By definition, American craft brewers are “small, independent, and traditional.” This definition comes from the Brewers Association’s CraftBeer.com website. What difference does it make, you may ask, who makes the beer I drink?
A few statistics are in order. Again, according to CraftBeer.com, 90% of all the companies that make beer – and there are over 1,500 of them – are craft brewers. Sounds great, right? Well, the down side is that only 6.3% of overall beer sales in the US can be traced back to craft brewers. That means that over 90% of the beer sold is made by a handful of big companies. So what? you ask.
Some things to consider: have you ever been inspired, after reading a Ventura Craft Beer Examiner article perchance, to head down to your local watering hole and order a pint of Ladyface Blind Ambition or Lost Abbey Cuvee de Tomme and sadly found only the brands that you already know? Actually, it’s pretty hard to find Ladyface or Lost Abbey ales, but it shouldn’t be so hard to find Sierra Nevada or Stone, and yet it still is.
Like all independent businesses, craft brewers have difficulty getting access to markets, not to mention the cost of doing business.
So, as Independence Day approaches, here’s a suggestion: find a local brewery and support it by going out of your way to sample their wares, either on tap or in the bottle. CraftBeer.com has a “Find A Brewery” function on their website. Remember: when you support your local brewery, you are, as CraftBeer.com suggests, “supporting the community and culture of craft brewing in the US, which then helps our craft brewers provide jobs and support back to their local communities!”
“Does that really matter?” you ask. Consider this: according to The 3/50 Project, “for every $100 spent in independently owned businesses, $68 returns to the local economy through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures. If you spend that on a national chain, only $43 stays in your community.”
In conclusion: not all beer is created equal, but if you’ve only tried the heavily advertised products of the national commercial brewers, you don’t know what you’re missing – which is quite a lot, actually. Remember, virtually all national commercial brands are lagers, a very specific kind of beer. This summer, try a hefeweizen with lemon or an India Pale Ale (IPA). Branch out. Live a little!
Don’t forget: tomorrow is the Salute! Beer Festival in Ventura. Hope to see you there!