Can Craft Beer Save America
Here's a really great article from Salon.com on how the craft brewing economic model is a good model for America as a whole.
Interesting... some good points. However, he loses a bit of cred saying that macro beers don't use quality ingredients and are lower in alcohol... Last time I checked, Bud was 5% ABV whereas, say, an Irish-style dry stout was about 4%... Say what you will about A/B, but you really cannot disparage the quality of their process or the ingredients they use... it's just that they don't use enough of the right ones!
What about the jobs?
A good article with some good points. I have been a believer of this for a while because mainly what craft beer means is more local, which stimulates the local economy of the brewery and the establishment selling the product. This also brings up the fact that the craft beer industry is smaller (by volume) than the big boys and probably creates more jobs per barrel produced because of the nature of smaller breweries being less automated. Keep it as local as possible for a better economy.
I hear you on the quality thing. I think the author is using a different definition of quality than what you or I would use. Considering the grain and hops are commodities sold on the open market and aren't generally boutique products there's no difference in quality there. Water is from your local source but most every brewery plays with its chemistry so no quality advantage there. I guess the only real distinctions are like you mentioned, not enough of the ingredients to impart bolder flavors and the use of adjuncts to stretch the brewers dollar.
The only thing that I think this article misses is that the craft side of the industry is constantly moving towards a high-volume ideal. If not, North Carolina wouldn't be getting all of that new brewing capacity.
I think that we need to realize that there isn't really a difference between the brewers for the big boys and the brewers for us smaller guys. It's just a difference of bank accounts and who has the signing power for the checks.