Craft Beers Are Getting Popular

To the casual observer, it might seem like major national and international breweries still dominate the US beer market, and, at least to some extent, that is true. You’ll have no problem finding a six-pack of Budweiser at your local convenience store, but it might take some doing to get your hands on a six-pack of Sweetwater Ale unless you live within the brewery’s limited distribution range. However, for those looking deeper into the industry, craft beers have enjoyed a considerable surge in popularity.

One of the most significant factors here is the number of microbreweries now operating in the United States. In 2004, there were just over 300 of them. Today, there are more than 450 of them in operation all over the nation, an increase of 25%. There were more than 100 added just between ’09 and 2010. That’s more growth than the large breweries can claim, certainly, even in the wake of the consolidation wave that has swept the global brewing industry.

The volume of craft beer sold also rose four full percentage points during the first half of 2010 (from 5 to 9%). However, major breweries were down by almost 3% for the same period. When you combine that growth with the lingering economic problems, it is a sure sign that consumers are devoted to enjoying their craft beers and that isn’t changing any time soon.

Another sign that craft beers are still rising in popularity is the percentage of people brewing their own at home, as is the growth of brewpubs. There are also new trends to contend with in the world of craft beers, such as the aforementioned brewpubs. These are usually very small microbreweries that brew their own beer and sell it to patrons within their establishment (for onsite consumption). Another interesting trend is the shift of some small breweries away from consumer distribution to supplying bars and restaurants where the beer is consumed onsite.

When taken together (or even singly), these trends certainly show that craft beer is still rising in popularity. In fact, more and more people think of locally brewed beer when shopping at the store or even when dining out than ever before. These trends promise to further loosen the stranglehold by the major brewing companies and further diversify the market – to the benefit of both microbreweries and end consumers, as well.

Craft Beers and Microbrewery

No matter the place of the world we choose to go to for a drink, it is becoming more and more common to find, next to the industrial beer supplier, a wide range of craft beers. Some of these bars even experiment with microbrewing, using recipes of their creation, and providing a unique experience to their customers.

The microbreweries boom is growing and gaining popularity. Many people take it as a recreational activity that leads them to acquire kits with everything needed to produce beer at home, and others, with entrepreneurial spirits, venture to start their own microbrewery business.

Here we show you the basics of microbrewing…

Broadly, to produce beer, you need to begin with the malt, which can be obtained from any grain (usually barley or wheat). This “grain” must be germinated for a short period and then dried to remove the germ.

The malt must be macerated at different temperatures to obtain the wort, which must then be filtered, cooked, and fermented with yeast. After leaving it to rest for several days, the resulting substance (your homemade beer) may be bottled and drunk.

Main beer types…

*Ale: fermented at higher temperatures, between 15 °C and 20 °C (59 °F to 68 °F) and sometimes at 24 °C (75 °F). They are usually very pale and their flavor is fruity/sweet.

*Lager: fermented at lower temperatures, between 10 and 18 °C (10-64 °F). Nowadays, Lagers represent the majority of produced beers, whereas Pilsen (Check Republic) stands out as the most popular. They can be light or dark, and the main difference between Lagers and Ales is the type of yeast used (which also dictates the brewing techniques).

*Lambic: these beers were first made in Brussels (Belgium). They get fermented by using wild yeasts and their flavor is acid and bitter due to the hop (used to avoid excessive bitterness).

*Mixed: these beers are the result of the spontaneous fermentation of Ale and Lager types, in different proportions defined by the brewmaster.

So… What makes craft beers so special?

Both industrial and craft beers have the same base: malt, hop, yeast, and water. The main differences between them are the quality and origin of these ingredients, the formulas created by producers, and the production processes. It is in these details where the mastery and soul of who produces are stamped, giving the beer an identity.

In addition, microbrewers sometimes include native or exotic ingredients that give different nuances to the beer. The possibilities are endless: citrus aromas, hints of chocolate, fruits, rose petals, caramel, pepper, herbs, and so on…

Craft beers are usually not pasteurized, so they are considered a “living product”. On the other hand, they contain less gas than industrial beers, since they only contain the gas produced naturally during fermentation.

Are they here to stay?

The tendency to prefer craft beers is getting stronger and stronger, as the public begins to seek higher quality products. Hence, the number of microbreweries has doubled in the UK since 2008, with an amazing number of 1,490 in total, representing a quarter of all microbreweries across Europe.

In wine regions, such as France, and Italy, and also in countries such as Poland and Norway, the number of microbreweries doubled between 2008 and 2013. In Spain, in the last 8 years, the number of microbreweries has jumped from 21 to 361, which is an amazing increase of 1600%.

