I agree totally with your statement. It's sad that some of the craft brewers have gotten into the business just to sell mediocre beer. I'm amazed when I go to some of these places to try their beer myself and talk to people that rave about the beer that I wouldn't even admit I brewed. But the stellar ones out there make up for them, and there's plenty out there.
I'm just glad I brew my own too, so I don't need to be disappointed with the entire craft industry because of a few bad ones.
I agree, too. Budweiser is popular for a reason. Marketing works. If it works for disgusting mainstream quasi-beers, it also works for craft beers that are just as bad. I believe there are tons of people out there who have a bizarre desire to be seen drinking craft beer, even though they can't tell PBR from peach Nehi. Give your brewery a clever name, pay for eye-catching labels, hype your bad beer as though there were something special about it, and hipsters will buy it. Craft beer entrepreneurs know these things, and some are putting time-tested marketing methods to work.
Most people can't tell good beer from bad. This will always be true. Most people will buy anything the masses or a person they admire tells them is good. A lot of people can't be taught to recognize and like good beer, but anyone can follow a herd.
If people will drink a fake craft beer made cheaply, why bother improving it? It's already doing what it's supposed to do: earning money. People bought Killian's Red, which was like Coors with dye in it. It gets good reviews on Beer Advocate, which tells you something about Beer Advocate.
The principle applies to everything. I saw a bunch of videos about pizzerias in New Haven, Connecticut. Youtubers who claimed to be pizza experts raved and said it was unbelievably good. People, including at least one celebrity, brag about being given a special phone number for placing orders quickly, like it's an honor to be allowed to give someone money. As a person who makes pizza frequently, I was curious because I thought the pizza had to be really great in order to impress so many people.
I told my best friend about it, and he said he had eaten at these hyped pizzerias more than once when passing through for business. He knows pizza. He taught me how to make pizza. He said they were was "okay." Not especially good. If they had been anything special, he would have been able to tell. He says my pizza is better.
Then there's the Peter Luger steakhouse in Brooklyn. An unbelievable dump with terrible service and steaks just like the ones every other steakhouse serves, except Peter Luger serves them on worn-out tables you literally couldn't give to Goodwill and surrounds them with other food that is of institutional quality. People get furious when you criticize this place, because the herd instinct dominates their brains. It got some inexplicable stellar reviews decades ago, and the reputation has carried it since. It's hard to imagine anything more they could do to drive people away, but they flock to it.
Someone here will probably get mad at me for criticizing it, but I know what I experienced. When I was there, it was freezing outside, and every time someone came in, a blast of cold air went through the place. Customers were wearing overcoats. Not only were there no tablecloths; there was no finish on the tables or the floor. The bread came from a bag. I ordered a Coke, and they brought me a hot 6-1/2 ounce bottle and a small glass with a few cubes of ice that were melting fast. The steak was great, except that they cut it up for me without being asked, like I was a six-year-old.
A steak alone can't justify a restaurant's existence. Anyone who can't make a great steak has no business owning a stove. It's as hard as making toast. People still insist there is something magical about Peter Luger's anointed steers.
Lawry's is also pretty bad, but it has mythical status anyway. My wife and I went to Lawry's and Ruth's in Singapore. Lawry's gave us thin, cool slices of tough, underseasoned prime rib, which is amazing, given the name of the restaurant and the fact that Lawry's sells seasoning. They served it with canned peas and mashed potatoes that tasted like they came from a box. The creme brulee was a combination of lumps and egg soup. Ruth's, on the other hand, was great. Not as good as food cooked at home, but very nice.
It's not the steak that makes you rich. It's the sizzle.