Along with all the data parsed from my recent analysis of 2016’s best beer, there was one particular trend that caught my eye.
Beyond the use of specific hops and the never-ending stronghold IPAs have on our collective consciousness, more than ever before, I noticed that some of the beers deemed “best” by amateurs and experts alike were also products I would never get to try, let alone see with my own eyes in real life.
This makes sense for two reasons:
- With the sheer number of breweries increasing, let alone focusing on local markets, unobtainable beers should be happening more often.
- As more breweries grow and diversify, the potential to include barrel programs and make beers unique to each business also goes up.
But those aspects may not tell the full story. Of the 155 beers I collected for my 2016 best beer analysis, 75 (by my own subjective review) would likely be classified as “rare” for the sake of release and quantity, and an additional 20 would be “rare” based on the need to travel to the brewery or an area directly nearby to actually get the beer. By my own account, 61% of the “best” new beers released in 2016 and included on my collective list aren’t going to be available to nearly all beer drinkers – even card-carrying beer geeks such as myself that might try harder to find certain brands.
Which made me wonder. First, what are rare beers doing to us? Second, is this a paradigm shift that will continue to influence our expectations going forward?