Here's my good natured rant. :cheers: ...
Sierra Nevada is as good as it ever was. Like some other small brewers that have grown into large ones, they have managed to keep their quality to high standard. Growth has not affected their quality one bit; they may have even improved their quality and consistency in the growing process.
I'm convinced that the perceived change is simply 'palate drift, and beer drinker's palates are becoming quite jaded. Some beer drinkers are demanding ever increasing flavor intensity and alcohol levels, and we've come to a point where many brewers are more concerned with how much bitterness and ethanol they can cram into their high priced 22 oz bombers.
But I digress...The real point is that size has little to do with quality. It's about skill. As was suggested in another thread, these days "craft beer" is a marketing term and not much more. Though one must admit that the marketing has been very effective.
Maybe "micro" would better differentiate the difference between the big and small brewers of the world. Oddly, despite continuing to turn out great product, some of the successful brewers that have grown into large operations are already losing some of their 'artisan cache' (at least in some people's narrow perception).
Terms like "craft beer" and "microbrewery" will become obsolete anyway some years down the line.
It will ultimately come down to simply a question of "good beer" or "bad beer".