ask the experts {hopping on the craft beer wagon}

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I love beer!  There is nothing better than enjoying a crisp beer on a cool fall day while watching football or sitting on the beach with a ice cold cerveza in hand.  I will be the first to admit that my beer choices have changed dramatically from my college days.  At one point my roommate and I had to shower for weeks with a keg of Miller Lite in the bathtub.  Awesome.  But I am an adult now so I have started to make some adult choices when it comes to beer.  I have “hopped” on the craft beer wagon and I am not getting off…and you should hop on too.

In my quest to learn more about the craft beer world, I reached out to the Executive Director of the New York State Brewers Association, Paul Leone.  Read below to hear his take on craft beer and how you will love craft beer too.

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With the news of ABInBev buying MillerCoors hitting every national website and newsstand, it’s important to note that, although this will become the largest beer company controlling over 30% of the worlds beer, macro beer sales in the US are still on the decline, or at the very best flat! How can that be you ask? In 1980, there were only 35 breweries in the United States, today there are over 4000…and growing. All of that growth is coming from craft beer, which by the way, is only 11% of all beer sales in this country. The growth is due in large part to Millennials and Gen-Xers who care deeply about local, and more importantly, great flavors in food and drink.

IPA’s still rule the craft beer space accounting for nearly 27% of craft beer sales. But it’s OK if you don’t care for the hops, there are still plenty of options out there because the American craft brewer know’s one thing, there are no boundaries on what craft beer can be. How crazy can it get?

I was recently at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver which featured over 900 breweries, and nearly 3000 different beers. Surely more then anyone can consume 2 ounces at a time, so I turn this event into a game. Each year I try to find the most creative beer possible, and this year did not disappoint.

Craft brewers are always creating new flavors and styles, so how would you feel about drinking a Peanut Butter and Jelly beer? Yep, I found one and it was amazing, it smelled like a PB & J sandwich and tasted like a PB & J sandwich. Here a few more – a mango habanero wheat beer, a beer that tasted like a birthday cake in a glass, and was 17% ABV. One brewery, Shorts Brewing Company out of Michigan, featured a Bloody Beer, which tasted exactly like a bloody mary, a Key Lime Pie beer, Strawberry Shortcake beer, Pistachio Cream Ale and a beer called Melt My Brain, which was a gin and tonic beer.

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The bottom line is, craft is here to stay because the brewers behind the beer are like great chef’s, always pushing the boundaries on flavors and profiles. And remember this, no beverage goes better paired with food because the shear volume of styles allows for a greater diversity in the complement and contrast of flavors.

Don’t like craft beer you say? I say you do, you just haven’t been introduced to the right one! Go out and explore, or better yet, when you’re out next, ask your server this one simple question, “what’s your local beer”, and I guarantee, they’ll have an answer. You won’t like them all (I suggest asking for a small sample first) but you’ll certainly have fun exploring the flavors of this amazing industry!

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