A Brief History of Craft Beer

2014 Asbury Park Beer FestivalWhen you ask what is ‘A Brief History of Craft Beer’?  First you have to ask, what is craft beer? Well it certainly isn’t your grandfather’s beer. Google defines craft beer as “a beer with a distinctive flavor, produced in small quantities and distributed in a particular region.” Craft beer is much more than just a good tasting beer. Craft beer is a culture that emulates brewing traditions of our ancestors and mixes them with new innovations. Craft beeris a community that connects us with enthusiasts from all across the world talking about our favorite styles and tastes. Craft beer is the American story, from its small beginnings filled with struggles to its rise to great power and influence. Let’s take a look back at its beginnings.
We actually have our grandparents’ generation to thank for the light and rather flavorless beers that are mainstream today. After the Volstead Act was thankfully struck down, people had lost the taste for full-flavored and heavy beers and wanted these lighter beers. Fast forward to the 70s, for a place that is considered the melting pot of the world, there were few representations of other countries’ brewing styles and you would be hard pressed to find anything other than a light lager on the shelves of any liquor store. Industry experts predicted that by 1980, there would only be 5 brewing companies supplying all of America.
Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 10.50.24 AMThe future looked bleak for flavorful beer as these major breweries had cornered the market. However, like a trapped animal, beer enthusiasts proved to be most dangerous when cornered. In 1976, The New Albion Brewery of Sonoma, California opened its doors and started a taste revolution that would inspire a nation and start the craft beer movement. Sadly after 6 years, New Albion closed, but had laid the groundwork for the movement and showed that there was a market for the beer.
The 80s marked the Age of Exploration for craft brewers. They opened up brewpubs and breweries and produced a full-flavored beer and beers inspired by older European styles that the public hadn’t seen the likes of in decades. However, these small breweries struggled against the light beer giants, but their hard work was about to pay off.
In the 90s that the craft beer movement found its stride and took off like Usain Bolt. Since 1991, there has been an explosive growth in the number of craft breweries across the nation. From its humble beginnings in the 1980s, where there were only 8 registered craft breweries, to its current state with over 2,700 craft breweries, the craft beer movement has opened the eyes and palates of many to a whole new world of beer.