Today consumers have the option of everything from a fruity style Hefeweizens to the darkest of dark barrel-aged Stouts. It seems as the variety grows and the quality increases, beer has become a viable contender in the culinary-wine-spirits competition. More and more people are tasting beer as they would wine, that is to say, they are getting involved in analyzing and categorizing their beers and expanding their palates.
It's really quite interesting to see how the economy also has weighed in at just the right time for the malty or hoppy beverage. Consumers realized that having a beer with dinner might be a bit more of a conservative play in these economically stressing times. It just doesn't seem as indulging and luxurious as wine, and so people are willing to fork out less than ten dollars for a good sixer of brew.
It's also incredible how well certain beers pair with certain foods. The styles of beer are also similar to wine in that some can be dry, some sweet, some bitter, and some malty and savory. Plus what goes better with pizza, hot dogs, and hamburgers (all of which are inexpensive and famously American meals) Cabernet or Pilsner??
Yes, wine will always be wine and a very special drink that is the nearest to my heart, but beer is fastly becoming a companion and perhaps a slight market competitor for our beloved grape juice. I just happen to be indulging in a nice hoppy glass of IPA as we speak and for some odd reason I couldn't help but give the brew a shout!! Cheers!