This week, the New York Daily News effectively trolled the craft-beer community by publishing an article entitled, “Beer Is the New Wine.” To be fair, the story quoted plenty of respectable experts and namechecked breweries and bars that we’d wholeheartedly recommend, but its overall focus on pricey, large-format beers and “suds snobs” who are precious about stemware and a beer’s “bouquet” was troublesome. It’s a story mainstream media loves to play up—Google “beer is the new wine” and you’ll find countless articles that zero in on only the most expensive and pretentious aspects of the beer world.
Besides being a blatant apples-and-oranges comparison, the wine-versus-beer debate is unfortunate because it forces people to take sides on an issue that shouldn’t have any. And, more to the point, it draws attention to a tiny sliver of the craft-beer universe (one that is more alienating than the industry on the whole) and creates a narrative in which beer can only succeed by displacing wine, rather than coexisting with it.
The wine-versus-beer debate creates a narrative in which beer can only succeed by displacing wine, rather than coexisting with it.
Let’s face it: The wine world has a perception problem among young drinkers, and these days winemakers and bar owners are working hard to democratize industry and reverse the stereotype of the holier-than-thou oenophile. The more people push the “beer is the new wine” argument, the greater chance craft beer has of falling into the same exact trap.
To remind everyone of why beer is not the new wine and should be celebrated for its uniqueness rather than its ability to fetch a high price in 750ml bottles, we chatted up some beer writers and industry professionals to find out why they find the comparison misleading. Here are 10 reasons why beer shouldn’t be compared to anything but itself.