This has been a crazy year for craft beer with acquisitions and rumors of acquisitions, craft breweries joining sides, new breweries opening every day and so much good beer coming out from every corner of the country. It’s hard to keep up with it all but it’s such an exciting time to be in this industry and it’s such an exciting time to be a beer drinker.
There are more than 4,000 breweries in the United States, more than there ever have been. An average of two breweries open every day. Even if you visited four new breweries every day, it would still take you five years to visit all of them (unless they start opening three breweries a year, then it’d take 10 years to visit them all). Some of the new breweries on my list to visit are Ratio Beerworks and Little Machine Beer in Denver. They’re both small breweries that have different food carts come by all the time and each has a punk rock ethos that carries over to their beer.
And all of the existing breweries are coming out with new beers all the time that I’m stoked about. These are my favorites:
Pinner is the new session IPA from Oskar Blues, and it’s super drinkable.
Dogfish Head has a new spruce beer that I can’t wait to try called Pennsylvania Tuxedo, brewed in collaboration with Woolrich’s.
Ska released Modus Mandarina, regular Modus brewed with orange peels and dry hopped with Mandarina Bavaria hops, that recently received a 95 rating on BeerAdvocate. This beer is a pain in the ass to brew, a pain in the ass to dry hop and filter, and it’s a pain in the ass to source the Mandarina hops, but damn, it’s worth it.
A lot of breweries are “selling out” this year. Four Peaks Brewing Co. in Tempe just sold to AB InBev so they join the likes of Elysian, 10 Barrel and Goose Island as one of Budweiser’s craft subsidiaries. As a beer drinker, I’m actually pretty stoked about the Four Peaks deal because soon I won’t have to go to Arizona to try its beer, and any reason to not go to Arizona is a good one. And in general, I’m stoked about these mergers and acquisitions because it’s obvious that the big beer companies are scared, and people with loads of money are seeing the value in what craft beer does. (I’ll write about this more soon, but for now I’ll say that buying craft breweries is the only way the big beer companies can compete with craft brewing.)
As a brewery worker, this trend of “selling out” is bittersweet because I get that brewing beer is a business, and businesses need money to grow, so I don’t begrudge anyone for taking the money. I mean, if my life’s work was worth a billion dollars, I’d sell out in a heartbeat. Actually, I’d probably settle for a cool million and free beer for life.
Robert Alan Wendeborn puts the bubbles in the beer at Ska Brewing Co. His first book of poetry, The Blank Target, was published this past spring by The Lettered Streets Press and is available at Maria’s Bookshop. [email protected]