Living in Chicago, a town that has embraced the craft beer scene as well as any, I've found that consistency is key. However, I don't mean consistency in product, I mean consistency in creativity. In a time where craft brewers are producing the best beer in the history of mankind, I believe that many have come to cherish the brewpub's draft more than the brewery's bottle.
When you look at the brews that places like Haymarket, Atlas and newcomer, DryHop, are putting out there, you're looking at liquid creativity. And it's a consistency in this creativity that keeps beer lovers coming back for more. While I have an amazingly large love and respect for the consistent product that traditional breweries put out, I find myself looking for something different more often than I find myself looking for something I already have a grasp on.
Issues plague scalability in the brewing industry, so it really isn't surprising that creativity doesn't always translate well from the brewpub to the brewery. The costs of specialty ingredients, unique hops and a batch that doesn't sell well could certainly put a hefty dent in the bottom line of a brewery producing hundreds of barrels at a time. And this is precisely why the brewpub has an advantage.
Perhaps I'm in the mood to try something off the wall - a blueberry lavender wit or a cinnamon porter for example. You can bet your behind that I won't find something like that in a bottle, at least not regularly. However, I can head to any of the aforementioned brewpubs and consistently find something I've never had...and may never have again for that matter.
So, at the end of the day, the point I'm making is that while traditional breweries can, and do, showcase great creativity, they will never have the agility of a brewpub. And because of this, beer lovers in search of something new will always ensure that the brewpub stays in business.
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