What if Fritz Maytag had not bought Anchor Brewing in 1965?In comments, I suggested that there is no analogue in the beer world. It's just impossible to imagine that beer would remain the one product immune to the post-industrial return to quality and diversity that came to all the other products on the grocery shelves.
What if the committee charged in 1906 with interpreting the meaning of the Pure Food and Drug Act had decided to implement some sort of legal differentiation between all malt and adjunct beer, or enacted a proposal that lager beer be required to lager at least three months? (Both were considered and rejected.)
What if the USDA had not released the Cascade hop variety in 1972?
But there's a side debate here--one Stan and I have been batting back and forth for years. When we look at the landscape of American brewing now, what we see is a fully-developed American idiom: hoppy ales made with neutral yeasts and base malts, accented (if at all) with just a bit of caramel malt. Whether the name on the package is IPA, double IPA, white IPA, Session IPA (etc), that national lineage is always evident. I have argued to Stan--who has steadfastly remained unconvinced--that there is basically one source for all that. So let me put it out to you, and you can line up in the Stan, Jeff, or alternative camp as befits your reading of history:
What if Ken Grossman had never made Sierra Nevada Pale? (And as a corollary: Sierra Nevada Celebration?)