Craft breweries are not just for millennials.
They are becoming the new “pub” house – a gathering place for young and old alike.
“Breweries have become third places, outside the home and office, where Americans congregate,” said Mike Stein, a beer researcher employed by DC Brau Brewing Company in Washington D.C., in an article for the latest Smithsonian Magazine.
“They are gathering places that are in many ways replacing things like libraries and recreation centers within a neighborhood,” George Homewood, director of planning and community development for Norfolk, VA, said in the same article. “I read a quote – and I don’t remember from where – that you put in a microbrewery and a tasting room and if you’re not careful a whole neighborhood will grow up.”
What Is a Craft Brewery?
According to the Brewers Association for Small and Independent Craft Brewers, a craft brewery must be small, independent, and traditional.
The first requirement means the brewer must produce no more than 6 million barrels of beer annually. Anything over 6 million qualifies as a “large brewery,” and less than 15,000 barrels is a microbrewery. The second qualification of being independent stipulates that no more than 25% of the brewery should be owned by an external alcohol industry member who is not a craft brewer. And finally, to be considered traditional, the brewery should utilize creative and unique flavors while also implementing classic and traditional ingredients in their beers.
The traditional beer ingredients that form the basis of every brew are yeast, hops, barley, and water. What are some of the more unique ingredients that craft breweries are using these days? Well, for starters, you could explore a local brewery yourself and see what they are doing firsthand. According to the Brewers Association for Small and Independent Craft Brewers, the majority of Americans live within 10 miles of a craft brewery.
What’s on the Menu?
Exploring breweries’ beer menus shows the wide variety of ingredients used in different beers.
Bad Wolf Brewing Company in Northern Virginia provides numerous bottled and tap options, featuring ingredients like amarillo hops and banana. More traditional ales, stouts, and IPAs are available, along with more adventurous brews with flavors of lime, raspberries, and tart cherries.
A second brewery, Heritage Brewing Company, has numerous offerings that all appear to follow an American history theme. One beer, the Bradford Ale, is a seasonal beer made with organic pumpkin and cinnamon sticks and infused with Catoctin Creek rye whiskey – a delicious, local offering perfect for the fall.
There are numerous other creative craft beer styles and ingredients to be found nationwide. According to Men’s Fitness, there are some craft beers that use bananas, roma tomatoes, and even cucumbers. The creativity of craft breweries can be truly impressive.
Craftbeer.com has a list of other unusual IPA ingredients, some of which can be found at a farmer’s market or even in your garden, but when brewed in a beer, make for a palatable experience. Ingredients like agave, lychee, and even the citrusy fruit known as Buddha’s hand, are all unusual ingredients that can be found in craft beers.
This fall, instead of making a crockpot of mulled wine or a hot cup of tea, why not explore a local craft brewery? Not only are you supporting a local business, but you might find a beer that tastes like nothing you have ever experienced before!