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TRENDS: Craft Beer

Try a spicy beer with your fruitcake.
Photo courtesy CraftBeer.com.

Here’s an idea for Christmas dinner or New Year’s Eve: Treat guests to a craft beer tasting.

As we relayed last week, a Wakefield Research survey shows that more than 60% of men would prefer to toast the New Year with beer rather than Champagne. By implication, they wouldn’t mind having that beer at Christmas as well.

And by further implication, they wouldn’t mind tasting some exciting craft beers instead of the same old, same old.

So go to your closest depot of craft beer and get six or so different brews for a tasting. If you don’t know where to begin, the sales associate can help you. One place to start is with the same style of beer (pilsner, dark ale) from six different microbreweries. Or, purchase six different styles of beer from the same brewery.

Serve the beers in order from lightest to darkest style, giving everyone a two-ounce pour. This nets out to one bottle of beer consumed per person. One 12-ounce bottle yields 6 pours. Discuss the aromas and flavors in each beer—they’re complex and much more flavorful and aromatic than mass-marketed megabrands.

Craft beer continues to be hot. In 2010, craft breweries nationwide were unable to keep up with demand from enthusiastic beer lovers.

While many of the top-selling beer brands from the large breweries saw a decline in sales in 2010, 200 new craft breweries opened and almost 500 more are reported to be in the planning stages.

Here are highlights from the ever-changing beerscape, according to the Brewers Association, which represents America’s small and independent craft brewers.

  • Cans vs. Bottles: Full-flavored craft beers in cans instead of bottles continued to gain traction across the country.
  • “Sour is the New Hoppy”: Barrel-aging, which produces interesting tart flavors, has become very popular—even among America’s hopheads who like the bitter flavors.
  • Beer and Food: Craft beer and food pairings continue to be prevalent at the dinner table. From coast to coast, restaurants are offering beer pairings with food. See our beer pairing dinner menu (a great idea for New Year’s Eve) and find many pairing ideas at CraftBeer.com.
  • Cooking With Beer: Craft beer has become a staple ingredient in many dishes, from brines to sauces. Get lots of ideas at BeerCook.com.
  • Nano Breweries: These tiny breweries, with a case output so small that they can’t be called microbreweries, are hot and growing.
  • Brewpubs: The estimated 1,000 brewpubs in the country represents well over half of U.S. breweries. Looks like we want good grub with our craft beer.

 

Support your local brewery. Meet friends at your nearest brewpub for some holiday cheer.

Understand the types of beer in our Beer Glossary.

 




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