as a way to put California back in it's place. I don't mind banding together with Washington to help the Northwest take over the beer world, but I will not hold hands with California as a West Coast brotherhood.
In fact, let this be the gauntlet, much like the mid-nineties Death Row v. Bad Boy rivalry: California, we can take you. You may try to imitate our attitude and beer, but that's all it is, imitation!
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