Congratulations to Burnside, Crux, Ninkasi and Oakshire; four Oregon breweries that will be amongst the 76 breweries featured at Savor this June in New York. Adam Dulye, Chef/Owner of The Monk’s Kettle and The Abbot’s Cellar in San Francisco will be working with the food pairings and I wish I could be there. That being impossible, I am now considering how I’m going to make it to his restaurants in SF. These are two beautiful beer lists that I got lost in for an hour. Is anybody doing this in Portland? I love Oregon beer but I think we are falling behind. To find 3 Upright bottles at a restaurant that go for $26.00 a bottle, I have to go to SF?
We all like to complain that beer is getting too expensive but is anybody willing to say that brewers are overpaid? That hop farmers are unfairly raising prices? The bar and restaurant owners are taking advantage of the customer? If we are talking about small production, finely crafted beers that take much time and effort to produce; barrel aging, cork and cage topped, bottle conditioned, etc. then the product is going to cost more.
In a market that speaks so highly about having the greatest beer scene in the country, I am dismayed by the provincialism we show. Eight years ago, I fed in to it as well, arguing with Don Younger that I had a better tap line up then he did, due to my having more west coast produced beers. I still think I had a better line up but it could have been even better. We are seeing more people getting excited about beers from around the county and around the world, but when will we see more depth in restaurants?
I believe that this insular attitude is leaving us behind in the world of beer culture. Take a look at the rate beer list of The Best Beers in The World and notice the lack of Oregon beers. I think that there are more beers that deserve to be on that list. Gigantic is their number five new brewery but I didn’t see any of their beers listed. Proper respect to Hair of the Dog and Alan Sprints who did get best Brewer Taproom in the US and got a beer on the list, as did Deschutes, Heater Allen and Rogue. Washington did even worse. I think many of the beer web sites are pretty east coast centric (10 of the top 15 Belgian Session beers were from Hill Farmstead Brewery in Vermont) but I think we need to ask why? California did well. Everyone loves Pliny but we don’t get a single IPA or Double IPA in the top 15 of each catagory?
It’s really easy to say we don’t care but the reality is that this is an industry, we will want to ship more product out-of-state as production grows. If we don’t put ourselves out there we will lose sales to brewers from other parts of the country and the world. Protectionist policies don’t work. We live in a global market and we need to look at being part of the global market.
Again I congratulate these Oregon Brewers that are getting out there and doing things in the world. Brew on!