Southern Beer: The Situation

At this point it should probably go without saying, but I do, in fact, love beer. Like…alot. I am an avid beer drinker, and a home brewer. I am much more experienced at drinking than I am at brewing, but my beers are pretty good. Turns out you can make pretty good beer with extracts, and it is hard to mess them up.

There is a trend that concerns me a bit though. I feel like the South is under-represented in the craft beer market. Its funny that when most people think of the South they think of potbellied, beer swilling, rednecks. With the amount of beer being consumed in these parts, you would think Southerners would be more represented in the brewing industry. Unfortunately it seems the West Coast, the Mid-West and Colorado outstrip us in quality craft breweries.

Part of the problem is I think Southerners tend to stick to macro-brews. They like their Bud Light, Miller Light, etc. From talking to my confederates (pun intended, f you PC) I think the problem is Southerners, for the most part, have not been properly introduced to proper beer.

It seems every time I talk to one of my homeboys who don’t like craft beer, the situation is the same. The first craft been they tried was some imperial, double, IPA and they hated it. Either that or they tried some import back in the late ninties, and decided to never try anything but BMC (Bud Miller Coors) ever again.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am aware there are some amazing beers from the South. I know we are not bereft of beer. Tin Roof, Sweet Water, Lazy Magnolia, and Great Raft (to name but a few) are putting out some really good beers. In fact, Tin Roof’s Railroad is my absolute, hands down, favorite beer. I just feel like the South should be beer Mecca. We shouldn’t be letting those greasy hippies (no offense) beat us in brewing. Colorado gets to smoke weed, why should they kick our ass in beer too?

I think there are few things that us craft beer lovers can do to support Southern craft brewing. First, buy the ones that are there. Tin Roof Voodoo Bengal is my geaux to. Covington Brewhouse┬ámakes a strawberry ale that, despite manlaws to the contrary, I love. Sweetwater’s 420 is awesome. We have great beer. Don’t neglect them just because Stone or New Belgium is pretty awesome.

Also, craft beer homies, stop introducing newbs to craft beer through IPAs! IPAs are an acquired taste. It took me forever to like IPAs. The first time I tried an IPA it tasted like Deep Woods Off to me. Don’t try to introduce newbs with anything that is really hop forward, or exotic. Start them off a good blond ale, cream ale, or kolsch. They have to work their way to up to an appreciation of the more niche styles.

I think the final piece of the puzzle is legal reform in regards to brewing. One of the reason craft beer exploded in Colorado is because of their laws relating to liquor stores. I feel like we need to make it easier for craft brewers to enter the market place. It is hard enough for little guys to compete with BMC. We don;t need the government making it easier for the big guys to dominate the ice chests of the South.

It is difficult to talk specifics in this area because laws vary by state. I know in the state of Louisiana that laws make it illegal for a brewer to sell directly to consumers. I get that the three tiered system is supposed to prevent the big brewers from having a monopoly, but there has to be some middle ground that keeps the big boys from bullying smaller brewers while easing access for smaller breweries.

Let’s go Southerners! We need to step up our brewing game. We need to support Southern breweries. We need to do a better job of easing craft beer newbs into the scene. And we need to push for better laws that don’t punish small time craft brewers from getting into the game.