Cheers! Craft Beer Contributed $67.8 Billion To The U.S. Economy Last Year

The Brewers Association today released its biennial (every two years) analysis of the craft beer industry’s economic impact, and the numbers are pretty impressive. The not-for-profit trade industry of “small and independent American brewers” calculates that for its 2016 Economic Impact Report, craft beer contributed a whopping $67.8 billion to the U.S. economy.

This number represents a 21.7% increase from 2014, the last time that data was collected, showing the growth of small and independent breweries regardless of whether growth may have stalled on some level at larger regional and national craft breweries. The figure is derived from “the total impact of beer brewed by craft brewers as it moves through the three-tier system (breweries, wholesalers and retailers), as well as all non-beer products that brewpub restaurants and brewery taprooms sell.”

The report also takes job creation into consideration, tracking the number of people employed by the craft beer industry, which rose to 456,373 “full-time equivalent jobs” in 2016. This is a 7.5% increase from 2014, with 128,768 of those jobs being directly at breweries and brewpubs, including serving staff at brewpubs.

The BA, which will soon host the annual bacchanalia known as the Great American Beer Festival, also noted the top five states in terms of economic output. Unsurprisingly, they tend to be where the most beer is brewed. You can see the full impact by state, and per capita, at the BA website.Ideally, these statistics would be collected every year, so we could see the change between 2015 and 2016, but the numbers still point toward significant industry growth.

Top Five States (2016)

California
$7,344,502,000

Pennsylvania
$5,787,811,000

Texas
$4,539,628,000

New York
$3,439,441,000

Florida
$3,074,261,000

Create a Custom Beer with Your DNA

Modern beer drinkers can be tough to please. With liquor store shelves overflowing with cinnamon IPAs and chocolate stouts, craft brewers are faced with the daunting task of finding recipes that will resonate with their oft-bearded end users. But one UK-based brewery is taking things up a notch. For a hefty price tag, the Meantime Brewing Company offering customers the ultimate personalized beer. And all they need is a bit of your spit.

For the pioneering project, the brewery partnered with personal genomics and biotechnology company, 23andMe. Using simple saliva samples, the folks at 23andMe are able to analyze customers’ genetic profiles and evaluate their taste tendencies. The brewers at Meantime then interpret that info to tailor-make 12 hectolitres (about 2,500 pints) of tipple suited to individual taste preferences.

Just in case the genetically determined flavor profile doesn’t perfectly match up with customers’ preferred tastes, a consultation with the brewmaster is included in the package to allow for a bit of flavor tweaking if necessary. And it just may be necessary. 23andMe have admitted that “scientists aren’t yet sure how much of our taste preferences are genetic, but estimates are generally around 50%.”

The idea to merge genetics with brewing was sparked late last year when Meantime brewmaster Ciaran Giblin obtained his own DNA blueprint from 23andMe. According to the results, Giblin’s oral taste receptors (the TAS2R38 gene) show that he has a proclivity for bitter flavors like those found in coffee or Brussels sprouts.

Hophead Giblin used the taste analysis to create the world’s first DNA-dictated beer: Double Helix. The super bitter IPA is packed with American hops and erupts with the full-bodied flavor that you’d expect from a chest hair-sprouting 10% ABV beer.

His potent personalized brew was made available at a selection of exclusive venues across London. Following its success, the craft brewer announced the launch of ‘Meantime Bespoke,’ “a one-of-a-kind service aimed at offering passionate craft beer fans the opportunity to brew the ultimate
in personalized beer.”

Sounds good, right? Well before you sign up, let’s talk about that hefty price tag. A DNA-designed beer will set you back an eye-watering $31,360 (and that excludes features like a custom-designed label or home draft dispenser). Sure, you head home with a truckload of beer, but you’re paying three times as much per pint as you would if you had just wandered into any London pub and ordered a beer from the bar.

But according to the team at Meantime, their custom beer project is about more than just the product. Marketing director, Richard Myers told The Register that it is about the experience of creating a unique beer in consultation with the brewmaster that makes Meantime Bespoke worth mortgaging the house.

