Will Craft Brewers Finally Lighten Up?
Posted by Bob Skilnik on March 10, 2007
A few years ago, I wrote a book titled The Drink Beer, Get Thin Diet: A Low-Carbohydrate Approach. The premise was a simple one; design a low-carb diet around the moderate consumption of beer…even high carb brews. By knowing the carbohydrate content of your favorite brew, you (as the dieter) could determine how many carbs you took in daily.
The problem was getting brewers to cooperate in this little literary endeavor by giving me information that I could use to calculate carbohydrate counts for their beers. In the case of the bigger breweries, that wasn’t a problem. They had already done a nutritional analysis on their products and willingly gave out the information to inquiring minds.
In the case of craft brewers, however, it became a daliy battle. Some breweries, such as New Belgium or Bricktown Brewery (a brewpub) were extremely cooperative, others were downright combative. One brewer demonstrated that he understood the emerging market. “Health is about information, choices and moderation.”
Others, however, told me to do sexually impossible tasks, adding that “We don’t brew our beer for nutrition, we brew it for taste,” while their websites were filled with references to the vitamins in yeast and grain. When I would bring up the argument that what the customer wanted was probably more important than the opinions of the brewer (and maybe better for sales), well, let’s just say that it wasn’t pretty.
Slowly but surely, since 2003 or so, I’m finding more and more brewpubs experimenting with their own interpretations of “light” beer. Things are also changing with bottling craft breweries as Brew Blog has pointed out. Why the change in attitude? As BB notes “In short, they’re going after light for the same reason Willie Sutton robbed banks: Because that’s where the money is.”
But there’ still a long battle to wage before every craft brewery has at least one “light” beer in its portfolio, and the nutritional analysis info to back it up. West Coast beer writer and reviewer William Brand has a different opinion about craft-brewed light beer…”My opinion of light beer: Argggggg. Personally, I’m going to crack open a bottle of Double IPA tonight.” And Bill’s not alone with this kind of opinion.
But when 50% of beer sales come from the light sector, what’s a brewer to do?