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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

American Beer Drinkers Turn To Craft Varieties

(Chris Ballman/Here & Now.)

Have you noticed the assortment of beer available at your local liquor store?

According to the Brewers Association, Americans’ consumption of beer dropped a little more than a percent last year. But, you wouldn’t know that looking at all the choices. Turns out that while Americans may be drinking less beer, they are drinking more beer from small, independent brewers.

In fact, most small, independent beer makers are thriving. There are now more than 2,000 in the country and they employ more than 100,000 people.

“There are now more than 140 beer styles and 13,000 + beer labels in the marketplace. I think you’ve got a localization in our culture going on, people getting back to being more informed about what they consume and enjoy,” Julia Herz, craft beer program director at the Brewers Association, told Here & Now‘s Robin Young. “Look on the restaurant level, the same thing is happening with beer. And supporting your local brewery is becoming very important to many beer lovers.”

Craft beer retail sales totaled $8.7 billion last year, up 15 percent from the year before. This week beer makers from across the country are gathering in San Diego for the annual Craft Brewers Conference and to get ready for American Craft Beer Week which runs from May 14th to the 20th.

Here & Now’s Very Unscientific Beer Tasting

We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pop open some bottles ourselves — for this segment we tasted the following varieties of craft beer:

  • Brinkley’s Maibock, from the Free State Brewery in Lawrence, Kansas
  • Colette Farmhouse Ale, from the Great Divide Brewing Company in Denver
  • La Perouse White, from the Maui Brewing Company in Hawaii

Our tester, producer Kevin Sullivan, who says he tends to like hoppy beers,  liked the Colette Farmhouse Ale best.

Here & Now‘s managing editor Chris Ballman, not our official tester, also liked the Farmhouse Ale. We swear we’re not taking money from these people!


  • Julia Herz, craft beer program director at the Brewers Association,  she is a certified cicerone, a 12beer sommelier

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • GCA

    I support my local breweries!  I love that “American beer” is good now.  Many Europeans are stuck in the traditions of their beers and while those styles were once new and fantastic, the big commercial brewers in Europe are producing tired and stale beers, while the artisans are getting bought out very fast.  The USA now has more breweries functional than Germany and Belgium combined! And the vast majority of our “American breweries” are producing outstanding product!  Craft Distilling is on the rise now.

  • Mail

    shame on here & now for not sampling a local beer!

  • J__o__h__n

    Some local beers that I like are: Smuttynose IPA, Berkshire Brewing Company raspberry barley wine (made with real berries from a local farm – not disgustingly sweet like many fruit beers), Boston Beerworks oatmeal stout (not on tap often enough).

  • Monicakaufman

    Has anyone mentioned Cisco Brewery on Nantucket? Their Whale’s Tail is tasty.

  • DavidT

    I like Smuttynose (Portsmouth NH) Robust Porter and Ipswich (Ipswich MA) Oatmeal Stout

  • KaitlynOrde

    Moat Mountain (Conway, NH) Pilsner… And their food is fab! Especially after a hike in the whites.

  • http://profiles.google.com/cuvtixo Christopher Daniels

    Clown Shoes brewery,  esp. for their “Hoppy Feet” black ale.   Also Pretty Things in Somerville.  There’s  bunch of great breweries from Colorado as well. 

  • Phschmidt

    Slumbrew’s Porter Square Porter just won Boston Magazine’s Best in New England, and their Happy Sol was 2nd in the WHite/Wheat category.  They are an up and comer!

  • Phschmidt

    P.S. Slumbrew is based in Somerville

  • Jasoturner

    Anything without rice is a good place to start.  The Germans got it right with Reinheitsgebot.  Right now I view Brooklyn Lager and Pilsner Urquel as just about perfect.  For the lager drinker, that is.

    Always happy to support local breweries, too!  Lager, Ale or Stout!

  • J. Michael Lenninger

    In Michigan, the best place to sample craft brew is at the Howell Shark’s Club off D-19. They have 68 taps and about half are Michigan beers. Become a Beer Geek!

  • _B_

    Here you go:

    Brewing Better Local Economies with American Craft Beer


  • Jabv

    Night Shift Brewing | Share the Night

    http://www.nightshiftbrewing.com/These are three Boston area guys in their 20s who are doing an awesome job creating fabuslous brews!

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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