“It is true that someone could just tell us whether they like sweet or bitter flavors, however we are interested in how much they really like them,” explains Myers. “For example, from the test we now understand that Ciaran (our brewmaster and first to try the concept) has an 80% tolerance to bitter flavors. Far higher than he actually thought he would, that led him to create a beer with 100 IBUs [International Bitterness Units]. The one-on-one consultation will provide further insight into the individual’s preferences to help create the perfect beer.”

Meantime Brewery, an Anheuser-Busch InBev company, are strong believers in embracing modern technology in the quest for better beer and are keen to push the boundaries of the industry to create new drinking experiences. “Drinkers are developing more adventurous tastes thanks to the abundance of new and unheard of ingredients and flavor combinations becoming even more readily available,” says Giblin. “We are finding our consumers want to be continually surprised, excited and at times even challenged by what’s on offer.”

Vote For Our Next President With, Umm, Beer!

Clinton or Trump? Trump or Clinton? We’re entering what is sure to be one of the most interesting Presidential races since…well, since forever. And if you simply can’t wait until November to cast your vote, you can head over to Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, which has created two commemorative bottles of their IPA—the red labeled Alection with Trump’s photo on the label, and the blue-labeled Alection with Clinton’s face on the label. From now until election day (November 8), you can cast your vote by choosing one version of the IPA over the other. No matter which beer you choose, $1 of each bottle sale goes to Common Cause’s voter protection fund. Half Moon Bay’s Alection doesn’t quench your thirst for politics?

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Patriotic Craft Beers for You To Try This Independence Day

Budweiser has long since claimed to be the national beer of America. Born with the same blue collar, utilitarian appeal as Ellis Island, the St. Louis godfather co-opted the American flag as its official coat of arms back in 2012, and this May, they doubled down on their national pride by renaming their beer “America.” Bold. Audacious. And, if we’re being honest, kind of a sham.

Bud may have once been the most patriotic beer in the USA, but the brewery has been owned by a Belgian-Brazilian conglomerate since before they ever took up the Stars and Stripes. With it’s 25% market share and anti-small-business rhetoric, the King of Beers is more about pure capitalism than democracy, so it doesn’t make sense to reach for a Budweiser when you’re kicking back and celebrating America’s 240th birthday.

The face of the American beer industry is the craft brewer. The pioneers. The cavalry of the self-made. The revolutionaries who stay loyal to their compatriots. We found seven craft beers with enough patriotic spirit to get you through the Fourth of July’s fireworks.

21st Amendment Brew Free! Or Die IPA

E pluribus patriotic brews from 21st Amendment Brewery, their IPA stands as the most noble expression of allegiance in the San Francisco brewer’s catalog. Adapting the libertarian state motto of New Hampshire, Brew Free! Or Die features a swaggering Abraham Lincoln on the label as a message to anyone within eyeshot that you value independence, autonomy, and honor above all else when you’re filling your cooler.

On the inside of the can is an anti-imperial IPA that illustrates just how far American brewing has come since the Colonial Days. With a peony of cascade and centennial hops bursting out of the opening, Brew Free! Or Die is one of the purest examples of the West Coast IPA and all its nationalistic glory.

Rogue American Amber Ale

Portland beer engineers Rogue Ales & Spirits have reaped the amber waves of grain to produce a beer that tips its hat to the American proletariat. Rogue draws most of it’s aesthetic from Eastern Bloc propaganda, but that doesn’t mean they don’t brew up one of the most patriotic beers on the free market.

This idyllic red ale is deeply malty and sweet with a hint of noble hops to even it out. Brewed to quench the thirst of a hard day’s work in the heartland, American Amber goes great with a setting sun and a brow mopped with field sweat.

Surly #Merica!

