Maine writer Josh Christie was perusing some old archives today and tweeted out two fascinating articles that illustrate why we should regard current doomy proclamations with some skepticism. They date to the 90s, and were written in a now-defunct weekly. Article one (1994) poses the compelling question: with four Portland (ME) breweries, can the city absorb yet a new one opening up?
“That’s a lot of new brewing capacity, considering local beers still account for only 1.5 percent of beer sales in Maine. And if the growth curve starts to level off, LaCharite and his competitors could end up fighting each other to survive.”
Five breweries??? Mon dieu!–it’s a bubble!
In article two (1998), the thesis is that
craft beer microbrewing has become too boring. This isn’t exactly the same as the complaints we hear today–though IPA weariness is similar–but it illustrates that complaining about what looks like a stable situation in beer is pretty foolish. Don’t like things now? Give it five minutes.
“Most of the supermarket survivors fall into the traditional categories of the tried and true: pale ales, wheat beers, lagers. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that. Many of these brews taste just fine. Some of them are personal favorites. But after more than a decade of innovative brewing, the spirit of imagination seems to have seeped out of the bottles. There are too many beers with taste profiles that are all too familiar. Even worse, there are too many beers with too little taste. Just as it’s tough to tell Bud from Miller from Coors, it’s slowly becoming more difficult to distinguish among the micros.”
I can only imagine what a boring landscape awaits this city two decades hence, after the imminent demise of microbrewing.