As I mentioned in an earlier post my girlfriend Irene and I have started to become more involved with the local St. Louis Slow Food convivia. One of the objectives of Slow Food is “preserving and promoting local and traditional food products, along with their lore and preparation.” After one of the recent Slow food meetings the discussion of beer and distribution came up. I discussed that while I’m not too hep on AB buying up a lot of the smaller craft brewers around the nation, as a beer enthusiast it’s exciting to see new beers from around the US and the world now being available in the St. Louis metro area.
After which I heard (not surprisingly since I was at a Slow Food event) “You should be drinking locally.” I don’t disagree with this entirely, one of the purposes of this blog was to celebrate the crafts brewers and beers produced in the St. Louis region. My problem with only drinking local products is two fold:
One, that beer you’re drinking may have been made locally but I can guarantee that the only local ingredient in a St. Louis beer is water (and very rarely yeast.) Neither the hops nor the malted barley were locally produced, in fact many times they weren’t even produced on this continent. The second thing (and the one that bothers me most as a enthusiast) is that if I’m only drinking locally I’m denying myself of everything that the world has to offer. Sure St. Louis brewers make some fine beers, but it’s a very limiting experience on the whole.
On Stan Hieronymus’ blog Appellation Beer, there was some discussion about the variety of local beer versus global beer. One of the things I found most interesting is the ferocity in keeping a nation’s beer styles local to that nation. Comments like, “I don’t want to drink a Kölsch brewed in the UK or USA. That completely misses the point about the beer,” seem absolutely foreign to an American like me. If we follow this logic then drinking locally for us in St. Louis means we’re stuck drinking the pale lagers as there isn’t anything else indigenous to this area (and you could argue that it’s not really indigenous either.)
If brewers had been denied the opportunity to experiment and try new things just because they were not in the right region then we all would have been drinking pale lagers. Drinking globally allowed American brewers to learn about new beers and develop new beers thus allowing these “new” styles to be drank locally. In my mind there is always a place for global and local beers, as long as they’re made with the same passion.