Prohibition is an unfortunate tradition, but it’s America’s most lasting contribution to the global drinking community. We’re still working to reclaim what we lost by de-legalizing brewing, so Minneapolis alehouse Surly Brewing took a look back to before the dark days of the 1920s to inspire their most patriotic beer.

#Merica! — brewed to be served at Twin Cities punk band Dillinger Four’s annual Fourth of July party — leans on flaked corn to build its flavor profile instead of just making a cheaper malt mix, a tradition before a certain Minnesotan came up with the bright idea to shut down one of the biggest industries in the country over bogus moral outrage. Surly’s doing their best to win back their home state’s good name in the drinking community, and this lager shows what we’d be capable of if we hadn’t spent the last 10 decades trying to make up for lost traditions.

Anchor Liberty Ale

Like fellow Franconians’ 21st Amendment, Anchor Brewing is thoroughly ensconced in the philosophies of the founding father. First brewed in 1975 to commemorate the bicentennial of Paul Revere’s iconic ride, Liberty Ale has roots in two separate American revolutions. The star-spangled eagle soaring across its label has become synonymous with American craft brewing since it was first introduced over 40 years ago. It’s fitting then that the beer is engineered with a champagne-like effervescence, because it’s the perfect bottle for pouring a frothy toast to the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.

Diamond Bear Presidential IPA

Diamond Bear brought production brewing back to Little Rock in 2000, and the cheeky Arkansas brewery claims their unimpeachable IPA was a favorite of former Senator and President Bill Clinton, so they named it in his honor.

Presidential IPA is grassy and robust, with a sturdy 57 IBU leading the way. But if you’re into the excess that characterized the Clinton administration, Diamond Bear also makes a Two Term Imperial IPA that clocks in at 9.9% ABV and 90 IBU. Either edition is a salute to the GDP glory days of 1990s America. Do yourself a favor and inhale.

Union Anthem Golden Ale

Francis Scott Key wrote the words to “Defence of Fort M’Henry” after witnessing the bombardment on the titular Baltimore fort. That poem would later be set to a commandeered British tune and become “The Star-Spangled Banner,” a fact that Baltimore neighbor Union Craft Brewing would honor with their Anthem Golden Ale.

Bearing the joyous tagline, “Just the thing to make you sing,” Anthem goes down with all the pomp and triumph of a Revolutionary War march. It has a light hop character, but it’s a cream ale at its heart, refreshing dutifully and with honor. At 5% ABV, you could drink a battalion of these soldiers between refrains of the national anthem.

Hops for Heroes Homefront IPA

Freedom isn’t free, as the old slogan goes, so Hops for Heroes gathered over half a dozen American breweries for the sake of veteran-focused charities. 21st Amendment, Center of the Universe, Cigar City, Fremont Brewing, Left Hand, Maui Brewing, and Stone all produce iterations of this flagwaving brand, with the main intention being to give back to those who sacrifice for the American way. Though it’s really more for Memorial Day than Independence Day, you can’t go wrong sipping from this proudly eagled can on any day that celebrates the Land of Liberty, regardless of which brewer you buy it from.

Survey Reveals That Craft Beer Drinkers Have Some Surprisingly Healthy Habits

Is binge drinking on the downward trend? Maybe, as long as the alcohol being imbibed is craft beer. According to a new study out from The Harris Poll, which looked at the drinking habits of 1,978 adults, craft-beer drinkers — especially younger craft-beer drinkers — are more likely to moderate their drinking and participate in exercise than their Bud-guzzling counterparts.

While the results don’t actually address the prevalence of binge drinking, they do paint a pretty clear picture of the lifestyles of craft-beer drinkers. For example (and stay with us here, the numbers are about to get dizzying), 73% of people who drink craft beer think of alcohol as an indulgence or special treat. It’s a small change compared to the 67% of average drinkers who view alcohol as an indulgence. But take a closer look at the youngsters — 80% of 21-34 year olds and 77% of those between the ages of 35 and 44 — and the difference becomes fairly significant. Millennial craft beer connoisseurs view their brews as “special.”

