Can be such an amazing thing when it is crafted with quality ingredients from caring and experienced brewmasters and connoisseurs. The flavors and sensations created by this amazing beverage are extremely difficult to successfully replicate in other areas of cuisine. It is a drink to be deeply appreciative of and respected, and the process of creating this classy libation has been developed and refined over centuries of innovation to become a true art form that speaks in chorus to the senses.
At least, it was that...
...until prohibition put a sudden stop to what was an incredibly diverse and regionally defined network of small artisan brewers. After prohibition was overturned and beer was again legalized, it became heavily monitored by federal regulations. Initially this seemed a great idea, but a part of this regulation forced breweries to sell their product through a distributer, and that is still how beer gets from brewery to retailer to consumer. Unfortunately this was seen as a money making opportunity which is why 95% of beer sold through distributers is a product of Anheuser Busch (budweiser) , Coors, and Miller.... leaving us flooded by beer sporting the artistic equivalent of an ape farting colored chalk into a napkin, and an extreme reduction in quality.
Advertising proved to strong in this case, and it has made a lasting impact on a decline in appreciation of beer and the responsibility that partners a healthy respect of a quality product.
Recently, however, there has been a overall decline in beer sales in the USA. Interestingly though, this has only impacted the big tyrants (Miller and Coors have since merged together in an attempt to combat Budweiser.. and Bud has been bought by Belgian company InBev) And in contrast to the decline there has been an increase of smaller artisan breweries... "microbreweries" such as dogfish head, New Belgium, Boston Brewing Co (Sam Adams), and several others... in addition to this is an increase of home-brewing by beer loving individuals longing for a return to quality products. There has also been a rise in pubs that cater to interesting and quality beers... Muddy Pig and Happy Gnome of St. Paul are just two of my favorite examples.
I have frequently voiced my opinion about what i would call "good beer".
We are in a good place to return to a time of appreciation and artistry regarding this amazing craft... I urge you to begin doing some research.. fork out a few extra bucks for the quality beers, and help bring beer back to the respected and artistic foundations from which it has so tragically fallen. Cheers.