The thirst is real. Craft beer consumption is at an all-time high. According to The Brewers Association, there are more than 5,000 breweries in operation in the U.S. alone, the highest it’s been since 1873. Take that, Sam Adams.
Gone are the days of America being fueled by diesel (Budweiser), and being the punchline to jokes made by dominating brewery incubators such as Germany or the Czech Republic. Now, our stein runneth over with micro-brewed craft beer in every flavor imaginable, from super-hoppy IPAs to barrel-aged sours.
“The success of craft brews is fueling its own economy.”
In fact, The Brewer’s Association cited that America’s craft beer industry contributed $55.7 billion to the nation’s economy in 2014 alone. The success of craft brews is fueling its own economy, having a large impact on small towns and helping to revitalize forgotten neighborhoods. Similarly, smaller local economies are indulging in the popular craft beer trend as a means to spur growth.
It’s like prohibition ended yesterday. Micro-breweries are popping up everywhere from every from major cities to airport-less towns. So much so, that beer Meccas such as Missoula, MT, Asheville, NC and Grand Rapids, MI are becoming beer tourist destinations rather than drive-through cities. These mid-sized cities with popular breweries have welcomed the new wealth from beer tourists. Just as the forty-niners trail blazed out west in search of actual gold, beer connoisseurs are now flocking to brew cities in search of liquid gold. Some brewers are even rediscovering centuries-old recipes or using yeast from intact bottles found in shipwrecks.
“We have now entered the age of unabashed brew brainiacs.”
Decidedly, beer geeks are the new wine snobs, and way more fun to party with, at that. While wineries have long been defined by their posh ways and khaki-clad yuppies that frequent them, today’s craft breweries feature a laid back clientele, often found at communal tables chowing down on fun eats, like burritos as big as your face. While previous decades gave rise to the highbrow sommelier-type, we have now entered the age of unabashed brew brainiacs. These days, claims of beer being “too hoppy” or having “a fruity finish” won’t get you side eye at parties like saying “strong notes of oak” would.
The beer industry’s mentality is changing as well. Whereas the large breweries that dominated throughout most of the 20th century have become passe,Craft breweries have become more of like the indie darlings of the drinking world. . . This cultural shift, in turn, has changed the buying habits of consumers, choosing the $20 craft 6-pack over the $10 24-pack of frat boy beer.
So, raise a glass of your $12, 9% brew and toast to the still-growing craft beer industry, because the world could do with more punnily-named IPAs like “Hoprah Winfrey” or “Hopimus Prime”.