What’s Brewing?

 

shutterstock_242275753Rob and Kevin should be ashamed of themselves: The real reason it’s a wonderful time to be an American consumer has nothing to do with electronic media, drive-sharing, or any fancy-shmacy new technology. Via the Washington Post, this is the the best news about entrepreneurialism in America you’ll read all day:

As of Dec. 1, 2015, the Brewers Association had counted 4,144 breweries in the United States, the most ever operating simultaneously in the history of the country. According to historians, the previous high-water mark of 4,131 was set in 1873. The new number includes giant Budweiser, artisan Dogfish Head and your neighborhood brewpub. Although beer industry observers have known this day was coming, the pace of growth was explosive: At the end of 2011, there were 2,033 breweries, or fewer than half as many as now. In 2005, there were only 1,447. And 25 years ago? The Brewers Association, a trade group for small and independent breweries, logged a mere 284 in 1990.

The news isn’t all good, though. Rapid expansions are often followed by equally massive contractions, and it’s (unsurprisingly) becoming a harder for each additional brewery to gain a foothold:

On the other hand, the expanding market — at least two breweries open every day — has created a new set of problems for brewers. New arrivals, riding the craft beer wave, are finding it difficult to stand out. And it’s not as if bars have doubled the number of their taps in the past five years. So not only do the new breweries need to squeeze past their rivals even to make it in front of consumers, but they might need to convince bars that they’re more deserving of a chance than better-known beers from Lagunitas or Great Lakes.

But what’s bad from the producers’ standpoint is often to the benefit of the consumer. And though it’s still morning for most of us, it’s never too early to share recommendations.

So, Ricochet, here’s your challenge: If someone’s visiting from out of town and wants to try something local that they likely can’t find back at home, what would you fill their glass with?

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  1. Jackal Inactive
    Jackal
    @Jackal

    From my little base in eastern Iowa, it’s a quick hop to both Toppling Goliath and New Glarus (only sold in WI).  Both are excellent and worth visiting in person too.

    • #31
  2. Johnny Dubya Inactive
    Johnny Dubya
    @JohnnyDubya

    Who agrees with me that “hop forward” has been a tad overdone? Just as I wouldn’t care for pretzels drenched in salt, I don’t care for overly-hopped brews.

    • #32
  3. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    Johnny Dubya:Who agrees with me that “hop forward” has been a tad overdone? Just as I wouldn’t care for pretzels drenched in salt, I don’t care for overly-hopped brews.

    Depends on the brew. Its quite obviously a response to the watered down urine the big breweries have been pushing on us for years.

    • #33
  4. Rob Long Editor
    Rob Long
    @RobLong

    I love this post.

    Because, utterly without irony, I read it and think: ‘Murica!

    Drinking the local brew is my favorite way to travel.

    • #34
  5. thelonious Member
    thelonious
    @thelonious

    Johnny Dubya:Who agrees with me that “hop forward” has been a tad overdone? Just as I wouldn’t care for pretzels drenched in salt, I don’t care for overly-hopped brews.

    I love hoppy beer but I find I can only drink one.  Which is probably a good thing.  The hoppyness turns sour after awhile.

    • #35
  6. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    I would recommend that someone visiting Oregon seek out McMenamins. They don’t bottle beer. They brew on site and some sites also distill whisky (Scots spelling).

    • #36
  7. jzdro Member
    jzdro
    @jzdro

    Johnny Dubya:Who agrees with me that “hop forward” has been a tad overdone? Just as I wouldn’t care for pretzels drenched in salt, I don’t care for overly-hopped brews.

    Hi Dubya,  Maybe it has been overdone, as far as marketing is concerned.  But an ale is overly-hopped, I’d say, when it is paired with the wrong food.  For example, if the main course includes hot peppers, a hoppy session ale is what a person wants.

    It follows, then, that the brew you want is linked to what you are looking forward to for supper.  Maybe you worked outdoors all afternoon on a hot day, or maybe you slogged around and sought out your flannel vest and quilted dressing gown on a soggy pea-souper of a day. So you look forward to hoppy ale, or stout.

    • #37
  8. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    Boston used to have Enlightenment and Idle Hands but their brewery was condemned by eminent domain to build an access road to the new casino in Everett. So their head brewer moved to Denmark and just won the EuroBeer competition for best new IPA with his “straight from Boston” brew.

    Don’t give any guff about Heddy Topper which is a Vermont beer, not sold around here. Can’t say I like it although my daughter in Burlington always brings some over when she visits.

    • #38
  9. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    So I guess we all need to drink more to help the economy?

    • #39
  10. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Knoxville is currently undergoing a big expansion in the number of local breweries. Crafty Bastard is a really good one I would be happy to take willing Ricochetti to!

    • #40
  11. Wes Lambert Member
    Wes Lambert
    @WesLambert

    I’m in the upstate of SC. Of course Asheville (about an hour from me) is craft brew haven, but if you go, don’t waste time hitting Sierra Nevada or Highland (although their beers are terrific). Instead, head into downtown Asheville and try (in order of importance) Burial, Catawba, Twin Leaf, and Green Man. What’s best? They’re all within about 2-3 blocks of one another, so go ahead and order another pint! Burial’s “massacre of the innocents” is a phenomenal IPA and the “Skillet donut stout” comes with a freaking donut! How can you go wrong?

    Also, Trophy Brewing in Raleigh is one of my favorite brew-pubs. They have great beer and weird pizzas. It is an awesome place to hang out.

    • #41
  12. Mr. Dart Inactive
    Mr. Dart
    @MrDart

    Greenville, SC’s Thomas Creek brewery makes a good amber ale, Appalachian Amber.

