Stories of American Breweries and People
"Gluten-free" brewing is a niche in the brewing world that our modern minds place into a special, denigrated category: beer with some essential part of the beer removed. But this really is a modern view. By sixteenth-century standards, these ingredients would have been entirely normal.
Local, artisanal ciders are doing very well. There's not a clear definition of "craft cider," but by one measure these cideries were up 40% last year. In key regions like the Pacific Northwest, Upper Midwest, and New England, they have taken root and seem to have emerged as a permanent player.
Last week, I carved out time to visit the old city brewery down on the harborside where, as founder Dan Kenary joked, "Whitey Bulger used to dump bodies." And by city brewery I mean, of course, Harpoon--not that other one that has "Boston" in the title but which has never been brewed in Red Sox nation.
Thirty years is not a terribly long time, really. But in the life of beer, this interval marks a period of radical change. Tomorrow the Oregon Brewers Fest (OBF) will open its doors for the thirtieth time, and looking back allows us to see the distance we’ve come, and remember why the fest has always had a special place in Beervana.
That spirit animates the new building, which draws throngs of young pubgoers. Sound and light bounce off hard surfaces and ricochet around, creating a sense of vibrancy. The little nooks and pockets offer different types of seating for groups of varied sizes and purposes--there are even couches and coffee tables. Even in this enormous space, you can find places for more intimate groups.
The case in point is Portland Brewing, which became an unexpected focal point for how quickly breweries can collapse. The brewery still exists, but is a living tar pit containing the bones of two deceased breweries, and the struggling, trapped bodies of a couple more.
If you can't call to mind a Mexican craft brewery, don't feel too bad. It's a surprisingly recent phenomenon, dating back a little more than a decade. The first significant craft brewery was Minerva, from Jalisco, launched in 2003. That somewhat overstates things, however. One of the people most able to see the scope of the market is Tero Moliis, who founded an ambitious ratings app called Maltapp. "Two years ago--well, in 2014, let's say, there were fifty or as many as 75 breweries," he told me. "Today there are over 600." Over the past year, they've been opening at a rate of more than one a day.