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Beer vs. Good Beer

It’s hard to miss this sign when you’re walking up the stairs to get giant slices of pizza at New York Pizza in Aspen, CO. You can see it before you start climbing the stairs, you’re practically still on the street when you discover you can order beer or you can order good beer. I really like the sign and I think it’s a nice way to introduce people to great locally made beer. When I got there I had to ask the question “So what’s the difference between beer and good beer?” The lady at the register chuckled and said people always ask that. She pointed to Miller High Life and said “This one’s beer” and pointing to the rest she said, “And these are good beers.” The good beer lineup included two beers from Oskar Blues, an oak aged IPA from Great Divide, and Pilsner Urquell.

I like the idea. It got me to thinking about the question that I asked the pizza lady, even though it was kind of a joke at first. What’s the difference between beer and good beer? What makes a beer a Good Beer, compared to regular Beer, or even compared to Craft Beer? What’s the difference? People from all over the world come to Aspen to ski and this is a clever way to get people thinking that perhaps they should try something new. By calling it Good Beer, it’s hard to argue against its value, the pizza shop will make sure it’s a tasty product, and with that title you will inherently try to find something you like about it.

Perhaps best of all, it’s a nice replacement word for “Craft” in “Craft Beer.” Not that I don’t like the term Craft Beer. I understand what people mean when they say it but the designation of a beer as a craft beer doesn’t immediately entice me. When people talk about Craft Beer they are probably referring to the size of the brewery, the quality of the beer, or the passion that went into the making of the beer. All these points are debatable though. Why should the size of a brewery have anything to do with the product? When Boston Beer Co. approached the 2 million barrel ceiling, the Brewer’s Association raised the ceiling. Large breweries produce what people think of as crappy beer but they do it so well, the quality and control of the product is near flawless. But smaller breweries have consistency problems all the time and many small breweries make beer that I don’t like drinking. Obviously they have many that I do like too. Concerning passion, well, anyone can be passionate about what they do, including the brewer at the large industrial brewery. I’m positive that many brewers at small breweries have lost their passion after brewing the same beer over and over and over again, trying desperately to achieve consistency, and not having any real creative input. I’ll also quote from one of my favorite beer cartoons, “You do know that passion is not an ingredient in beer?” All this to say that I think “Good Beer” is a nice and humorous way to talk around the ideas behind the term “Craft Beer” without being overly alienating.

Really, they nailed it, when I order a beer I just want it to be good.

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Written By

Eric teaches art, loves being outdoors, and organizes beer events around the country. He founded Focus on the Beer and Beers Made By Walking.


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