Spotted this link on beernews.org just now.
It looks like beer and particularly Belgian beer has become popular enough that folks want to open a chain of cafes here in the US. Think.. well, the Starbucks of beer in a way.
To get at what drives that impression to me look at the way they describe the beer list: "Only authentic Belgian beers are available in eight different styles: Abbey, Amber, Fruit, Gueuze, Lager, Specialty, Trappist and Wheat." I don't know about you, but I can't parse that in much of a meaningful way. Hell, if we're going to think about this from a truly Belgian perspective then where are the Blondes and the Brunes?
It's also telling that their trial location is the Newark Airport. Not just for the trapped clientele of an airport location, but for the fact that Newark is a starting point for a great number of US to Europe flights.
Does my reaction carry a little of that holier than thou hipster thing? You know the one that goes "this band was good until they sold out and became popular". If I'm being entirely honest, then yes, definitely. I look at the remarkable growth of gastropubs here in LA and think that most of them are riding a cynical wave of "hot trend" to grab the dinero.
But there's something else to it. One of my favorite aspects of the good beer scene has been the "homegrown" nature of it. I like the fact that I can go to a number of places and end up talking with people who legitimately love beer and the folks around it. While a place like these cafes may be slick and "safe", they don't hold a sinner's chance in hell of feeling as real as the Stuffed Sandwich or Lucky's or even the slickest of them Father's Office. I doubt I'll be able to go into one of them and get to know them like I know the folks at our locals.
At the same time, if I find myself stuck in Newark, I'll thank my lucky stars if there's a place to go get a decent glass of beer, even if most of it is provided by concept owner's Anheuser-Busch InBev. (Admittedly though, the last time I flew through Newark there was a Brooklyn Brewing bar in the airport that was a life saver)
What do you think? Am I loaded down with too much "oh noes, my little scene is growing" or is it legit? If they open one of these spots in LA would you go?