The resurgence of craft beer is in full effect, with drinkers embracing eclectic ales, with hints of caramel, orange, pumpkin and cocoa. This is not the everyday faint-colored beer with the light fizz on top. Craft beers, brewed the old-fashion way, boast an endless parade of eclectic natural flavors to accent the traditional hops, barley, wheat, and other grains. The true craft lager maker knows how to create a distinctive blend that will have layers of character, an appealing fragrance and a beautiful hue. Artisan beers are all about ambiance and experience – and they’re steadily catching on across multiple age groups.
It’s not the 1880s, but microbreweries are sprouting up as if it were. To date, there are more than 2403 small breweries churning out a wide array of tasty ales. These breweries have been heavily scouting for employees to meet public demand. More than 103,000 job positions have been filled so far. Craft lagers are suddenly big business. In 2007, $5.7 billion worth of craft beer was sold across America. In 2012, that number doubled to $12 billion. By 2017, be on the lookout for beer enthusiasts to buy nearly $36 billion worth of craft drinks.
So who’s buying? Baby Boomers, perhaps feeling nostalgic for homemade brews popular in their youth, have affection for craft brews. A third of them list it as their preferred beer. Among Millenials, the thirst for artisan beer is even higher: 43 percent would choose one over a mainstream beer. However, nearly half the population admit to being intrigued by craft drafts and would gladly try one if they understood more about what it was, the brewing process, the flavor selections and what how to pair it with food.
Here’s a quick primer. For garden fare, like salads or veggie appetizers, a Saison goes well. Vegetarian meals and pasta pair well with Pale ale. When eating ethnic foods with strong flavors balance the experience with a gentle beer, such as an Indian Pale Ale, which goes superbly with curry, or a standard Wheat brew, which complements Japanese and Chinese dishes. If you want to drink a fine, sweet Irish Red, this is a very flexible beer that can go with most pub foods, from wings to burgers to melted cheese sandwiches. Dessert beers with sweet, rich undertones like barley wine and chocolate stout go great with pies, cake and pastries.
Aficionados of beer who want to rove around the U.S. sampling different brews have three venues to target. In addition to microbreweries, there are regional craft breweries and brewpubs that stock hundreds of different craft beer selections on a daily basis. While mainstream beers till dominate the market, the Brewers Association reports that 98 percent of breweries currently in operation are actually craft facilities because small, independent ones are popping up everywhere. You can also visit Kendall College, new home of the Siebel Institute, which has a beer teaching hall and a brewery.
So, next time you’re in the mood for a cold one, consider a craft one with chamomile or caramel instead of going for the mass-produced standard.
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