Craft Beer: Peace, Love & Hoppiness
I am proud to call myself a craft beer convert –a hophead if you will. After growing up in a fairly dry household, with the exception of my dad’s occasional Bud-Light on hockey nights, I never expected to call myself a beer drinker. Why waste the calories? Ugh, and the taste! Oh, how naive I was.
A few years ago, my perception of beer completely shifted. My personal beer evolution was slow and progressive, from my first disdainful sip of the omnipresent, big-named American lagers, to the introduction of more flavorful imported big breweries. I was lead through the gates of the world of craft-brewdom with introduction to excellent medium-sized regional brewers, inevitably leading me to discover that some of the most well-crafted brews are closer than I thought. The beauty of craft beer is each concoction is completely unique in aroma, color, and taste, making each beer a tasty bottled adventure for your senses. There are so many shades, intensities, and styles of craft beer, it can be a bit overwhelming. But one thing remains constant. Craft beer is relatively small (less than 6 million barrels of annual production), independently owned (oftentimes by the master brewers themselves rather than non-brewer ownership), and of a generally higher caliber than most large scale breweries. You can usually find out where the hops have been grown, what strain they are, what the water source is, and when the beer was canned or bottled, all by checking the container, calling up the brewery, or visiting their site on the internet.
Read on for 4 reasons to drink craft beer…
Why support it?
Right now you may be thinking: That is all well and good, but craft beer is more expensive and is heftier in calories.¯ Or maybe you don’t drink much, which is completely fine. But if you do indulge in a beer now and again (and again and again perhaps!), why not make it worth your while? I would personally prefer one exquisite beer for $7 than a couple of mediocre beers at the same cost. One craft beer provides more flavor satisfaction, generally has a higher alcohol content (more bang for your buck!), and about the same calories as two or three light beers. The idea is that good beer is meant to be savored, not chugged. Drinking craft beer (in moderation) is far more pleasurable and can be just as low in price and calories as those big company beers. Here are a couple of other reasons to support craft beer…
Local, independent, & sustainable. If you are into eating local, try drinking local. According to the Brewer’s Association, most Americans live within 10 miles of a craft brewer. Supporting a local brewer ensures job opportunities and economic growth for your local economy. Many craft breweries are also very environmentally conscious. For example, Uinta Brewing Co. in Utah is 15% solar powered and 85% wind powered, meaning the brewery’s energy is impressively sourced from 100% renewable power. Breweries such as Uinta also often donate the still nutritional spent grain from the brewing process to local farms for animal feed, supporting local agriculture and lessening waste. You can do your part by filling up a reusable growler at your local pub or brewery.
Delicious. My first beer was an unpleasant experience. To be frank, it tasted more like hop-flavored water than beer. It was not until years later that I discovered that the watery swill I had been imbibing is not the only “beer” out there! This beer-water¯ is nothing like the craft beer I have come to know and love. There is a general complexity and deeper dimension of flavor in small-batch craft beers that cannot be replicated by big breweries. Tasting craft beer can pair wonderfully with food. Oftentimes, you can find a recommendation for food pairings right on a bottle of craft beer, just as you would with wine. Actually, 22-ounce beers (the same as a bottle of wine) are becoming more popular, intended for pairing with meals and sharing with friends. They are similar in price to a bottle of wine and provide an interesting transition for would-be wine drinkers. One of my personal favorites is pairing very hoppy India Pale Ales with spicy Mexican food. Here are some other unexpected uses for beer…
Health benefits. Worried about gaining weight? Recent studies have shown that regular, moderate consumption of alcohol leads to less weight gain over a decade than others (non-drinkers, occasional drinkers, and heavy drinkers). Check out these articles at WebMD and Women’s Health Magazine for more specifics. Beer also is full of nutrients like B vitamins, silicon, and fiber, and even possesses unexpected health benefits. For a run-up on the health benefits of beer, check out this article!
Quality. Craft brewers take immense pride in their beers, so you can expect only the highest quality from your brew. You will find that these beers are crafted with only the freshest of ingredients. You may not like every handcrafted beer you taste, but you can be certain that there is a lot of love and passion poured into every one of those bottles and cans. With over 1,500 craft breweries in America, there are more choices than ever. Take your pick and get hoppy!
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