Trailblazers 2017: Quality Beer

Quality assurance and quality testing beakers // Photo by Kevin Kramer

Quality assurance and quality testing beakers // Photo by Kevin Kramer

If there’s one trend in local beer that I’d like to see stick around, it’s a newfound dedication to consistency and quality. For far too long in this community, inexperienced breweries have been bringing bad—often fundamentally flawed—beers to market. Now, as consumers become educated about quality craft beer and more breweries are investing in quality assurance measures, the average quality of local beer is starting to greatly improve.

Larger breweries like Schell’s and Summit have long focused on QA/QC processes and policies. What’s new is a realization among medium- and small-scale breweries that serious investments in equipment and personnel are no longer a wish-list item, and are instead fundamental to the success of their brewery in the long term. Craft beer is still an industry very much in need of new consumers—it accounts for a mere 22 percent of the total U.S. beer market. There’s plenty of room for growth, but bad beer is bad for business.

It’s important to note that not all bad beer is the fault of the breweries. Brewers can only do so much to ensure their beer is fresh and drinkable by the time it hits your lips. Unfortunately, in many cases, breweries don’t have any control over their product after it leaves their loading dock. That’s why it’s also up to distributors, retailers, and consumers to follow best practices for serving and consuming quality craft beer.

Luckily for us, there are organizations like the Better Beer Society (BBS) to help them do so. BBS has been in the business of consumer beer education since 2011, but they now offer services to retailers that include beer server education, draft line cleaning, and more.

Craft beer will live or die on quality, and it’s up to us to demand superior products. Cheers to the breweries, bars, liquor stores, and other organizations working to make sure that craft beer is putting its best face forward in the market.

Trailblazers are the people, ideas, businesses, and organizations doing necessary, important, and groundbreaking work in the realms of food, drink, and culture. See the rest of The Growler’s 2017 Trailblazers here.

About Joseph Alton