Come see our huge tap selection!!!!! Oh Yeah? The five Bud taps, the Four Leinie's taps, Becks, Heineken, Harp, Blue Moon, Guinness, Three Miller Taps and the obligatory Bells? Labatt's AND Molson? Great. Fan-f-ing-tastic. You have 21 beers on tap. Great. 20 tasteless, functionally identical beers made by faceless corporate marketeers with an army of distributrons that loyally do your bidding based on whichever beer is receiving the heavy marketing push this week.
What's with that? Why is Bells always the obligatory throw to craft beer? Yeah, there's almost always Spotted Cow, but that's hardly a comfort. It's like pointing out that Capital Amber is on tap. It's OK, but surely we can do better. And Bells. Why, if you are going to give a tap line to a craft, would you give your one tap to Bells? Look, I have no problem with Bells. Really. But we have a gazillion breweries from Wisconsin that would be far better: Central Waters, Tyranena, Lakefront, Furthermore, etc etc etc. All of which are distributed by the same distributors that are already controlling the tap lines.
And, there is the problem. It's not the bar that even controls the taps; it's the distributors. The distributors provide tap handles, line cleaning services, and other pseudo-freebies and in return the bar lets the distributor decide what goes on tap. Thus, we end up with tap lines that are identical; we end up with what the distributor wants you to drink. We end up with whatever the nameless, faceless, marketeers who have significant stakes in the distributors want us to have. With this power, the distributors are uniquely positioned to really make a difference and push quality beer. Yet, oddly, they choose not to. I've spoken to many distributors - they aren't bad people, many of them are extremely knowledgeable and they love good, craft beer. So, why don't they put it on tap when the ability to do so?
And when they do throw a bone, why Bells? Why not Stone? Or Great Lakes? Or Goose Island? Or Summit? Or any number of other large-ish, regional, popular breweries? For some reason it's always Bells. Anyone care to guess why?
By the way. Has anyone else noticed that all of the sudden Leinie's is everywhere? It seems like Miller is ramping it up something fierce. I suspect that Miller is even pulling their own Miller brands (e.g., MGD, Miller Lite, 64, etc.) for Leinie's brands. I'll leave alone for now some things that were actually spoken by a Leinie's rep, because I want to talk about them much, much more in the near future. (I'll give you a hint: 1) "There's no such thing as bad beer"; 2) "If you think about isn't every beer a 'craft' beer"?) But has anyone else notice the new flood of Leinie's brands? Or is it just me?