    Natty Greene’s in Greensboro has a nice selection. My favorites are Old Town Brown Ale, and Buckshot Amber

    My every day beer is fresh from the brewery a short drive from the house, Olde Mecklenburg‘s Copper out of Charlotte.

    A recent law change in South Carolina has allowed the state’s microbreweries to expand and there are fine beers and ales in Charleston, Greenville and elsewhere now.  Carolina brewing isn’t just about Asheville anymore, although Asheville is still the king when it comes to selection and volume.

    • #42
  13. Duane Oyen Member
    Duane Oyen
    @DuaneOyen

    I am a hard-bitten Diet Dr Pepper guy (the Walmart clone, Diet Dr Thunder is acceptable as well), so I know nothing about this stuff.  However, the lovely Rubber Duckie swears by Surly Furious.

    • #43
  14. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Sorry Wes, the best in Asheville is Wicked Weed :) Good to know we have one more to add to our potential SC meetup!!

    • #44
  15. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Dart, We had a job just down the street from Thomas Creek…..been in their brewery one or 20 times :) Charleston has some fantastic breweries, Holy City and Westbrook to name a couple. I travel a lot and finding new interesting breweries is a bit of a hobby of mine

    • #45
  16. JosePluma Thatcher
    JosePluma
    @JosePluma

    How much time do you have?  The Austin area is just plain amazing, with just about anything you could want.

    My go-to beer is a tripel from Real Ale called Devil’s Backbone;  they also have a very good pale ale called Four Squared.

    If you are looking for Belgian-style, Adelbert’s has them, along with a very good wheat beer.

    Jester King does sour ales with wild (in more ways than one) fermentation.  Their beers are definitely not for everyone, but well worth trying for the more adventurous.

    Pinthouse pizza is a great brewpub with excellent pizza as well.

    And that’s just dippin’ yer toe in.  Infamous, Hops & Grains, (512), Circle, Austin Beerworks, Live Oak, Independence, Twisted X, Thirsty Planet, Rogness, Bluebonnet, Save The World, Eastciders:  Those are just the ones I’ve tried and seems a new brewery is opening every month.

    Now, let’s start talking about distilleries and wineries…

    • #46
  17. JosePluma Thatcher
    JosePluma
    @JosePluma

    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    C

    Tom Meyer, Ed.

    Me!? Well, don’t mind if I do …

    If any of you come up to the Boston Area, make me get you a glass of Far from the Tree’s new Nova Cider, which is the most delicious thing I’ve had to drink it a long time. What’s really fantastic about it is that it’s hopped, so it’s got the sweetness of a (moderately dry) cider but finishes with the sort of piney bite you’d get from a pale ale.

    Mr. Meyer:

    When I was last (and first) in Boston in 2014, I discovered a place called Downeast Ciders.  They had some the best cider I’ve sampled, with a drier start and more intense finish than most ciders.  Have you tried them?

    • #47
  18. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    JosePluma:

    When I was last (and first) in Boston in 2014, I discovered a place called Downeast Ciders. They had some the best cider I’ve sampled, with a drier start and more intense finish than most ciders. Have you tried them?

    I’ve not, but it sounds like I should.

    • #48
  19. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    JosePluma:How much time do you have? The Austin area is just plain amazing, with just about anything you could want.

    Austin’s food and drink scene is amazing, no question.

    It’s hardly microbrew, but I always try to make sure I have a Shiner Bock when I’m there.

    • #49
  20. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    JosePluma:How much time do you have? The Austin area is just plain amazing, with just about anything you could want.

    My go-to beer is a tripel from Real Ale called Devil’s Backbone; they also have a very good pale ale called Four Squared.

    If you are looking for Belgian-style, Adelbert’s has them, along with a very good wheat beer.

    Jester King does sour ales with wild (in more ways than one) fermentation. Their beers are definitely not for everyone, but well worth trying for the more adventurous.

    Pinthouse pizza is a great brewpub with excellent pizza as well.

    And that’s just dippin’ yer toe in. Infamous, Hops & Grains, (512), Circle, Austin Beerworks, Live Oak, Independence, Twisted X, Thirsty Planet, Rogness, Bluebonnet, Save T…

    Yeah, the Brews and Bros group from Hope Chapel has been to some of those places. Craft Pride is quite worth visiting.

    • #50
  21. JimGoneWild Coolidge
    JimGoneWild
    @JimGoneWild

    Fat Tire Amber Ale

    Alaskan Amber

    Moose Drool Brown Ale

    Coors Banquet and Coors Light

    • #51
  22. Duncan Winn Member
    Duncan Winn
    @DuncanWinn

    I was excited to see some hop fields going in near Boise, Idaho. They used to grow a lot of hops around Boise (actually, Parma) when I was a kid. It is expensive as growing the hop vines requires a field full of telephone poles and cables.

    • #52
  23. JosePluma Thatcher
    JosePluma
    @JosePluma

    Tom Meyer, Ed.

    It’s hardly microbrew, but I always try to make sure I have a Shiner Bock when I’m there

    Agreed.  If you are ever down here in November or December, try the Shiner Holiday Ale.  It’s a little different every year and always very good.

    • #53
  24. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    JosePluma:

    Tom Meyer, Ed.

    It’s hardly microbrew, but I always try to make sure I have a Shiner Bock when I’m there

    Agreed. If you are ever down here in November or December, try the Shiner Holiday Ale. It’s a little different every year and always very good.

    Saint Arnold’s Blue Bonnet Bock is also always excellent. Lamentably we’re missing it this year.

    • #54
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