The Call Is Coming From Inside the House — Craft Beer’s Self-Inflicted Existential Crisis

“Good people drink good beer.”

If you spend long enough in craft beer circles, you will almost certainly hear this adage, cribbed from Hunter S. Thompson and repurposed as an industry motto. (As writer Dave Infante recently recounted, you might also hear that craft beer is “99% asshole-free.”) Here, both seem to suggest, is an industry full of fine folk, doing what they love and making beer—and maybe the world—better for it. What’s not to like about that?

The self-congratulatory sentiment these sayings express has pervaded craft beer for decades, alongside the industry’s understanding of itself as a morally upright underdog. Many make the parallel between David and Goliath and craft beer’s progenitors: Back in the late 1970s and early ’80s, the U.S. beer market was dominated by multinational breweries, and the handful of brewers imagining an alternative to mass-produced, one-dimensional beer was an almost-literal drop in the ocean. And yet those scrappy upstarts succeeded in fighting back, in imagining a brighter future for beer, and in changing the way we drink for the better.

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