They also live their lives differently. 57% of the craft beer drinkers reported maintaining a healthy lifestyle through regular exercise, compared to 52% of average drinkers. And, interestingly enough, they’re more likely to participate in group exercise: 40% reported preferring it over exercising solo, compared to 33% of average drinkers. Crossfit and craft brews must go hand in hand.

When it comes to their diets, craft-brew drinkers are similarly vigilant. Seventy-eight percent reported reading nutritional labels, compared to 73% of average drinkers. And 27% actively seek out locally-made food and beverages, compared to 21% of average drinkers. They’re even slightly more likely to track calorie intake: 18%, compared to the 14% of the average drinkers.

Surely the numbers aren’t great for breweries struggling to get their customers to drink more, but Danelle Kosmal, vice president of Nielsen’s Beverage Alcohol Practice, sees the figures as an opportunity for brewers and retailers. As she told The Harris Poll:

“First, it’s important for brewers to prioritize weekends for their biggest events in-store or at the brew pub and tasting rooms. This is when craft drinkers are thinking most about beer-drinking occasions. However, there also could be new opportunities to engage craft drinkers by creating weekday drinking occasions. Many brewers are already doing this through events like brewery-sponsored yoga or weekly group runs. It is a great way for craft drinkers to stick with their fitness plans, while still engaging in a fun, social activity, and then enjoying a beer with friends who share similar fitness goals and interests.”

There could be something in that. The poll also looked at factors that motivate drinkers to attend brewery-sponsored health and wellness events. Sixty-four percent of craft-beer drinkers reported that they were more likely to attend if a beverage or tasting was included in the price of the event — a huge leap up from the 37% of average drinkers. And the figure gets even higher when you look at the younger age groups: 73% of 21 to 34-year-olds and 77% of 35 to 44-year-olds.

The TL;DR of the study: Craft-beer drinkers are in the minority, they think of beer as an indulgence and not a habit, and they’ll work out for free beer. But come on, who wouldn’t?

6 Fall Beers to Enjoy Sans Pumpkin

Okay, okay, we know what you’re thinking: What’s a fall beer without pumpkin? Linus’ favorite crop is a hallmark of fall seasonal beers, to be sure, and we have nothing but mad love for pumpkin beers. In fact, we have a massive pumpkin beer tasting in the works right now. But apparently, not everyone digs the pumpkin. Turns out, pumpkin beer is a lot like cilantro; It’s divisive. You either love it or you hate it. So this is a list for the beer drinkers who want something new and seasonally appropriate, but without squash.

Aurora
Modern Times
San Diego, California

aurora

I lived in San Diego for a little while, so trust me when I say the only way you know the seasons are changing in that town, is because of the rotating beers at the local breweries. Modern Times is marking the season with a new canned beer, Aurora, which is a red rye IPA with a complex hop bill layered over a spicy malt backbone (thanks, rye!). Okay, it’s not a new beer, but it is new to the can. Modern Times is a So-Cal brewery through and through, so you know this beer is a hop bomb, but it’s darker with a heavier malt character, so you also know it’s fall. Look for the 6.7% ABV brew in big boy cans.


Stochasticity Project Your Father Smelt of Elderberries
Stone Brewing Co.
Escondido, California

Elderberries-5

Stone is reaching back to Medieval England with their latest Stochasticity Project. Apparently, dudes in England back in the day loved to use elderberries while brewing beer. Who knew? If you don’t know what elderberries are, they’re like blueberries with a British accent. So with this beer, you get that berry sweetness, some smoke, some bready malt and a bitter finish. You can even expect some of the warming qualities associated with barleywine. Stone suggests pairing it with “roasted fowl, pickled goose, fish pie, or sheep’s feet…” WTF?


Pecan Harvest Ale
Abita Brewing Company
Abita Springs, Louisiana

abita pecan

Pumpkin ain’t the only seasonal ingredient brewers are throwing into their fall beers. Abita takes local, roasted pecans and adds them to an ale that’s loaded with pale, Munich, biscuit and caramel malts. The result is an easy-drinking ale with a surprisingly reserved nutty character. And it’s just 5.1%, so there’s plenty of session potential while you’re watching SEC football. You can find it in six packs of bottles starting right about now.