In the USA, 8 out of 100 beers are crafted. They are considered pioneers in this area, and could almost be considered responsible for the generalization of this trend, even though the process was slow, with more than 35 years of hard work and perseverance, which has left more than 2,400 breweries.

Thus, to enjoy these amazing beers is no longer a sybarite or extravagant people thing. Craft beers have come to revolutionize a market dominated by industrial products…

So, yes, they are here to stay and we hope they do for a long time.

Some of The Best Craft Beer Cities in The US

The incredible explosion in the world of craft beer has done an immense amount for the travel industry and offers travelers a tremendous range of destinations where they can enjoy some of the nation’s most delectable craft brews. Of course, not all US cities are created equal and if you’re contemplating a beer-cation, then you’ll need to know what cities in the country have the most to offer you. Here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll find out there, from coast to coast.

Head Off to Portland

The city with the most options to offer beer lovers in Portland. Almost 40 microbreweries are operating in the city, giving you an immense number of options to explore. You’ll also find that Portland has the highest number of “all-natural” craft beers, which is fitting considering just how eco-conscious the city has become.

Time to Go Mile-High

It should come as no surprise at all that Denver ranks very high on the top beer cities in the United States. While it might not have quite as many microbreweries operating as Portland, Denver is definitely on its way to catching up. Besides that, you’ll find that this is an ideal destination for those who love the outdoors and want to enjoy some of the stunning areas in addition to exploring their beer options.

Head to Coffee-Town

For the third best city in the nation for craft beers, it’s time to head back into the Pacific Northwest – to Seattle, to be specific. While the city is probably more famous for the Space Needle, its rain, and the number of coffee shops it boasts, there are some excellent options for the confirmed craft beer lover here too. You can head downtown to the Pike Place Market where you can enjoy fresh, farm-grown produce and even get your mitts on some local craft beer all in one place.

Heading Back East

For those who prefer a destination that’s not across the nation (or those favoring an East Coast trip this summer), then Providence, Rhode Island, is a great place to head. While you will find a great selection of microbrews in the city, you will also find some great eateries that serve local craft beers, and even a downtown brewery that sells growlers that you can take home with you (over at Trinity Brewhouse).

A Quiet Place for a Great Beer

If you are looking for a place that serves great craft beer but isn’t necessarily a ‘party town’ or a place that has a rollicking nightlife, then you should head up to another Portland – Portland, Maine. It’s a quiet, relaxing place that offers a significant range of excellent craft beers, local breweries, and watering holes where you can enjoy a good beer without having to worry about the partying crowd. Portland, ME, is also well known for the number of older, established microbreweries.

Moving Down South

The South has a lot of things going for it, including a good number of microbrews. You’ll need to head down to Georgia – Savannah to be specific. Along with its famous riverfront, its historic buildings, and incredible dining options, you will also find that Savannah is a haven for beer lovers. You will even find a retailer in town that offers more than 500 different varieties of craft beer from different brewers around the world. Make sure you take the time to stroll the streets here and take in the history though. It’s all part and parcel of a trip to this jewel of the South.

The Home of Sam Adams

When it comes to beer cities in the US, few are as recognizable as Boston. The home of Samuel Adams is also home to quite a few other microbreweries, brewpubs, brewhouses, and other options ripe for exploring. Of course, there are lots of other things to do in Beantown, with plenty of history to explore, as well as nightlife and much more. Some of the best cultural attractions in the town include the city’s wide range of museums and art galleries.

The Lone Star State

Texas does things big – it’s just the way things are. Like everything else in Texas, the craft brew scene is huge. You’ll find that while Dallas and San Antonio certainly have their attractions, Austin is the best place to go to enjoy some excellent craft beer on a Texan vacation. You will also find that Austin is an incredible place for those who love live music, as well as those who enjoy finding unique, one-of-a-kind watering holes to enjoy during their stay.

The City by the Bay

San Francisco is well known for a great many things, including the Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz, and for being one of the best spots for dining in the world. However, the City by the Bay has also earned a reputation for extremely craft beer-friendly. For those adventuring out to San Francisco, you’ll find some of the most unique craft beer packaging, a very wide variety of eco-friendly microbreweries, and some of the best beers in the country. The fact that you can find most of those craft beers in many of the city’s most popular dining establishments is also a plus.

The list of cities above is only the tip of the iceberg as far as great American craft beer cities. If you explore a little bit you might find something just as good a bit closer to home.