Another Beer: Corporate Power, Deregulation, and Why German Brew Is (On Average) Better Than American

| Mon Aug. 22, 2011 9:08 AM EDT
The selection of cask-conditioned beers at Brooklyn's glorious Bierkraft.

Last week, I posted on what I think of as the beer paradox: that the industry is dominated by two swill-producing giants, and yet excellent craft beer proliferates.

To me, the beer paradox is about the limits of corporate power and the potential of grassroots organizing. Some readers had a different take on the phenomenon, and let me know on Twitter and in their own blogs. I'd like to respond to a few.

• The first involves corporate power. In progressive circles, there's a tendency to see corporations as all-powerful entities that dominate our lives. "Wow. You can't escape the corporate beer Matrix," one reader commented on Twitter after reading my post. But what I was trying to show is that the corporate "Matrix" is often like Oz's wizard: powerful, yes, but only as omnipotent as we let it be.

Anheuser-Busch owns a grotesque 50 percent of the US beer market, but that hasn't stopped excellent small-scale craft breweries in my area from cropping up. Within 100 miles of me in rural Western N.C., Craggie, Highland, Hoothills. Green Man, Pisgah, and Catawba Valley all churn out good-to-excellent small-batch beer. People in most areas of the United States can make a similar list. Escaping the beer Matrix may take a bit of effort, but it's certainly not impossible.

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