Sam Calagione's keynote address at the Craft Brewers conference today rocked. The president of Deleware's Dogfish Head Craft Brewery compared the craft brewing revolution to Bob Dylan going electric.
Dylan plugged in and shocked the folkies in '65. Craft brewers hopped it up and shocked beer out of its blandness a couple of decades later.
"What is more punk rock than saying: how does it feel to be on your own?" Calagione asked a room of men and women who bucked the Budweiser establishment. "I think everyone in this room knows. It feels pretty exhilarating.
"A small group of passionate individuals who were reinvigorated by Dylan's audacity to color outside the lines were present as well. The bands that took the stage that weekend in Newport included the Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul and Mary, who presented a very polished, very innocuous and a very popular form of folk music -- the easy-listening equivalent of easy drinking."
And then Calagione, who also invoked Charlie Parker, Ralph Ellison and Tacoma's Neko Case, kicked out the jams. Here's a transcript from his prepared remarks:
"So flash forward a couple of decades or so after Dylan took the stage in Newport. A certain faction of us were experiencing a bad case of deja vu from living in a world that didn't represent us very well.
"Like our immigrant ancestors there was a longing for an alternative. There was a feeling that we deserved more. Not more quantity but more quality and more diversity. There's more to America than glamorized Hollywood freaks and fetishized weapons of mass destruction -- more than McDonald's, shopping malls, volume, delirium and hype. There were millions of different people with millions of different tastes and their tastes weren't being reflected by the choices they had in the kinds of beer that were readily available.
"So another generation rose to the challenge. They created the American Craft Brewing renaissance by the seats of their pants, and consumers saw what they were doing and supported it. Because they recognized their own struggle for integrity and independence in the struggle that these brewers were facing. These brewers were telling their fellow Americans to wake up -- you have taste buds, you have a mind, you know what you want to drink more than your television or a billboard does."
Here's what Dylan had to say about his rock renaissance:
"There were a lot of old people there too. Lots of whole families had driven down from Vermont, lots of nurses with their parents, and, well, like, they just came to hear something relaxing -- hoedowns, you know, an Indian polka or two, and just when everything is going all right, here I come on, and the whole place turns into a beer factory."
Somewhere in there, Calagione led brewers in toast with his Brown IPA.