Jeff Alworth (at Beervana) asks readers to comment on this hypothesis: “Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is a foundational beer in American brewing and was instrumental in setting the course for craft brewing.”
George de Piro, brewmaster at C.H. Evans Brewing Co. in New York and parttime blogger, asks this question: “What beer did you once love but now no longer (or seldom) drink?
He even volunteers to go first, naming Catamount Stout, Spaten Franziskaner, and (drumroll, please) Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
He writes: ” I haven’t really divorced this beer (SNPA), but I haven’t had a steady relationship with it in many years. It’s a great style made to very high standards, but I am so familiar with it that I usually go for something different when I’m out for a beer.”
In the Washington Post Greg Kitsock suggested “plain old pale ale has become almost the Wonder bread of craft beer: a ubiquitous product often dismissed as a ‘gateway’ beer for neophytes.” He doesn’t dismiss them, examining how many breweries “are taking a new look at an old style.” Just to be clear, that style is (American) pale ale.
I suspect the comments you find following Alworth’s and de Piro’s posts are not much different than the conversations that would result were these questions raised (and they probably have been several times) at Rate Beer and Beer Advocate.
From a broad, historic (and business) viewpoint there can be little debate that SNPA is a foundation beer. But if there had never been Sierra Nevada Pale Ale would Pierre Celis not have been inspired to start the Celis Brewery in Austin, Texas, and would Rob Tod not been have further inspired to brew Allagash White. No way to know. It’s complicated. Particularly when you consider writing or talking about the diversity of beer really means writing/talking about the diversity of people who drink beer.*
Or as Cajun music legend D.L. Menard puts it, “No matter where you at, there you are.”
* I could have typed “craft beer” rather than ‘beer” twice in that sentence but I think it works fine with two fewer words.