It’s not necessarily the case that people hate big, successful breweries; just that they cut new, small breweries a lot of slack.
It’s hard not to get excited when new breweries open, reading breathless tweets announcing the arrival of kettles and fermenters, or the success of test batches. We’re illogical, emotional creatures and can’t help feeling a sentimental warmth towards the underdogs.
Sometimes, though, things are bit rocky to start with. As craft beer consumers, do we have a ‘duty’ to turn a blind eye to exploding bottles and off-flavours? No, but we don’t mind doing so for a while because, in most cases, we understand how hard it is. We want them to succeed and enjoy being along for the ride.
When a brewery gets established, achieving regional, national or even international distribution, we start to feel less sentimental. They’re big boys now and ought to be able to take a bit of constructive public criticism. It’s probably at this point, too, that we stop repeatedly trying their beers hoping to find a good one. Frankly, there are too many good beers out there for us to waste our hard-earned cash on those that have already burned us, and drinking every beer twice is hard work when there are more than 4000** of them in the UK. We’ve done our bit, now we want them to do theirs. (As Pivni Filosof put it rather bluntly, “get your shit together or close down”.)
When a brewery gets really big – i.e. monolothic and powerful – the gloves are off. It’s not personal, it’s just that they’re no longer juveniles, and are subject to the law of the land like any other grown-up. We, the consumers, become the underdogs, the little guys in this relationship, and can surely no longer be expected to make any allowances for bad recipes or quality control problems.
** Estimated figure based on 900+ breweries in the UK each brewing 3–5 beers.