Beer has always been a part of American culture, but after Prohibition and the enactment of the 21st Amendment, more than eight hundred breweries ceased operation, leaving only three hundred domestic beer companies in production. In the late 1970’s, when beer drinkers could no longer buy the beer they desired, many started brewing in the comfort of their own homes, starting the craze known as micro brewing, and the start of the craft beer phenomenon.
By 1982, six microbreweries emerged, including Blue Moon Brewing Company, who opened their doors in 1995. As of today, there are 1,892 small, independent craft brewing companies in the United States. According to marketwatch.com, “currently, ‘craft’ beers are undergoing an unprecedented period of growth. The category has prospered during the economic downturn as consumers seek better quality products- ‘more bang for their buck’”. Not only are microbreweries attracting people with their unique variety of brews, but most have also opened their doors to the public, creating restaurants and tours centered in their locations.
Since they are constantly creating new and different flavors, the domestic beer companies, such as Miller, Budweiser, and Coors, cannot keep up with the expansion of independent breweries. According to Linda Holmes, “if you want to understand people, like monkeys, you have to understand what they’re actually doing. You’re looking kind of horizontally at the society around you and what people are actually surrounding themselves with because everybody knows that those things affect the way you think, whether they should or not.” People are definitely surrounding themselves with craft beer. The growth of the authenticity social trend has led towards the expansion of farmer’s markets, all natural foods, and especially craft beer. Beer drinkers everywhere would rather create their own beer, instead of drinking what everyone else does. Knowing the process of how it is created and the effort put into the brew makes everyone appreciate the taste even more.
The personalization of independent breweries touches home with many people. Many cities have craft beers of their own, including Yards of Philadelphia and San Diego’s Stone, allowing people to feel connected to them on a personal level.
The anti-corporatist views of independent breweries is appealing to the general public, steering them away from major brands like Heineken and Budweiser. Almost every bar or restaurant you visit carries three times more craft beer than domestic, and if they don’t, then they aren’t far away from doing so! So why are people so attracted to craft beer? Could it be that these authentic companies have also mastered the art of advertising and marketing? Reds Apple Ale released its unique commercial last year, combining advertising with comedy by showing someone reaching for a domestic beer, and being hit in the head with a Reds, instantly changing their mind. Blue Moon is famous for their artistry in their commercials, demonstrating the tremendous effort they put in creating their beer, making it an art form just like their advertisements.
Other companies such as Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company (NCBC) and Mad Elf create eye-catching labels and taps that are much more appealing than the standard Miller Lite blue and gold. Not only are the advertisements and labeling appealing, the names themselves are an artform. NCBC creates a pumpkin ale called Punkless Dunkle, Laquanitas makes an IPA (Indiana Pale Ale) called Little Sumpin Sumpin, and Ithica has an IPA named Flower Power, just to name a few.
People are drawn to the authenticity, quality and personalization of these independent brewing companies.
The world of craft beer and independent brewing has become so large; companies like Coors have tried to copy them, by making a citrus beer for summer, which we all know will never compete with beers like Rivertowne’s Hala Kahiki pineapple beer. The rapidly growing world of craft beer has such a large audience, I don’t see an end to it any time soon, or ever at that. Who knows, maybe craft beer will become a part of American culture for good. If you ask me, it’s not a bad time to be a beer drinker!