It all began with a beer and a question. It was late Friday afternoon and the AAB crew was winding down around the conference table. The brew was flowing, and it was soon time for Round Two. One of us raised the eternal question: which beer to sample next?
As different as the most rudimentary homebrewed ale might seem from an ultra-refined macro lager, they are, in fact, bound by the same basic formulations and processes that fairly define beer.
“What’s it matter? Isn’t it all beer anyway?” asked a newcomer.
It turned out to be an intriguing question to consider. We started thinking about beer in its most elementary essence, and the striking similarities that exist between all beers, even those at opposite ends of the production spectrum.
Though it may seem that the world’s many and widely ranging beers styles have little in common with one another, quite the opposite is actually the case. As different as the most rudimentary homebrewed ale might seem from an ultra-refined macro lager, they are, in fact, bound by the same basic formulations and processes that fairly define beer. From assembling the essential ingredients to finally pouring it out of the bottle, this shared kinship between styles is part of what makes beer such a fascinating and globally revered beverage.
One can argue the virtues of hands-on, idiosyncratic nanobrews versus mega-produced golden beers ad nauseum. However, in the end, the real beauty of beer is that there is something that appeals to everybody. Quibbling over stylistic differences only serves to dismiss beer’s commonality, an irony in that beer is the ultimate social beverage—one that serves to soothe nerves and promote enjoyment. Most amazing is the mind-boggling diversity that brewers present to the beer-drinking world, while still working with a fairly simple set of rules and medium. To be sure, geography, agriculture and tradition each have a role in a process that is equal parts science, art and magic, respectively. Ultimately, though, what matters most is what ends up in the glass and whether or not that is enjoyed. The shared journey that all beers take to the Promised Land (through various processes such as ingredients, fermentation and packaging) belies the variety of the elixir that we all look forward to.