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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!

Guest:

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

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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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