Hank Green just released a fantastic video called “Why the Word “Millennial” Makes me Cringe.” It’s a great look into how the term was assigned by baby boomers and subsequently co-opted by op-ed writers essentially complaining about “kids these days.” The term has quickly become an easy trigger word for disparaging an entire generation of young adults.
Luckily, the “Millennial effect” on the craft beer world has had a decidedly more positive spin to it. The craft brewing economy is starting to cater to Millennials’ inherent sense of adventure and desire to try new and different things by producing more limited run and seasonal beers.
It’s no secret that the craft brewing movement has been exploding for years. The sheer volume of options is certainly due, in large part, to the ever-growing stable of breweries as well as increasingly efficient distribution channels. You can also make the argument that innovation and creativity with new recipes and concepts is inherent to the spirit of craft brewing. But polling data is starting to lend clear credence to the specific strategy of focusing on the rapidly growing segment of Millennial beer drinkers and their preferences for more varied offerings.
Nielsen polled over a thousand beer drinkers and found that Millennials try an average of 5.1 different brands per month. 15 percent of those Millennials were found to try 10 plus brands per month. Another study finds that nearly two-thirds of Millennials self-identify as adventurous, which easily leads analysts to point to an emphasis on variety.
I rather like another approach suggested by Insider (though I’m not crazy about them referring to their own publication as the “guidebook to Millennial culture”). They suggest that many Millennials have little interest in wine tasting not only because they have difficulty distinguishing between styles, but also that “good” wines versus “bad” wines are hardly universal, even when judged by professionals. Differences in beer styles are more pronounced and quality is less ambiguous, lending beer tasting to be a more “real” experience.
Personally, I see my penchant for trying so many different beers more as a product of my fascination with how snowflake-like beers are in several different ways. Styles vary drastically, and variations on styles are embraced and encouraged. Entries within a style can vary equally drastically based on ingredients and brewing methods. Past that, often one beer can still produce several different experiences based on draft versus bottle, temperature, or aging the beer for a couple years.
Untappd badge: Playing the Field
Badge criteria: Check in 10 different beers in a row
Beer that unlocked the badge: Moosehead Lager
I earned this badge a mere three days into using Untappd (along with a few others), at Disney World two years ago for the Epcot Food and Wine festival. There’s plenty more ground to be covered on Food and Wine – but that’s for another day.
I feel like Canada gets the same reputation with beer as it does as a country – unfairly subjugated to playing second fiddle to the US. Heck, Unibroue alone out-brews half of US breweries with its fantastic offerings. But part of the problem is macrobrews like Labatt, Molson, and Moosehead. “Ugly Americans” can’t help but affect a hacky Canadian accent and talk about going “oot” to watch the big hockey game with a Moosehead in hand. International folks probably do the same with hard “r” American accents and Bud Light, for that matter, but we’re usually too ethnocentric (read: AWESOME) to notice.
Moosehead Lager is a perfectly standard, unremarkable lager. Even though they are a macrobrewery, they are Canada’s oldest independent brewery. Founded in 1867, Derek Oland represents the sixth generation of the Oland family to run the operation. Moosehead Lager doesn’t represent a rousing achievement in brewing. It represents a proud, unassuming respite from the daily grind. Drink it because it does the job – no more, no less.