You've heard me say it on the podcast: "Beer is a big tent, Cameron." For my first #mycraftbeerphilosophy entry I want to dig a little deeper into that expression...
Let me start by saying there's no such thing as good art and there's no such thing as bad art. Only art. We can individually evaluate a piece of art based on criteria we've chosen to employ, but there's no objective standard to qualify art. Art cannot be defined.
When I say that "beer is a big tent", I'm hoping to get at the idea that we should approach beer in the same way. I grant that beer may perhaps be qualified by one trait - the fermentation of some sort of sugar by yeast - but there's no other objective standard for your or I to judge beer against. Once the yeast gods have worked their magic, it's beer - whether it's ale or lager, light or stout, pale or dark, sweet or sour, macro-brewed or single cask.
I've had some great beer, and I've had some terrible beer (my first attempt at home brewing comes to mind), but only because I've set my own expectations. The fear of any true craft beer enthusiast should be that we set too many expectations of beer, to the point that it limits our search, or narrows the creativity of the brewer. Like art, beer is the clash of styles, flavours, aromas, ideas, philosophies. As a crafter, my only goal is to explore as much of the tent as I can.