I’m writing this from Sint Maarten (yes, still). From a craft beer standpoint, this tiny island could fairly accurately be called “a wasteland.” Sure, there’s the kind of Guinness I actually like, and all manner of light lagers, but in terms of the sheer variety of beer made by companies that aren’t multinational conglomerates, well. Sorry.
It’s day three and I’ve decided I don’t care.
Here’s the thing: if I wanted to drink the same things I always drink, and eat the same foods I always eat, and listen to the same music and do the same activities and obsessively check my email and Twitter then I could have saved myself a few thousand dollars and stayed home. I’m somewhere new, dammit, and I can’t bemoan the homogenization of global culture in one breath and then expect it in the next. Either it sucks that there’s a McDonald’s here or I should expect Sierra Nevada on tap, but not both.
I don’t go to Maine for chicken wings, and I don’t order lobster in Buffalo*.
I have a desire for authenticity, for local flavors and experiences, to the point where it can and I’m sure has been used to take advantage of me. Places are different, and if they weren’t then I’d stay home and go on the Internet instead of going on vacation.
Play to an area’s strengths. I don’t have to drink beer every day (I don’t have to drink anything, of course, and if I did then I’d take a hard look at myself). Many people drink both beer and wine in different circumstances, though of course those people are traitors to the cause and will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes. I’m in the Caribbean: this is rum town.
I’m going a week without pale ales and wits and tripels, instead opting for guava berry, banana rum and frozen drinks. I only talked about the Carib I drank in my first vacation post, because that was explicitly titled The beers 0f Sint Maarten. In actuality, there was quite a bit of rum too. It’s different. My vacation experience.
We don’t get many of the “whale” beers in Buffalo (we gave you people The Whale; what more do you want?). No Russian River, no Lost Abbey, no Alchemist (although the seems to be a steady stream of Heady Topper coming in through some underground railroad). As much as it sucks that, as a person who travels infrequently, I haven’t had many of the “big” beers, I’m actually okay with this situation.
When I go to a new place the first thing I do is check out the breweries that are there and what new beer I can try. If I could get everything at Consumer’s then what’s the point of beer tourism? It’s not special. When I was a kid I got Lucky Charms once a year, so those marshmallows tasted extra sweet. (Actually, that was probably all the corn syrup.)
My point is that scarcity is not a bad thing. Artificial scarcity is a crappy thing, of course, but people seem confused or concerned when we say that our ultimate goal is not Community Beer Works in every bar across America. If the circumstances come up where we are presented with a giant vault full of gold coins in which to dive around, great! I will not say no to lots of money. And we do have vague plans to expand outside of Buffalo and Western New York eventually. We’re not after world domination, though: that would be a strange sort of “community.”
Instead, let us drink CBW in Buffalo, Pizza Port in California and rum in Sint Maarten. Everything in its right place, and nothing artificially crammed where it doesn’t belong.
It’s more authentic that way.
* Actually, I don’t order lobster anywhere. It seems like an expensive butter delivery mechanism.