«Craft producers are not creating a commodity, they are producing individual products that are in need of understanding by the consumer. Education is most important. Value needs to be communicated. We all are story tellers – not marketing advertisers. The true craft producers are passionate about what they are involved in and enjoy cultivating the relationships they must have with farmers to the consumers»
Here for you an interesting interview with Charlie Papazian, president of American Brewers Association Usa and founder of American Homebrewers Association. At the Salone Papazian will be the protagonist of two taste workshops: Farmers, brewers and consumers: unite! and From East to West, North to South … Beers on the road!. E se volete continuare ad approfondire la conoscenza delle birre, non perdetevi la Guida alle birre d’Italia 2013 di Slow Food.
In recent years, many things have changed in the world of American beer. Today, craft beer is known almost everywhere. Do you think there is still room for growth? What is the key objective to focus on now?
There is still much room to grow. There are about 2,100 small and independent breweries in the USA, but together they only produce about 6% of all the beer in America. About one new brewery a day is opening in the USA. The focus now must be on maintaining the quality of craft beer from small and independent brewers. Technical information and assistance must be available. Also very importantly attention must be focused on government regulations, increased tax proposals and new legislative laws that could easily devastate and stop the growth of small brewers and their access to get their beer to beer drinking consumers. Worldwide the craft beer from small and independent brewery movement is not much different than in the USA. If growth is inhibited it is not because there are too many small breweries. Definitely not! It is because of quality issues and government and regulatory issues that can explode a small brewery business plan in no time – also access to market. For the most part large corporate brewing companies have significant control over the distribution of beer.
Do you think that the movement of Italian beers can have a strong identity on the market? In your opinion, we can talk of an Italian style and what is it defined by?
Italian small and independent craft brewers have done much to develop their identity. An Italian small brewers association can do much more in developing a national identity and pride for all small brewers. With so little share of the beer market that Italian small brewers have, they are definitely not in competition with each other. They are in competition with lack of education of the beer drinker.
At Salone del Gusto, you will present a Taste workshop called “Farmers, Brewers and Consumers, Unite!”.
There is much to discuss about this. For now let me say that it is very important that small brewers establish a conversation that extends from the beer beer drinker to the suppliers of ingredients and the growers of ingredients. In particular growers/farmers have been mostly in their own world with much pressure to harvest large volumes at very low prices. In order to survive farmers must make money: it is important for not only the brewer to understand this but also the beer drinkers. Also farmers must understand the new ideas that brewers are using to make the beers that craft beer drinkers want – new hops, different barleys and different ways to use them. The brewers need to communicate to the farmers why they need to do things and look at things differently. Because small brewers are not necessarily ONLY looking for the cheapest ingredients – small brewers are exploring and desire qualities in their ingredients that big brewers don’t necessarily need.
In Italy, wine is a key ingredient in many recipes. Do you think that beer can have the same role? Can you give us an example?
Yes absolutely true. Beer styles and types have a much greater variety of flavors, aromas and positive pairing with food than wine (In my opinion). Light beer, dark beer, fruity beer, malt sweet beer, roast flavored beers, hoppy floral beers, high and low alcohol beer. Beer because of its acidity and hop bitterness enhances many classic food types. Roast, caramel and toasted malts add unique qualities to beer which create unique acidic tastes along with roast characters that enhance meat and particular seafood dishes. High alcohol malty beers compliment desserts well. Sour barrel aged beers can compliment salads and main courses. Cheese goes well with many types of beer. Try an aged pecorinho or parmesan with a dark ale – wow!
Beer and wine: what role do they play in your life?
Do they have separate or interchangeable roles? Beer is a big part of my life. I continue to homebrew now for 42 years. I also make honey meads and sometimes I make wine. I enjoy wine and I recognize the place that traditional table wine has in our world culture. Generally people who ferment grapes, malt, hops and other things are of the same community: we are all creating beverages and foods by way of living organisms and agricultural products that are alive and have personalities that vary. Craft producers are not creating a commodity, they are producing individual products that are in need of understanding by the consumer. Education is most important. Value needs to be communicated. We all are story tellers – not marketing advertisers. The true craft producers are passionate about what they are involved in and enjoy cultivating the relationships they must have with farmers to the consumers.
What do you think of the new Italian trend to bring these two worlds together?
Both wine and beer are appropriate for any kind of meal. It is natural in Italy to explore the relationships wine has with beer and develop collaborations of the mind and beverage.
By Giorgia Cannarella