In the beginning -- by which I mean the '80s -- there were, like, five kinds of beer. They were yellow, fizzy, cheap, and widely available, lagers mostly, and people didn’t care that they tasted like metal and corn, or that they were prone to making claims like being "the Champagne of Beers," which is like being the zebra of motorcycles.
Then, after a few revolutionary rumblings in the '80s (Sam Adams, homebrewing), we were suddenly in the midst of a full-on beer renaissance in the '90s. Word began to circulate within the square population that all beer didn’t need to taste like metal and corn, that it could be more than just the substance you ingested in order to work up the courage to throw a D battery at Rafael Palmeiro at Fenway Park. It could be culture, art, worthy of obsession. And as brewers pushed the boundaries of the American beer palate, ingeniously creating new styles and reinventing lost or neglected ones, customers in turn became even more emboldened, literate, and demanding.