Saturday, July 6, 2013

Drinking Local

The dictionary defines the word "aficionado" as "a person who likes, knows about, and appreciates a particular interest or activity; a fan or devotee." I like to think that after moving to New England I've become a craft brewing aficionado. The words "beer geek" inspire pride among lovers of craft brews, and I am proud to call myself a nerd when it comes to beer. Beer geeks such as myself are always looking for new brews to try to increase their overall knowledge of beer, but each of us also has a favorite brand that we always return to drinking. For me, that brand is Backlash.

What is it that helps us choose our favorite beer? Obviously a beer's flavor determines if we like it or not. Cost is a factor, but plays less of a role as people become less focused on how much beer they're drinking and more focused on how much they enjoy the taste of their beer.  Branding is important, as many beer drinkers search for a brand of beer that they can identify with in some way. Still, for most fans of craft beer it's decided by something else: location.

Many who drink craft beer prefer to "drink local," and will advise others to do the same. It's a smart thing to do, really. Not only are local brews more readily available for purchase, but the money that is spent buying a local beer has a much better chance of making a positive impact on local communities. Small businesses, including microbreweries, nanobreweries, and other beer companies, support each other and give back to the places that they call home. So, next time you're out at a bar, look at where your beer is coming from!

There's another reason drinking local can lead to finding your favorite beer, and that's because it gives you the opportunity to meet the people behind the beer. I met Helder about five months ago during a free tasting at a local liquor store. It's not very often that you see brewers conducting their own tastings, but Helder does it all the time. That's one of the many reasons that Backlash Beer Company is still my favorite to this day.

I met Maggie soon afterwards at a beer festival where Backlash was being sampled. Since then I've gone to many events hosted by Backlash not only to drink their beer, but to be able to hang out with the two people pretty much behind it all. They care not just about the beer they're brewing, but the people they're brewing it for.  It's the heart and the way they can relate to people that drink their beer that makes the brand that much more meaningful.

Backlash is based in Boston. Its founders live in the city and have made lots of connections with business owners in the area. That's helped them to expand locally and throughout the entire state of Massachusetts. Having lived in the city for almost a year now, I've come to think of Backlash as the beer for true Bostonians.

The Backlash brand has also been a key part of its success. Every Boston beer geek should recognize those brass knuckles. It's a symbol for the rebel inside all of us; a rallying cry for those of us who are tired of massive breweries dominating the market and want something more. In drinking the beer and supporting the brand, we too become part of the backlash.

It's been over two years since Backlash started, and ever since they've remained dedicated to creating quality brews for their fans. They've stayed true to their motto: "Stand up. Stand out." They have always stood up for their way of doing things, and their beers have always stood out. It's not just because each Backlash beer has awesome label art. It's also because each of their beers has a taste that you will never forget.

Their most recent release, Catalyst, is one part of a three-part series of beers that retain the original malt bill of Salute (one of my personal favorites) while highlighting a certain strain of hops. This one mainly focuses on the Amarillo hop, which makes it both juicy and powerful with a nice bitterness at the end. Oh, and you can see Backlash's lovable mascot, Stout, on the label!

It's that kind of creativity and independence that has always drawn me to Backlash's beers. The people behind the beer work hard, do things themselves, and put a great deal of effort into getting their beer out there for others to enjoy. It's not the money that drives them, but their passion. I hope that I continue to see them grow in the coming years. I have a feeling the amount of dedication and fans that they have will take them a long way.

New breweries seem to be popping up every day, and the breweries that have been around for a while continue to release new styles of beer. There will always be something new for us beer geeks to try as time goes on. Yet, it's the brews that we know and love that we can't help but come back to. I guess now's the perfect time to ask: What's your favorite beer?


  1. Great post Zach! Its funny that you focus on Backlash, as every time I go to the liquor store I keep telling myself to buy more Backlash. Now I will definitely follow up on that impulse! Love the points on branding and drinking local, great points to call out.

    Are you going to BBC 13 later this month? If so, lets try to grab a beer sometime during the conference.

    Bill aka Man Drinks Beer

    1. That is a good impulse to follow, Bill! I appreciate your comment. I will be at the BBC 13 (less than two weeks away!), and I would be happy to grab a beer with you. See you then!

  2. PS- Sorry I misspelled your name. I need more coffee in the am. Mea culpa!

    1. It's all good, haha. Plenty of people do it. I just HAD to be different and use a "k" at the end!

  3. Backlash sounds like an awesome brewery. I will definitely have to check them out next time I'm up in Boston!