Autumn Maple
The Bruery
Placentia, California

the-bruery-autumn-maple

Brewed with yams people, yams, (17 pounds per batch) and then The Bruery adds all of the typical fall spices you’d expect—vanilla, molasses, maple syrup, and Belgian yeast. Just like Grandma used to make. Because this is The Bruery, you can expect their signature yeast holding all of that earthy, spicy goodness together. Oh, and it will knock you on your ass at 10% ABV. See if you can score the bourbon barrel aged version of this beer, and let us know how it is.


Harvest Barn Ale
Long Trail Brewing Co.
Bridgewater Corners, Vermont

harvest

If you’re gonna pick up a beer brewed with maple syrup, you may as well make sure that beer is brewed in Vermont. Long Trail takes a fairly straight forward brown ale and gives it a healthy dose of sweetness by adding real, local maple syrup during the brewing process. Long Trail says the beer pairs well with wood splitting and leaf raking. It’s only 4.4%, so I’m gonna add “operating heavy machinery” to that list. Just kidding.


Tumbler
Sierra Nevada
Chico, California/Mills River, North Carolina

sierra

Sierra Nevada has a new fall-inspired variety pack out now, which features the flagship Pale Ale and three seasonals, including this “autumn brown ale.” What I like about this fall offering, is there’s nothing gimmicky about it. No squash, no nuts, no seasonal additives at all, really. It’s just a brown ale that plays heavy on the roasted quality of the malt bill. You get some delicate sweet notes of caramel, maybe a bit of coffee, but ultimately, it’s just a solid brown ale—the gateway beer into the depths of winter stouts and porters.

These “Craft” Beers Are Less Craft Than You Think

In the beer industry, the hipsters are winning. One reason America’s two biggest brewers are trying to merge is so they can join forces against an unstoppable craft beer industry, which has continued to grow long after most people grew tired of the man bun.

Anheuser-Busch InBev, which makes Budweiser, wants to merge with SABMiller, producer of Miller and Coors. The companies sold more than 70 percent of beer in the U.S. last year combined, and could become a single $245 billion company. The reason? For once, the little guy is winning: Craft beer sales jumped more than 11 percent between April and June, even as overall beer sales fell .4 percent, said Technomic Inc.

To qualify for the “craft” designation, brewing has to be small, independent and traditional, according to the Brewers Association. That means brewers that are at least 75 percent independently owned that produce less than six million barrels per year of traditional, fermented beer. Flavored malt beverages are not allowed.

If the deal goes through, it won’t be the first time big beer companies have tried to elbow in on the little guys. Dozens of American “craft” beers you know and love no longer fit that description because they’ve been bought out by the big guys. Here are five of our favorites.

Magic Hat

The creator of the “not quite pale ale” from Vermont was a genuine craft beer for 16 years until it was bought by New York City-based North American Breweries in 2010. Like most craft beers bought out by the big beer companies, it has kept its artsy labels, perhaps in an attempt to trick customers into think it’s still a craft beer. But you won’t fool us.

Redhook

This Seattle ale started production back in 1981, but while it produced just 360,000 barrels per year in 2011, it is no longer a craft beer because it merged with two other breweries in 2008 to form the Craft Brewers Alliance. Despite the quaint-sounding name, Craft Brewers Alliance was the 9th largest beer brewing company in the U.S. in 2012, and InBev owned more than 32 percent of it in 2013.

Kona Brewing Company

If you’ve been to Hawaii and you drink beer, you’ve almost certainly tasted one of Kona’s offerings, such as Longboard Island Lager and Castaway IPA. The brewery was founded in 1994 and became the state’s top-selling craft brew until it, surprise surprise, merged with Craft Brew Alliance in 2010 and is now 35 percent owned by InBev. Which means that while the original owners are still in control, it can no longer be classified as a craft beer. That is so notgnarly, dude.

