If you haven’t read my article, The State of San Diego Craft – 2015, you should. This will be a series of posts where I share the complete and full statements from 20+ amazing individuals that contributed to my work. I’m going to start with those that I used in the article and then release the rest in alphabetical order. Today I have two men that I’m proud to call my friends, George Thornton of the Homebrewer and Home Brew Co. & Rudy Pollerna from Craft Beerd. Both of these awesome individuals have similar takes on what was the most discussed issue facing SD craft lately, the integrity and meaning of the term craft beer.
I think the dialogue within/surrounding the scene has shifted away from how to identify/appreciate quality products made by small, independent, locally owned companies, into a discussion about whether or not so-and-so is a craft brewer because they still crack coriander.
The fanbase is growing, and we’re more concerned with fitting as many people into the arena than we are with teaching people how make, appreciate, pair with food, share with friends, and enjoy the story of craft beer.
I’ve also noticed that people without any blood, sweat, and tears in the game are now more prone to telling me how to view a billion dollars, even though they don’t own a business, or see the tax revenue, or the payroll, or the liability insurance payments that I deal with, and even though, I still think it’s more important to buy locally owned.
So I’ll finish with: craft beer is awesome, locally owned has real value.
Owner/Brewer/Customer Service Extraordinaire
The Homebrewer. Home Brewing Co.
Craft Beer is definitely changing within San Diego. In 2015, I sensed a great deal of “confusion” within the Craft Beer community due to alliances and uncertainty on whether to support a brewery for various reasons.
The biggest impact to the SD beer community was the sale of Ballast Point.
A brewery that many of us are (were) fond of and hit close to home, selling out to Big Beer.
I have categorized the Craft Beer community into 3 groups:
One, are the beer drinkers that only care about whether the beer tastes good to them (no opinion on ownership, is it local, etc).
Second, are the beer drinkers who are super passionate about supporting independent craft breweries and will disown any brewery that gets bought out by Big Beer.
Thirdly, is what I call the “grey area” group. This is the group I fear will continue to create confusion in the marketplace and allow exceptions to the rule, for whichever reason that might see fit (their good friend works there, they may love one particular beer, etc)
The “grey area” group are those influences and advocates which beer enthusiasts look up to for guidance. I’ve seen advocates make exceptions to certain breweries who were bought out and still have no problem carrying them on tap in their bar. When you make exceptions and are vocal about it, then you give other bar owners “outs” to allow them to see nothing wrong with carrying “X” brewery as well; their voice and actions permeate throughout the industry.
At the end of the day, we all have friends that work in the industry, and some of those friends work at particular breweries you may no longer want to support, so you can focus on funneling your dollars into local/independent breweries. But it’s never personal.
We all love good beer for our own reasons, and for some, it goes beyond just the taste of beer – its about supporting the greater whole of maintaining the integrity of the Craft Beer community/culture & its businesses. You may not think there’s a big deal that “X” brewery gets bought out because “nothing will change”…but what about in 5 years? 10 years? How will that affect the independent breweries when Big Beer continues to influence and control shelf space, etc…
I love this community and I do my best to be consistent with my beliefs and direct my passion accordingly.
Rudy Pollorena Jr.
Owner & Artist of CRAFT BEERD
Thank you Rudy and George! I truly appreciate your thoughts and perspective.