Garrett Oliver: New Markets On Tap
Garrett Oliver is the Brewmaster of The Brooklyn Brewery, the author of The Brewmaster's Table, and the foremost authority in the United States on the subject of traditional beer. After years of amateur brewing inspired by beers he had encountered during a year in England, Garrett Oliver began brewing professionally at Manhattan Brewing Company in 1989 as an apprentice. He was appointed brewmaster there in 1993. He soon became widely known both here and abroad for his flavorful interpretations of traditional brewing styles and as an avid and entertaining lecturer and writer on the subject of fine beer. Garrett has hosted hundreds of beer tastings and dinners, writes regularly for beer and food-related periodicals, and is internationally recognized as an expert on traditional beer styles and their affinity with good food.
Question: Is beer a growth industry?
Garrett Oliver: Beer is the growth industry for us; it's not for everybody. I think that the industrial brewers have finally just now understood there's no future in industrial brewing. They slowly decline, decline, decline; one might have an up year over another here and there, but essentially the mass market flavorless beers are in decline whereas craft brewing, which is what we are doing, is on a rapid rise. Now, with economic troubles and shortages of hops and malts and everything else going on, there can be blips in this, but just as we see in the rest of the food culture, it really only goes in one direction and that's up. People are not going to say, "you know what, that Starbucks, it's okay, but I really want is instant Maxwell House." You now, it's not going to happen and it never has happened and never will happen. Once people get the good stuff I don’t care what it is whether it is coffee or its olive oil or it's bread or it's cheese, they are not going back to stuff they used to have, because it is not as pleasant, and it's not is nice, they're not getting as much out of it and beer now is basically an affordable luxury. You can buy some of the best beer in the world just right around the corner $2. I mean how good is that?
Question: Are there any industrial beers that are as good as craft beers?
Garrett Oliver: That is good question, I mean they are some mass market beers that I think that are generally pretty good, I think Guinness is the good example of a huge mass market beer that is not bad. “Hoegaarden” [phonetic] which comes from Belgium which is a mass market beer made by the worlds largest beer company, but it is not bad. Buy and large though what you tend to get is something that tastes like seltzer water, may be that is the sort of the average and it does not matter whether it is some thing it which comes from I mean there is. Whether its Belgium seltzer water or a Italian seltzer water, its American seltzer water, it is sort of funny because you see these brands over here and often they are the cheapest brands in their own countries, but then when you get here they put all sorts of advertising around it and sell it at $8 a pine and be on back in the host country and it doesn’t are laughing all the way to the bank. You also whether you are in the Mexican beers the ones that are popular here for example are the brands that would be like Bush live or some thing back in Mexico, I mean that the cheapest possible things that near ever is like why are you drinking that, but they think it is pretty funny.
Question: Where could the beer industry expand its market?
Garrett Oliver: I mean a certainly I mean you are saying now suddenly explosive growth of interest in beer in china for example, where you have that is part of what is going on with the shortages of materials, because part of it is that suddenly were 100 million new Chinese people in the last two years suddenly have enough money to afford, their first beer and it is one of the first things they want a sort of consumer item. So there is there are huge possibilities in places like that and that is just for beer period for craft beer even larger because you get into okay, they are little bit more expensive, but for example in India you have people who traditionally may have drunk beer but now people have money and not even enough stuff to spend it on and here and now you have a beer that actually you can work with their food is supposed to the mass market beer is that they have which really Indian food being one of the most complex cuisines in the world. They don’t make any beers that go with their food, wine by and large. Doesn’t work with the food, also what are you going to have with this fantastic cuisine, I think the answer is traditional craft beer. And if you go to places here like tabla etc you will see the opportunity there for some great pairing.
Recorded On: 3/25/08
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