Pyramid

Like Redhook, Pyramid Breweries’ homestead is Seattle. It was founded three years after fellow Seattle-made Magic Hat, and was later bought by Magic Hat’s parent company. But like that beer, Pyramid suffered the same fate, and was sold to North American Breweries in 2010, and has since been sold again to Cerveceria Costa Rica, a unit of the Costa Rican company Florida Ice & Farm Co.

Leinenkugel’s

If this beer sounds European, it’s because its founder is: Jacob Leinenkugel was a Belgian immigrant who founded the brewery in Wisconsin in 1867. First looking to expand the beer across the Midwest, Leinenkugel ended up selling the entire company to SABMiller in 1988, which began selling it across the U.S., thus killing the “craft” bit of one of America’s oldest craft beers.

Can Shipping Alcohol Save The United States Postal Service?

In theory, the idea is flawless: You roll out of bed at noon on a Saturday, pajamas still on, and casually stroll to the front door to check your mail. You’ve got a couple of bills and a postcard from your favorite nephew…oh, and a full case shipment of that craft beer you’ve been dying to try – all the way from the other side of the country. Laws regarding the shipping of alcohol are unfavorable, albeit somewhat unclear. But according to CNBC, U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe recently pitched the idea of allowing the Postal Service to deliver beer, wine and spirits to your doorstep. Is there a possibility that this scenario could soon become a reality?

Donahoe’s proposal would bring in a substantial amount of revenue for the cash-strapped Postal Service, which is currently prevented by law from mailing alcohol. This ban results in commercial and homebrewers using licensed couriers and package delivery companies to transport alcohol throughout the country. So, is legislation allowing the USPS to deliver booze the only hurdle that remains preventing easier consumer access? Not exactly. In addition to various state laws that might still stop brewers from selling directly to customers, there are other issues in play.

Beer is heavy, fragile and perishable, and its shipping could be costly for both brewers and consumers. Is the convenience of doorstep delivery enough to spur people to pay shipping fees on items that are available at local liquor stores? Extra manpower would also likely be required to pack and ship the alcohol.

The option to purchase specialty beers and ship wines home directly from wineries are intriguing possibilities, but there just appears to be more uncertainty and questions than answers right now. Do you believe that a reversal of the USPS ban would change the way you purchase alcohol? Let us know in the comments.

We Found a Great Summer Beer with a Hint of Citrus

Sometimes when you invite craft beer-loving friends to your home to sit around the fire pit, you end up with a fridge full of beer. Last weekend, that’s what happened to me. Among the beers left behind was a six-pack of Shiner Ruby Redbird.

I stared at Ruby Redbird all week, wondering if I’d like a beer made with tart ruby red grapefruit and a kick of ginger. Last night, I decided to open one and was pleasantly surprised.

Shiner Ruby Redbird (ABV 4.01%) is a light, golden, summery beer with a hint of citrusy grapefruit when it first hits your tongue. Then the ginger comes at the end and lingers. I really liked that. It’s refreshing and will be lovely on a hot summer day.

What really surprised me about this beer was how well it paired with the plain cheese pizza we had for dinner last night. I was not expecting it to be a good complement, but I had the can open when the delivery guy came so I went with it. I know pizza and beer are supposed to be a winning combination, but I often find the bitterness of a beer to be too much of a contrast to the savoriness of a pizza. I usually drink red wine with my pizza, but I’m glad to have found a beer that I can drink seamlessly with a slice.

Shiner is a craft beer made at the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas. At more than 100 years old, Spoetzl is one of the country’s oldest and largest independent breweries. A few years ago, Spoetzl built a facility that treats wastewater and utilizes green energy. An anaerobic reactor offsets Spoetzl’s natural gas usage by recovering biogas from the wastewater treatment process. It then gets turned into a fuel source in the brewery’s dual-fuel boiler.